One Last Thank You for Eric Mangini

Old coach is gone but not forgotten

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 12:00 PM EDT
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The Jets 2009 Season in Pictures

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Unless there's an unexpectedly long gap of time that needs filling, there probably won't be any mentions of Eric Mangini during Sunday's AFC Championship Game. His tenure as Jets coach ended little more than a year ago, but the mental images of his time on the sideline seems as sepia toned as something you'd find in a Ken Burns documentary.

Take a second to push past the bad memories, though, and take another look at the current Jets team. You'll find that Mangini left some imprints that have been crucial to the team's successful playoff run.

There aren't many momentos to Mangini on the field. David Harris and Darrelle Revis surely benefited from the playing time Mangini gave them as rookies in 2007, but the majority of the credit for the plethora of talent acquired over those three years must go to G.M. Mike Tannenbaum. The same can't be said of two key moves the Jets made this season.

The trade to move up in the draft and take Mark Sanchez was pulled off because Mangini was desperate to move down in the draft and the move for Braylon Edwards came because Mangini was desperate to unload a player who wasn't one of his guys. We won't know for some time how well those trades work out for the Jets, but the message they sent was crucially important to what's happened this season.

Under Mangini, the talk was about the process and one game at a time and the five feet in front of your face. Now the Jets are about thinking long term and building for the ultimate prize. The latter route is proving to be a good deal more successful with the added bonus of setting up the team for a long run of success. The players are happier, the fans are happier and the team is much, much healthier. 

If it wasn't for three years of Mangini, we might not be able to grasp just how different things look for this Jets team. For that alone, Mangini deserves a cut of the playoff winnings.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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