Sperm Edwards Posted August 2, 2006 Share Posted August 2, 2006 A whip-cracking attitude gets Mangini by - for now August 2, 2006 From the day he took this job Eric Mangini knew he'd be typecast as the 35-year-old Kid Coach, the Boy Wonder whom the sad-sack Jets risked hiring. He never came out and said he wanted to send a message during his very first training camp as an NFL head coach. But his actions have screamed it. Already, Mangini has made the Jets' mending workaholic quarterback Chad Pennington squirm by tossing him into a four-man quarterback rotation in which Pennington gets no more snaps in the new offense than the backups or hotshot rookie who are longshots to start. Mangini didn't care how startling or even disrespectful it might look to put another Jets incumbent, venerated running back Curtis Martin, on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on the opening day of camp, and he used the same designation to embarrass Justin McCareins, one of last year's starting receivers, after McCareins failed a conditioning test on opening day. A contrite McCareins did pass on his second try - at the ungodly assigned hour of 6:30 a.m. the next day. If Mangini had just stopped there, he would've gotten people's attention. But he's also ordered players to run laps when they screw up a drill. The last time many of them did that was high school. He's said he'll fine players for divulging in-house information to the media. Though the air temperature was 95 degrees at the Jets' morning practice yesterday and it was seven or eight degrees hotter than that on the artificial turf field, Mangini drove the team through a 2 1/2-hour session in the sauna-like conditions, knowing another 5:30 p.m. practice lay ahead. And the players, being no dummies, are already parroting Mangini's catchphrases like ventriloquist dolls. "It goes both ways," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said yesterday with a smile. "We all know he's watching us. And he knows we're all watching him." At his tender age, Mangini couldn't possibly have the resume to match the two NFL masters and former bosses that he's unabashedly cribbing from, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. And that's fine. For now. Mangini can get away with the whip-cracking tactics because the players know he can always fall back on the nine scariest words they could possibly hear in the non-guaranteed contract world of the NFL: "You'll do what I say. Because I'm the boss." But there's a tightrope that a new and unproven coach like Mangini walks, even if he does take over a team that was 4-12 last year and presumably starved for success. If the Jets win or even just show steady progress this season, Mangini's approach will be embraced. But if all this coach-speak about character and selflessness, maniacal attention to detail and focus leads to a 1-5 start, Mangini's cage-rattling approach or say-nothing news conferences will drive people crazy. Because Mangini hasn't earned any benefit of the doubt. Mangini genuinely may have the same rock-ribbed attitude that Parcells has evinced for years. But so far he doesn't show any of the compensating wit or lacerating sense of humor that Parcells also wields. Parcells makes a player feel a bit entertained even as he's savaging him. Mangini hasn't worked long enough to develop Belichick's mad genius vibe, either. But he does have the potential to develop the spooky sense of emotional detachment that Belichick is liable to show. The gambit that first-year Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum took in hiring Mangini, his longtime friend, is that Mangini will turn into something approaching Belichick in the New England years rather than Belichick in the Cleveland years. The Browns' fans and media wanted to run that guy out of town. Even Belichick, looking back now on his maiden coaching voyage, admits mistakes were made. Mangini is cracker jack smart. He's off to an auspicious start here. But the right one? We'll see. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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