AFC East: Bill Callahan
I'm talking about meaningful plays.
That's an excuse.
It was funny listening to coach Jason Garrett talk the other day about Bryant's only catch against the New Orleans Saints, a 44-yarder.
Garrett said despite getting the ball to Bryant for one play, it was a big one.
Bryant's talent affords the Cowboys an explosive presence in the passing attack. He needs the ball more.
This week in practice, the Cowboys worked on getting Bryant the ball in tight spaces, something quarterback Tony Romo isn't trying to do on game days.
That could change against the Giants.
"We are targeting him but getting him open and making sure he has catchable opportunities, that's a huge factor," offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. "We've considered that. We've worked hard to try to move him around this week and put him in quite a few different locations."
The return of Miles Austin from a hamstring injury shouldn't matter to the Cowboys. Sure, he can open the door for Bryant and tight end Jason Witten to make plays in the passing game, but the reality is Bryant needs the ball.
The Giants have spoken all week about how Bryant doesn't like to get touched. It's laughable really because Bryant is one of the more physical receivers in the league.
"You know, whatever gets them motivated, all I know is Sunday, I'm going to play my game," he said.
He loves the contact and plays up to it. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Bryant would almost wrestle the defenders who were trying to tackle him to the ground.
Bryant is going to be challenged Sunday by the secondary but more importantly, he needs to challenge Callahan and Romo to get him the ball. We're not talking about sideline antics or any of those things. He needs to point out what he's seeing on the field and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Maybe Garrett is going to change some things by telling Romo to force-feed the ball to Bryant. Callahan said he's proud that Romo's thrown only six interceptions this season, and he should be.
Callahan should also be looking for ways to get one of his top targets more opportunities to get the ball. One of his top threats has just 10 catches the last three games and has four games with fewer than five receptions. In the loss to the Saints, Bryant was targeted just twice and while he was covered tightly, the Cowboys didn't do enough to help him get open.
I'm sure Callahan is calling plays for Bryant to become the No. 1 option, but Romo is focusing away from him quickly. It needs to be different Sunday. Much different.
"Very excited about our game plan," Bryant said. "Not only me, but everybody. We're going to go out here and try to execute these plays the best way we possibly can."
The Jets already have announced they're keeping Brian Schottenheimer around, and they've spurned a team's request to speak to another assistant about becoming a coordinator.
ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton reports the Tennessee Titans approached the Jets about offensive line coach Bill Callahan filling their coordinator vacancy. The Jets declined because Callahan is under contract.
Callahan has overseen one of the NFL's best offensive lines the past three seasons. The Jets feature All-Pro center Nick Mangold and Pro Bowl left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Right guard Brandon Moore and right tackle Damien Woody are highly respected in the league.
Clayton, citing an unnamed source, said Callahan would like to be a coordinator again to enhance his allure as a future head coach candidate. Callahan was Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator for four years before being promoted to head coach in 2002. He became the fourth first-year head coach to take his team to the Super Bowl.
Callahan lasted only two seasons in Oakland. He became head coach at Nebraska and introduced the West Coast offense to a traditional ground-and-pound program.
Jets quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh also has significant coordinator experience. He handled play-calling duties for the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and the University of Pittsburgh.
There's no news value to this video. But it sure is a lot of fun to watch.
"SportsCenter" provides a rundown of the 10 greatest NFL tirades. Talk about your favorites (or any you think should have been included) in the comments section. My personal favorites: Nos. 5, 3 and 2.
Jim "Mouse" McNally, one of the NFL's most respected assistant coaches, did not completely retire when he left the Bills in 2008. McNally surreptitiously has been helping to coach the Jets' offensive line from 300 miles away.
"Cat's out of the bag now, huh?" Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan said with a chuckle. "God dang it."
Callahan mixed his metaphor, but there's no mistaking his respect for McNally, who coached NFL offensive lines for 28 years.
Callahan, a respected O-line coach himself, described McNally as being "like a golf pro" in his ability to scrutinize technique subtleties, labeled him "an encyclopedia of line play" and said McNally is "certainly one of the best coaches in modern football."
McNally, 66, technically is considered a Jets consultant. But the players call him "Coach." He breaks down Jets game and practice footage on his computer with Hudl software, which allows him to download video and playbook information through a secure Internet connection.
He's helping the Jets prepare for Sunday afternoon against the Bills in his backyard. The game will give McNally rare personal contact with the team he has been monitoring from afar since last summer.
"I look at practice every day," McNally said. "I look at the games. Then I talk to Coach Callahan about what I saw and the game plan and stuff like that."
McNally is in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. He grew up in suburban Kenmore, where he first was tagged "Mouse" in neighborhood pickup games. The nickname stuck when he stopped growing at 5-foot-8.
McNally's tenacity was evident by his compulsion to walk on as an offensive lineman for the University at Buffalo. He eventually played both offense and defense. On the coaching staff was a young Buddy Ryan, father of Jets head coach Rex Ryan. That link and a long relationship with Callahan are why McNally is helping a hometown rival.
McNally attended training camp at SUNY-Cortland last year as a guest. Callahan asked McNally to speak to his linemen. Eventually, McNally was breaking down film.
"I didn't purposely try to work for the Jets," McNally said. "Just my relationship with Callahan -- he's such a great friend of mine. It's something that keeps me busy. I don't do it full time.
"I'm kind of under the radar here in Buffalo. It was a convenient way to stay involved in pro football."
McNally rose to coaching prominence for his innovative methods. He spent 15 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, mentoring future Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz and four-time Pro Bowl guard Max Montoya. McNally also established his annual coaching clinic there, turning Cincinnati into what Callahan called "the Mecca" for O-line instruction.
McNally worked with the Carolina Panthers for four years, the New York Giants for five years and the Bills for four years.
"Technique was his greatest strength," said Ross Tucker, who started at left guard for McNally with the Bills in 2006. Tucker spent six seasons in the NFL and now is an ESPN analyst. "He had some technique things I never heard of that were effective and helpful."
One of McNally's inventive concepts was the "lazy forearm," an effective way to fend off a double team while keeping separation. Tucker explained it as a violent upward motion that pries a defender's shoulder back.
McNally's prized pupil in Buffalo was undrafted tight end Jason Peters. The Bills converted him to tackle, and McNally turned the raw specimen into a star. Although Peters became a contractual headache and forced the Bills to trade him, he has been selected to the past three Pro Bowls.
McNally was supposed to be on scene for "Hard Knocks" training camp this summer at SUNY-Cortland, but health issues prevented it. He underwent an emergency appendectomy and a serious follow-up surgery and myriad tests that sent him in and out of the hospital in June and July.
He has been getting out a little more now. He has been working with local high school teams such as St. Francis, Canisius and Kenmore West. He works as a fundraiser for his alma mater. He also has a website, where you can locate one of his upcoming clinics, learn about his annual camp and find instructional DVDs at CoachMcNally.com.
"I went from doing things all day long to sitting around the house and maybe taking a walk around the neighborhood," McNally said. "I've learned how to calm down a little bit. I don't have to leave the house at 6:30 in the morning. It's given me a perspective of that football life I had of 43 years of 'Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!' "
The Jets are thrilled he hasn't stopped completely. He doesn't need to zoom around the practice field like he did when he wore a whistle around his neck.
A steady bit rate from his telecomm provider will do just fine.
"He's been tremendous for me," Callahan said. "He's a wealth of information and knowledge and experience. That's invaluable in so many ways. You're talking about one of the greatest line coaches of all-time.
"He easily could have faded away, but it's great he's still a part of the game. He has so much to give. He's unselfish that way in terms of sharing information and trying to get players better and coaches better, whether it's working with his youth leagues or the New York Jets."
A big story line exists at left guard, and the script looks more like a buddy movie than a drama.
Without animus, second-year lineman Matt Slauson and rookie Vladimir Ducasse are competing for the vacancy created by the Jets' decision to cut perennial Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca.
Slauson, a sixth-round draft choice who played in only three games last year, has the edge for now. He has been working more with the first-team and will start in Monday night's preseason opener against the New York Giants.
But the Jets drafted Ducasse in the second round with the intention of seeing him succeed.
"He's going to be a really good player," Slauson said after Saturday morning's session at SUNY Cortland. "Once he gets everything down, he's going to be an absolute freak out there."
While camp competitions can alienate teammates and sometimes generate bitterness, that hasn't been the case with Slauson and Ducasse. They've been spending considerable time together away from the practice field.
"I don't want to make this about trying to mess the other guy up because then you're not going to have the best player out there," Slauson said. "I want to say 'Look, Vlad, we both want the job. One of us is going to get it, and it's going to be the better one of us. If that's you, great. If it's me, I'll be stoked.'
"But if I'm out there and trying to tell him the wrong stuff to do so I'll look better, it isn't going to help us at all."
The job is an important one. The Jets have one of the NFL's best offensive lines. It paved the way for the league's top rushing attack last year and must be able to keep defenses off young quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Slauson has benefited from his long relationship with Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan. They're entering their sixth season together. Callahan was Nebraska's head coach when he recruited Slauson there.
"He's a big, mean dude," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Both these guys are tough guys. ... But last year when we got in preseason games he was knocking guys all over the place. I was impressed then: 'Hey, we got a guy here.' So we kept him on the roster, and he's been developed.
"Could he be the long-term solution there at guard? I believe he could. We'll see. We're lucky. We got a young guy that's really coming on in Ducasse, but I think Slauson's ready to be a starter in this league."
In light of Slauson's supportive philosophy toward Ducasse, I asked Ryan if he had a favorite story of a veteran sabotaging his competition.
"The classic guy for that is Matt Stover," Ryan said with a wide grin. "You bring another kicker in, the guy would be booming the ball? It was unbelievable. Guy would be killing it, every kickoff 8 yards deep, launching field goals. By the time Stover was done with him, you never knew if they were kicking right-footed or left-footed.
"This happened every single year. It was amazing. And we had some good kickers come through there. He was the horse whisperer. It was crazy. He'd kick a ball sidewise or something, and Stover would come up there and barely get it over the goal post like he did for 15 years."
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- There's a load to discuss when it comes to the New York Jets.
Their ostentatious new head coach is generating headlines. Grandiose expectations have been placed on a revamped defense. Fans wonder who their quarterback will be and wring their hands about the receivers he'll throw to. Running backs are unhappy with their contracts.
For a change, nobody is talking about the Jets' offensive line.
|Paul Jasienski/Getty Images|
|D'Brickashaw Ferguson is part of an offensive line that had the same five starters in every game a year ago.|
All five starters are back after an admirable season in which nobody missed a start. And on a coaching staff that has experienced considerable turnover, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and line coach Bill Callahan remain.
"It's always good when you have that cohesion," Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said Saturday afternoon during a break at receiver David Clowney's youth football clinic. "Everybody's been the same, all our players, even the guys who don't start, our core is firm."
New York's offensive linemen were a strength in 2008, maybe the strength. For the first time in a long while, the front office didn't need to commit significant offseason resources to O-line restoration.
Three years ago, the Jets dedicated a pair of first-round draft picks toward re-establishing the line. They selected Ferguson fourth overall and center Nick Mangold 29th.
They fortified the unit through free agency last year, spending big bucks on perennial Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca and the versatile Damien Woody, who they inserted at right tackle. That gave them four first-round picks to go along with undrafted right guard Brandon Moore, a starter the past five seasons.
Mangold emerged as one of the league's best centers and made his first Pro Bowl. Faneca went to his eighth straight.
"It's interesting because even though the spotlight might've changed a little bit, every year is a new year," Ferguson said. "You're only as good as what you can do today.
"If we don't go out there and produce as a unit" -- he began to rhythmically slap the back of his right hand into his left palm to hammer home the point -- "you guys are going to be 'Hey, what's wrong with the line?' It's always a constant reminder that you might not have the spotlight on you right now, but that doesn't mean that you're not being watched, that people are not analyzing what you do."
The New York Jets made a grand total of three selections in this weekend's draft.
They went into the draft with only six picks and traded half of them in attention-grabbing maneuvers to snag USC quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick and Iowa running back Shonn Greene with the first pick Sunday morning.
Then there's the other guy.
Several hours after the Jets took Greene, they drafted Nebraska guard Matt Slauson. The Jets were familiar with him because their offensive line assistant, Bill Callahan, was the Cornhuskers' head coach.
"Coach Callahan was the entire reason I came to Nebraska," Slauson said. Slauson grew up an Oakland Raiders fan. Callahan had guided them to a Super Bowl before getting fired after the 2003 season and landing in Lincoln.
"He took a shot on me, an underrated guy," Slauson said. "No one knew who I was, and the Division I schools I had looked at were teams like Colorado State and Air Force.
"Coach Callahan took a shot in the dark on me. He put his faith in me, and I wouldn't be where I am today without him."
Slauson, at best, will be a depth player for the Jets this year. They're bringing back all five of their starters.
Slauson mostly was a guard at Nebraska but also can play tackle. He said he has been trying to increase his NFL versatility by working on snapping the ball, too.
"I really feel like I have found a home at the Jets," Slauson said. "I'm back with the old coach, and I could not be more excited. To play for such adamant fans of their football team, this is going to be great."
Ryan, speaking to reporters during the NFL owners' meeting at the St. Regis Hotel, predicted Jets playcaller Brian Schottenheimer will be an opposing head coach in 2010.
Ryan was asked which of his assistants he'll be relying on most in his first season as an NFL head coach.
"I've got several guys like that," said Ryan, who served on the Baltimore Ravens' defensive staff for 10 years before replacing Eric Mangini as the Jets' sideline boss. "The first one being on offense, I've got [offensive line coach] Bill Callahan. He's done everything in this league as an assistant coach and almost won it all as a head coach. He's seen a lot of huddles broke in his day.
"I'll lean on him, and I'll lean on Brian Schottenheimer. Here's a guy that's going to be a head coach next year anyway."
Schottenheimer and Callahan interviewed for the Jets' vacancy after Mangini was fired. Ryan needed to convince Schottenheimer, who was disappointed in not receiving the promotion, to remain on the staff.
Schottenheimer interviewed for the Ravens' opening last year after Baltimore axed Brian Billick.
As for calling the defensive plays, Ryan reaffirmed his intentions of doing it himself.
A significant reason the New York Jets are confident they can locate Brett Favre's replacement by sorting through their existing depth chart is because new head coach Rex Ryan is committed to the ground game.
|Highlights of the best moments from Brett Favre in 2008.|
"We're going to run the ball," Ryan said Wednesday on a conference call. "We're going to run it more this year. When you got Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, that's a strength there. There's a lot of positives about our offense."
Ryan pointed out all the offensive components that will be back. Ryan called the Jets' offensive line, which will remain intact, "one of the premier offensive lines in the league." Jones and Washington made the Pro Bowl. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan were retained.
Aside from the quarterback and fired head coach Eric Mangini, the Jets essentially will have the same offensive group that went 9-7 last year and failed to make the playoffs.
The Jets consistently won when they ran. They were 7-2 when Jones scored a rushing touchdown. They went 2-5 when he didn't score a touchdown. They were 2-6 when he had 17 or fewer carries.
Ryan politely declined to explain the trends because he wasn't around then.
I'll answer for him: The more Favre threw, the more he killed the Jets. Favre's departure will be addition by subtraction for the offense.
Ryan said he and Schottenheimer intend to operate an "all-weather offense."
"You have to be able to run the ball when the snow flies," Ryan said. "You don't win consistently by throwing every single snap. You have to be able to run the ball. I think our team is built for it with our offensive line and when you look at your backfield, that's a pretty good start."
Jones led the AFC in rushing with 1,312 yards. He had a 4.5-yard average and scored 13 touchdowns. Washington was honored for his kick return skills, but he is a dangerous offensive weapon who ran for 448 yards and caught 47 pass for 355 yards.
Ryan sounded undeterred by the fact the three quarterbacks on his roster -- Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge -- have a combined eight NFL starts. Ryan, who was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive mastermind since 2000, watched rookie Joe Flacco guide them to the AFC championship game.
"It's definitely possible to win with a young quarterback," Ryan said.
"These guys don't have to be the solution. They just have to be part of the solution. We feel very good about our offense being a tremendous offense this year.
"This offense is going to move. The quarterback is a big part of that but you don't have to do things yourself. You just have to be part of the system."
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan's maiden staff continued to take shape Wednesday. As expected, four assistants were officially announced and last season's defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, was retained, but demoted to linebackers coach.
The new confirmed staffers were receivers coach Henry Ellard, running backs coach Anthony Lynn, secondary coach Dennis Thurman and assistant secondary coach Doug Plank.
Quarterbacks and defensive line are Ryan's most significant vacancies. He retained offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, offensive line coach Bill Callahan and special teams coach Mike Westhoff.
Where's my helmet?
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan delivered his introductory remarks at a Wednesday morning news conference in Florham Park, N.J.
|AP Photo/Mike Derer|
|Rex Ryan inherits a Jets team that started 8-3 but fell short of the playoffs.|
If you're a Jets fan, you already have to be panting for the 2009 season to start. Even if you're not a Jets loyalist, you have to be intrigued to see what Ryan will do.
Compared to Eric Mangini's taciturn demeanor, Ryan came off as the second coming of Knute Rockne in his first public comments since signing a four-year contract Monday worth a reported $11.6 million.
Four of the first six questions were about Brett Favre and whether Ryan wanted the legendary quarterback to return. Ryan was diplomatic in his responses, praising Favre while not making any declarations.
Ryan announced Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Mike Pettine has been hired as the Jets' defensive coordinator to replace Bob Sutton.
"You're going to see he's a star in this league," Ryan said of Pettin.
Ryan also mentioned special-teams coach Mike Westhoff and offensive line coach Bill Callahan had committed to staying and said he's "very excited to meet with" offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Here are my favorite Ryan comments from his first Jets news conference:
1. On what Ryan expects to Jets' reputation to be:
Rex Ryan: The message to the rest of the league is "Hey, the Jets are coming. We're going to give you everything we got, and that's going to be, I think, more than you can handle." We're going to try to put pressure on everybody that we play. We want to be known as the most physical football team in the NFL.
We're going to take care of each other. The players are going to have each others' backs, and if you take swipe at one of ours, we'll take a swipe at two of yours. That's just the way this game is going to be played.
2. On what changes Jets fans will notice:
RR: The exciting thing is that this team won nine football games. This is a good football team. There really doesn't have to be a drastic change. But I think you're going to see a drastic change in maybe some of the style of play, in particular on defense.
Read and react is for somebody else. We're going to be attacking from the whistle and not to the whistle but through the whistle. We're going to turn the heat up and let the fur fly and see what happens.
3. On home-field advantage at the Meadowlands:
RR: I want to challenge our fans. They're obviously a part of our whole football team, but you can see the value in your fans of how you play defense at home.
I'm excited about this opportunity. I know the Jet fans. This is going to be great, man. This is going to be a great marriage. I can honestly say the style of defense we play, with our fans ... Whoo, it's going to be rough on people.
Baltimore was pretty rough on people. Nobody scored more than 13 points against us at home, and I think that was the first time that's been done in 40 years in the NFL. The expectations for me are high as a head football coach. I have high expectations of our fans. We're not going to let them score at home.
4. On how he's different than what Jets fans have gotten used to:
RR: I'm not a one-hit wonder. When you look at my background, I think I've been successful at all stops along the way. ... It gets done at all levels. Obviously, at Baltimore, we've been consistent.
I know the kind of responsibility it is to be a head football coach. You got the right guy. I plan on proving that each week.
5. On Brett Favre timetable:
RR: There's a million decisions that need to be made, and obviously Brett will be a huge decision. Whether he's going, he might make that decision for us. We'll look at that when the time comes.
I plan on talking to all the players. I'm excited about getting to know all our players. I'll start knocking off about four or five a day, and when it gets down to the F's I'll talk to Brett.
6. On operational policy:
RR: You've heard of the KISS philosophy, which is Keep It Simple Stupid. That's for somebody else. Ours is a KILL philosophy. We're going to Keep It Likeable and Learnable. We're going to make mistakes, but we're going to make those mistakes full speed. You're going to see an attack team here.
7. On approach to practice:
RR: As far as our aggressive mentality, you're going to see it through our preparation. You're going to see that on the practice field. We're going to get after it. We either go at walkthrough speed or full speed. That's how you do things here. You can't expect a guy to know how to play on Sunday when he hasn't seen it throughout the week.
8. On offensive philosophy:
RR: We want to have an all-weather offense. That starts with a running game. You've got to be able to run the ball. That's important. You've got to win when the snow flies to get to where you want to go, and that's to win Super Bowls.
9. On his coaching style and reputation as a player's coach:
RR: I'm going to be myself, and that's been pretty successful for me. I'm not going to paint a false picture of myself. I'm a guy that's very confident. I'm not just confident in my abilities. I'm confident in my coaches' abilities, and I'm confident in my players' abilities.
There have been a few developments in the New York Jets' coaching search.
So I thought it was a good time to give an update as to where the process stands after one week based strictly on information I'm highly confident is factual. In other words, I'm not going to guess what's going on in Mike Shanahan's head.
- The Jets have received permission from the Indianapolis Colts to interview defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. The interview will take place Friday at the Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J.
- Meeks is black and would satisify the NFL's "Rooney Rule" that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate.
- The Jets will interview Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm on Thursday in the desert. Owner Woody Johnson will be present for his first interview after being out of the country through the first three.
- The first two interviews were Friday with Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, but Johnson wasn't present. Johnson met with Schottenheimer on Tuesday and will meet with Callahan on Wednesday.
- Johnson has not met with New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who interviewed Saturday.
- The Jets have received permission to interview Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan but haven't scheduled an interview yet.
- Newsday's Erik Boland reports Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski interviewed Tuesday. The Jets have declined comment.
- Bill Cowher still is not interested in coaching in 2009.
- Francisco Franco is dead.
|AP Photo/Bill Kostroun|
|Eric Mangini is likely to be an NFL head coach again soon and Brett Favre might be done playing. Meanwhile, the Jets are in disarray.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
In the span of five days, Eric Mangini has evolved from New York Jets scourge to a sympathetic figure. The sentiment changed from "So long, punk!" to "Wait, maybe we misunderstood you."
Who could have imagined Mangini would likely be an NFL head coach again before the Jets had found his replacement?
So much has yet to unfold, but the more we learn, the more Mangini looks like the scapegoat rather than the source of the Jets' problems.
We thought he walked away from the Jets facility in dire need of career rehab. Instead, the Jets might have done him the ultimate favor.
A brief timeline:
- Chad Pennington steps over the Jets' corpse on his way to the playoffs with the Miami Dolphins.
- Owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum hold a ham-handed news conference to announce Mangini's firing.
- Tests reveal Brett Favre played with a shredded arm.
- Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan deliver stiff arms when approached about applying for the job.
- Reports surface the Jets would be willing to strip Tannenbaum to appease a coach who wants organizational control.
- Internal sniping commences over the failed Favre experiment.
- Pennington takes Comeback Player of the Year honors and finishes second in the MVP race.
- Mangini, according to multiple reports Friday, emerges as the frontrunner to replace Romeo Crennel as the Cleveland Browns' next coach.
Mangini interviewed with the Browns on Tuesday and apparently made an impression. He has two winning records in his three NFL seasons. Until Favre fell apart down the homestretch, Mangini resembled the wunderkind of his 10-win rookie season.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Browns owner Randy Lerner "is fascinated with" Mangini. Sports Illustrated's Peter King, an analyst on NBC's coverage of Saturday's games, called Mangini the "leader in the clubhouse by far."
Back in the Jets' clubhouse, leadership is dispersing.
They have no coach. Tannenbaum's authority might be permanently undermined if the Jets are willing to marginalize him. Many believe Favre won't be back. As King reported, Favre already has informed Tannenbaum "it may be time to look in a different direction.'' Players are popping off both publicly and anonymously.
At least the Jets are interviewing candidates, right? They spoke Friday to their offensive line assistant Bill Callahan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. On Saturday, they interviewed New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
But the New York Daily News reported on Saturday that Johnson is out of the country and not involved in the early interviews. The Daily News story claimed Johnson's unavailability was the final straw in Cowher's decision not to meet with the Jets.
It might not matter where Johnson is now if the Jets decide Spagnuolo is their man because he won't be available until the Giants are done playing anyway.
Then again, Spagnuolo is a popular prospect and will interview with the Denver Broncos, an organization with ownership that is being praised to no end by the coach they just fired.
Do you suppose Spagnuolo came away with a similar vibe from the Jets' front office?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
- Palm Beach Post columnist Greg Stoda says the Dolphins finally have found somebody worthy of Don Shula's old job.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick tells us how injured Dolphins Greg Camarillo, Justin Smiley and Donald Thomas will watch Sunday's game.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Brian Biggane writes the Detroit Lions are interested in Dolphins secondary coach Todd Bowles, among other notes.
- Edgar Thompson of the Palm Beach Post visits with career loser Andre Goodman, who's finally on his way to the playoffs.
- Miami Herald reporter Jeff Darlington takes a look at the Dolphins' surging secondary.
- Tony Sparano insists sacks aren't necessary for Joey Porter to be effective, writes Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson.
- Andy Kent of MiamiDolphins.com describes the locker-room scene when Sparano underscored how special Sunday will be.
New York Jets
- Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News writes about the Jets' interest in Mike Shanahan to be their next head coach.
- New York Post reporter Brian Costello looks at the latest on Steve Spagnuolo's candidacy.
- First up in the interview process are Jets assistants Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan, writes Newsday reporter Erik Boland.
- Boland weighs in on what it will take to get the Jets over the hump.
- New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy writes the Jets and Favre might be stuck with each other.
- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana takes a year-end look at the Bills' improved defense.
- Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News checks in with former Bills safety Coy Wire, who's headed to the playoffs with the Falcons.
New England Patriots
- Boston Globe reporter Mike Reiss shares the latest on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and his head coaching prospects
- Ron Borges and Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald give an update on Cleveland's courtship with Patriots player personnel veep Scott Pioli.
- Providence Journal reporter Shalise Manza Young predicts the Patriots will look different from top to bottom in 2009.
- Hector Longo of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune writes it's time for the Patriots to renovate their organization.