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lamberts-lost-tooth
11-18-2007, 05:36 AM
Steelers' Tomlin following in Mangini's footsteps in initial season
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, November 18, 2007


Mike Tomlin is this year's Eric Mangini.
Tomlin was one the youngest coaches in NFL history when he was hired by the Steelers at age 34.

Mangini was 35 when the New York Jets made him their coaching selection last season.

Tomlin comes from an impressive coaching lineage (Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden).

So did Mangini, who was a disciple of Bill Belichick.
"I'm sure it was a factor. It's probably not the defining factor," Tomlin said of being hired a year after Mangini.

Soon after Tomlin was hired, Oakland selected 31-year-old Lane Kiffin, making him the NFL's youngest coach.

"Age is not a factor in determining wins and losses, so the standard that everyone else upholds to, we uphold to," Tomlin said. "They don't give us any diaper discounts. The standard of expectation does not change for us. I am learning, but we have to win."

Tomlin is a hot coaching property after winning seven of his first nine games and guiding the Steelers to first place in the AFC North.

Mangini, currently under fire from fans and the tough New York media, is on the hot seat with the Jets.

After reaching the playoffs with a 10-6 record and being honored as AFC Coach of the Year, Mangini has the Jets at 1-8 entering today's game against the Steelers at Giants Stadium.

Mangini's rapid rise and equally steep fall have been duly noted by Tomlin, who seemingly can do no wrong with the Steelers -- just as Mangini seemed to be untouchable a year ago.

Tomlin was asked about the fickle state of NFL coaches as it relates to Mangini and the Jets.

"It is, but to me that is what I enjoy about this league," Tomlin said. "It is very fragile. I say it all the time. This is the ultimate parity league.

"I am nine games into this thing. I learn every day I come in here, in terms of putting my head coach's cap on. Everything that has happened thus far has been a learning experience for me."

Mangini's quick success with the Jets may be coming back to haunt him.

Expectations soared when the Jets reached the postseason under Mangini a year after finishing 6-10 in Herm Edwards' final season.

"Each year is different. Each year you face different challenges and different adversity," Mangini said.

Last year, the Jets were good in close games, posting five wins by a total of 24 points.

This year, the Jets haven't been as good in close games.

"We've been in a lot of close games. We've lost five games by a total of 27 points, and usually, those come down to a handful of plays," Mangini said. "We haven't done a good enough job in those handful of plays to turn those games in our favor."

Schematically, Mangini, a proponent of the 3-4 defense, hasn't changed a thing.

Offensively, the Jets still want to establish the run to set up the pass.

What's needed, Mangini said, is more attention to detail.

"That's what we're focusing on all the time," he said, "the consistent focus, the ability to finish games, because you don't know at what point of the game that play is going to be the one that helps decide the outcome."

Whenever a team struggles to win, the coach and quarterback usually become joined at the hip. That's certainly been the case with Mangini and quarterback Chad Pennington.

Pennington has been benched in favor of second-year player Kellen Clemens.

Clemens replaced Pennington earlier in the season because of injury. But Mangini recently switched quarterbacks because he believes Clemens gives the Jets the best chance to win.

"There's been a lot of quarterback changes this year just based on injury" Mangini said. "With Kellen, I felt that he did a good job from last year to this year learning the system, improving in terms of his ability to operate the offense and I really believe he deserved the opportunity."

Tomlin doesn't have to scrutinize Mangini's situation to understand the unpredictable nature of being an NFL coach.

"The Jets are dangerous because they are an NFL team," Tomlin said. "Everybody has legitimate personnel that can hurt you. We give them the benefit of the doubt that everybody comes to play, regardless of record. Reputation and resume mean very little in this league."

Galax Steeler
11-18-2007, 07:10 AM
Great read thanks llt.