Rumormill: Jets Looking At Patriots Assistant

While the coaching carousel turns around the league, the search for qualified replacements has come to Foxboro. With two vacancies already filled, the resulting search by division rival the New York Jets may claim another New England Patriot coordinator. That is if the Jets can wait for the Patriots to complete their playoff run. Get inside to see what's happening between these two teams and the coordinator involved.

In what has turned into an extension of rampant speculation about the New York Jets open head coaching position, the name of one Patriots coordinator has surfaced. Eric Mangini, the Patriots defensive coordinator, is being mentioned as a candidate for the Jets head-coaching job.

The New York Jets have parted ways with their head coach Herman Edwards after a disappointing 4-12 season that landed the Jets in the basement of the AFC East. Edwards, who was disturbed by events surrounding the chaotic season, decided to bolt New York for a friendlier environment in Kansas City. The Chiefs have agreed to provide compensation to the Jets in the form of a fourth-round draft pick. According to reports, Edwards will have his salary doubled and will work with one of the most established and respected organizations in the league - which was not the case in New York. Edwards leaves the Jets with a 39-41 record and the distinction of being the only head coach to guide the Jets to 3 postseason appearances.

The chaos left behind has stirred an air of desperation and a public relations black eye for the storied New York franchise. The low compensation offered for Edwards has the New York Media blasting Jets ownership and the front office with descriptions of incompetence, hostile workplace and other unflattering descriptions. Radio talk shows have relentlessly hammered the Jets organization, including flagship station 1050 ESPN Radio, who's on air personality Michael Kay basically called the Jets out for not appearing on the air to explain what's happening to Jets fans.

The Jets have decided to take up the challenge to stem the flow of bad press by pursuing names that may bring credibility back to an organization. According to a report by Randy Lange of the Bergen Record, on the list of names surfacing is New England Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.

Mangini is a long-time disciple of Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick who took a chance on him offering Mangini a role on his staff during Belichick's tenure with the Cleveland Browns in 1995. Mangini moved with the organization to Baltimore when the franchise became the Baltimore Ravens. He then reconnected with Belichick in New York as a defensive assistant/quality control coach for the Jets when Belichick was part of Bill Parcell's staff. When Belichick moved to New England, Mangini followed.

Jets GM Terry Bradway has begun the process of looking for a new coach. "We will begin interviewing head coaching candidates immediately," said Bradway in a recent statement. "We will conduct a thorough and complete interview process."

Among the names on the list of potential head coaches are, Joe Vitt (Rams), Mike Westhoff, Mike Sherman (Packers), Jim Fassel (Ravens) and Russ Grimm (Steelers). Jets current coordinators Mike Heimerdinger and Donnie Edwards are possibilities, but it is believed that Jets owner Woody Johnson isn't fond of the idea of having Heimerdinger take over coaching duties.

The possibility of landing Mangini who has appeal, but not the experience, is likely a remote one at best. Mangini had been the Patriots defensive secondary coach until last season when he assumed Romeo Crennel's duties as defensive coordinator when Crennel moved on to join the Browns. Mangini deserves credit for coaching-up veteran receiver Troy Brown who was pressed into duty on defense when the Patriots suffered a rash of injuries to their secondary during their Super Bowl run in 2004. He has also gained respect around the league for holding together a secondary decimated by injury once again in 2005.

While Mangini would add instant credibility to the Jets organization timing may factor into the equation. The Jets are looking to land a head coach in the near future, and the Patriots are still in the playoffs. Mangini cannot interview with any other team until the bye week of the Super Bowl - assuming the Patriots last that long - or after the last game of the season whichever is earlier. It is the same scenario that eliminated Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis from consideration in years past when previous opportunities opened up.

Whatever happens with Mangini, The Jets need to find a coach who can withstand the media crush of New York, widely considered one of the toughest to deal with of all the NFL cities. Edwards, and current Jets coordinator Henderson have both had run-ins with the media in New York. Fortunately for Mangini, Belichick's policy of keeping coordinators out of the press has shielded him during his career. The few times he has spoken with the media, it went very well.

Stay tuned to PI for more updates on coaching rumors and the Patriots organization.

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