|WASZAK ON FOOTBALL: Mistakes and suspect coaching calls plaguing woeful Jets|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 09 October 2007 11:18|
Less than a year after leading the New York Jets to a surprising playoff appearance as a rookie coach, Mangini is struggling to find answers during his team's disappointing 1-4 start.
``Having the Jekyll-and-Hyde approach that we've had isn't going to give us the results that we are looking for,'' Mangini said a day after the Jets blew a 10-point lead in a 35-24 loss to the Giants.
The Jets have had spurts when they've resembled last season's encouraging group. Then, mistakes, missed opportunities and mental lapses undermine everything positive they've done.
Yes, for fans, it's the same ol' Jets.
``You can't have the really good football, the really smart football, interrupted by plays that aren't well executed and aren't very smart,'' Mangini said. ``That goes to the coaching as well. It has to be consistent with the play-calling and with the game-planning across the board. We all need to be more complete on Sundays.''
And, perhaps, the rest of the week in practice.
Little was expected last season when the likable and fresh-faced Mangini, the youngest coach in the NFL at the time, took over a team in transition. After years as an assistant under Bill Belichick at New England, Mangini brought with him a no-nonsense approach, a passion for details and a strict code of conduct he called ``the Jets' core values.''
Every button Mangini pushed seemed to work as he deftly molded the Jets into a playoff team. They were one of the most-disciplined and innovative teams in the league, and among the NFL leaders in fewest penalties and most trick plays.
The success bred a clever nickname for Mangini, as well as cameos on ``The Sopranos'' and ``Sesame Street.'' It also renewed hope for a team that last played in the AFC championship during the 1998 season.
The outlook has suddenly turned grim as silly penalties, conservative and, at times, bland playcalling and a misuse of personnel have the Jets on the brink of falling out of the playoff picture just five games into the season.
``It's frustrating,'' quarterback Chad Pennington said. ``And believe me, it makes you sick to your stomach.''
Pennington's play has been a prime reason for the team's lackluster start. Known as a cerebral quarterback who made up for his lack of arm strength with accuracy and smart decisions, Pennington has been intercepted five times.
Two weeks ago, he threw an interception against the Bills that ended the Jets' comeback attempt with 6 seconds left. On Sunday, he ended another comeback with an interception that was returned for a touchdown with just over 3 minutes remaining.
Fans have been calling for Pennington to be benched in favor of Kellen Clemens. Mangini, however, is sticking by Pennington - for now.
``There's not one player or coach that I don't have complete faith in,'' Mangini said. ``If that were the case, they wouldn't be here and I like the way that we approach things.''
A few more losses and poor performances and it'll be time to turn the page on Pennington and see what Clemens can do. The Jets took the strong-armed quarterback in the second round last year and he clearly gives New York more of a vertical passing attack.
That, in turn, would help the running game, which has been miserable this year, despite the acquisition of Thomas Jones. The two-time 1,000-yard rusher was expected to jump-start a running game that struggled mightily last season without a bona fide No. 1 back.
Instead, he's been rendered a non-factor.
He has just 290 yards and no touchdowns on 88 carries, hardly making an impact. He rushed for 110 yards on 25 carries against Miami in Week 3, but has totaled just 25 carries since.
``I think I've done well,'' Jones said. ``We've had some miscommunications on a lot of different plays, and that's football. It's going to be like that. You just have to keep plugging and keep going and work to continue to get better.''
They need to give the ball to Jones more often for that to happen. A notorious slow starter, Jones has typically needed at least 20 carries a game throughout his career to be effective.
``I've been around for a while and seen a lot of different things,'' he said. ``The major thing that I've learned is to just stay the course, and that's what I'm doing.''
Mangini has done the same by refusing to budge from his 3-4 base defensive scheme, something he brought with him from New England despite having players who are more suited for a 4-3. Playmakers such as Jonathan Vilma and Eric Barton struggled to get comfortable with their new roles and the defense was highly criticized when the Jets failed to stop opponents' running games or get consistent pressure on quarterbacks.
It's the same story this season.
Teams are running at will against New York, and opposing quarterbacks are generally getting plenty of time to throw.
``If there was a magic cure, I would be the first one to let you know,'' safety Kerry Rhodes said.
The team is frustrated, but the players aren't pointing fingers. They're also convinced there's still enough time and talent to turn things around.
``Each person is accountable,'' Mangini said. ``Players and coaches are accountable. Everybody can do things better and everybody should be disappointed.''
And that all starts with the head coach.