After being given the keys to his family's expensive car, Eric Mangini returned it off-balance, with dents, and enough damages to lose his driving privileges for a very long time.
In three seasons, Eric Mangini compiled a 23-25 record with the New York Jets, appearing, at times, to have earned his Mangenius moniker. But after the Jets went out and acquired the personnel to make this team a contender, Mangini only proved to be in well over his head as the team's coach.
The New York Jets went from 8-3 to 9-7, a mere five weeks after the media train was prepared to roll into New York for the potential of an All-NY Super Bowl.
Instead of turning the spotlight into a positive, Mangini's team folded—looking like a team content with their season halfway through November.
Lost the Fans, Lost His Team, Lost His Job
Always looking to be a Bill Belichick clone in New York, Mangini failed to develop an identity of his own. This rings true from his personality in front of the cameras to the way the team played on the field.
The New York Jets looked like a team without a plan because they never actually developed as the team they really were.
"We're out there busting our butts and [Brett Favre] is turning the ball over. You can't win like that. We never got any rhythm on offense.
"Instead of us pounding the ball with [Thomas Jones], we're doing all of this other stuff," continued the player. "It's not just me, a lot of guys weren't happy with the play-calling. They (the coaches) were always catering to Favre instead of doing what we were built to do, which is run the ball."
And after the Dolphins won the AFC East, the locker room looked even more divided. Not only were anonymous Jets accusing Brett Favre of throwing games away, but the Hall of Fame QB himself made some implications about his feelings with the team.
The feelings emanating from Florham Park pointed to a disgruntled QB, unhappy with Eric Mangini refusing to give him preferential treatment during team meetings.
Not only were Mangini's practices notoriously tough, but the team was losing, players were aggravated, and he led his team down one of the most embarrassing roads a professional player could ever travel.
No Guarantees in This Business
The decision to fire Mangini was a far cry from the endorsement he received from GM Mike Tannenbaum during the offseason. In March, the general manager stated Mangini would "absolutely" return in 2009.
The circumstances changed dramatically since then.
The initial belief was that after a 4-12 season, any kind of winning record would have been a dramatic success.
Unfortunately for Mangini, losing games to teams who should've been easily dispatched of on the road to the playoffs cost him his job.
During the press conference with owner Woody Johnson and Tannenbaum, both men dodged questions regarding their true reasons for firing Mangini. Focusing on the positives throughout his three years, neither man refused to admit what we all know.
Everything fans and analysts speculated upon for weeks stands true, but it would've been nice to receive some kind of confirmation.
Instead, the people responsible for creating the circumstances which led to Mangini's firing chose to shower him with compliments as they gracefully showed him the door.
Can Anyone Fly These Jets Off the Runway?
Beginning immediately, the New York Jets will have to undertake the daunting task of replacing him and changing the culture of the New York Jets.
Fans are still fearful. There is one coach on everyone's wish list, but the return of Bill Cowher is highly unlikely.
One thing is certain—the New York Jets need a real head coach.
The time for experimenting with another team's coordinators has come to a close. The Jets need a head coach who knows how to control an entire team, and is a proven commodity in the NFL.
And so begins the era of a new New York Jets regime.
Angel Navedo covers the New York Jets for Examiner.com. His work can also be found on NYJetsFan.com, where he is the Head Writer, and on MyGridironSpace.com—a premier social networking site built exclusively for NFL fans.
He is also a Senior Writer at the Bleacher Report, where he is one of the New York Jets Community Leaders.