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Thread: Inside the Jets' War Room

  1. #1

    Inside the Jets' War Room

    New article up by Manish Mehta, some great behind the scenes info.

    Can someone with twitter tell Manish that we really appreciate his hard work on articles like this? It's five cuts above anything else that other Jets beat writers put out.

    [url]http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/jets/2011/04/23/2011-04-23_nfl_draft_inside_the_new_york_jets_draft_war_room_with_gm_mike_tannenbaum__his_i.html[/url]

    [QUOTE]
    Inside a second-floor, windowless room, Mike Tannenbaum turned to the men at the white conference table for help.

    On a Sunday afternoon two years ago, the Jets general manager was stumped. When Gang Green was on the clock in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft, a place typically filled with spirited debate fell silent.

    Five minutes. That's all the Jets had. Five minutes to punctuate a draft that had already included monster trades for quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene. The small group inside the war room decided to take a hurried look at video clips of three players.

    "The first guy we looked at was awful," Tannenbaum remembers. "The second guy we looked at was worse."

    The final player's video package never made it into the DVD player.

    "The reason we took the third guy is that we didn't have enough time to watch the tape," Tannenbaum admits.

    Two years later, Matt Slauson, the 193rd pick of the draft, is a starter for one of the best offensive lines in the league.

    Through a little bit of luck and plenty of preparation, the Jets have become one of the elite drafting teams in the NFL. For all of Gang Green's bravado on the field, the difference makers on draft day have been unflashy for the better part of a decade, stars in the shadows for a franchise that has thrust itself into the spotlight.

    They are Tannenbaum's inner circle, five former college and NFL players with defined roles, who have anonymously helped stockpile talent for a team that has reached two consecutive AFC Championship Games.

    From the methodical point man who runs 12-hour meetings from sunrise to sunset to the experienced voice of reason with a closet filled with five-subject spiral notebooks, they are the heartbeat of the Jets' war room: vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales, senior personnel executive (and former GM) Terry Bradway, assistant GM Scott Cohen, assistant director of player personnel JoJo Wooden and assistant director of college scouting Michael Davis.

    They struck gold with Darrelle Revis, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, David Harris and Sanchez.

    They struck out with Vernon Gholston.

    "We've all been right and we've all been wrong," Tannenbaum says. "Everybody's DNA is on all the player reports. There's no I-told-you-so's or second guessing."

    * * *

    The path to the draft begins at a country-club resort outside of Naples, Fla., in late May, where Wooden, the soft-spoken former Syracuse linebacker who didn't make it out of the Cardinals' training camp in 1993, has a penchant for showing up at just the right moment.

    "We'll see JoJo when it's time to golf," Clinkscales cracks.

    Less than a month after the 2010 draft, Tannenbaum's team started preparations for the draft that begins Thursday night. The Jets, who have six picks beginning with the 30th overall, rely on National Football Scouting, an information exchange service that shares preliminary reports on players entering their senior season with 19 NFL clubs.

    Clinkscales, whose three-year NFL career as a wide receiver for the Steelers and Buccaneers in the late '80s was curtailed by injuries, started with a database of 1,259 college players before beginning his trimming process. He gave the NFS reports to the Jets' eight regional scouts in May for further evaluations that are due after the college season.

    By December, the Jets streamline the list to 500 players. Clinkscales, 47, also set up a cross-check system by position for players he believes will be drafted in the first three rounds. Cohen, a former wide receiver and pitcher at Division III Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, is a cross-check staple for skill positions.

    In the past 11 months, the scouting department interviewed more than 300 players and produced 5,552 reports from 253 schools that include detailed breakdowns in 12 categories. It's a meticulous set of standards for an organization that has made an NFL-low 17 draft picks in the past four years. After the draft, the information will be transferred to the pro personnel department to keep in a database for two years.

    "Although we're evaluating guys who likely won't be drafted by us," Wooden, 41, says, "it doesn't mean they won't be here at the start of the season, during the season or after the season."

    In December, Clinkscales cuts the 500-player draft board in half. One half is called the "Back Board," a list of approximately 250 players the Jets won't target in the draft. Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan will likely never see that board.

    Long after Davis starred as the only wideout in Division II Virginia State's Wing-T offense in the mid-'80s, the head of the talent-rich Southeast region has provided Clinkscales with thorough background information for years on prospects to give a fuller picture. He's thrived with a keen eye from the day Bill Parcells hired him 15 years ago and sent him on a three-week initiation roadtrip through seven states with one clear task: "Find me some players."

    "They pay us for our opinion and our opinion only," says Davis, the ultimate straight shooter. "You can only speak for what you see."

    * * *

    The copious note taker is the compass.

    Bradway, who preceded Tannenbaum as Jets GM from 2001-05, has chronicled his 26 years of draft experience in more than 60 spiral notebooks. When the inner circle gathered in Florham Park in February a week after the Jets' AFC Championship Game loss, Bradway made sure the organization's draft philosophy wasn't lost during the initial stacking of the board.

    Clinkscales began his February meeting at 7 a.m. sharp before the draft team left for the scouting combine in Indianapolis. For 12 hours, they ranked players based on the Jets' alphanumerical grading system compiled in the scouts' reports. For example, if a player has a medical issue or is projected to switch positions, he would recieve a corresponding letter (though the Jets would not reveal what those letters are) followed by a numerical ranking based on their football skill set on a scale of 1 to 9. The Jets rarely give out anything above a 7.99. They'll eventually set two draft boards to be used in the war room on draft day: 1) Positional and 2) Round-by-Round, which is divided into 1, 1-2, 2, 2-3, 3, 3-4, 4, 4-5 and 6-7.

    Before the combine, each draftable player had five or six reports. Early-round targets have as many as nine evaluations apiece after the combine, pro-day workouts and individual meetings, including 30 allowable out-of-town visits in the first week in April. The February draft board included reports only from area scouts, cross-checks and Senior Bowl/East-West game reports. The pre-combine grades won't be radically different from the adjusted grades in April.

    "The (pre-combine score) is the purest grade you could have, because it's the grade of him playing football," the 55-year-old Bradway says. "No workouts, no interviews, no medical."

    Cohen and Wooden spend the bulk of their time on advance scouting of opponents during the Jets' season before assuming larger draft roles in February. Cohen's responsibility involves gathering as much intelligence on teams' needs and interests to determine whether the Jets can navigate up or down the draft order. He'll track private workouts by teams and dissect rosters before offering scenarios and suggestions to Tannenbaum to gauge how many slots he can safely move for draft-day trades.

    "A lot of teams will put smoke screens out there and are harder to read than others," Cohen says.

    Wooden, the "most pure and natural evaluator," according to Tannenbaum, links a current NFL player to each prospect to give the brain trust an idea of what the college player could become in the years to come.

    "We do a lot of great things, but until you win the championship, you can't write the book," Bradway says. "Our book's pretty good, but maybe we can't publish it yet."

    * * *

    Tannenbaum asks every prospect he meets the same question: Tell me something good you've done for someone else in the last seven days.

    He asks his draft team that question too at random moments. He swears it came in handy two years ago when he landed his franchise quarterback.

    The night before the 2009 draft, Tannenbaum had the framework in place for a trade with the Browns that would move the Jets up to the No. 5 pick to get Sanchez. After the Chiefs selected defensive end Tyson Jackson with the No. 3 pick, only the Seahawks stood in the way.

    "I was scared to death that Seattle was going to take Sanchez," Tannenbaum says.

    So, the superstitious man in charge issued a directive to his inner circle: "Wherever you were standing when Kansas City made the pick, stand in that exact same spot!" Tannenbaum told everyone in the war room that day. "And think of something good you've done for someone else."

    Clinkscales, Bradway, Cohen, Wooden and Davis froze for 10 minutes. When the Seahawks chose linebacker Aaron Curry, they exhaled and executed the blockbuster deal. It highlighted the organization's quality-over-quanity mind-set that has given them a smaller margin for error than rivals such as the Patriots, who routinely stockpile draft choices.

    "You try to find the true difference-makers in our sport," Tannenbaum says. "You can find replaceable parts throughout the year, but true difference-makers are tremendous nuggets. If you have that opportunity, go get one."

    They invest countless hours each year only to make a handful of picks. The brain trust will spend the next few days fine-tuning the boards with three reviews with coach Ryan.

    But the discussion never really stops.

    "I want good debate," Tannenbaum says of having relatively few people in the war room. "I trust the people in there. I don't want ancillary B.S. that's not going to get us to where we need to go."

    When the final boards are set Wednesday afternoon, Tannenbaum will work the phones for a few more hours. "You know me," he says. "I'm a dealmaker by nature. I'll certainly look into that. I promise you."

    In the end, he knows he'll be perceived as the genius or the fool even though the efforts by the five people he trusts the most make all the difference. They've shared his successes and failures for the better part of a decade. They're all husbands and fathers like him. Their fingerprints on every draft are everywhere. They all work too hard.

    A framed photo of Ella and Jacob Tannenbaum in a barn filled with hay rests in their father's office. It's a subtle reminder to all that they've prepared enough. They're ready.

    "The hay is in the barn," Tannenbaum says with a laugh. "Time to go home and see the kids."[/QUOTE]

  2. #2
    They couldn't watch the tape a few picks before their turn in the 6th round?

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=Magnus;4007821]They couldn't watch the tape a few picks before their turn in the 6th round?[/QUOTE]We all know they did. Same BS they run at camp about guys they have no intention of keeping. You can tell when they're just feeding the media.

  4. #4
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    nice article ham

    and YES, manish mehta is a one million percent improvement at the Daily News over the "Dick" he replaced as the Jet beat writer

    unfortunately the "Dick" ended up at espn ny and not at the Ho Ho Kus gazette or Paramus Mall Pennysaver, the kind of place deserving of his "talents"

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=sg3;4007846]nice article ham

    and YES, manish mehta is a one million percent improvement at the Daily News over the "Dick" he replaced as the Jet beat writer

    unfortunately the "Dick" ended up at espn ny and not at the Ho Ho Kus gazette or Paramus Mall Pennysaver, the kind of place deserving of his "talents"[/QUOTE]

    actually a writer for one of those teen reality shows on MTV is perfect for Cimini's talents. :yes:

  6. #6
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    [QUOTE=Astoria;4007811]Can someone with twitter tell Manish that we really appreciate his hard work on articles like this? It's five cuts above anything else that other Jets beat writers put out.[/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE=sg3;4007846]nice article ham

    and YES, manish mehta is a one million percent improvement at the Daily News over the "Dick" he replaced as the Jet beat writer

    unfortunately the "Dick" ended up at espn ny and not at the Ho Ho Kus gazette or Paramus Mall Pennysaver, the kind of place deserving of his "talents"[/QUOTE]

    Manish is a God send for Jets fans. I love's the guy's zest and zeal for the Jets and it shines through in his writing. How Cimini even has a job these days is amazing to me. The guy is such a colossal douche, it's ridiculous. It just goes to show how awful ESPN has become. It's a shadow of it's former self and has become a laughing stock. Might as well add Florio to that list too, another worthless POS.

  7. #7
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    [QUOTE=sg3;4007846]nice article ham

    and YES, manish mehta is a one million percent improvement at the Daily News over the "Dick" he replaced as the Jet beat writer

    [b]unfortunately the "Dick" ended up at espn ny and not at the Ho Ho Kus gazette or Paramus Mall Pennysaver, the kind of place deserving of his "talents"[/b][/QUOTE]

    lol

    SG3 certainly has his moments.

    Well done.

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=Green Jets & Ham;4007966]The difference between Cimini and Metha is partly generational.

    Cimini started covering the Jets when they were still the SOJ's and its hard to break that mindset.

    Metha started covering the Jets (@ NJO/Star ledger) when they were legit contenders for the most part.

    Cimini remembers Kotite et al. even if he didn't cover those teams, thats a part of his youth.

    Metha's youth is the Parcells Jets.

    So when you read these guys you see two totally different mindsets and two totally different narratives. Cimini is a cynic when it comes to the Jets, while Metha views the Jets as one of the better run organizations in football.[/QUOTE]

    That's fine, but as a professional writer covering the NFL, you have to adjust to the constantly changing landscape of the league. While a lot of us were raised on the Jets of the 80's and 90's and adopted our own SOJ mentality, it's easy to see those times becoming further and further in the rearview as Rex's regime begins to take shape. It's all for the best anyway...I'll take Manish's cautious optimism any day.

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=Green Jets & Ham;4007966]The difference between Cimini and Metha is partly generational.

    Cimini started covering the Jets when they were still the SOJ's and its hard to break that mindset.

    Metha started covering the Jets (@ NJO/Star ledger) when they were legit contenders for the most part.

    Cimini remembers Kotite et al. even if he didn't cover those teams, thats a part of his youth.

    Metha's youth is the Parcells Jets.

    So when you read these guys you see two totally different mindsets and two totally different narratives. Cimini is a cynic when it comes to the Jets, while Metha views the Jets as one of the better run organizations in football.[/QUOTE]


    Interesting theory Ham. Unfortunately, it ignores one very important fact: that Cimini is a just a miserable creep.

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=RageATL;4007989]That's fine, but as a professional writer covering the NFL, you have to adjust to the constantly changing landscape of the league.[/QUOTE]

    Agree 100% with this. I would expect lingering SOJ Negative Nancy mentality from a fan, not a professional writer like Cimini working for the self-purported worldwide leader in sports.

    Media has changed dramatically since even the turn of the 21st century, and many "old world" sports journalists carry a lazy mentality of superiority -- relics from the time when they had the final and concrete word in all things sports.

    Now, a good journalist needs to compete with passionately well-informed blog writers. Even the journalist's once sacrosanct "sources" are made obsolete in most cases by news leaking instantly from twitter.

    Part of me sincerely believes that Mehta is just one of many talented young journalists who are adapting to this change, and producing high quality work by properly using the great resource of their press credentials -- rather than sitting back and treating the fans like inbred dullards who have no sports IQ (all the articles on EspnNewYork.com).

    Another part of me worries that since Mehta is relatively new, he's putting forth his best effort now, and eventually over many cocktails with slobs like Cimini he, too, will eventually degenerate to become them. I truly hope this isn't the case.

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=Green Jets & Ham;4007966]The difference between Cimini and Metha is partly generational.

    [B]Cimini started covering the Jets when they were still the SOJ's and its hard to break that mindset.[/B]

    Metha started covering the Jets (@ NJO/Star ledger) when they were legit contenders for the most part.

    Cimini remembers Kotite et al. even if he didn't cover those teams, thats a part of his youth.

    Metha's youth is the Parcells Jets.

    So when you read these guys you see two totally different mindsets and two totally different narratives. Cimini is a cynic when it comes to the Jets, while Metha views the Jets as one of the better run organizations in football.[/QUOTE]

    Poor excuse Ham. If he's doing his job, the way a writer is supposed to do his job, it doesn't make a difference. He's reporting on the team, not on his emotions. There isn't a case to be made anywhere for a writer taking on the character of the worst that this fan base has to offer. He's supposed to be a professional.

    If he's a pro, he could be a raging Pats fan from his childhood and no one should have a clue reading his coverage of the Jets.

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    [QUOTE=RageATL;4007958]Manish is a God send for Jets fans. I love's the guy's zest and zeal for the Jets and it shines through in his writing. How Cimini even has a job these days is amazing to me. The guy is such a colossal douche, it's ridiculous. It just goes to show how awful ESPN has become. It's a shadow of it's former self and has become a laughing stock. [B]Might as well add Florio to that list too, another worthless POS.[/B][/QUOTE]

    Ha! Florio....now THAT guy is a total hack....he's not even a writer. All he does is report what others are reporting.

    Gotta give him credit though....guy is probably rolling in the dough.

  13. #13
    [FONT="Times New Roman"][B][SIZE="6"]It highlighted the organization's quality-over-quanity mind-set that has given them a smaller margin for error than rivals such as the Patriots, who routinely stockpile draft choices.[/SIZE][/B][/FONT]

    I believe this is the reason why the Jets are a much better drafting team than NE is at this point. The Jets focus on quality players, difference makers. They don't waste their time taking a million stabs, throwing SH$T at a wall and seeing what sticks. In lay terms, that is what NE does. They are on the fence and really do not know who is a good player and who isn't. They have some idea, but not enough to make a confident decision, so they take this shotgun approach, which is to stockpile draft picks. Then, after they get all of these guys that they are "on the fence" about, they pick through them and see which ones truly have talent. So, they end up with a million middle round draft picks that are all COMPLIMENTARY players. They are not difference makers. That's the price you pay when you trade down constantly. The talent level has gone down decidedly. What's worse is that they still only end up with 5 to 7 players at a maximum making the team. The rest are cut because they either suck or the Patsies cannot afford to pay them all.

    The Jets, on the other hand, keep things right in front of them. They find the true "diamonds in the rough" and watch them closely. If they are avialable at various picks during the draft and the Jets think trading a couple of picks to go after said player is worth it, they do not hesitate. They yield less players than most teams, but what they do get is serious quality. What's even better is that they still end up with those complimentary players that are so important to winning the SB. Chansi Stuckey, Matt Slauson, Danny Woodhead, Mike Devito?? Whether those players were taken late in the draft or signed to a tryout right off the street, the bottom line is every one of those players have played roles in our success. Granted, Woodhead and Stuckey are gone now, but they made for quality depth when they were on this team. Slauson and Devito are now starters.

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    [QUOTE=IndianaJet;4008042]Ha! Florio....now THAT guy is a total hack....he's not even a writer. All he does is report what others are reporting.

    Gotta give him credit though....guy is probably rolling in the dough.[/QUOTE]

    You can not even look at the byline, read the overall dooshiness of the post and just know it's him. :yes:

  15. #15
    Slauson is a God.

  16. #16
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    [QUOTE=Astoria;4007811]New article up by Manish Mehta, some great behind the scenes info.

    [/QUOTE]


    ... :clapper: ... agree :yes: ... awesome stuff! ...

    .. someone should have told mike & the gang to smile for their photo though ;) ...


    ... thanks for posting this ... i missed it on sat ...













    l_j_r

  17. #17
    As I said when this article was put up on the draft forum. I can't believe the Jets were in the position they described with Slauson, scrambling around looking at tape at the last second seemingly having little clue as who to take. If that is what really happened that is not a good thing and that is why the Jets seemingly place very little value on late round picks.

  18. #18
    so true. look at the cardinals of a couple of seasons ago. warner, fitzgerald and not much more.

    [QUOTE=Green Jets & Ham;4007842]+1

    If you have a franchise QB and a handful of difference makers, you can fill in the rest and you're close to winning a SB

    Difference makers, impact players, whatever you want to call them, those are the guys who win you championships.[/QUOTE]

  19. #19
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    Great article, but there is, to this fan, some slightly troubling things in that article:

    [QUOTE]On a Sunday afternoon two years ago, the Jets general manager was stumped. When Gang Green was on the clock in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft, a place typically filled with spirited debate fell silent.

    Five minutes. That's all the Jets had. Five minutes to punctuate a draft that had already included monster trades for quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene. The small group inside the war room decided to take a hurried look at video clips of three players.

    "The first guy we looked at was awful," Tannenbaum remembers. "The second guy we looked at was worse."

    The final player's video package never made it into the DVD player.

    "The reason we took the third guy is that we didn't have enough time to watch the tape," Tannenbaum admits[/QUOTE]

    The first 3-4 rounds should be relatively easy, its the later rounds where GMs and Scouts make their money. I don't care if its just a "story", you CAN'T be unprepared in the draft, much less admit it. To me, that story is kid of pathetic, regardless of who they wound up with. Thats how you wind up drafting guys like Yovanovitz. The draft is 7 rounds long, and there are 32 teams involved...so knowing that, how can an NFL teams War Room be that lost on draft day?

    [QUOTE]Tannenbaum asks every prospect he meets the same question: Tell me something good you've done for someone else in the last seven days.[/QUOTE]

    Looks like we're still drafting "Mangini Guys". Seriously? Did they ask that of Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes before trading for them? Give me a break with this crap. Ask the guy if if gives a Frak about Football, I could care less if hes a nice guy, as long as he isn't raping or killing, it'll be OK.

    [QUOTE]So, the superstitious man in charge issued a directive to his inner circle: "Wherever you were standing when Kansas City made the pick, stand in that exact same spot!" Tannenbaum told everyone in the war room that day. "And think of something good you've done for someone else."[/QUOTE]

    Thats just sad IMO. That nonsense is OK for the fans at home during games...not for the guys paid to make things happen.

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=Jet_Engine1;4009976]
    Looks like we're still drafting "Mangini Guys". Seriously? Did they ask that of Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes before trading for them? Give me a break with this crap. Ask the guy if if gives a Frak about Football, I could care less if hes a nice guy, as long as he isn't raping or killing, it'll be OK.[/QUOTE]

    I sort of interpreted that as: it's a question that catches prospects off guard and by doing so can reveal a little about their future locker room persona. I get the feeling that any answer would be acceptable; it won't significantly influence a pick. On those grounds, I personally have no problem with it. It's thankfully a far stretch from the extensive character probing of the Mangini era, and subsequent selections based solely on that (Schlegal...wtf)


    [QUOTE=Jet_Engine1;4009976]Thats just sad IMO. That nonsense is OK for the fans at home during games...not for the guys paid to make things happen.[/QUOTE]

    From my perspective, it just shows that they care. I'd much rather have guys who genuinely give a Sh rather than a bunch of win, lose, or draw types who only care about their own paychecks.

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