The New York Jets couldn't get Bill Belichick to put down roots for more than a day when they named him to succeed Bill Parcells as head coach after the 1999 season. Six years later, the Jets are reaching out to the Belichick coaching tree as they seek to replace Herman Edwards and begin the climb back to respectability.
Jets general manager Terry Bradway confirmed that he will interview New England defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, the latest "hot" Belichick protégé, sometime this week. According to NFL guidelines, because the Pats remain in the playoffs, the interview must take place in the Boston area, and New England officials have to agree on the day and time.
Mangini, 34, was never more than an NFL position coach until this season, when he was promoted to coordinator to replace Romeo Crennel, who departed to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns. The lack of experience in a supervisory position, and the fact Mangini has been in the NFL only 11 seasons, may be superseded by his connection to Belichick. The NFL's reigning head coach guru, Belichick is a man whose imprimatur carries considerable weight in New York, despite his abrupt resignation from the Jets in 1999 after only one day on the job.
There are also strong ties between Mangini and Jets assistant general manager Mike Tannenbaum, with the two having worked together in Cleveland in the mid-1990s.
Mangini is being characterized in some quarters as the front-runner for the job. While such an assessment might be premature, there is little doubt having Belichick's name on his resume as a reference won't hurt him in New York.
During a lengthy Monday news conference, at which Bradway rehashed the departure of Edwards to the Kansas City Chiefs and discussed the team's process for interviewing the candidates who might succeed him, he declined to answer queries about current assistant coaches who might be candidates for the vacancy. He later confirmed on a radio show that he had permission to interview Mangini and will meet with him this week.
Belichick brought Mangini into the league in 1995 as a coaches assistant. In 1996, Mangini moved to Baltimore, when the Cleveland franchise relocated, as a quality control assistant. He joined the Jets staff in 1997, then the Patriots staff in 2000 as the secondary coach. Mangini is credited with cobbling together the secondary in 2004 when the Pats suffered numerous injuries, yet still claimed a Super Bowl title.
Once again this season, Mangini has helped New England overcome a spate of injuries on the defensive side.
Bradway said that past head coaching experience is not a requirement for the Jets, but that the team would prefer someone who has been in a "managing-type position, whether it be a coordinator or a guy with head coaching experience."
The Jets have already interviewed former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett and Joe Vitt, who served as the St. Louis Rams' interim head coach for the final 11 games of the 2005 season. All three incumbent coordinators -- Mike Heimerdinger (offense), Donnie Henderson (defense) and Mike Westhoff (special teams) -- will be interviewed as well. Next week, the Jets plan to meet with former Minnesota head coach Mike Tice.
Somewhat surprising is that former Green Bay coach Mike Sherman, whose name has been raised at internal brainstorming sessions and whose record is significantly better than that of Haslett, is not on the list of initial candidates.
"The biggest thing is, I think we want to bring a football coach in here who's all about football, who's got a good technical knowledge of the game," Bradway said. "Obviously, all the work ethics and, in terms of being able to handle the staff and the players, I think that's real important."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.