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MANGINI STILL IN CLEMENS' CORNER- NY POST

By MARK CANNIZZARO

KELLEN TIME: Jets coach Eric Mangini rushed to the defense of his first-year starting quarterback Kellen Clemens, who struggled mightily in Gang Green's loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.November 27, 2007 -- Four days after the Jets' blowout loss to the Cowboys in Dallas, Kellen Clemens' struggles since taking over the quarterback job from Chad Pennington remain a topic of interest.

Clemens, who had his worst performance yet in Thursday's game against the Cowboys, has completed only 49.1 percent of his passes with only three touchdown passes and six interceptions in his four starts. His yards-per-attempt average is an anemic 5.61 and his passer rating is a paltry 56.9.

Most importantly, Clemens has led the Jets to only three offensive touchdowns in his four starts, two in the last three starts since taking over for Pennington.

Yesterday, Eric Mangini went out of his way - as much as he goes out of his way - to defend Clemens, making it clear that, though Clemens has had his struggles, the players around him haven't helped him be successful.

"The whole group needs to play better than we did offensively in Dallas," Mangini said yesterday. "In order for him to be effective, the offensive line needs to be effective. They need to be effective in providing not just protection in terms of the pocket but also the ability to establish an effective running game. To evaluate any position, you have to be working in all the different areas to give it an honest assessment."

In fairness to Clemens, aside from the fact that the offensive line has been an inconsistent mess all season and the fact that his top receiver, Laveranues Coles, has missed two of the last three games, Clemens has faced some of the NFL's better defenses in his starts.

The Cowboys are ranked No. 7 overall in defense, the Steelers are ranked No. 1 overall, including No. 1 against the pass. The Redskins are ranked No. 9 overall and the Ravens, whom Clemens faced in his first NFL start back in September with Pennington injured, are ranked No. 4 overall.

"Those four defensive teams have made a lot of quarterbacks' days difficult, more seasoned guys than Kellen," Mangini said.

Clemens will have a chance to make progress in the coming weeks because he'll be facing some lesser-ranked defenses, beginning with Sunday in Miami, where the Jets will play the Dolphins. Miami entered last night's game in Pittsburgh with the 19th-ranked defense, including 32nd against the run.

After the Dolphins come the Browns, who are ranked last in the NFL in total defense and 30th against the pass.

Following those two games, though, it gets tough again, with the Patriots (No. 3 overall defense), Titans (No. 5 overall) and Chiefs (No. 10 overall) to close out the season.

Rankings aside, though, Clemens will have no chance to succeed without more help around him.

"We need to pick up the play around him to help him out, we need to establish the running game, protect him and get open; it's a collective effort on offense," tight end Chris Baker said.

"As an offense, we haven't been very good,'' right guard Brandon Moore said. "We've got to give (Clemens) a chance. We've got to be able to give him time (to throw). (Against Dallas), we didn't give him a lot of opportunities to do anything."

*

Believe it or not, Coles, when asked yesterday if he thinks the Patriots will go 16-0 this season, said, "I hope so."

Huh?

"They have a chance to do something a lot of people have never done," Coles said. "I wish them the best. They have a great team and they've weathered all the criticism. I just have a lot of respect for them as a team. I've never been the type of person to hate on anybody.

"I want good people to do good things and it seems like they have an excellent team. Why not want them to do well?

"Looking at their record and numbers, you can't help but respect them and appreciate what they've done."

Coles, who has missed two of the last three games, was in uniform at practice yesterday but didn't participate in any physical drills, obviously resting his sprained left ankle. His status for Sunday remains in question.

mark.cannizzaro@nypost.com

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Eric Mangini gives pass to Kellen Clemens, stands by Jets' starter

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Tuesday, November 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

Kellen Clemens isn't getting bashed as much as Eli Manning - who is? - but his Thanksgiving performance against the Cowboys raised questions about whether he can be the long-term answer for the Jets.

Monday, Eric Mangini stood by his young quarterback, emphasizing that shaky pass protection and the receivers' inability to get open were contributing factors. Clemens, 1-3 as the starter, has faced four teams ranked in the top nine in total defense.

"You know, those four defensive teams made a lot of quarterbacks' days difficult, more seasoned guys than Kellen," said Mangini, referring to the Ravens, Redskins, Steelers and Cowboys. "That being said, he still needs to continue to improve with his reads and his pocket presence, and all the things that you're looking for from a quarterback."

There were "multiple times" that Clemens was under duress in Dallas, according to Mangini. RG Brandon Moore called it "by far our worst game" as an offensive line, adding, "(Clemens) had no chance to be successful. It was pretty bad."

Mangini said Justin McCareins and Brad Smith "need to create some space and some opportunities for Kellen." Clearly, the Jets missed Laveranues Coles (ankle).

THAT HURTS: Coles dressed yesterday, but he didn't participate in any drills during a 30-minute media window. ... Rookie CB Darrelle Revis was lauded by Mangini for his performance against Terrell Owens.

"I thought he did a really good job," said Mangini, not one to gush about rookies. "There was no sense of, 'I'm a rookie, you're a Pro Bowl player,' that sort of inherent tentativeness that you may find."

"I thought he did a really good job," said Mangini, not one to gush about rookies. "There was no sense of, 'I'm a rookie, you're a Pro Bowl player,' that sort of inherent tentativeness that you may find."

Revis held Owens to six catches for 65 yards. On the downside, Revis did surrender a 22-yard touchdown to Owens. ... TE Chris Baker on how Clemens fared in Dallas' hostile environment: "It was a hostile environment in Baltimore (in Week 2). The Meadowlands was a hostile environment, too."

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Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles support Patriots' quest to go undefeated

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Tuesday, November 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

Antonelli/News

Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles (r. and below) say that if any team is to go undefeated, they wouldn't mind it being New England.

Antonelli/News

Coming out of the preseason, the big question surrounding the Jets was whether they had improved enough to close the gap on the Patriots. (Pause here for laughter.)

Now, with only five weeks remaining in a season gone horribly wrong, the Jets are watching with admiration as their archenemy marches toward history.

It might sound like heresy, but wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery actually said Monday they would applaud the Patriots if they finish undefeated.

"If anybody is going to do it, I hope it's somebody from our division," said Cotchery, adding, "They can (go 16-0). It would be a good thing."

Said Coles: "You wish them the best. You can't help but respect them. Look at what they've done, look at what they're doing. They weathered all the criticism and still went out and had a great year."

To be clear, Coles said he wants to beat the Patriots on Dec. 16 at Gillette Stadium, adding, "You never want to be part of their history, trust me." But, at the same time, Coles said he isn't going to get worked up if the Patriots go undefeated - a comment that is sure to raise the ire of rabid Jets fans.

"They have a chance to do something a lot of people haven't done," Coles said. "I'm not against what they're shooting for. If they do it, great. Everybody should congratulate them and say they did a good job. I don't think anybody should be holding it over their head."

This is a blood rivalry, dating to Bill Parcells' jump from the Patriots to the Jets in 1997. Because of the deep-rooted animosity, fueled by the recent SpyGate scandal, it's assumed that the Jets' players sit in dark rooms, poking needles into Tom Brady and Bill Belichick voodoo dolls.

Not so, according to Coles.

"I'm not the type of person to hate on anybody," he said. "You always want good people to do good things. It seems like they have an excellent team and they have great guys. So why wouldn't you want them to do well?"

The players might feel that way, but it's a different story with the front offices and coaching staffs.

The Belichick-Eric Mangini relationship, fractured when Mangini left the Patriots in January 2006, probably never will be repaired.

On this season's opening day, Mangini and the Jets blew the whistle on his former mentor and the Patriots for illegally videotaping their coaches' defensive signals from the sideline, resulting in unprecedented discipline from the NFL. The Patriots were docked a first-round draft pick, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the club was fined $250,000.

In 19 days, the Patriots will play host to the Jets in the mother of all grudge matches. The Belichick-Mangini postgame encounter (if there is one) will produce the most scrutinized handshake of the year. The Patriots, who improved to 11-0 in a Sunday night thriller against the Eagles, could be 13-0 by then.

The game will culminate a strange couple of weeks for the Jets. On Sunday, they travel to the hapless Dolphins. There will be pressure on the Jets because they don't want to be Miami's first victim. Then again, as safety Kerry Rhodes notes, "We're not that much ahead of them."

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Jets not blaming Clemens for rout by Cowboys

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

November 27, 2007

Unable to provide much protection or support for Kellen Clemens on Thanksgiving Day, Jets players and coaches were falling over themselves to deflect criticism aimed at the second-year quarterback coming off his worst performance as a pro. Laveranues Coles even tried to pin the loss on himself ... and he didn't play in the game against the Cowboys.

"A lot of that wasn't on Kellen; most of it wasn't," right guard Brandon Moore said of the offense, which gained only 180 yards and had only two possessions of more than four plays. "We didn't do a good job of giving him a chance."

Clemens, who spent most of the game scrambling away from Dallas' pressure, completed only 12 of 27 passes - to avoid a sack, he threw one incompletion lefthanded - and had a passer rating of 45.6. He also was sacked three times. It was a poor enough performance to warrant the first series of questions for Eric Mangini on whether he considered yanking Clemens just three games after he made the switch from Chad Pennington. The name Marques Tuiasosopo even was mentioned by some as a possible solution, a suggestion Mangini tried hard not to chortle at.

"He's had four defenses that are pretty tough to deal with," Mangini said yesterday, noting that Clemens' first four starts have come against the Ravens, Redskins, Steelers and Cowboys. "Those four defensive teams have made a lot of quarterbacks' days difficult, more seasoned guys than Kellen."

Mangini wouldn't say that the five remaining games will be a test for Clemens, a chance for him to prove he can lead the Jets or hint that the franchise must look at other options at quarterback. But he didn't say whether Clemens is the long-term answer, either.

"We're looking at different things throughout the course of the game," Mangini said. "It's not unique to Kellen. It's across the board."

Clemens' numbers haven't been impressive. He's completed 78 of 159 for 892 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions. In his last three games since taking over as starter, Clemens has completed 49 of 100 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Jets (2-9) have had only those two offensive touchdowns during his three-game tenure, are 17-for-49 on third- and fourth-down conversions, and are 2-for-8 inside the red zone. They've also had seven first-and-goals and scored only two touchdowns.

"We're still real early into his career, so you're going to have some good times and bad times," tight end Chris Baker said. "I think he's doing a really good job and we have to pick up the play around him to help him out."

Mangini was asked if it's beneficial for a quarterback to be thrown into the proverbial fire (as apparently has happened to Clemens) or sit out for a while, watch and wait. He made an immediate comparison to a young quarterback who flourished during Mangini's time as an assistant in New England.

"I don't know what his numbers were early. I don't think they were off the charts," Mangini said of Tom Brady. "But he's developed pretty well over time."

Notes&quotes: One of the few bright spots in the loss to the Cowboys was the play of CB Darrelle Revis on Terrell Owens, who caught six passes for 65 yards. "He really did a nice job with his jams at the line of scrimmage," Mangini said. "There was no sense of 'I'm a rookie, you're a Pro Bowl player,' that sort of inherent tentativeness that you may find." Mangini said Revis might need to spend more time working on catching footballs after letting a sure-thing interception pop off his shoulder pads. "But it's nice to see him put himself in those positions," Mangini said ... The Jets will wear their blue throwback Titans jerseys for the second time this year when they face the Dolphins in Miami on Sunday ... Coles was asked if there will be any pressure to avoid being the first team to lose to the Dolphins. "Why would it be pressure? We're both losing," he said. "It's not like you're New England and you're 10-0 or whatever. No, there's no pressure."

Sunday

Jets at Miami

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050), WABC (770), WRCN (103.9)

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Jets' Revis learning quickly

By DENNIS WASZAK JR.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Original publication: November 27, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - One play ruined Darrelle Revis' day.

The Jets' rookie cornerback was holding his own against Terrell Owens on Thanksgiving when Tony Romo lofted a pass just past Revis' outstretched left arm and into the Dallas wide receiver's hands for a touchdown.

"I was mad," Revis said yesterday as the Jets returned to Hofstra after a few days off. "I played him well the whole game, and at the end, I just slipped up on the pass."

The game was already out of reach when Owens' 22-yard catch with 6:12 remaining punctuated the Cowboys' 34-3 victory, but that was of little consolation to Revis.

"He got me and I was upset, but veteran guys just told me to keep my head up and keep on working hard," he said.

The fact Revis held Owens to six catches for 65 yards must have been a huge eye-opener for the Cowboys' receiver, who earlier in the week claimed he had never heard of the rookie.

"I'm sure he knows who I am," Revis said with a grin. "I don't want it to be a confrontation thing where it's going to turn out negative. I mean, we played against each other, he's a great receiver, and I hope he thinks I'm a good corner."

The Jets certainly do. Revis has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.

The Jets (2-9) traded up in the first round to draft Revis, who was regarded as one of the best cornerbacks available. After a lengthy training-camp holdout, Revis proved a quick study - so much so that he cracked the starting lineup for the opener and has been a starter since.

He's shown some lapses at times but has been mostly solid, while going against the likes of Owens, Randy Moss and Chad Johnson week in and week out.

"It's fun and, at times, it's kind of crazy," said Revis, whose 68 tackles are second on the team. "You line up against these guys and you see them and you're like, 'I'm going up against Randy Moss or Chad Johnson.' To me, you just have to focus on the big picture. You can't be scared. You have to go out there with confidence and play within the game plan and try to make plays."

Coach Eric Mangini was particularly pleased with Revis' effort, calling it "excellent." Owens had 24 catches for 472 yards and seven touchdowns in his previous three games.

"There was no sense of, 'I'm a rookie, you're a Pro Bowl player' - that sort of inherent tentativeness that you may find," Mangini said. "He was aggressive throughout the course of the game."

Mangini said Revis' only mistake on the touchdown was that he looked back at the ball a bit too early, allowing Owens to create the slightest bit of separation.

"If he just stayed a little bit tighter on that, the difference between the completion and incompletion was 6 inches, maybe 8," Mangini said.

The Jets' coach has been impressed by Revis' approach to working on weaknesses and not repeating mistakes. Mangini thinks Revis can improve his hands and reaction time by using a JUGS machine that fires footballs at high speeds. Revis has one interception and could have had a few others this season, including a slant pass to Owens early in the game at Dallas.

"That ball comes so quickly, you have to react to it and have your hands up quick enough," Mangini said. "That could have gone the other way. It's nice to see him put himself in those positions, but we've definitely got to work on the JUGS."

A year ago, Revis was still at the University of Pittsburgh watching guys like Owens, Moss and Johnson light up NFL defensive backs on television highlights. He learned quickly that there's no room for self-doubt when preparing for a big matchup.

"I've always been confident," Revis said. "That's just how I play and that's how I try to be. Going up against the best, it was great. It was great competition for me, and I think as well as T.O., too. It was a fun game. The last play, he got me at the end, but my progress, it's just getting better every day."

And his teammates can attest to that.

"He has been impressive since Day One," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "He came in and wasn't a big-talking guy, which is good for a rookie. He came in, listened, learned, and picked up as many things as he could early on. He's continuing to get better, and that's the way it should be."

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