"This is not a decision that we reached yesterday, 10 minutes ago. This is a decision that was basically running through the season."
The words of New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson, regarding the firing of Eric Mangini.
Learning about the head coaching change was not the way I wanted to wake up, this morning. Mangini, over his 3 seasons with the Jets, has done a very good job running this team. He retained confidence in his players and staff, despite the team's failure, late in the season, and now Mangini has to take the fall.
Defensively, the New York was nearly impenetrable, in the first part of the season. As time wore on, certain key players stopped playing at tremendous levels and came back to the pack.
Dwight Lowery (my choice for Defensive Rookie of the Year) began the season as a starter. The Fourth-Round Pick from the 2008 NFL Draft was playing like an above average NFL cornerback from the preseason up until the second half of the season. At that point, the Jets signed Ty Law, the future Hall of Fame defensive back, who, at that point, was out of football for over 10 months. Law went on to do a subpar job opposite Darrelle Revis; showing his lack of speed in pass coverage.
Kris Jenkins, one of New York's best acquisitions, was playing at a league MVP level for the majority of the season. Down the stretch, it appeared that either Jenkins had tired out, or opposing teams discovered a scheme to negate Jenkins. He was also ineffective during two winnable bad-weather games: against Denver and at Seattle. Without Jenkins' dominant presence, the Jets reverted to (in the words of Walt Frazier) the 'Matador Defense'; giving up a great amount of rushing yards, which, in turn, exposes the Jets' pass defense with Law and the absence of healthy Eric Smith.
Even though the defense suffered late, Mangini could not do much about it. You cannot pull a top 3 nose tackle. The entire secondary was playing poorly, outside of Revis and, to a lesser extent, Kerry Rhodes.
Offensively, the Jets were a mess because of two people: Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Quarterback Brett Favre.
Schottenheimer continually made questionable play calling decisions, throughout the season. Many times, he passed when he should have ran & vice versa, and neglected players. Hindsight is always 20/20, but when mistakes occur with such frequency, something has to be wrong.
Take this last game for example. After weeks of giving Leon Washington minimal carries, Washington's number was called more than Thomas Jones'. While Washington is a big play waiting to happen, Thomas Jones, the leading rusher in the AFC and 5th in the NFL, was left to get tight on the sidelines; rendering him ineffective.
Brett Favre was easily the worst acquisition of the season. Without getting too into it, he is inefficient, makes poor decisions, on the field, and has an uncertain drive to continue playing football. That is a combination for failure.
That's why it is sickening to hear Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum say that they will implore Brett Favre to return tot he Jets.
Mangini was handed a difficult mixture to handle, and he did all that he could.
Others will say that Mangini was given a plethora of talented veterans and had no excuse to do poorly. But he had one year to see what this team could do. That is not enough of a sample size to judge Mangini. A guy like Wade Phillips, who had a playoff level team for 3 seasons, should have a better chance to get fired, as opposed to Mangini, because of his inability to move deep into the playoffs.
I believe Mangini was not only fired to be the scapegoat, but was fired to get out of the way for coaches like Marty Schottenheimer or Bill Cowher, which will not be a good move. But that's another blog...
Eric Mangini should not have been fired. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for the Jets organization.