Conference call: Jets head coach Eric Mangini


(On if this game is a showdown between the two best teams in the AFC)

It definitely doesn't get any easier. I think that Tennessee has been playing really, really solid, complementary football. They're solid in every single phase. We've been down there two years in a row, this will be our third trip and that's not an easy environment to play in. It gets more and more challenging each week.

(On Brett Favre as a difference maker)

Brett's been outstanding. When he and I first talked one of the things that was important to him, and also to me, was understanding what his resume was and what his experience was [and establishing] that he'd be able to come here and just be one of the guys. When you hear someone like Brett talk about how important that is, you know that it's a good decision. Since he's been here that's exactly what he has been. He's obviously worked with the offense quite a bit but he spends time with the defensive players, he spends time with the young players, he's very approachable. He's just a really good team guy.

(On if he thinks the Jets and Titans are having success this year because of their successful free agent acquisitions)

I think that's been extremely helpful for us but it's also when you bring in free agents a function of how well they fit in to the group that's already there and how quickly they can stop being free agents and start being Jets. One of the things that has always been important to us is core characteristics with the people that we bring in and that's smart, tough, hard-working guys, guys that are competitive and selfless and guys that football is important to. That's the draft, that's free agency and those are characteristics that we target before we even talk about their ability to play football.

(On if teams get deflated when they sign a player who they think is the one missing piece and he doesn't pan out)

It's so difficult to ever think that you're one player away because of injuries and all the different factors that come to play. What we're trying to do is identify players of need and figure out a way through free agency and the draft to fill that need.

(On Brett Favre's psychological impact on the team)

It was a busy first day. It was probably the most people we've ever had at training camp, I think there were 11,000 [fans]. The amusing thing was that every time our defense batted down a ball or anything like that they got booed so you knew what you were in for pretty much right off the bat. It's exciting to have a player like Brett come into our program but you're still looking at how he's going to fit into the locker room or how he's going to fit in with the rest of the group. That's what's so important to the whole team and he's been outstanding in that area.

(On if, in his opinion, Brett Favre is still as emotional and excitable as he was during his days in Green Bay)

Well, that last characteristic that I mentioned earlier, that football is important to you, those are the guys that would play football regardless of the pay, regardless of all those great things that come with being in the NFL. It means something to them and they still have that same passion that they had when they played pee-wee or high school or college and Brett has that. It's contagious. It's that enthusiasm for being at practice, for playing in the games, how much fun it is. It's the spirit of the game and it doesn't matter how much success he has or any of those things, he loves playing. He loves being part of the team and it really does rub off on the group.

(On if the key to Thomas Jones' resurgence this year has been the offensive line or something he has done)

I think it's both. For Thomas now he came from a system where he was very familiar with the running game, with all the guys that were blocking for him. There was a strong relationship between those two groups and Thomas learned a new system, there were new types of runs, new people he had to get used to. I think what he's done well is he's improved in terms of his overall knowledge of what we're trying to get done, how we're trying to get it done, how he fits in to it, his relationship with the guys is excellent. We've improved in terms of our understanding of how Thomas likes to run, his tendencies in terms of cutbacks or bounce-outs and that familiarity and the work that both groups have done has really helped us.

(On comparing Kris Jenkins and Albert Haynesworth)

I'd say that they're both outstanding players. Both very, very strong, very explosive and both tough to deal with. Albert Haynesworth, put on his highlight tape and it's about as impressive as there is anywhere in the league.

(On what happens when a player like Albert Haynesworth "blows up" a play)

Well the first thing that goes through your mind is, how can we prevent that? But it's been hard to prevent that with him. You look at [Kyle] Vanden Bosch and you combine those two guys, two explosive defensive players that combine a lot of problems run or pass.

(On if it's difficult to project a typical 4-3 defensive tackle as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme)

It's really a collaborative process. Kris [Jenkins] is going to be a good player regardless of what front he plays in but it's so important for him to embrace the technique and understand the blocking schemes, which are so different than what you see in a 4-3. And Kris has done that. He's been able to play in the 3-4 without losing the things that are real strengths in his game. His approach since the day he's got here with learning the system, with getting as sound as he possibly can be with the technique has been really good.

(On if there's any benefit having a few extra days to prepare after playing a Thursday night game)

I gave the guys quite a bit of time off and my thought process there was, usually, or over the last two years, our bye has come much later in the season. That's a really good time to have a bye because so many guys are beat up and you need a break both physically and mentally. So being able to give those guys a couple of extra days off to recharge their batteries, to help get through some of the aches and pains and things that are common to every team this time of season was a real plus.

(On if Dave Ball looks like a different player now than when he played with the Jets)

Well, the one thing that Dave has always had is a really high motor and a really good work ethic and I couldn't be happier for Dave. It looks like he's fit in the system extremely well and sometimes that's a function of what has to happen with any players, finding the right system. Dave was always an excellent worker, had a great approach and I'm really happy for him.

(On what stands out about the Titans passing game)

They've got a lot of really good skill players and I think that being able to run the ball so effectively opens up a lot of opportunities in the passing games. Kerry Collins has always been a very efficient passer, a very accurate passer, throws a deep ball extremely well. They've got big receivers, I think they've got excellent tight ends and the combination of their running game, the protection that he's getting only giving up the six sacks and his ability to manage the game and make good decisions has been a real plus for them.

(On the challenges Brett Favre has faced starting over with a new franchise)

It's kind of like being a rookie again at 37, 38, 39, I'm not sure how old he is right now. But you go from an environment where you're extremely comfortable to a new coaching staff, new players, new terminology. All those things are things that you have to get used to and he worked at it. He's really worked at it and he's fit in great. The nice thing about getting a guy like Brett is he's been through a lot of different head coaches, offensive coordinators, he's experienced. The system was essentially the same but there are nuances and there are things that he's done that may have been called something a little bit differently that carry over to what we're doing and he can draw on that.

(On if Brett Favre actually embodies the kind of quarterback who just "draws up plays in the dirt" and plays)

I've found Brett to be an extremely hard worker in terms of understanding what we're trying to get done on the different plays, understanding what the defense is trying to do to us and even though he'll do some ad-libbing and make some plays that way, this is a guy that works every single day at his craft.

(On what it's been like having Brett Favre in the building and in New York)

I don't think that our approach was as big picture. It was more of how we can improve our team. You can't deny the things that Brett's done over the course of his career but there still is that period where you have to see how he fits in to your group and your system and he embraced that. It was important to him, important to me and he's got a great personality.

(On if it's odd at all to have a quarterback who's older than his head coach and offensive coordinator)

I think with me, him, Tony Richardson, it's nice to have a peer group. You know, we can talk about high school (laughter) and we all saw kind of the same things at the same time. That hasn't been bad. One thing I've been used to through the course of my career being the young guy on a staff, when I first came to the Jets, the defensive staff was Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennel and Al Groh. They would reference things from 1985 with the Giants and I'd say well, "I was just starting high school then, can you help me out?" But that's been great, too, and I think regardless of your age, if you can show the players that you can help them be successful and give them a good plan, that's what's important to them and that's what I strive to do every week.

(On if things have changed with teams trusting their rookie running backs more)

I think with any rookie, you know we played D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold right off the bat as rookies, played Darrelle Revis right off the bat as a rookie, Dwight Lowery. We played quite a few of those guys and I had the same experience in New England. Eugene Wilson played as a rookie. It's kind of like the age question, it doesn't really matter as long as you can show that you can handle the information, you can handle the responsibility that's given to you and you keep getting more responsibility as you show that you can handle more of the load. I think Chris Johnson has done a really outstanding job.

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