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(8/7) Journal-News: Jets try to master Mangini's offense

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Jets try to master Mangini's offense




(Original publication: August 7, 2006)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —Defining the Jets' new defensive scheme is easy. It's called the 3-4, and regardless of where they line up, there are typically four linebackers on the field.

The offense? Not so easy. Especially since first-year coach Eric Mangini ducks any attempt to label it.

"I know this offense has been very successful in the past, but a system can only do so much," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "It's the players within the system that make the offense work. A lot of times, it's not the play called, it's the execution of the play."

But what the Jets are doing under Mangini and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer became a little clearer after yesterday's closed practice at Giants Stadium, a simulated game day that included a two-quarter intrasquad scrimmage.

It included a lot of short pass routes as Pennington went 12 for 14 for 117 yards for the victorious Green squad without completing a throw longer than 21 yards. Running back Cedric Houston led the White team with four receptions, though for only 12 yards.

Tight ends Joel Dreessen, Chris Baker and Doug Jolley frequently lined up as wideouts or in the backfield.

But don't call this a West Coast offense, the ball-control scheme emphasizing the short-passing attack that Pennington — and his replacements after he injured his shoulder the past two seasons —ran under previous offensive coordinators Paul Hackett and Mike Heimerdinger.

"I don't think it is," third-year wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "It's not the same offense. We've still got a good bit to put in. But we'll do whatever it is to keep those points coming."

Cotchery is not at liberty to divulge team secrets, but stretching the field through longer routes might be the next component added.

Laveranues Coles caught a 22-yard pass from rookie Kellen Clemens and a 19-yard throw from Pennington as he made five catches for 60 yards. Coles isn't necessarily a deep threat, but he can provide yards after the catch.

"Everybody knows what type of player Laveranues is, a very exciting player," Pennington said. "I feel really good with our whole receiving corps. Every one of those guys will be a big-time contributor to our offense."

The speedy Justin McCareins had two catches for 27 yards, including a 21-yard completion from Pennington.

The Jets averaged 15 points per game when they finished 4-12 last season. Only the 3-13 New Orleans Saints, the 4-12 San Francisco 49ers and the 6-10 Cleveland Browns scored fewer points.

It's not particularly promising that neither squad could score a touchdown in the two quarters. The Green won the scrimmage 6-3 when Mike Nugent hit a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in the second quarter.

"I wouldn't say it's the essence of the offense," Mangini said of the plays called yesterday. "There are certain things that aren't in yet that would have helped in a regular game. The marching orders to the coaching staff were to use what we have and try to use it effectively."

How the offense will operate will become even clearer once Mangini names a starting quarterback. Pennington, already way ahead in the four-person race, took another giant leap forward as Patrick Ramsey went 4 for 9 for 33 yards, Brooks Bollinger was 3 for 6 for 10 yards, and Clemens was 3 for 7 for 23 yards.

Plus, the Jets need to address their running-back situation. There are no signs Curtis Martin is rejoining the team from the physically-unable-to-perform list at any point in the near future, Houston gained just 7 yards on five rushes, and Derrick Blaylock had 25 yards on 12 carries for the Green squad.

Chris Brown might be a good solution now that he's asked for a trade from the Tennessee Titans.

Eye-opener: Coach Eric Mangini's attention to detail during yesterday's simulated game was complete. The national anthem was played — the media corps dutifully stood in an otherwise empty Giants Stadium — a coin toss was conducted, player introductions were made, TV timeouts were inserted into the schedule, and the team's video promotions were shown on the scoreboard. No game ball was handed out, but there were some spoils of victory for the Green team. "The winners are going to go home with a really good feeling, and the losers are going to go home with not so good a feeling and we try to simulate that as best we could through some positive reinforcement," Mangini said. "The meals that they'll be eating after the game is a little bit different — it's barbecue vs. cold sandwiches. It's movies on the bus vs. no movies on the bus. A little bit of a break for one side, and a little bit more for the other side."

Rookie watch: LB Anthony Schlegel, a third-round pick out of Ohio State, had a strong scrimmage, particularly on pass coverage. He stopped RB Cedric Houston for no gain on a third-and-5 reception, then provided the coverage on FB Ben Moa as he was held to a 3-yard reception on a third-and-4. Schlegel also got into the backfield and knocked down Patrick Ramsey's pass on a third-and-5. "I'm a guy that's always looking at things that I messed up on," Schlegel said. "It's like a five-second rule, Coach says let it go. But I still have a lot of improving to do."

Training room: Rookie CB Drew Coleman, a sixth-round pick out of TCU, was carted off the field after appearing to hurt his right knee in situational drills after LB Darrell McClover landed on him. DT Tui Alailefaleula (leg), CB David Barrett (leg), S Erik Coleman (illness), WR Dante Ridgeway (leg) and DT Sione Pouha (knee) remain sidelined. RB Curtis Martin (knee) accompanied the team to the Meadowlands, but remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list with no indication when, or if, he'll practice.

Competition: C Nick Mangold and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the team's first-round picks, are not competing against each other for a spot— both seem guaranteed to open the season as starters — but their performances will be compared. Mangold had the better scrimmage as Ferguson was twice called for false starts. "I like the fact that Nick didn't jump out in any way that Brick jumped off," Mangini said.

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