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Bench marks Mangini era




In five seasons as the Jets' coach, Herm Edwards rarely benched a player for performance reasons. Once a player landed a starting job, it was his for the rest of the season. It was a cushy situation, and the starters loved it. Who wouldn't?

Under Eric Mangini, there is no job security, only job scrutiny. If a player has a bad game or a bad week of practice, he could lose his position or, at the very least, playing time. Sometimes all it takes is one bad play. There are no free passes.

The Mangini Rules were demonstrated Sunday in Buffalo, where he made three starting-lineup changes - a rather telling response to his first loss as an NFL head coach. Imagine what might have happened if the Jets had been blown out the previous week by the Patriots.

In a short time, Mangini has created a sense of urgency in the locker room. Some players feel it causes unnecessary stress. Others believe it fosters competition, which, in theory, should make the team better.

"When you're under pressure, it shows your true character," safety Erik Colemen, one of the unlucky three, said yesterday. "You're either going to rise to the occasion or fold."

Coleman had started 34 straight games, the longest streak on the defense. But last week he was told by Mangini that the plan for Buffalo was to "mix it up" and start Derrick Strait. It was no coincidence that Coleman played poorly against the Patriots.

So Coleman sat the first two series of the Jets' 28-20 win in Buffalo, spending the rest of the game in a rotation with Strait. Cornerback Justin Miller incurred the same fate, beginning on the bench and spelling David Barrett throughout the game.

No one suffered a more dramatic fall than Derrick Blaylock, who, in one week, went from starting running back to fourth string. He didn't get the job done in two starts, rushing for 44 yards on 25 carries (a 1.8 average), but he never imagined he'd lose a spot on the active roster.

But that's what happened, as Mangini decided to go with Kevan Barlow, rookie Leon Washington and Cedric Houston (inactive in Weeks 1 and 2) as his three backs. Blaylock watched the game in street clothes. He seemed at a loss when asked to explain his demotion.

"You have to get that information from (the coaches)," he said. "I'm just like you: I don't know."

Mangini said he promoted Houston and Strait based on their performance last week in practice. Clearly, Mangini isn't afraid to upset the status quo. In training camp, Mangini gave the starting flanker job to Jerricho Cotchery, whom he felt had outworked incumbent Justin McCareins. When Mike Nugent missed two field goals and an extra point in the opener, the Jets brought in three kickers for tryouts - a clear message to Nugent.

Against the Bills, Mangini benched linebacker Victor Hobson for two quarters after a roughing-the-passer penalty. When Hobson returned in the third quarter, he teamed up with safety Kerry Rhodes to make the biggest play of the game, returning a fumble (caused by Rhodes on a sack) for a touchdown. Later, Hobson registered a sack.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Mangini makes changes for Sunday's game against the Colts (3-0). Barlow, for one, could be on the hot seat.

Fear can be a terrific motivator.

"It holds you accountable," said tight end Chris Baker, who never felt he got a fair shot under Edwards to win the starting job. "You have to work every day. You can't take days off. We got that message early in camp. There were no days off for the veterans, like in the past."

For the Jets, the not-too-distant past is ancient history.

Originally published on September 26, 2006

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Under Herm and co., Blaylock would have started last week in Buffalo. And we still might be waiting for a Leon Washington sighting.

Especially with all of Hermie's sentimental crap, since Blaylock and his wife just had a baby boy. All the best to him and his family, but that means very little when you don't gain any yards.

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Four words-

"Mo Lewis" and "Marvin Jones".

Damn when you were drafted or your salary, produce and do your job, or have a seat. There's the biggest difference between this regime and the last.

Don't blame Mo and Marvin for their poor performance. I blame that asswipe who used 260-280 lb LBs and expected them to drop into pass coverage. Marvin Jones was an absolute beast against the run. What did asswipe do? Get rid of the cover corners (give them away, in fact throw in a good young G for the privilege) and add "run stopping" cbs and then expect the LBs to drop into a zone. Guess what- if your corners cover and your LBs stuff the run you don't need that BS. Play the D that suits your personnel.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, but Mo and Marvin could only do it one way. Apparently Herm can't do it at all.

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