The Eric Mangini you see today, as coach of the Cleveland Browns, bears very little resemblance to the one who was the HC of the NYJ. He's a lighter guy, both in physical presence and in sensibility, and he seems freed being away from both Bill Belichick and the swirl of New York. He's a different guy; he's pretty much just a regular coach guy now. This is a relief. We really couldn't have taken a full week of Mangini Faces the Jets! packages. We have our own crazy man now. He has no horse in this race.
That said, as the Jets head to Cleveland to face Mangini and his suddenly surging Browns on Sunday, we take this moment to remind you that Eric Mangini was once so popular here that he was on The Sopranos:
(We note that this wasn't just any Sopranos scene. This was the penultimate episode, the one where everything in the family goes down, including Bobby Bacala being gunned down in the toy store. This was the last scene with Artie Bucco and his wife. This was the last time we saw Vesuvio's. In one of the biggest moments in one of television's most important television series, Eric Mangini just shows up, hi there, apropos of nothing. We still haven't shaken it off.)
ANYWAY. The Jets come in Sunday still trying to figure out their running game; Shonn Greene is rested and is likely going to get more carries than LaDainian Tomlinson here pretty soon. The Jets' running game was supposed to kick itself back into place last week, against the Lions' weak run defense, but they fell behind early and had to pass to get back into the game. This is another chance to assert authority.
It's also another chance to work on the Jets' turnover problems. We still kind of love the Jets' technique on this: Making everyone in the organization, from players to the front office, do push-ups every time someone commits a turnover. (We hope they're not making Namath do that.)
One nice advantage the Jets have right now: The rest of the division is collapsing around them. The Dolphins have made a desperation quarterback change, and the Patriots just got blown out at home against an under .500 team. Of course that team was the Browns. The Jets can take control of the AFC East in the next three weeks, while still trying to play the perfect game, a feat that has eluded them all season. This is an ideal time to start.