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Just How Genius is Man-Genius?

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Man-Genius or Man-Genie? (Courtesy: Getty Images)

This is, in actuality, the third installment of our weekly feature Around the AFC East. With Jetfighter from NY Landing Strip on vacation, it's time to do a quick public roast of Eric Mangini, the "genius" coach of the Jets. Just how Genius is Mangenius? Let's examine.

In his first season as head coach of the Jets, Mangini led his club to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth, where his Jets promptly got throttled by the New England Patriots (led by Mangini's former boss, Bill Belichick). By all accounts, this is a very successful first season as a head coach, no matter how much experience you have going into the job. But was it really as successful as Jets fans would like you to believe? Here's a better question - was it even as successful as Dick Jauron's first season in Buffalo?

Cupcake Schedule
The Jets won ten games and made the playoffs last season not because they were good, but because their schedule was ridiculously easy. While the Bills were playing the Chargers and Ravens, the Jets were playing the Browns and the Raiders. The Jets beat a Kerry Collins-led Titans team early in the season; the Bills lost by a point to the Vince Young-led Titans in Week 16. The differences are vast:

Jets 2006 Opponents: 120-136 overall record (7.5 wins per team); 1-3 vs. teams with a better record
Bills 2006 Opponents: 147-109 overall record (9.2 wins per team); 3-8 vs. teams with a better record

The Bills eked out 7 wins against teams that were, on average, 9-7. The Jets won 10 games against teams that were, on average, 7-9. Swap schedules. Think the Bills could have won 10 games? I think so. Think the Jets could have won 10 games? Absolutely not. The Jets were only a playoff team because they were beating up on the league's worst teams. Swap the schedules, and we're talking "Jauron-Genius" and Mangini as a "maybe he can be good" sort of guy.

His Tenure With New England
Mangini took over the Jets after several seasons working under Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. In only one of those seasons, 2005, was Mangini a defensive coordinator. Check out this quote from a 2006 article about the Pats' 2005 defensive efforts under Mangini's leadership:

New England finished the 2005 season ranked 31st in the NFL in pass defense. They weren't only bombed by Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, but also the likes of Gus Frerotte, Kelly Holcomb and Aaron Brooks.

Some genius. Mangini never led the Pats to any sort of defensive glory - and even if he had, how much of the credit would he have gotten with Belichick in town? Jets fans put way too much stock in the "he worked under Parcells and Belichick" argument. Seriously folks, this guy is not as god-like as you'd like to believe he is. Not by a long shot. (For more on the Mangini-Belichick ties, see Pats Pulpit later on today.)

New Nickname Proposal
I'd like to propose a new nickname for Coach Mangini: "Man-Genie". This guy will grant you three wishes, and that's all he can do. He took the Jets to the playoffs last season. He fulfilled Jets fans' wishes of making himself not look like a prayer hiring in January of 2006. He pulled some nice tricks this off-season, acquiring Thomas Jones and some solid defensive talent. That's it - his three wishes are gone. You can keep rubbing that magic lamp, Jets fans, but Man-Genie can't do anything more for you. Enjoy watching the playoffs from your couches this season.