Wildcard in defensive coodinator search

There is a mystery candidate from one of the four Super Bowl contenders, who the Jets have a great deal of interest in for their defensive coordinator job. <BR><BR>

Whispers has learned that the Jets are interested in talking to New England Patriots secondary coach Eric Mangini about the opening. He was on the Jets coaching staff during the Bill Parcells era, and is very close to Bill Belichick. Both Belichick and Mangini are graduates of Weslyan College in Connecticut, and it was Belichick who brought Mangini into the NFL when the Patriots coach was with the Browns. Mangini was one of Belichick's first hires when he was Jets head coach for a week in 1997. Over the last decade, Belichick has molded Mangini into one of the NFL's finest secondary coaches. This year with two rookies playing prominent roles (nickel back Asante Samuel and safety Eugene Wilson), and a journeyman starting at cornerback (Tyrone Poole), the Patriots secondary had a solid season.

Getting Mangini could turn out to be a great move for Jets. Think about some of the other Belichick assistants from the past that have gone on to terrific careers. Three examples are LSU coach Nick Saban, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and Fresno State coach Pat Hill.

Mangini is a very bright coach who has absorbed a great deal from being around Belichick, the NFL's finest defensive mind. He has a good friend in the Jets front office in assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum, who might be the driving force behind the Jets interest.

Another strong candidate is Philadelphia Eagles linebacker coach Ron Rivera. Jets coach Herman Edwards and Rivera are good friends. They both went to the University of California. Rivera volunteers every year at Edwards football camp for underprivileged children.

It looks like Gunther Cunningham is likely heading to the Atlanta because Falcons owner Arthur Blank is going to overpay him, something the Jets aren't interested in doing. He hasn't earned the nickname "Blank Check" for nothing.

As for former Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, he is out of the running. He had a bad interview.

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