FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) – Kris Jenkins sat on a stool in front of his locker a few months ago, his shoulders slumped and his words barely above a whisper.

The New York Jets nose tackle was clearly disappointed the day Eric Mangini was fired, saying the coach deserved another year despite the team’s collapse. A few months later, Jenkins is thrilled with the new guy in charge.

“At the time that they let Mangini go, we didn’t know about Rex Ryan, we didn’t know what was coming and we didn’t know anything that was going on,” Jenkins said Wednesday. “All we knew was that our coach got fired. When you look at the situation, I felt that he got judged – no offense – according to y’all standards instead of football standards.

“I’m not trying to bash anybody or put anybody down, but when you have people on TV telling you what’s wrong with a coach when they’re not in a locker room or understanding the reality of the situation, then what they’re basing his losses on isn’t the reality of the situation.”

Jenkins thrived in his first season with the Jets as a 3-4 nose tackle under Mangini until a back injury limited his production the last several games. That was also when Brett Favre struggled with an injury of his own and the Jets dropped four of their last five games and missed the playoffs, ultimately costing Mangini his job.

“The reality of the situation is that we did some great things and we had a skid at the end,” Jenkins said. “Was it a bad deal? Yes. Was it something serious? Yes. In my personal opinion, did I think it was enough for him to get fired? No.”

Since Ryan took over in February, he has established a looser atmosphere in the locker room and an aggressive game plan on the field.

“We’re all grown men, so we go out there and understand what we’ve got to do,” Jenkins said. “If it doesn’t get done, you know he’ll be upset about it and voice it, but he does it in a way to keep it fun. He doesn’t make football hell. Some coaches believe football’s hell, some coaches don’t. He’s one of those coaches that don’t. We love those type of coaches.”

That also has Jenkins feeling a lot better about the events of the last few months.

“I think that everybody from Woody Johnson to Mike Tannenbaum and everybody that was involved made probably one of the best decisions currently that they could’ve made for the Jets as far as moving forward,” he said. “I really think that them selecting him was better than getting this facility built.

“It’s not a situation where I’m going to slight my old coach or put him down. At the same time, I’m going to give credit where credit’s due. Rex is a heck of a football coach.”


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