Jets hire Mangini as head coach
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Eric Mangini has worked for Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, learning from two of the greatest coaches in the NFL.
The New York Jets are banking on that pedigree to lead them back into the playoffs.
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Despite his youth and relative inexperience, the organization hired Mangini as its coach Tuesday. The former Patriots defensive coordinator, who turns 35 on Thursday, becomes the youngest head coach in the league.
Terms of the deal weren't known but it is believed he will get between $2 million and $2.5 million per year over five years.
"Being compared to Bill Belichick is one of the highest compliments you can be paid," Mangini said. "I am not Bill Belichick, I am not Bill Parcells. I am Eric Mangini. I'm going to approach it my way. I'm going to take the experiences and the lessons that I learned from those guys and I'm going to apply that to my team."
The baby-faced Mangini won't be confused with former coach Herman Edwards, who left for Kansas City last week. Mangini was reserved and low key at his introductory news conference, hardly exhibiting any of the fire and energy that is Edwards' trademark.
But this is a new era for the organization, which hopes Mangini can instill a different attitude after the Jets finished 4-12 last season. Much of those expectations have to do with the people Mangini has worked under.
While Mangini was going to Wesleyan, he figured he would be an investment banker. But he spent two summers studying in Australia while coaching a semipro football team. It was there he realized he wanted to go into coaching permanently.
Mangini took a job as a ball boy with the Cleveland Browns, then went to work in the public relations department. He then met Belichick, who gave him a few assignments to do. Belichick liked his work and gave him a job as an assistant in 1995.
In all, Mangini spent 10 of 11 years in the NFL working under Belichick.
"I learned a lot from Bill Belichick," Mangini said. "I learned you need to understand people. He is a master motivator. He was my mentor, my teacher and I consider him a close friend that I will have for the rest of my life."
Mangini, who also has close ties with Jets assistant general manager Mike Tannenbaum, interviewed with the team Sunday, a day after the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs. The Jets offered him the job late Monday night and Mangini accepted. Though there were reports Belichick tried to talk him out of taking the position, Mangini said his old coach was supportive.
The Jets interviewed seven other candidates, but they settled on Mangini because of his background and work ethic.
"He's got a strong pedigree," owner Woody Johnson said. "He's been a major contributor to a very successful organization. The most important thing is he demonstrated to us a passion for football, a passion for teaching. He knows something about the culture of football that appealed to us."
Even Parcells chimed in, saying in a statement: "More than anything, his experience in working alongside Bill Belichick and the success they had in New England will serve him well as he becomes a head coach."
Then there was the question of his age.
"Obviously my age is a question. But I read recently where Bill Walsh said you're never quite ready for your first head coaching job regardless of how old you are," Mangini said. "I'm not naive to think there won't be bumps along the way. We're going to grow together."
General manager Terry Bradway said that wasn't a concern.
"I have no problem with that. It's about experience and ability. It's not about age," Bradway said.
The Jets also interviewed former Vikings coach Mike Tice, former Saints coach Jim Haslett, former Rams interim coach Joe Vitt, Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and Jets assistants Donnie Henderson, Mike Heimerdinger and Mike Westhoff.
Mangini said he would meet with the coaches on staff in the next few days to decide who he wants to retain. It is unlikely Henderson and Heimerdinger will return; Westhoff could come back.
The team Mangini inherits has its share of questions, and has to be rebuilt on offense. The biggest dilemma is quarterback Chad Pennington, coming off his second major shoulder injury.
The offensive line and receiving corps have to be revamped, and a decision must be made on whether to keep running back Curtis Martin -- the only player to attend the news conference. Still, Mangini said there was no hesitancy in taking the job.
"I've been a coach for 11 years, I've been on three Super Bowl winning teams," Mangini said. "I've been with two of the greatest football minds in NFL history. I've got an extensive foundation to build the Jets into a Super Bowl-caliber franchise."
Mangini is the fourth NFL coach hired since the end of the regular season. There are still six openings: Buffalo, New Orleans, Oakland, Houston, Detroit and St. Louis.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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