Tannenbaum: It's a clean slate now

0111-def-320.jpg

Tannenbaum is proud of the way the defense improved as the season went on

Mike Tannenbaum spoke to the media via conference call to wrap up the 2006 season – his first as a general manager. The topics ranged from reviewing the season to previewing the club's offseason philosophy in regards to the draft and free agency. The Jets' players prided themselves on toughness in '06 and that appears to be the route Tannenbaum will follow for future players.

"I think toughness for any of our players is really important because we have to beat Buffalo, we have to beat Miami, and those teams are tough," said Tannenbaum. "That Monday night game in Miami was a hard-hitting game and playing up in Buffalo every year is hard, so I think toughness is an endearing quality for anybody on our team. Being smart and competitive and being able take to coaching are all key attributes that our players need to have."

Read below for Tannenbaum's complete conference call transcript

New York Jets' General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, 1.10

Opening Statement…

I would like to thank everyone for all of their work this year. Obviously this was our first year through this, Eric (Mangini) and I. If you guys have any comments, thoughts, suggestions, things you liked, things you didn't like, I would like you to pass that along to Ron (Colangelo) and his staff. We will be happy to look at any thoughts you might have, we'd love to hear it.

I thought that we had a good season. I was happy that we were able to play in some meaningful games down the stretch, and into the playoffs. Eric and his staff did a great job this season. The team got better, especially down the stretch, to give us a chance to play in the playoffs. Overall, for the entire organization had a good year. The free agent class we brought in was productive. I was happy with the draft class. With that said, as Eric said the other day, it's a clean slate now. We are 0-0. We are transitioning to 2007.

Right now we are critically analyzing the 2006 season from the personnel department as well as from the coaching staff. It's important that we have a good, honest assessment of what we did well and what we can do better. What our strengths are, what are weaknesses are. After that, I'll have a few more conversations with Eric, Woody (Johnson) and Jay Cross, then I'll be heading out to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Then we will be rolling into the 2007 off-season. That is where we are as of Wednesday afternoon.

On if he has been contacted by Miami in regards to Brian Schottenheimer…

Yes, I was contacted the other day by Miami, and we did grant permission. He is interviewing for the head coaching job with Miami. Any of those details (when the interview will take place), I would defer to Miami.

On concerns about losing Schottenheimer…

Brian did a great job this year, like all of our coaches did. Given his background and given who he has worked for, he is deserving of the opportunity to interview for the job, and that is a credit to him. As an organization, where we stand, we will see what happens if he decides to take that job if it is offered to him.

On a successor for Schottenheimer…

As a GM, we try to have a short list for all positions because you never know what will happen. Be it for players from an injury or staff, coaches or support staff, you try to have a pretty good short list of people for if and when these situations occur. We always try to be prepared. These are lists that Eric and I talk about on an ongoing basis. It could be a video person, it could be your head trainer, it could be the back-up quarterback, it could be any position that we are responsible for.

On an in-house candidate for the position…

We are trying to get the best person for the job. If that situation were to present itself, we would consider in-house people and other coaches that would be available. It is like any other search, you want to get the best person that you can.

On losing a coordinator to a division rival…

On the one hand, I would be happy personally for Coach Schottenheimer. He has done a great job for us and worked hard. If and when he would leave this organization we would have to work hard to replace him. If it is within the division that is just another obstacle we would have to deal with.

On the first year in the 3-4 defense…

Two thoughts come to mind. It's a real tribute to our players and coaches that our defense consistently improved as the season went on. That is representative of being well-coached and players taking to the coaching. Secondly, to borrow a label from Coach (Bill) Parcells, this time of year he always talked about 'musts and needs.' Once we are done with the critical analysis of our team, Eric and I will assemble our lists of 'musts and needs.' We will pursue those 'musts and needs' as soon as the 2007 off-season begins, be it offense, defense or special teams.

On a bigger front line on defense being a 'must'…

We are going to look at everything, but the run-defense improved considerably over the second half of the season and that kept us in a lot of games. The short yardage and goal line defense was actually very good, especially stopping the run. There were some things to be encouraged by and there were definitely areas where we will need to improve. We have already met with the personnel department to get their thoughts. Over the next couple of days, Eric and I will sit down with the coaching staff to get their thoughts as well.

On the salary cap and free agency…

I feel comfortable where our cap situation is. I don't know what that final number is yet, there are still some nuances of contracts being netted out for incentives, but we should be in a comfortable cap situation. Philosophically we want to build our team through the draft as much as possible. Eric and I are committed to that. We are going to try to keep our own players as much as we can. That is another core belief that we share with Woody and Jay. With that said, if we feel there are opportunities in the free agent market that make sense, we are obviously going to look at it and try to make the best decision.

On making a move with free agents…

We are in a good position and if there is value in the free agent market that is something that we would look at it as contributing factor to building our team. Our core philosophy is to build a team through the draft and try to re-sign as many of our own players as we can, to coach them to develop them and to help them get better.

On the defensive line…

Our defensive coaches and Eric did a good job moving people around, trying to disguise things. They are going to put our players in the best positions to make plays and to help us. There is some flexibility with Dewayne (Robertson). We'll see how the roster unfolds in the off-season.

On possibly losing Schottenheimer slowing down the free agent process…

From a time standpoint that should shake out okay because our coach staff should be set well before free agency which is the second or third day of March. Everything should be set by then.

On whether the Jets will use the New England blueprint…

We are going to try to be the best team for the Jets, and we are going to borrow good ideas from all teams. New England has done a very good job. The core philosophy, obviously, is to spend as much of our resources on our own guys. If there is an opportunity in free agency, it has to be about value. One thing we know about the system, and it has been in around since 1993, you have to accept the consequences of any decision you make, good or bad. It stays on your cap. You have to make sure you feel good about those decisions because right, wrong or indifferent, you are going to have to live with them.

On making moves with Jerricho Cotchery or Victor Hobson…

We are trying to put our plan together. Both of those guys had very productive years. They got better and they took to the coaching well. We are going to put our plan in place and try to execute our game plan as best we can. Those are the types of guys that we do like.

On finding a running back in the off-season…

One thing I will say about our rushing game, we did have 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns as a team. I know it was more of a running back by committee but there still was a level of production. We are going to take a long hard look at it to see what we can do better, but some of the pieces are here. We will see if there are areas to improve it once we move forward.

On contract extensions…

I would like to have the roster set as much as possible by the draft. What I have learned is, if we can have the roster as well prepared as possible before the draft, then we can be in position to take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves in the draft. Which is what I think happened last year. I don't want to go into the draft saying, 'we have to get X or Y,' because based on history what I have learned is that is when mistakes can be made. I would like to have as few moving parts as possible relative to the roster heading into the draft because then we can capitalize on opportunities if they are presented and we can take what is best value for the team. That is my goal. We are going to work hard between now and the last week in April to put our roster in that position.

On this year's draft continuing what last year started…

I have been in enough draft rooms where we have traded up and it has worked, we have traded back and it hasn't. Whatever opportunities present themselves, I want to go into them with an open mind and not rule-out any scenario. I am comfortable where we are now, the picks we have and the cap room we have. I want to make sure that we maintain a plan so that each year the window is open. Mr. Johnson and I talk about that all the time and that's what he wants, that each off-season we are going to have a chance to improve the team.

On draft picks…

We have a first, two seconds, a third, a fifth and a sixth round choice.

On Kevan Barlow…

Kevan did some very positive things for us this year. Certainly the second New England game of the regular season was productive. He had six rushing touchdowns for us. There were some things that he did well. There are some areas, where, I am sure, he wishes things had gone better. All of the running backs are going to be something that we look at in the off-season, not just Kevan.

I think everyone gets banged up during the season. They all play with pain and nicks. I think he's someone who was nicked up as well, but there were some things that he did well and he helped us. In particular, that second game in New England, his play was one of the differences in the game up there. Again, six rushing touchdowns, we had 15 overall as a team and he had six of them. He did give us a good level of production for the season and now we are going to see what we can do in the future with him.

On Leon Washington…

How many reps he gets will ultimately be Eric's call. What I will say about Leon that I am really impressed with specifically is he got better at the skill sets that we asked him to get better at in May. Ball security and pass protection in particular got better. He took the coaching well and worked on skill development. By him doing that he earned the right to play more. He earned the right to be there on third down. There are a lot of running backs in this league that aren't on the field on third down because they cannot protect the quarterback. He could. He is highly competitive. The game is not too big for him. There were a lot of things to be encouraged about by Leon, but it all started with his hard work and skill development.

On Washington as an every-down back…

He could definitely help us. I don't want to say that he could be this guy or that guy, or that he can only help us for a certain amount of reps. One thing we've seen in the league over the past few years is, running back-by-committee really has evolved. You could look at New England, Dallas, Atlanta, and all around the league. Jacksonville has a good running back in Fred Taylor, then they went and drafted a guy like Maurice Jones-Drew, so I think that position is evolving to where it's more than just one person. We've been a little bit of the exception here with Curtis Martin for so many years, but I think from a macro-standpoint, what we've seen league-wide is more than one guy running the ball for each team.

On needing more than one guy at a position…

I think you do need more than one guy at most positions from a cap standpoint, from a 53-man roster standpoint and from a 16-game standpoint. It's a long season and you're going to need meaningful contribution from a lot different guys. One of the things that really impressed me about Eric [Mangini] this year was, we always talked about going by what we see, and we got contributions from the Stacy Tutt's and the Wallace Wrights and Jamie Thompson's, because it was competitive at practice and he did a really good job of allowing people to earn playing time. Throughout the course of the season, at running back with Leon [Washington's] role increasing or Cedric [Houston] getting an opportunity, that was a byproduct of the competitiveness at practice. Regardless of the position, it's a long season and you need meaningful contributions from a lot of players.

On Curtis Martin…

Curt helped us a lot this year. Obviously, he was on Injured Reserve PUP, but he was a meaningful member of the team. He helped a lot going to the meetings and just helping guys as much as he could. Relative to the 2007 season and his future, I would really defer it to Curt, if and when he has something to say about that, we would go from there. Right now, from a cap standpoint or his contract standpoint, he's protected at least until the first day of the league year to be on our '07 roster.

On the Injured Reserve players…

Tim [Dwight] is on IR and we'll be meeting with the doctors to get a good game plan over the next few days on all these guys in terms of what their limitations will be in the off-season program, if any, which usually starts traditionally in the third week of March. Some guys are limited to start with and we'll get a better gauge for them over the next couple of days.

On Patrick Ramsey…

We'll know a lot more about that situation as we get closer to the start of free-agency and when we see where our final cap situation winds up. Patrick helped us this year. Obviously, he didn't play much, but he was good in the meeting rooms, he worked hard in practice and there were a lot of things that we liked about Patrick. Eric and I will sit down to discuss him and everybody else. By the start of the league year we'll have a plan in place.

On the quarterback situation…

At the end of the day, Eric is going to decide who plays. I agree with what Eric said. Chad Pennington did a great job for us this year, he's a great leader and he's a great competitor. There are a lot of things to be encouraged by Chad, in particular his 31-22 record as a starter, he did a lot of really good things for us this year.

On Chad Pennington…

Chad is the same guy I've known since 2000. Chad is an incredible worker; he got hurt in the last preseason game against Baltimore when Vinny [Testaverde] and Ray Lucas were our two guys in 2000 and the way he rehabbed, it was like he was the starter. Subliminally, on the Saturday morning of this year's draft, he walked by my office with a notebook and a pen like, 'Mike, don't forget about me.' He's really been the same guy, so nothing that Chad does surprises me. He has the attributes that any of us would want to have in running a company. He's smart, he's tough, he's humble and he's prideful. There are so many good things to like about Chad that I won't say that I wasn't surprised, but there are so many things to be encouraged by from intangible standpoint that what he did was not surprising.

On the attributes he is looking for in players…

A lot of the attributes that the guys we have on campus have. I think toughness for any of our players is really important, because we have to beat Buffalo, we have to beat Miami and those teams are tough. That Monday night game in Miami was a hard-hitting game and playing up in Buffalo every year is hard, so I think toughness is an endearing quality for anybody on our team. Being smart and competitive and being able take to coaching are all key attributes that our players need to have.

On Andre Dyson…

Andre had a really good season for us, he helped us quite a bit. In those situations, you have until an hour and a half before the game to cut from 53 to 45 and basically what we try to do there between Eric and myself and the trainers is try to make the best decision with all the information you have. You try to get as many of those decisions right, no one is ever perfect and you just try to take the best information you can and make the best decision for that week. As you saw with us, that changed pretty dramatically from week-to-week. We always tried to balance injuries, matchups and all those different variations, how practice went that week. The inactive list for the Patriots game that week was based on the best information we had at the time.

On Trey Teague…

If Trey was healthy, it's competition and the best player would have played, be it Trey or Nick Mangold or Norm Katnik or whoever was the best center on opening day would have been. Like I mentioned earlier with Tim Dwight, we'll have a plan for Trey as we get closer to the off-season program relative to limitations of what he can do and what he can't do. Right now, he's just under the supervision of the trainers, he's really not in the weight program per say, but we'll have a much better idea of that as we get closer.

On Kimo von Oelhoffen…

When you build your team, sometimes you see contributions that are either tangible or intangible and I would say, a lot of Kimo's contributions, and I'm really glad he's on our team, were from an intangible standpoint. He brought a lot in terms of leadership and I thought some of the players he helped were very meaningful. Did he contribute to the maximum? There is some room for improvement there, but I'm glad he's on the team, I'm glad he signed with us and we'll move forward with him into '07.

Closing statement…

I really appreciate everyone's help this year and again, if you guys have any thoughts whatsoever on things that you like we did as an organization, things you didn't like and things that you think we can do better, I really would like to hear that. I know Eric would like to hear that and anyway through Ron's staff, give us your feedback, because we're looking to get better in every area of the organization, including working with you guys.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising