Q-and-A with Eric Mangini

Jets coach Eric Mangini is a man of few words. Getting him to say anything quotable is a chore for the media. But this shouldn't come as a surprise, since he learned the art of being evasive from his mentor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Here is a recent chat with Mangini:

Q)Talk about the type of players you were looking to add this off-season . . .

Mangini: I've talked to you guys a lot about the characteristics of the players that I'm looking for. You've heard it a dozen times. Now it's important for these guys to understand the culture and the atmosphere that we're trying to develop here.

I want a smart team. I want a tough team. I want a hard working team. I want a competitive team. These rookies need to understand that that's what we're looking for. You know, it doesn't really matter what they did at the places they were at. Doesn't matter what they did at Ohio State, Virginia, any of those places. What matters now is how they fit in to the New York Jets, how they can help this team win. That's something that it's part of the learning process for them.

Q)Now that the rookies are working with veterans, what is the biggest shock for them?

Mangini: I think at [this] point the rookies really understand how different the NFL is, how much faster the game is, how much stronger these guys are, how much more experienced they are. You can tell them, but it takes a little while, and they need to see it and experience that. I've explained that to them. I continue to explain it to them. They're behind. They need to close the gap and they need to close it quickly.

Q)How hands-on are you going to be in practice?

Mangini I enjoy teaching. I enjoy helping the players get better. I think in any area that I can help them get better, I'm going to. Maybe offensively, giving some insight into how defenses operate, how they attack them, the technique they play, that type of thing. Defensively giving some insight into the way I've done things and the way I envision things. I think it's important they hear from me, "This is what I want." There's no way you can make that clearer than if you're telling them yourself and showing them yourself.

Q)Anybody standing out in the spring?

Mangini: No, nobody I'd like to single out at all. What I liked in practice is the fact that 11 people on defense were working together, that 11 people on offense were working together. It's not about the individuals; it's about the team. If one person is outstanding and the rest of the group isn't, or if one person is doing their job and the rest of the group isn't, it really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

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