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NFL Preseason: Angry Coaches

   by Al McMordie - 08/20/2007

The offenses sure went crazy in Week 2 of the NFL preseason, which usually isn’t the case. There were high scoring games everywhere, with the overs going 11-4 (after the unders went 9-8 in Week 1). Some teams are turning it up a notch offensively, like San Diego and Jacksonville. The Chargers have a new head coach in Norv Turner, an offensive coach, and he’s been spreading the field with his up-tempo attack.

The Jaguars have a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, who ran wide-open passing attacks at Boise and Arizona State. The Jags have been all about passing so far, throwing for 296 yards in the opener, then reeling off 24 first-half points in a 31-19 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Just as important to coaching strategies is emotion, though it’s much tougher to find in preseason. Coaches are more interested in vanilla game plans and evaluating players. However, there were two emotional instances that stood out like a sore thumb in Week 2, something to keep an eye on for this weekend’s games.

The Jets were favored to beat the Vikings, yet got clobbered 37-20 at home in a sea of turnovers and sloppy play. Jets coach Eric Mangini was furious and says he is going to turn up the heat in practice this week. Following the game, Mangini couldn't get to the podium fast enough to declare that there would be a price to pay in practice. The Jets had four turnovers that led to 24 points. Defensively, they allowed 167 yards rushing.

"This week we're going to work very hard to get these mistakes corrected. We’re going to work extremely hard to get these corrected," Mangini said. "I think they understand." Privately, players are griping about their training camp workload, where each practice averages 2.5 hours. A coach has to be careful not to push players too hard.

Mangini may have already lost Guard Pete Kendall. He played some at center Friday, after telling coaches he didn’t feel comfortable there, and had two bad snaps out of the shotgun formation, one of which was recovered for a Vikings TD. Kendall, 34, has taken several injections for pain over his three seasons with the Jets in order to play and if the club doesn't give him the $1 million increase he seeks, he may not go the extra mile this season. "I don't control where I play. I don't control when I play. I don't control who I play for," he said.

"It's obviously very disappointing," said an agitated Mangini. "If anyone has the impression that it's OK because this is preseason, they're wrong." LB Jonathan Vilma insists the defense is fine, but they didn’t look it. On RB Adrian Peterson's 43-yard run, both DE/LB Bryan Thomas and CB Andre Dyson missed tackles. And while QB Chad Pennington appears safe, he was awful and backup Kellen Clemens has been much better. Pennington also threw a career-high 16 interceptions last season. All in all, it won’t be a happy Jets camp this week.

Another team steaming is Seattle, which got toasted 48-13 at Green Bay. Asked if anyone got hurt, coach Mike Holmgren fumed, "No, which isn't surprising, seeing as we didn't hit anybody. I'm responsible for what we do. It was uncharacteristic. We're not usually a very penalized team. We're not so careless with the ball, we had interceptions. We usually can run the ball decently and we couldn't at all. It's hard to point at one little thing."

Seattle had six turnovers and 10 penalties. "I cannot tolerate how we played," Holmgren added. "It's just unacceptable, and so we'll fix it. The young guys, the veteran guys, everybody. We're going to look at this film hard. I wasn't real happy with anybody. The thing is, there are some fellas that think they have the team made and they're in for a little bit of a shock this week now."

Wow! You don’t see things often like that in the preseason, so keep a close eye on the Seahawks and Jets game plans for this week. The Jets play against the Giants, so it’s still their home stadium, while Seattle hosts Minnesota. Starters usually play the most in Week 3. There could be fireworks in camp this week. Who says preseason football is dull? Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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