Rex Ryan stopped by the football camp of his predecessor over the weekend.
"Eric is a great coach but he's a better person," said Ryan, who led the Jets to the past two AFC Championship Games after replacing Mangini. "He is a phenomenal coach, but in this business you're going to get fired; that's just a fact.
"Sooner or later I'll be in the same situation, but it's nothing about him. He's a tremendous coach and a tremendous person. This event that he has every year just speaks to that. He's out of football, yet all these coaches come back. … You just want to help him out as best you can. I'm sure it won't be long and he'll be back on the sidelines."
It is somewhat unusual for a fired coach to have a good relationship with the guy who replaced him, but that seems to be the case here. The root of it is Mangini's close friendship with Rex's twin brother Rob from their days together on Bill Belichick's staff in New England.
Rex is right to some degree. He is assuredly one 6-10 season from having people call for his head.
Mangini is a guy with great potential I am convinced got head coaching gigs before he was ready. He reminds me a bit of Bill Belichick in Cleveland, really good knowledge of X's and O's but has not totally figured out how to run a football team despite flashes of brilliance here and there. I think if he goes back and becomes a positional coach for some time, he will figure it out. The NFL is just a tough spot for a guy to learn on the fly. Rex had been around the game his entire life because of his coach father and paid his dues for years learning the craft. He had time to think about how he would run a team.
There is a certain amount of irony when I think about these two men. After the 2007 season, there was speculation Mangini was going to bring Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator to replace Bob Sutton. It fell through. For some reason, Mangini did not consider any alternatives to Rob. Rex was on the market briefly. The Ravens fired him when Brian Billick was fired only to later rehire him as John Harbaugh's defensive coordinator. I really wanted Mangini to make a run at Rex. Had he done so, he still might be the head coach of the Jets.