Life in Cortland, N.Y., is much better for the Jets this year. That much can be deduced by some players' recent comments to The Los Angeles Times regarding the differences between new coach Rex Ryan and former coach Eric Mangini.
Some Jets were careful not to specifically call out Mangini. Others, like safety Kerry Rhodes, weren't.
"I think it's always best if you can [be open and speak your mind]," Rhodes told the Times, "because if you don't you can end up holding so much stuff in that at the end of the day it can be combustible. That's how we ended up with the last coach."
Offensive lineman Damien Woody didn't mention Mangini's name specifically, though his comments left little to the imagination.
"Here I am 31 years old, I've got my own kids, and I'm married," Woody told the Times. "And here's someone that's not that much older than me — or whatever the case may be — telling me what I can and can't do. It's so regimented where the game is just not a game anymore. It's not fun. Even when you win it's not fun."
Though Mangini quickly found a job in Cleveland shortly after being fired by the Jets, the head coach hasn't had much smooth sailing with his new team. First, Cleveland's Pro Bowl defensive end Shaun Rogers was miffed with Mangini after the coach ignored him on two occasions. Then, Mangini made headlines for the wrong reasons after gently coercing his rookies to participate in a football camp. The coach also didn't warm himself up to the city by ordering a mural of all-time Browns greats be taken down.
Last week, receiver Syndric Steptoe blamed Mangini for his season-ending injury, which was sustained at practice. The ongoing quarterback controversy brewing in Cleveland won't help Mangini either.
Ryan has taken a different approach in New York, telling the Jets that they need to have more fun.
"It was great to hear," Woody said. "I'd never heard that in my whole career, for a guy to say that. He wants things to be enjoyable, where you have fun but get your work done."
Though the Jets may have disagreed with Mangini's methods, it's hard to argue with his effectiveness. Mangini inherited a 4-12 Herm Edwards team and instantly flipped them into a 10-6 playoff team. The following season, the Jets could only win four games, but Mangini and the Jets recovered in 2008 to go 9-7, even with a broken down Brett Favre taking snaps through December.
Sure, Mangini isn't exactly bound for the Hall of Fame with his 23-25 record, but Ryan's method — which appears to be somewhat comparable to that of Edwards — offers no guarantee of success.
Ryan's team could be considered a step ahead, though, as Mangini and the Browns were shut out in their preseason opener.
Given the Jets' bold statements about their former coach, the preseason loss could be a sign of things to come in Cleveland.
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