Make It Work Eric!
The Jets have capped off what has been a fantastic and expensive offseason. The final piece of the puzzle arrived around 1:30 AM on August 7th when the Jets finalized a deal that made first ballot HOF’er Brett Favre the quarterback of the New York Jets. With the addition of Favre to go along with Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, and Calvin Pace this is arguably the most talented team on paper that the Jets have fielded since 1999, a season that went up in flames when Quarterback Vinny Testeverde was injured in the season opener. Make no mistake about it, owner Woody Johnson saw what happened when the New York Giants won the Super Bowl and decided the Jets should be there at all costs. Argue all you want about the Jets not operating this way, but these moves are focused on grabbing the headlines in New York City and trying to run away with the town in the winter.
There are no more excuses for this team and the pressure is squarely on Eric Mangini’s shoulders. The pocket book wasn’t just opened for the coach it was completely torn apart. Now its up to Mangini to make this thing work. This isn’t the three year or four year plan anymore. The holdovers from the Edwards era are all basically gone. The door on that era was closed for good when the Jets handed Chad Pennington his walking papers. This is Mangini’s team. This is his vision and he has to make it work. He has his linemen. He has his linebackers. He has his secondary. He has his running back. He has his tight end. He has his special teamers. And now he has his quarterback.
Historically, the Jets have been bad in the past dealing with distraction and expectations. Last year was a prime example where the distractions caused by Pete Kendall got things off to a bad start they never recovered from. The distractions and expectations will never be bigger for any of these players and coaches than in 2008. The media is going to be all over training camp from this point onward. Preseason games will likely have close to capacity crowds. The team is going to be all over Sunday nights once the flex schedule hits. The Jets are going to be the hottest ticket in town- bigger than the Yankees, bigger than the Mets and, for once, bigger than the Super Bowl Champion Giants. Nobody on this team has faced this scrutiny and media coverage before except for Favre. It's up to Eric Mangini to take the pressure off his players and make sure they respond.
Mangini’s career will be made or broken by the 2008 season. If the team fails to meet their goals Mangini will not be brought back in 2009. You can not expect an owner to spend this amount of money and see the team produce a 9-7 record. That’s not good enough. The Jets don’t need to win the division, but they have to win 11 games or more and have a realistic chance at the division in December. If the team does anything less why would you bring the coach back? This is a two year window of opportunity for the Jets and the team from 2008 and 2009 is going to be made up of the exact same cast. If he can’t do it now what would make you think he can do it then? The answer is simple, he cant.
Mangini doesn’t have alot of time to get everyone on the same page. The first regular season game is less than 1 month away and his starting QB has yet to take any reps with his team. Nobody should get carried away with a slow start. As long as the team is 2-2 going into their bye week there should be no worries. Coming out of the bye will be more than enough time for the Jets to put things together and get what should be good “on paper” to be good “on the field”. If Mangini makes it work he is going to put himself in a very elite group of coaches and in line to make some big money. If he fails he’ll be forever tainted as the guy who never should have left Bill Belichick’s side and be lucky to ever get another shot at a head coaching job. There is no in between this time. It's all or nothing for the coach.
Its an exciting time to be a Jet fan. Its been a long time since Jet fans felt this way.
Now its up to the coach to make the excitement and good feelings last. Everyone is pulling for Eric Mangini, lets hope he is up to the challenge and makes it work for all of the Jets fans.