Friday, February 22, 2008

Mangini no Genius

Credit Eric Mangini's creepy need to be exactly like Bill Belichick for Jonathan Vilma being allowed to shop around for a trade from New York.

When Mangini was hired as head coach of the New York Jets he changed the Jets' defense from a base 4-3 to the 3-4, the one that they have so much success with up in New England. In 2004 the Jets had the seventh ranked defense, their first round draft pick Jonathan Vilma led the league in tackles, and all was well on the defensive side of the ball. This was with the base 4-3 defense.

Mangini then came in and threw that out the window, causing Vilma to go from tackling machine to mere speed bump for opposing offensive linemen. The Jets don't have the personnel for the 3-4, hence the eighteenth and twentieth ranked defenses in two seasons under Mangini. Vilma got hurt, resulting in season-ending surgery, and is now seeking a trade.

Vilma is undersized for a middle linebacker. Listed at 6'1, 230 pounds, he is successful because he is one of the fastest and smartest linebackers in the league. Second round draft pick David Harris (6'2, 245 pounds) came in to replace Vilma this past season, dominating the middle linebacker position and racking up tackles in bunches. With Harris entering his sophomore campaign in 2008, the Jets figure that they can afford to let Vilma go, trying to get someone for him.

My suggestion? If you want to stick with the 3-4 so badly then stick with it. Just draft the biggest and most ferocious defensive tackles you can to protect Vilma and Harris in the middle. Glenn Dorsey (LSU) would be nice, but at this point, anyone will do. If you can get a decent, hole-plugging tackle, maybe an end who can get to the quarterback (Chris Long) and an outside linebacker to join Harris, Vilma and Hobson, this defense could be a serious problem for NFL offenses. Kerry Rhodes is already a stud, and with a little help stopping the run, could really sit back and dominate centerfield.

Right now Bryan Thomas is listed as the starting outside linebacker. He is a defensive end. Get him back there and create your own mock Strahan/Umenyiora combo with Sean Ellis and Thomas.

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