It’s been quite a week for Nick Mangold. The New York Jets center watched his Ohio State Buckeyes win the national title, saw the Jets fire his coach (Rex Ryan) and hire a new one (Todd Bowles), and, on a personal note, he turned 31.
“It has been one busy week,” the six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro said on Tiki and Tierney.
Mangold, a nine-year NFL veteran, watched Monday’s national championship at home with his wife and two children – and he enjoyed every minute of it. He’s also extremely proud of how the Buckeyes banded together after losing Braxton Miller just 12 days before the season.
“Honestly, I thought we were ruined from the beginning,” Mangold said. “And then when (J.T. Barrett) went down in the Michigan game, I was like, ‘There’s no way we’re winning the championship game. It was a great run, loved it and we beat Michigan, so that’s exciting. But we’re done.’ And then the run that they went on is just a testament to the job that Urban (Meyer) has done. He’s a heck of a coach.”
So is Rex Ryan, depending on your perspective. Ryan went 50-52 in six all-or-nothing seasons with the Jets, either leading them to the AFC Championship Game or missing the playoffs every year.
Although the Jets missed the playoffs in four straight seasons, Mangold was sad to see Ryan go.
“Rex and I were together six years,” he said. “That’s the longest I’ve ever been with a head coach. We were able to develop a personal relationship, and it was sad to see him go. But I understand it. We’re in the business of winning, and we did not win. Going 4-12 is not what any owner wants, any player wants, any coach wants, any fan wants. And we needed a change. We made that change.”
Mangold will still see Ryan a few times a year – his former coach signed a five-year deal with AFC East rival Buffalo – but he is excited for the Bowles era to begin. The hire was criticized a bit, as the Jets hired yet another defensive-minded coach, but Bowles’ track record suggests he has what it takes to succeed.
“You can tell right away he’s intense,” Mangold said. “I can tell he’s passionate.”
Mangold was also asked which quarterback is better right now, assuming they are 100 percent healthy: Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady? Mangold took Rodgers, which Tiki Barber disagreed with, pointing out that Brady is an ageless wonder who always gets the job done regardless of who’s around him.
“That’s a testament to the player that Tom is,” Mangold confirmed. “I think he is smart, he knows the offense and he knows where he needs to put the ball for guys to be successful. He’s one of the great quarterbacks who’s played this game.”
Mangold was then asked about his expectations for the Jets next season.
“Win the Super Bowl,” he said, drawing approval from Brandon Tierney, a lifelong Jets fan. “That’s the expectation. You go in with anything less, you’re guaranteed to lose.”