But they went 1-4 in their final five games, losing to Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami and barely beating Buffalo. They did not reach the postseason for the second straight year despite a massive offseason spending spree that included trading for Favre after his retirement and unretirement from Green Bay.
The 39-year-old Favre had just two touchdown passes and nine interceptions in those final five games, led the league in interceptions with 22 and complained after Sunday's 24-17 loss to Miami of shoulder, neck and back pains. The win gave the Dolphins the AFC East title under Chad Pennington, the Jets' longtime quarterback who was cut when the team obtained Favre.
The 37-year-old Mangini was 23-26 in three seasons in his first head coaching job. He had another year remaining on his contract. In 2006, his first season, he took a team that had been 4-12 the previous year to the playoffs with a 10-6 record and earned the nickname "Mangenious" from the local tabloids.
"For the current New York Jets organization, we've made the decision to move on," owner Woody Johnson said at a news conference Monday morning. "It's a judgment call.
"I don't think it was one thing," he continued. "We had to go in a different direction. There's nothing specific. It's just a call we made. Hopefully, it's correct."
Johnson said the final decision was made Sunday night but that the process had been going on a long time.
"We met with the coach this morning," Johnson said. "We thanked him for all the good things he had done for us, we thanked him for his dedication and his loyalty. But he understood."
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum praised Mangini, saying he did not think he had lost the team.
"Again, Eric has left a really good foundation here, and we're looking forward to building on that foundation," Tannenbaum said.
The Jets, 4-12 a year ago, began the offseason by spending big money on veterans, notably offensive linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody and linebacker Calvin Pace. They also traded away linebacker Jonathan Vilma, a young standout, because he did not fit Mangini's 3-4 scheme and traded for Kris Jenkins, a 350-pound defensive tackle with a history of back problems.
Jenkins was a standout during the early part of the season but tailed off toward the end.