NEW YORK -- After a game filled with interceptions, bad snaps and missed tackles, Eric Mangini went into the New York Jets' locker room with a stern message.
"If anybody has the impression that this is OK because it's preseason, they're wrong," the Jets coach told his team after a 37-20 loss to Minnesota on Friday night. "Next week, we are going to work very hard to get these corrected, extremely hard to get these corrected. I think they understand. It's too important not to."
"We always expect the worst because we know what a stickler Coach is for details and he takes great pride in how we play," quarterback Chad Pennington said.
Pennington got a chance to throw the ball after going without a pass in the preseason opener and the normally heady quarterback made two ill-advised tosses that were returned for touchdowns.
"You're glad that it doesn't count and you're glad that you're still 0-0 as far as the NFL record books are concerned, but as a player, you're disappointed in how you played and how you performed on the field," Pennington said.
One interception was returned 40 yards by Darren Sharper and the other 16 yards by Chad Greenway. Backup Kellen Clemens, who has had a good preseason, also made some mistakes. He fumbled a snap, and later was intercepted on a ball that was tipped away from wide receiver Chansi Stuckey. The Vikings ended up getting a field goal off the turnover.
"The interception was costly," Clemens said. "I know that led to points. It put our defense in a difficult situation. There are a lot of things that we can improve on."
New York's defense was highly criticized for not being able to stop the run consistently last season. There were more examples of that Friday night.
Rookie Adrian Peterson had a 43-yard run, Artose Pinner had a 15-yarder, Chester Taylor had one for 12 and even backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger scrambled for 11 yards on one play. The Vikings finished with 167 yards rushing on 31 carries, the result of bad positioning and poor tackling at times by the Jets.
"The defense missed a couple of tackles and we work too hard for that," safety Erik Coleman said. "We've got to keep getting better. It's still the preseason so it's not like we're going to panic, but we still have a lot of work to do."
The Jets might want to scrap the idea of using Pete Kendall at center. The veteran, who usually plays left guard, had two bad snaps out of the shotgun, including one that was recovered by Brian Robison for a touchdown.
"Certainly, I'm disappointed with those two snaps," Kendall said. "I can't blame anybody but myself. I'm the one that pulled the ball and it was obviously awful. So I let my teammates down. It's back to the drawing board, I suppose."
Kendall, in his 12th NFL season, is embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with the team and has asked to be released or traded. Instead, New York has continued to play Kendall mostly with the second-team offense and had him practice at center this week. That's a position he struggled at when he filled in for the injured Kevin Mawae two years ago.
"I made mention that I didn't feel entirely comfortable after two or three days of practice," he said. "I don't control where I play. I don't control when I play. I don't control who I play for. So they told me to go out there and do it. I did the best I could and the shotgun snaps were awful. There's no other way to put it."
"I think all of us in the locker room are going to take this game very seriously and look at the mistakes and correct those mistakes on the practice field," Pennington said. "Anytime you go through a game like this, the best thing you can do as a team and as an individual player is to fix them and practice well the next week and get ready and prepare for the next week. That's what we'll do. That's what I'll do."