The story broke earlier today that the Jets will be parting ways with Eric Mangini, the team's coach since 2006. The firing has occurred with a year remaining on his contract, which the Jets likely won't have to eat, since I can think of a number of places for him to land next year.
The reasoning for his dismissal seems to be tied to the Jets' five-game nose dive at the end of the season, ending with a loss to their divisional rival and home to former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, the Miami Dolphins. Clearly, the team disintegrated, but much of their tailspin figures directly on one person: Brett Favre.
Here's Favre's line for the last four games of the season:
191 Y/G, 56.8 Pct, 2 TD, 8 INT
That's a 1:4 touchdown to interception ratio. Go back one more game, and he's 2:9. Leaving everything aside, a team doesn't go to the playoffs with that quarterback. It doesn't matter who's head coach.
The press puts a lot of emphasis on a head coach's leadership ability, and cites Mangini's lack thereof, along with a few questionable calls in the past few games (calls that likely wouldn't have needed to been made had Favre not been lobbing passes into covered receivers), as the reason for his sacking.
But if anything, Mangini's greatest blunder was not benching Favre when his arm clearly broke down at the end of the season. Kellen Clemens isn't Brett Favre on his best day, but when everyone—everyone but the New York press and Jets fans—could tell Favre was finished, trying to force throws to either pad his stats or make a big play rather than thinking tactically, Mangini's job was to stand up to the Jets management and tell them it was time to hand the ball over.
Mangini's firing likely will hurt the Jets in coming seasons, given his pedigree (one step from Bellichik and only once-removed from Bill Parcels) and the fact the Jets probably will end up with Clemens starting for them next year. The absolute worst-case scenario for the Jets is if Favre, in light of his recent comments about a personality conflict with Mangini, decides to return for another year. That would leave the Jets with one less smart coach and the same 11-game "gunslinger" who can't leave the game without being run out on a rail.