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Gang Green Nation Interviews Nick Mangold

All Pro center Nick Mangold was in Manhattan yesterday doing work for a promotion between Mastercard and JetBlue. He was kind enough to speak with me and answer questions ranging from making calls on the line to his toughest opponent to his football playing sister in a very interesting and insightful interview.

John B: What are you up to today?

Nick Mangold: We're doing a little promotion with JetBlue and Mastercard. If you go and buy a ticket on on November 1st and 2nd using your Mastercard, and you book for the travel to be in December, if we go on to win the Super Bowl, you get the chance to have your ticket refunded. So if you're travelling anyway for the holiday season, why not do it with JetBlue and Mastercard?

JB: What attracted you to these products to help promote them?

NM: I think JetBlue was the big one for me. I love travelling on it when you have the tv's there. I'm a tv addict. When you have that available to me for flying, that's a win-win in my book.

Read more of our interview after the jump.

JB: A lot of fans hear from announcers about linemen making line calls, but they don't really know what that means. Could you describe what that entails to the average guy watching games on tv?

NM: It's basically a word or two that directs everybody. It's like a code word that tells everybody what to do. Usually, there is one or two calls per play that gets everybody on the same page and lets everybody know where the linebackers are, what kind of defensive front we're looking at, and the blocks that need to be executed.

JB: Are these more difficult to call against some fronts than others?

NM: There are some. As you get hybrid defensive linemen/linebackers or defensive end/linebacker types that can walk around, that makes it a little tricky. It's something that takes a lot of work to figure out who is coming and who is not, and what they are doing by walking around. That's the big issue that comes up.

JB: What do you think is the biggest challenge the Packers will present you personally on Sunday?

NM: The way they run the 3-4 defense. (B.J.) Raji up front is a heck of a defensive tackle who is playing pretty well right now. And their linebackers, you look at them, and they fly around, and they blitz. They don't stop coming.  You might block a guy, but he's not going to quit. That's going to make for a long day of blocking people.

JB: I can tell you a lot of fans admired the way you didn't hold out of training camp when you were seeking a new contract. What were the factors that went into that decision?

NM:  I talked about it with my agents and my family, and it's just not my personality. I couldn't deal without being out there. I came to grips with the fact that I might not get a contract, and I think that helped me ultimately have a pretty good camp, the fact that I stopped worrying about it and just moved on.

JB: You have been with one offensive coordinator your entire career under two different head coaches. What do you think has been the biggest change in Brian Schottenheimer since Rex Ryan took over for Eric Mangini?

NM: I think he's a little bit looser and a little bit more open. I think that with Scotty being able to have Mark (Sanchez) for another year, he's really been able to dive into the playbook. The quarterback and coordinator connection they have has been a big difference, seeing the connection Mark and Schotty have and the way that they've been able to develop the offense.

JB: Do you think the connection Schottenheimer has with Sanchez is different from the one he had with Brett Favre and Chad Pennington?

NM: Definitely because Favre's been around forever, and Chad was a well-established player. This is the first time that Schotty had a young guy that he was bringing up, able to mold, and really get into his system. It's a much different dynamic between the two of them with Mark being younger. It kind of took on that older brother type feel.

JB: Can you discuss some of the ways Mark Sanchez has changed since he first arrived?

NM: I think the biggest thing that I've noticed is the mental side of his game. Being limited in the offseason with his knee from physical activity made him really focus in on the mental side. He's done a great job of understanding the offense and being able to get guys where they need to be. I think when he first came in, he didn't really know what was going on and just  knew what he had to do. Now he knows what everyone needs to do. He's done a great job for us so far.

JB: What opposing player do you think is most difficult for you to face?

NM: Vince Wilfork, that's an easy one. He's a heck of a player, and the worst part is that you have to see him twice a year. He's got great strength, and he really knows technique. He really knows how to play in that system. He really knows how to use technique to his advantage and how to use offensive linemen's technique against them as well. He's by far the most difficult.

JB: Do you think facing Kris Jenkins in practice helps you prepare for facing guys like that?

NM: Definitely, having Jenks there to go against has been a huge help. You're able to work against one of the best all around defensive tackles in the league. That can only make you better. It's been a big help for my game.

JB: You have your best days in front of you and a lot of Super Bowls to win, but have you given any thought about what you would like to do when your playing days are over?

NM: Every once in a while I think about it a little bit. It would be awesome if I got the opportunity to go back and coach high school football and just be able to work with kids and hopefully develop them the way my high school coaches helped me.

JB: To what degree does having such an active front office acquiring really talented players affect the morale in the locker room?

NM: I think it's great. As a player, you always understand that they're looking out for who is going to help us win and who is best available for us. It's a great tool to have on your team that you know you're always going to have good players around.

JB: I'd like to ask you a little bit about your sister who is a real pioneer. She was a female who started on the offensive line for her high school football team. What kind of pride does that bring you as an older brother?

NM: The pride comes not so much from football but just from the fact that she was able to do what she wanted to do. It was neat having her play and having her do her thing. Now she's doing Olympic weightlifting in Colorado. It's a good thing to be able to enjoy that she's doing what she loves.

JB: Do guys on the team pay any attention to fan sites and blogs?

NM: I don't know. We're usually pretty busy so we usually don't talk about much other than football so I can't really say for certain.

JB: Is there any message you would like to give to your fans?

NM: Just thanks for the support and keep on rocking.


Big thanks go to Nick for taking time to speak with us and to Mastercard and JetBlue for making this happen