Mangini having trouble in NY

Former Patriots' defensive coordinator Eric Mangini has moved on the position of head coach for the New York Jets, but he's in a bit of a bind, and he should have seen it coming. People tried to warn Mangini about the issues facing him if he decided to take the Jets up on their offer, but how many times does a 34-year old get an offer to run one of the 32 NFL franchises?

Patriots' fans have wondered how much input a guy like Mangini had in the game planning for the Patriots, and the answer is quite a bit. As the defensive coordinator, Mangini was responsible for getting the players into schemes that would make it tough for opposing offenses to gain yardage based upon down, distance and situation. He learned the technique under master defensive mind Bill Belichick. Although all game planning is a joint effort that must meet with Belichick's approval, Mangini was the guy making the calls.

One only had to look at Belichick congratulating Mangini on the sidelines after Asante Samuel intercepted a pass from Byron Leftwich during the Patriots' wildcard playoff game against Jacksonville to know that Mangini made the right call. It was the perfect illustration as to how far Belichick's protégé had come during his decade-plus experience in Belichick's system.

The thing Mangini may not have learned from Belichick is when to avoid a bad situation or how to get out of it. During their tenure together in Cleveland, Mangini saw first-hand the type of turmoil caused by ownership issues. Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, decided to move his storied franchise to Baltimore for more money. Much to the players, coaches and staff's dismay, he announced his decision during the season. The national outcry over Modell's dealings with Baltimore's representative was harder on the team and the coaches than the owner. Publicly reviled to this day, Modell has yet to return to the city he threw under the bus for the love of the almighty dollar.

Modell's disruptions have left an imprint on Belichick that he's learned never to repeat. In a recent article by Don Banks of Sports Illustrated on the ten-year anniversary of The Move, Belichick talked about how hard it was.

"There's no situation I've been in, before or since, that even would remotely approach that one for negativity and affecting the overall focus of the team," Belichick said. "Not within 100 miles. It touched every single person in the building, every secretary, every ball boy. I felt badly for everyone involved."

The Jets had their own ownership issues during Belichick and Mangini's time as part of the Bill Parcells era in New York. (1997-99). In 1998 Jets owner Leon Hess passed away, and the team was sold. Wealthy corporate magnate Woody Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson fame) emerged as the team's new owner.

As the Parcell's time with the Jets down in New York, Belichick saw more instability. The new owner had plans, Bill Parcells had plans, and Belichick decided it was time to move to a more stable situation where he could make his own plans, or at least choose the people he wanted to work with. Belichick moved on to New England and Mangini joined him there. Patriots' owner Robert Kraft, hired Scott Pioli (A Belichick friend from Cleveland) and the rest of the story is well known - three Super Bowls in five seasons.

In the meantime Jets' owner Woody Johnson hired GM Terry Bradway who hired Herman Edwards. While Edwards and Bradway kept the Jets competitive using some of the players Parcells brought in, they never made it to the big game. Facing roster issues, cap troubles and front office concerns, Edwards' decision to pursue the Kansas City job was almost a given. He knew people in Kansas City, and they wanted him. All he had to do was extricate himself from New York, which he did.

Bradway, and assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum scrambled to find someone who could help pull them out of the mess they were in, and Mangini provided the solution. A mini-Bill as some have called him, Mangini represented something the Jets hadn't had since Parcells was in town - a coach with Super Bowl pedigree.

Mangini has his own set of issues now. He has inherited a Jets organization that interviewed three assistants, none of whom were offered the job, and two of whom were expected to leave. Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has been let go, Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has been told to stay, and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff was given a raise not to bolt town.

While Heimerdinger has told the press he wants out, Mangini and the Jets brass have said they want him to remain. The obvious difference of opinions has some wondering if Mangini and the front office know what they're doing.

"I can't believe this guy [Mangini] went in there like that without a plan," a source was quoted by The New York Post.

Is it fair to be so harsh on a first-time head coach? Probably not writes Randy Lange of the Bergen Record.

Lange addresses the media crush railing against the Jets front office by describing the Heimerdinger situation as messy, but not unprecedented. He also believes Jets fans think that the Mangini situation is at least better than the Herman Edwards mess.

"Whatever the individual views of Woody Johnson, Terry Bradway and Mike Tannenbaum, Jets fans in general seem happy that the messy divorce with Herm Edwards is over and he's gone, and they approve of the Mangini hiring," Lange wrote in a column this weekend.

"Now comes the team's latest extreme makeover. And when you renovate, it gets messy."

Messy? We'd say so. At least Mangini's situation is a smaller mess.

Shortly after the Jets told Heimerdinger he was staying only to receive immediate feedback from his agent that wasn't likely, the Jets moved to plan B. The problem with plan B, was no-one knew there was a plan B until Heimerdinger sounded off about how much he wanted out of New York.

Lange cites one source that believes Mangini has every right to have Heimerdinger stay.

"There are some good coaches on the Jets' staff. Why shouldn't Mangini keep them?" a source told Lange.

The problem with making people stay, including Heimerdinger who told Mangini he wanted to leave, is that they become bitter. How do you get someone who's mad at you to give 100%? The simple answer is you don't bother trying, because you probably can't.

So the saga continues for the former Patriots' coordinator. Mangini is still looking for assistants to fill out his staff, and the only hires he's made are two holdovers from the Herm Edwards regime, Bob Sutton (defensive coordinator) and Westhoff (special teams).

Mangini's first choice for a defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan re-upped with the Oakland Raiders, which prompted the Jets to retain Sutton. Mangini's first choice for offensive coordinator appeared to be Jeff Davidson, whom the Browns just promoted to keep him with Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

Mangini's search is expanding, but he's competing with other members of the Belichick / Parcells tree who are also looking for coaches. Parcells, who lost offensive coordinator Sean Peyton to the Saints head-coaching job, needs a new one. Nick Saban, who saw his offensive coordinator Scott Linehan take over in St. Louis, is hunting for a coordinator. The Patriots, who may have been concerned that their guy was targeted, promoted quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels to fill their vacant offensive coordinator postition.

If Heimerddinger is allowed to leave, which the New York media is reporting may be the case, then Mangini will have to continue his quest for a body and a system that works for his new team. One name has surfaced, and that's former coordinator Chris Palmer, another assistant under the Parcells tree. Palmer was let go by Houston Texans early into the 2005 campaign. Unfortunately for Mangini, he may be jousting with Jerry Jones and Parcells for that hire. Its unlikely Mangini will get his man if Parcells really likes Palmer.

As we reported last week when the Jets hired Mangini, we said he would have trouble filling out the coaching staff.

The Patriots are all set with their staff, but for Mangini's Jets, it looks like more struggles ahead.

Jon Scott has been covering the NFL for over a decade and is a member of PFWA. He is also the the managing editor of PatriotsInsider.com. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by searching for "Jon Scott" or


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Patriots' fans have wondered how much input a guy like Mangini had in the game planning for the Patriots, and the answer is quite a bit. As the defensive coordinator, Mangini was responsible for getting the players into schemes that would make it tough for opposing offenses to gain yardage based upon down, distance and situation. He learned the technique under master defensive mind Bill Belichick. Although all game planning is a joint effort that must meet with Belichick's approval, Mangini was the guy making the calls.

One only had to look at Belichick congratulating Mangini on the sidelines after Asante Samuel intercepted a pass from Byron Leftwich during the Patriots' wildcard playoff game against Jacksonville to know that Mangini made the right call. It was the perfect illustration as to how far Belichick's protégé had come during his decade-plus experience in Belichick's system.

The thing Mangini may not have learned from Belichick is when to avoid a bad situation or how to get out of it. During their tenure together in Cleveland, Mangini saw first-hand the type of turmoil caused by ownership issues. Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, decided to move his storied franchise to Baltimore for more money. Much to the players, coaches and staff's dismay, he announced his decision during the season. The national outcry over Modell's dealings with Baltimore's representative was harder on the team and the coaches than the owner. Publicly reviled to this day, Modell has yet to return to the city he threw under the bus for the love of the almighty dollar.

Modell's disruptions have left an imprint on Belichick that he's learned never to repeat. In a recent article by Don Banks of on the ten-year anniversary of , Belichick talked about how hard it was.

"There's no situation I've been in, before or since, that even would remotely approach that one for negativity and affecting the overall focus of the team," Belichick said. "Not within 100 miles. It touched every single person in the building, every secretary, every ball boy. I felt badly for everyone involved."

The Jets had their own ownership issues during Belichick and Mangini's time as part of the Bill Parcells era in New York. (1997-99). In 1998 Jets owner Leon Hess passed away, and the team was sold. Wealthy corporate magnate Woody Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson fame) emerged as the team's new owner.

As the Parcell's time with the Jets down in New York, Belichick saw more instability. The new owner had plans, Bill Parcells had plans, and Belichick decided it was time to move to a more stable situation where he could make his own plans, or at least choose the people he wanted to work with. Belichick moved on to New England and Mangini joined him there. Patriots' owner Robert Kraft, hired Scott Pioli (A Belichick friend from Cleveland) and the rest of the story is well known - three Super Bowls in five seasons.

In the meantime Jets' owner Woody Johnson hired GM Terry Bradway who hired Herman Edwards. While Edwards and Bradway kept the Jets competitive using some of the players Parcells brought in, they never made it to the big game. Facing roster issues, cap troubles and front office concerns, Edwards' decision to pursue the Kansas City job was almost a given. He knew people in Kansas City, and they wanted him. All he had to do was extricate himself from New York, which he did.

Bradway, and assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum scrambled to find someone who could help pull them out of the mess they were in, and Mangini provided the solution. A mini-Bill as some have called him, Mangini represented something the Jets hadn't had since Parcells was in town - a coach with Super Bowl pedigree.

Mangini has his own set of issues now. He has inherited a Jets organization that interviewed three assistants, none of whom were offered the job, and two of whom were expected to leave. Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has been let go, Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has been told to stay, and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff was given a raise not to bolt town.

While Heimerdinger has told the press he wants out, Mangini and the Jets brass have said they want him to remain. The obvious difference of opinions has some wondering if Mangini and the front office know what they're doing.

"I can't believe this guy [Mangini] went in there like that without a plan," a source was quoted by .

Is it fair to be so harsh on a first-time head coach? Probably not writes Randy Lange of the .

Lange addresses the media crush railing against the Jets front office by describing the Heimerdinger situation as messy, but not unprecedented. He also believes Jets fans think that the Mangini situation is at least better than the Herman Edwards mess.

"Whatever the individual views of Woody Johnson, Terry Bradway and Mike Tannenbaum, Jets fans in general seem happy that the messy divorce with Herm Edwards is over and he's gone, and they approve of the Mangini hiring," Lange wrote in a column this weekend.

"Now comes the team's latest extreme makeover. And when you renovate, it gets messy."

Messy? We'd say so. At least Mangini's situation is a smaller mess.

Shortly after the Jets told Heimerdinger he was staying only to receive immediate feedback from his agent that wasn't likely, the Jets moved to plan B. The problem with plan B, was no-one knew there was a plan B until Heimerdinger sounded off about how much he wanted out of New York.

Lange cites one source that believes Mangini has every right to have Heimerdinger stay.

"There are some good coaches on the Jets' staff. Why shouldn't Mangini keep them?" a source told Lange.

The problem with making people stay, including Heimerdinger who told Mangini he wanted to leave, is that they become bitter. How do you get someone who's mad at you to give 100%? The simple answer is you don't bother trying, because you probably can't.

So the saga continues for the former Patriots' coordinator. Mangini is still looking for assistants to fill out his staff, and the only hires he's made are two holdovers from the Herm Edwards regime, Bob Sutton (defensive coordinator) and Westhoff (special teams).

Mangini's first choice for a defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan re-upped with the Oakland Raiders, which prompted the Jets to retain Sutton. Mangini's first choice for offensive coordinator appeared to be Jeff Davidson, whom the Browns just promoted to keep him with Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

Mangini's search is expanding, but he's competing with other members of the Belichick / Parcells tree who are also looking for coaches. Parcells, who lost offensive coordinator Sean Peyton to the Saints head-coaching job, needs a new one. Nick Saban, who saw his offensive coordinator Scott Linehan take over in St. Louis, is hunting for a coordinator. The Patriots, who may have been concerned that their guy was targeted, promoted quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels to fill their vacant offensive coordinator postition.

If Heimerddinger is allowed to leave, which the New York media is reporting may be the case, then Mangini will have to continue his quest for a body and a system that works for his new team. One name has surfaced, and that's former coordinator Chris Palmer, another assistant under the Parcells tree. Palmer was let go by Houston Texans early into the 2005 campaign. Unfortunately for Mangini, he may be jousting with Jerry Jones and Parcells for that hire. Its unlikely Mangini will get his man if Parcells really likes Palmer.

As we reported last week when the Jets hired Mangini, we said he would have trouble filling out the coaching staff.

The Patriots are all set with their staff, but for Mangini's Jets, it looks like more struggles ahead.

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