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Jets positive, but unsatisfied after near comeback vs. Patriots

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -The New York Jets were staring at a 24-point deficit early in the second half against New England on Sunday when Laveranues Coles sensed a sudden change in the team's attitude.

"I think our pride kicked in," the veteran wide receiver said Monday. "You hear a lot of guys fussing about not wanting to be embarrassed. You never want to get embarrassed."

Coles and the Jets made a game of it in the second half, giving themselves a chance to tie with a minute left before their comeback effort fell just short in a 24-17 loss to the Patriots.

"In a lot of games you get down 24-0, it's easy to just hang your head and say forget it, and the score ends up being 40-something to nothing," Coles said. "But these guys showed a lot by just hanging in there and they kept fighting."

To a man, the Jets were positive but unsatisfied Monday when reflecting on the near comeback in their first loss of the season.

"I was really pleased with the second-half effort," coach Eric Mangini said. "I thought that the way that they responded, being down the way that we were, fighting back and getting in position where we could eventually tie the game, I was pleased with that."

The Jets weren't so happy with the fact they had to dig themselves out of a 24-0 hole in the first place.

"We have to try and find that spark in the first quarter from the time we come out of that tunnel," Coles said. "I think once we get that part down, where guys start playing from the beginning, I think we'll be OK."

The Patriots took a 17-0 halftime lead, and Laurence Maroney's 1-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter made it 24-0. Meanwhile, the Jets simply looked flat on offense after an opening-week victory at Tennessee.

They failed to score in the first quarter for the second straight week, and didn't do much against the Patriots until late in the third quarter.

"There's been good drives early in the games," Mangini said. "They've just stalled there on third down. And drives that were able to effectively continue later on in the game, some of that was a little bit different on each play: a receiver open and we miss him, or it was a breakdown where there's pressure where there shouldn't have been; or a yard or two short on a run.

"There were a lot of different things that played into that, and as a group, we need to start the same way that we finish."

While Chad Pennington has had two straight 300-yard games, some of that has been out of necessity because the Jets have yet to establish an adequate running game.

With Curtis Martin out at least the first six games, Derrick Blaylock got his second straight start, but gained only 7 yards on six carries. Kevan Barlow got the bulk of work, rushing 14 times for 42 yards.

"To be an effective running team is going to take the full group," Mangini said. "It's not a function of purely the back or a function of purely the (offensive) line. It's all of us together, and the coaching staff as well."

Trailing 24-0, the Jets had no choice but to take to the air, and Jerricho Cotchery came up with a play everyone was still talking about Monday. In fact, Mangini showed the play to the team three or four times.

With the Jets facing third-and-13 from their 29, Pennington scrambled and got a pass off while facing a heavy pass rush. Cotchery turned, backpedaled and leaped for the ball and was hit hard by Chad Scott. The receiver fell on top of safety Eugene Wilson's back, but hearing no whistle, Cotchery popped up and ran into the end zone for a spectacular touchdown.

"We needed a spark, we were down 24-0 and we needed some energy," Cotchery said. "To be able to make that play at that time to get the entire team some energy, that meant the most to me."

Coles had a nice play himself, catching a 46-yard pass - the longest of his career - and making it 24-14 late in the third quarter while leaving a trail of frustrated Patriots on the ground with a series of scintillating cuts.

"I haven't had to run that far in a long time," Coles said with a big smile. "It was great. My catch was cool, but Jerricho's play was spectacular."

The Jets got within a touchdown after Mike Nugent's field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but a long drive by the Patriots and a failed last-minute throw by Pennington ended the valiant comeback attempt.

"Character was revealed in the second half," defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen said. "Resolve, persistence - all good traits. But the truth is, we can't be down 24-0."

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Jets: Mangini remains unhappy camper

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Coach Eric Mangini didn't give his players much love yesterday morning during the team meeting, although the Jets rallied from the brink of a humiliating loss to put a big scare into the Patriots before losing, 24-17, on Sunday at Giants Stadium.

There's no crying in baseball, and there are no moral victories in the NFL.

"It (Mangini's demeanor) was the same," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said. "He's always the same. He was the same mean little guy you see every day. That's just the way he is.

"You know you're going to get something negative, regardless of whether you had a great day or you feel you had a great day. He's the same ornery guy. He's going to find something to correct you about."

Asked if Mangini said anything positive to the team about it's gutsy comeback, Coles said: "Yeah, (he said), 'You guys fought hard in the second half.' But after that it was all downhill."

To a man, the Jets said they weren't interested in being patted on the back for coming close after being down 24-0 in the third quarter.

"A loss is a loss," defensive end Kimo Von Oelhoffen said. "We're concentrating on wins and losses. You play this game to win, not to play hard and come up short."

"I don't believe in moral victories," guard Brandon Moore said. "You only get wins and losses and we got an "L" for that."

The Jets (1-1), who visit Buffalo (1-1) on Sunday, are more interested in changing their disturbing habit of slow starts -- they haven't scored in the first quarter in their first two games this season and scored just 23 points in the first quarter all last season.

Also, the Jets' running game is an embarrassment. They've rushed for just 142 yards on 58 carries this season, including 51 yards on 24 tries against the Patriots. Their 2.4-yard average per carry ranks 30th in the NFL.

The Jets' saving grace has been the spectacular play of quarterback Chad Pennington, who has had back-to-back 300-yard passing games.

"Whoever comes out and strikes first and punches the hardest is going to get the leverage," Coles said.

Establishing the run usually goes a long way toward gaining control of a game. Running backs Kevan Barlow (26 carries, 77 yards, one TD) and Derrick Blaylock (25-43-0) have simply had nowhere to run.

Mangini insists the breakdowns have been teamwide and refuses to point fingers, although the Jets are starting two rookies (LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold). With veteran guard Pete Kendall (hamstring) out against the Patriots, second-year pro Norm Katnik made his first career start against New England but played poorly and was eventually benched. Adrian Jones, a natural tackle playing the position for the first time in a game, replaced Katnik but he too struggled.

Mangini said Mangold and Ferguson are playing relatively well. He spoke excitedly about Mangold, who must make all the blocking calls for the offensive line.

"It's a whole group thing," Blaylock said of the Jets' running woes. "It's not just one or two guys. But it's not problems that can't be fixed."

Coles put the onus on himself to get the Jets off to a quick start against the Bills on Sunday.

"Guys like myself are going to have to step up early in the game and try to make a play to get us going in the right direction," Coles said.

Notes: Mangini showed the team film of WR Jerricho Cotchery's 71-yard TD several times yesterday. Cotchery, who saw several replays Sunday night and yesterday, sheepishly admits it was a pretty good play.

Cotchery, a third-year pro with 12 catches for 186 yards and two TDs this season in what appears to be a breakout year, credits his quick start this season to a month-long stay at the Athletes Performance Institute in February in Tempe, Ariz., where many pro athletes train. He also worked with Jets strength coach Markus Paul, who has helped reduce his 40-time from the mid-4.5s last season to the low 4.4s this season....

With G Pete Kendall still nursing a hamstring injury, veteran C Trey Teague or newly signed G/T Wade Smith might get a shot at replacing him.... RB Cedric Houston, who has been inactive in both games this season, says he'll just keep working hard. The problem, Mangini says, is that rookie RB Leon Washington and Blaylock have big roles on special teams and Houston doesn't. Houston, however, played special teams last season. ...

There's been no word on the tampering charges filed by the Patriots against the Jets in the Deion Branch incident but little is expected to come of it.

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Jets singing a different tune after loss

BY TOM ROCK

Newsday Staff Writer

September 18, 2006, 9:37 PM EDT

Dewayne Robertson dismissed the idea of a "moral victory" with earthy enthusiasm.

"That don't mean [----]," the nose tackle said Monday, a day after the Jets lost to their nemesis, the Patriots, 24-17. "We didn't win. We came up short. We play this game to win, not to play hard and to come up short."

Coach Eric Mangini insisted that the team report to work Monday with the same mentality it brought last Monday after an opening win. That included an open-eyed evaluation of the game tape and a redirection of focus toward the next opponent, the Bills.

"It has to be a consistent approach, and the approach is to recognize the things we did well and fix the things we did poorly," Mangini said. "What we're looking for is consistency."

But after a gut-busting loss riddled with early mistakes and a near comeback in the second half that somehow made the defeat more and less palatable, some players admitted it was difficult to keep that even keel. Even Mangini admitted it is "against human nature" not to dwell on losses, just as it is difficult to be critical of wins.

Monday the locker room was a far more somber place than it was a week ago. Players drifted in and out, quietly going about their business. The laughter and optimism the Jets picked up in Tennessee were gone.

"You try to treat the wins and losses the same," guard Brandon Moore said, "but in reality you are harder on yourself in losses."

Even Mangini himself, never one to show much emotion, seemed a bit downtrodden and disappointed when addressing the media. After joking with reporters about celebrating his first NFL win with pie and ice cream last week, he was all business Monday.

But defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen said the mood of a team and its approach are two different things.

"Approach is approach," he said. "It's just an attitude, it's a work ethic. It's studying. Win or lose, you do the same thing. No matter what mood you are in, you have to play."

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles said it would have been difficult for someone to walk into one of the meetings yesterday morning and tell if the team was coming off a win or a loss. He said Mangini was his usual, ultra-critical self, pointing out flaws the way a tour guide draws attention to landmarks.

"He's always the same," Coles said. "He'll always be the same ornery guy regardless of if you win or you lose."

Mangini said he was proud of the way the Jets came back from a 24-0 deficit and had a chance to tie it on the final drive. He said there were positives to be taken from watching the game tape, particularly in the passing game, where Chad Pennington had a second consecutive 300-yard effort and Coles and Jerricho Cotchery made some stunning catches and runs.

"Character was revealed in that second half," von Oelhoffen said. "Resolve. Persistence. All good traits. But the truth is we cannot be down 24-0."

Mangini blew off the "moral victory" notion with more eloquence than Robertson, but the sentiment was the same. The Jets had a taste of what it feels like to come back to work after a win, and for a week they were able to strut as an undefeated team. Now that they are a .500 team, that gait cannot help but be slowed a bit.

Defeat often illuminates character far more than victory. How the Jets respond to the loss will tell more about this team and its young coach than any play on the field.

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Cotchery's training shows

By ANDREW GROSS

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original Publication: September 19, 2006)

HEMPSTEAD — Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis approached Jerricho Cotchery yesterday and gave a verbal high-five for the wide receiver's spectacular 71-yard touchdown catch in Sunday's 24-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

"He joked with me that the single-leg squats came in handy there,'' said Cotchery, who earned a spot as the Jets' No. 2 receiver in training camp.

Seriously, though, Cotchery's offseason strength-and-conditioning program at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz., has played a large role in the receiver's outstanding start to the season. Cotchery has 12 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns for the Jets (1-1), including six catches for 121 yards against New England.

Cotchery improved his 40-yard dash time to a "low 4.4'' seconds. The third-year pro said he was timed at 4.5 last season and was a "high 4.4'' prior to being a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2004.

He trained at API prior to the draft but didn't return until last February, when he spent about a month working in Arizona.

"Once I ran the 40, (the Jets) were amazed,'' Cotchery said. "I was, too, because I think that's a lot of improvement.''

But he spent as much time working on his balance as his speed. That came in handy on his touchdown as he leapt to catch a ball from Chad Pennington around the Patriots 40-yard line.

Safety Eugene Wilson hit him at the knees from the front, while cornerback Chad Scott hit him hard and high from behind. Cotchery landed on Wilson, realized his knees hadn't touched the ground, and continued running.

Even keel: Coach Eric Mangini — who stresses consistency in all phases of football and life — acted the same yesterday as he did last Monday after the season-opening win at Tennessee.

Critical.

"He's always going to be the same, the ornery guy,'' said wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who turned a short dump-off from Pennington into a remarkable 46-yard touchdown against the Patriots.

"You know you're going to get something negative regardless of whether you've had a great day or feel like you've had a great day. He's going to find something to correct.''

Didn't Mangini have anything good to say?

"Yeah: 'You guys fought hard in the second half,' '' Coles said. "After that, it was all downhill.''

Equally satisfying: Tight end Chris Baker said he took the same pleasure from his block on Scott to help spring Coles for his catch-and-run as he did from grabbing the game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass against the Titans the week before.

"Sometimes it's not seen, but it's a good feeling to make a play like that,'' Baker said. "I didn't get the guy the way I was trying to get him. I was trying to blow him up, but I just missed him by a couple of inches.''

TV time: The NFL Network will air a New York doubleheader tonight with its NFL Replay series, which offers 90-minute rebroadcasts of recent games. The edited version of the Jets-Patriots game will be shown at 10:30, following the Giants-Eagles game at 8.

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Cotchery catches on real fast

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Instead of taking a vacation last February, Jerricho Cotchery went to Arizona and spent the month working with professional trainers, improving his speed and balance. He used both attributes, and more, on his remarkable 71-yard touchdown reception Sunday against the Patriots.

A day later, the Jets still were buzzing about the highlight-film play. "My catch was cool," said Laveranues Coles, referring to his 46-yard catch and run for a touchdown, "but Jerricho's catch was spectacular. It showed a lot of manhood."

Cotchery caught a 20-yard pass at midfield and got sandwiched by two defensive backs, but he refused to go down. He barely avoided hitting the ground with his knee or elbow, showing tremendous balance and determination.

"(Shaun) Ellis joked that those single-leg squats came in handy," Cotchery said.

Before last night's game, Cotchery was fourth in the AFC with 186 receiving yards. (Coles leads the conference with 253.) As a fourth-round pick in 2004, Cotchery was considered to have average speed, but he ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds in June, about one-tenth of a second faster than his 2005 time. "They were amazed. I was, too," Cotchery said. "That's a lot of improvement."

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BANGED UP: Eric Mangini doesn't discuss injuries the day after a game, but Chad Pennington and Coles appeared to be banged up. Pennington was seen in the locker room with an Ace bandage on his left calf, with tape around his left ankle. It may have been hurt on his pass to Cotchery. After releasing the ball, Pennington was hit in his lower leg by DE Richard Seymour. It could've been disastrous, as Pennington nearly hyperextended his knee. Pennington, who no longer speaks with the media on Mondays, doesn't appear to be seriously hurt. Coles was wearing a heavy wrap on his left shin/calf, which was attached to an electronic stimulator. That, too, doesn't seem to be serious.

The other injury question is LG Pete Kendall (pulled hamsting), who missed his first game in two years. He was replaced by Norm Katnick and Adrian Jones, neither of whom excelled. ... Mangini said he never considered using the strong-armed Patrick Ramsey to try a game-tying Hail Mary at the end of the game.

Originally published on September 19, 2006

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Mangini tackles details

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Nineteen hours after his first setback as an NFL head coach, Eric Mangini gathered the Jets in their second-floor meeting room yesterday at Weeb Ewbank Hall to discuss the 24-17 loss to the Patriots. Some wondered how he'd handle defeat.

Not much differently than a victory, as it turned out.

Mangini highlighted Jerricho Cotchery's amazing 71-yard touchdown reception, replaying it four times on the video screen, and he commended his team on fighting back in the second half.

"After that," Laveranues Coles said, "it was all downhill."

Translation: A comprehensive breakdown of every key mistake. No unit was spared. It was the same approach after the season-opening win in Tennessee: methodical and analytical.

While much of Jets Nation lauded his team for making the vaunted Patriots work a full day, Mangini came to work with a different agenda. He's a nit-picker, but he believes that's the only way to improve.

"He's the same mean little guy you see every day," said Coles, who doesn't always agree with Mangini's methods - although he does appreciate the long-term benefits. "He's always the same, win or lose. He's going to be the same ornery guy.

"When he comes to work, you know you're going to get something negative, regardless of whether you had a great day or you feel like you had a great day," Coles added. "He's going to find something to correct."

There's always a fine line for a new coach in a rebuilding program: criticism versus positive reinforcement. Too much of the former can backfire on a coach, who must understand growing pains are part of the process.

The Jets' pains are obvious.

With a revamped offensive line and no clear-cut starter in the backfield, the running game has been atrocious. Against the Patriots, the Jets managed only 51 yards and a 2.1 per-carry average, failing to produce a rushing first down for the third time since 2003. Previously, it hadn't occurred since 1966.

"I don't need that stat to tell me that (we're struggling)," said right guard Brandon Moore, the only returning starter from the 2005 line who was in the lineup against New England.

Mangini refused to single out the line or the backs as the root of the problem. He changed the work load at running back, using Kevan Barlow over Derrick Blaylock as the primary runner, but that didn't generate much of a spark. Mangini hinted the job is up for grabs.

"Opportunities will present themselves for all those guys this week," said Mangini, whose team faces a young, improving Bills defense on the road. "At the end of the week, we'll pick the best one."

The lack of a pass rush also was evident against the Patriots. The Jets sacked Tom Brady only once, and that came on an all-out blitz in which safety Kerry Rhodes blindsided him and forced a fumble. On some plays, Brady had enough time to cry a river over the loss of Deion Branch.

Clearly, the Jets miss John Abraham's ability as a speed rusher. In two games, they have only three sacks. Is more blitzing the answer? Unofficially, they rushed at least five players on 11 of Brady's 29 pass attempts, a fair amount of blitzing. But not even that worked; aside from Rhodes' sack, they hit Brady only once.

Despite the obvious deficiencies, the players took pride in their comeback, scoring 17 unanswered points.

"Character was revealed in that second half," Kimo von Oelhoffen said. "Resolve. Persistence. Those are all good traits."

Intangibles are important, but Mangini focused on the tangibles. He doesn't want pats on the back.

"You don't get any credit for those," he said matter-of-factly.

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JETS RUN DOWN

DOMINATED ON BOTH LINES BY PATS

By JAY GREENBERG

jetslede09192006.jpg

September 19, 2006 -- On the first losing Monday of the Eric Mangini Era, the coach who preaches consistency to his players stayed predictably and cantankerously true to his principles.

"He was the same mean little guy you see every day," said Laveranues Coles, the noted Mangini watcher. "You're always going to get something negative.

"If you have a great day or feel like you had a great day, he's going to find something to correct. It's the same ornery guy."

The Jets, once down 24-0, nevertheless had the ball and a chance to tie at the end. Wasn't there something good to be said for that?

"Yeah," said Coles, "he said, 'You guys fought hard in the second half.' After that, it was all downhill."

As it should have been. The Jets did not get a single first down rushing, or a key stop the entire game, with the exception of Kerry Rhodes' sack and strip of Tom Brady that set up Mike Nugent's 42-yard field goal that cut the lead to 24-17. Three times on the Patriots' ensuing, game-devouring, drive, Brady passed for the required yardage on third down. A fourth time, Corey Dillon ran for it on first down.

You can't dig a 24-0 hole and expect to win, the Jets told us. Well, duh. More to the point, you can't get a lead and hold it, the way most games are won, if you're getting handled along the line of scrimmage.

It is understood that the Jets' offensive line, which has two first-round rookies and Sunday was without veteran glue Pete Kendall, would be a work in progress. Perhaps, considering the switch to the 3-4, the same pass should be extended the defensive line. But in Game 2 of Year 3 of nose tackle Dewayne Robertson's Jet career, shouldn't there have been some sighting of him?

"I thought overall he did a good job doing what we asked him to do, which is what we expect from everyone," said Mangini. "That may not be getting sacks or interceptions."

In the case of Robertson, now a nose tackle, the job is to take on double teams, perhaps not as many as the Jets would have you believe. On Sunday, the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft had one tackle and one assist, not exactly Warren Sapp numbers.

"I've got a lot of stuff to learn, but I'm doing what they ask me to do," said Robertson. "If there's a way to free somebody else, that's what I'm going to do."

Dillon ran for 80 yards, Laurence Maroney for 65. The Patriots ran on eight of 11 plays on their first scoring drive and on five of seven plays during their third-quarter drive. The Jets managed a pathetic 32 net yards rushing, not just because they fell behind.

"One play the line does a good job and maybe the back doesn't hit the hole a proper way, the next time the line doesn't do what it's supposed to do," said Mangini, who held open the possibility that Cedric Houston might be activated for Sunday's game in Buffalo, and the probability that this line isn't going to be a crisp unit by that time.

"I am pleased with Nick [rookie center Mangold]," said Mangini. "A good way to evaluate young guys is when you don't have to say the name and I haven't said Nick's name very often the last month or so.

"D'Brickashaw [Ferguson] has done some good things," Mangini added. "Left tackle is another challenging position to play as a rookie."

jay.greenberg@nypost.com

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UPON FURTHER REVIEW, A

GREAT 'COTCH'

By JAY GREENBERG

September 19, 2006 -- JET NOTES

Enough, says Jerricho Cotchery. Just how many times can a guy watch himself make the greatest play of his life?

"I saw it so many times tonight and today, I don't want to see it no more," said the smiling Jets receiver yesterday.

Well, OK, maybe one more, if Eric Mangini thinks there's inspiration to be gained from it. That apparently was the case yesterday when the coach showed Cotchery's, gravity-defying, comeback-inspiring, 71-yard catch and touchdown run "four or five times" to the Jets.

"I think it was just one of the things you notice something different each time," said Cotchery. "You notice the knee didn't go down, then that only the elbow touched, then the hit that I took.

"That's probably why he replayed it. I guess he wanted to show the effort I was trying to put out for the guys. They were amazed about the play, every time we had a lot of guys saying 'great play, great job.' It feels good. The most important thing was we needed a spark, needed some energy. That meant the most to me."

Mangini apparently didn't comment as he replayed the video, instead saving for Cotchery - as well as other Jet receivers - the media praise for the toughness they showed in making plays after catches. "I believe in this group of receivers," Mangini said.

Cotchery spent most of the offseason working at Athletic Performance, a sweat tank on the Arizona State campus, where he improved his agility, strength and speed in the 40.

"When I came back to camp, I was in the low 4.4s," he said. "Last year I was nowhere near that, probably in the mid 4.5s."

*

If called upon to put a first down or two into the Jets' so far pathetic running game, Cedric Houston, inactive for the first two games after starting the final four 2005 contests for the injured Curtis Martin, says he will be ready.

"It definitely makes you hungry," said Houston. "But if I'm not active the rest of the year, I'm still going to practice hard in case my number is called."

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Thanks, Sperm. Just a couple of things from the articles:

-The Seymour low hit on Chad WAS a dirty play, and could have been career ending. I saw the replay on the Wilfork play, and after he jumped offsides, he just pushed Chad down with his arm. It's a penalty, but not particularly dirty. Seymour's hit was literally a low blow, and a cheap, dirty shot.

-I am somewhat glad that my opinion on the RBs missing the holes was affirmed by Mangini in the Greenberg article. I saw them missing a hole and running into the back of the blocker way too often.

-You know they are a little desperate on the OL when they try using a OT (Jones) at guard for the first time in a game. Although it didnt work out, I think it was a good idea to try it, b/c it could have worked in theory.

-The Bills defense is quick, and our rbs look slow. Not good.

-As long as the interior lines on offense and def continue to struggle, its going to be a tough haul, no matter how well the DBs and QB and WRs play.

-Coles' description of Mangini as "ornery" and "a mean little guy" is going to raise some eyebrows in ther locker room.

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Coles was always a little moody “no one truly appreciates me enough” kind of guy. And given his well-documented past from childhood & being made the scapegoat while Warrick got a get-out-of-jail-free-card, it’s not surprising. If he keeps playing like he does and doesn’t create a rift in the locker room, I care not.

At least the attitudes of others are changing.

"A loss is a loss," defensive end Kimo Von Oelhoffen said. "We're concentrating on wins and losses. You play this game to win, not to play hard and come up short."

"I don't believe in moral victories," guard Brandon Moore said. "You only get wins and losses and we got an "L" for that."

And some things are physically changing:

Jets strength coach Markus Paul…has helped reduce [Cotchery’s] 40-time from the mid-4.5s last season to the low 4.4s this season....

This doesn’t make me think the injury is over yet:

With G Pete Kendall still nursing a hamstring injury, veteran C Trey Teague or newly signed G/T Wade Smith might get a shot at replacing him....
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Jets' notebook

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New skill set

Jerricho Cotchery wasn't happy with one particular measurable last season: his 40-yard-dash time.

"I was probably in the mid-4.5's," Cotchery said Monday. "A lot of guys would tell me I play faster than that on the field. But this off-season I wanted to improve my speed."

When he came out of coach Markus Paul's strength and conditioning program for training camp, he had gotten his time into the low 4.4's.

Speed was one of the attributes Cotchery showed on his amazing 71-yard catch-and-run Sunday, when he was hit by Chad Scott, landed on Eugene Wilson, then popped up without his elbow or knee touching the turf and sped the final 48 yards untouched for the touchdown.

One exercise may have been extremely effective in Cotchery improving his balance.

"Shaun Ellis joked with me this morning," he said, "that those single-leg squats came in handy."

That thing they do

Right guard Brandon Moore captured the secret of New England's success the past six seasons when he was asked about the Patriots playing the 4-3 as their base alignment all game.

"We were prepared for their defense," Moore said. "But we were expecting them to come with something we weren't expecting. That's their M.O."

Briefs

Coach Eric Mangini said LG Pete Kendall, who was questionable all last week with his left hamstring strain, "really just wasn't ready to go" and was deactivated for the Patriots. ... Chad Pennington's TD pass to Cotchery was the longest scoring reception by a Jets wide receiver at Giants Stadium since 1985, when Richard Todd hooked up with Wesley Walker for 88 yards in a 16-13 OT win over the Patriots.

-- Randy Lange

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'Ornery' Mangini has plenty to fix

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

By RANDY LANGE

STAFF WRITER

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- For every NFL team, after every Football Sunday except the last one, there's a Correction Monday.

In its most positive light, Jets fullback B.J. Askew said the day after a game "is probably the most important part of a game. You watch film because nobody plays perfect. Then you put the win or loss behind you."

But wide receiver Laveranues Coles has a different take on Correction Monday as conducted by coach Eric Mangini.

"He was the same mean little guy you see every day," Coles said of Mangini the day after the Jets' 24-17 loss to the Patriots. "You're always going to get something negative. If you have a great day or if you feel like you had a great day, he's going to find something to correct. He's the same ornery guy."

There's no hint that Coles is in line for a fine for calling his coach "ornery," in, of course, the best sense of the word. But it's possible Mangini doesn't mind anyone knowing he's El Exigente when it comes to examining his players' mistakes.

"It's human nature," Mangini said. "When you win, you want to gloss over things. When you lose, you want to press things.

"We met this morning as a group and went through some of the problems of the game. The coaches are meeting with the players and going through the corrections. It has to be a consistent approach, and the approach is to recognize the things we did well and fix the things we did poorly."

Some errors the Jets committed in falling behind the Pats, 24-0, should be easily correctable. Ben Graham probably won't shank another punt such as his 10-yarder before the half that helped the visitors to their second touchdown and a 17-0 halftime lead.

And safety Erik Coleman can take care of the holding call on third-and-20 that kept the Patriots rolling to their final TD.

But other areas are more problematic, such as the run defense. Sending Corey Dillon and rookie Laurence Maroney up the gut in leading a 147-yard rushing attack may have been a case of the Patriots wanting to physically challenge and even confuse a unit still feeling its way in the 3-4.

Yet linebacker Eric Barton wasn't happy with what he saw from his side of the ball.

"We need to stop the run. That's evident," Barton said. "We've got to do whatever it takes to fix that."

Then there is running the ball themselves. That's a festering issue after the Jets managed 51 yards at 2.1 yards per carry and no first downs Sunday.

One way to change the equation in the backfield is to add Cedric Houston to it. Houston has a toughness and yards-after-first-contact dimension that hasn't been used the first two games because he's been deactivated. But Mangini at least left open the door to Houston's debut Sunday at Buffalo.

"Cedric's done a good job during the preseason, and even in preparation during the week," Mangini said. "I'm pleased with the way he's approaching things. Opportunities will present themselves for all those guys this week, and at the end of the week we'll pick the best ones."

The Jets weren't long on specifics of how they'll correct the run, the pass protection, the run defense and the pass rush. But however pleasant or uncomfortable any given Correction Monday is, all players always watch the video and listen to the critiques from their coaches. "Especially after a loss, you have to have a tough skin," said Coleman

But there's another reason to put up with it.

"The next team you play," Coleman said, "they're watching the same tape this week."

E-mail: lange@northjersey.com

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