Mangini: Pennington Not Solely to Blame

Eric Mangini answered questions about benching Chad Pennington, why Thomas Jones hasn't been more involved in the offense, the controversy surrounding Jon Vilma's move to IR and more. Check out the highlights from his press conference inside...

Q. How difficult a decision was it to make (to bench Pennington)? It seemed that you tried to give Chad every opportunity the last few weeks?

It's always a difficult decision when you have to make a change. And we've made changes, and the reason you do make changes is because someone else creates an opportunity for themselves. And we've made changes in a lot of different areas. I really like so many things about Chad. I like his presence. I like the way that he runs the offense. I like all of those core things that he does. His work ethic. And I like those things about Kellen as well. I like the things that Kellen has been doing in practice, and when he had the opportunity against Baltimore. I think that he's earned the opportunity, and I thought it was important to give it to him.

Q. What was Chad's reaction to taking him out?

Chad is -- he's great. He handles everything with the same professionalism, poise. He's a true pro in every aspect. I respect him so much for that.

Q. You say Kellen's pretty much earned this opportunity. Is there something he's done in particularly that you liked in practice?

It's like with the different players that have gotten a chance to play, Abram, Hank, Drew Coleman being activated and playing. Devito coming up this week, and Bender, The guys that have worked hard in practice, doing a lot of positive things, those guys need to get a chance to play. And that chance doesn't come just because they're on the team, it becomes because they've created that. Wallace Wright is another guy who last year carved out a niche for himself, then got to practice, kept working. Finally got an opportunity to play, and each week he does positive things to stay on the active roster and to continue to contribute.
That's how we approach it with the whole roster. The guys that are creating those opportunities and giving it to them.

Q. You guys against Buffalo twice, and Buffalo has a rabid secondary, couple guys on IR, couple other starters out. You had a really hard time in both games. You would think this with that kind of injury situation in the secondary, you guys would be able to do more. What happened? Was it different in both games? Why didn't you guys throw more of a middle of the field line? Doesn't seem like you go there too often?

You know, we hit two or three passes yesterday in the middle of the field. And there were some other ones there where it was a mixture of post and split safety. It's not purely a function of split safety defense. It is often times a perception when you play Buffalo that that's exclusively what they do. But it is much more of a mixture of the two coverages as opposed to exclusively split safety where the opening would be in the middle of the field.

Q. What about the fact that they're a ravaged team in the secondary. And you guys twice did almost nothing productive in the passing game against them?

You look at it, and you're trying to put together the best plan you can to move the football in both the running game and the passing game. I think they've done a good job. I think that they do a nice job with their pass rush. They've done a nice job with maintaining integrity in the deep part of the field. I credit them. I love the way that the way they get so many people the football. I think Dick Jarron has done a great job.

Q. How do you explain David Harris stepping in and getting 17 tackles and being very aggressive and very active, and us not seeing that from Vilma in this defense?

David's done some great things in other course of the year. He's produced the different times that he's been in. This is just the first time he's had a chance to play an extensive amount. I really liked his week of practice. You never know how a guy is going to respond to having his first start and be able to play that many plays. But he did a really nice job. Not to say that he hasn't been working that way, but this is the first time as the signal caller as a full-time player. I thought he responded in a really positive fashion.

Q. I guess I'm asking about Vilma because that's what we had always expected to see from him. And he was playing the exact same position, calling the signals. We didn't see that from Jon.

Jon had some games that were really good. There are some games -- those are the numbers from the press box. Those numbers were a little bit lower after the coaches take. But regardless, I think it's really about David Harris. David Harris did a nice job with his opportunity.

Q. Did you ever get to the bottom of that bizarre situation last week where Vilma went on WFAN on Tuesday and said, I'm not injured. Then a few days later he was put on injured reserve. It was a very strange set of circumstances?

I think Jon's an incredibly tough player. And Jon's a guy that he consistently the last two years has not been in the training room. Not during training camp, not during the season, And he's gotten incredible results. You love that about him. You love that toughness. Laveranues is the same way. He gets banged up and some guys who may be in the training room for two or three weeks. L.T.'s out at practice on Wednesday. So you respect that trait.

Q. What is the latest with Vilma. Is he still seeking further tests has he decided to have surgery?

We'll keep monitoring that, and I'll fill you in when I get some more information.

Q. Has he expressed any unhappiness with him or his representatives about being placed on IR? Because I got the sense that he thought he could still play?

You'll have to talk to Jon about how he feels. But with any decision that's made, there is an extensive, especially a decision like injured reserve, we go through quite a few tests. When we get a lot of different opinions and make sure that any decision is a thorough, thorough decision.

Q. With Thomas Jones, you keep getting the feeling that he left some yards on the field. I mean in terms of him not getting the ball enough. Are we off?

It's difficult to get multiple carries when you don't have a high third down conversion rate. You convert two or three times on third down. It means the amount of plays that you have in a game are significantly less. And really, we need to improve that area to increase the amount of drives. And some of those plays which are called, they may be a run-pass check with me. And the look dictates that it goes to the past.

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