"He's got size, he's got a strong arm, he's a smart guy," New York's coach gushed Sunday. "Brett, that quarterback room sets a pretty high bar for work ethic, and he's right there with them."
Hold on. No, not THAT Brett.
The high praise was for Brett Ratliff, New York's second-year quarterback who has had an impressive training camp so far after struggling through his first summer with the team.
"He came in, great guy, great worker, but I mean, getting out the play," Mangini said with a smile, "it was like an act of Congress to get that done in the huddle."
Since the Jets emerged as possible trading partners with Green Bay for Brett Favre, a smattering of chants and signs declaring "We Want Brett!" have popped up among the fans at camp. Ratliff, a former star at the University of Utah who spent last season on the Jets' practice squad, can't help but chuckle.
"It's a good name, you know. So, if they want to keep chanting it, I don't mind it," he said, grinning. "Brett Favre's a great player and that's all I'm going to say about that."
"No, I really don't," he said. "I'm sure they're working it out up there. They're working through that and we're working through the rain."
The Jets, of course, are focused for now on the four quarterbacks they have in camp: Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, rookie Erik Ainge and Ratliff. Rumors and speculation continue to swirl regarding the Jets' possible interest in Favre and how the three-time MVP would be a perfect fit for a team whose biggest question mark is at the quarterback spot.
"The bottom line is this: Sooner or later, the organization has to make a decision one way or the other," Pennington said. "And I hope it's sooner than later. For our team to be able to move on and accomplish the things we want to get accomplished, the things Coach Mangini and (general manager) Mike (Tannenbaum) want to get accomplished, we've got to make a decision. The sooner the better."
Pennington has appeared to have the edge over Clemens early on in the competition for the Jets' starting job. The veteran, entering his ninth season, has looked good if unspectacular running the offense.
"It's been business as usual for me," Pennington said. "Practice has been going great and I feel really good about my progress and how everything's coming along and trying to build and become better."
While Pennington has kept his mistakes to a minimum, Clemens has done the opposite. The third-year quarterback, who won the job from Pennington midway through last season, has thrown four interceptions in four days.
"If you throw an interception in a game, eventually you learn to say, 'Hey, I'm going to learn from it so I don't do it again and move on,"' Clemens said. "It's good practice out here because everybody's being evaluated."
Clemens didn't change his tune when he was asked if maybe too much is made of turnovers early in camp.
"An interception is an interception and you don't want it, unless your defense is on the field," he said.
Despite the missteps, Clemens isn't ready to start checking the locker room for any Favre updates.
"Just to see if Joe Smith has a different number?" he said with a laugh, referring to the Jets punter who wears No. 4. "No, not just yet."
Mangini said each of the quarterbacks have made their share of mistakes and he isn't necessarily keeping a running log of who wins the competition each day.
"What I'm looking at is a body of work, not Day 1, Day 2, Day 3," he said. "Over the course of training camp and the preseason games, `OK, what's the overall balance sheet? What does it look like and who gives us the best chance to win?"'
If the Jets pass on Favre, the competition between Pennington and Clemens is likely to go deep into the summer.
"I think speculation is part of this game," Pennington said. "It's what gives fans something to talk about over coffee in the morning. It's good for the game from a fan's perspective. From a player's perspective, you just can't worry about it. You move on and focus on what you need to do to get better."