Andrew Gross, the talented Jets beat writer for the Westchester Journal News, was kind enough to do a fan chat with Jets Insider.com on November 15, 2007. The transcript of the event follows:
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:03 pm: Good Evening Folks! Welcome to the Jets Insider.com chatroom and welcome Westchester Journal News Jets beat writer Andrew Gross. Thanks for joining us, Andrew!
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:04 pm: Andrew, I'll start. What's the mood of the team on the heels of this losing streak ?
[AndrewGross] 8:06 pm: Surprisingly not bad. Obviously, the bye week came at a perfect time in light of a 1-8 record. Everybody had a chance to get away from Weeb Ewbank Hall and clear their minds. I'm slightly worried that everybody seems to be hanging on to the notion that they can just become a better team, particularly defensively, just because of some extra work over the bye week, as was the case last year.
[Lord of War 599] 8:07 pm: Yo Andrew thanks for chatting tonight, any chance we see Jacob Bender this week and any changes in personnel on the defensive side for the coming weeks?
[AndrewGross] 8:09 pm: I've gotten burned by thinking Jacob Bender was going to play twice now this season, once before the season opener and also before the Redskins game. I don't see them making that switch. Unfortunately, not much happening defensively, unless they start playing Eric Smith a little more. But there's really nobody in the locker room that can step in at this point and be an upgrade.
 8:09 pm: Hi Andrew. I enjoy your articles. What has the team been doing during the bye week to improve their chances of getting into the "W" column?
[AndrewGross] 8:10 pm: Thanks for reading, always appreciate it. They've been working on fundamentals, which is somewhat mindboggling to me at this point of the season. They definitely are trying to improve their tackling and having David Harris in the mix now has helped. But until they get their defensive line issues sorted out, which probably won't be until free agency and the draft, it doesn't look too promising. Which is not to say I don't think they'll go the rest of the season without a win. I just don't see a 5-2 finish.
[jetsrule128] 8:11 pm: 1 is it true that chad is practicing with the lowest wr on the roster(clowney,prall) 2 if so what do tui and brett ratiff do during practice... 3 ARE the jets happy there leaving hofstra in 2009 ... your blog is great by the way
[Andrew Gross] 8:14 pm: Again, thanks for the compliment. When we watch practice during the first 30 minutes, the three quarterbacks are usually working by themselves. In fact, Brett Ratliff was needed to fill in with the defensive backs the other day. So, Tui works with Kellen, who I'd estimate is getting about 80-90 percent of the main reps, while Ratliff is used as needed. Chad has been running the scout team, as Kellen had been so that does mean he's getting some work with guys like Clowney and Prall. However, working with guys like Clowney and Prall shouldn't be looked at as a slap in the face or anything like that. As for leaving Hofstra, at least from the administration side, they're going to love going to Jersey because it's a place that's been designed by them for them. For the players, it just means finding a new place to rent or buy.
[SAR I] 8:14 pm: Is Woody Johnson getting at all involved in football matters? The knock on Leon Hess was that his team could burn to the ground and he'd be invisible, never heard from, never a point of view. I realize that Woody is not Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones, but is he even remotely concerned or connected or involved now that things aren't so rosy?
[AndrewGross] 8:17 pm: Mr. Johnson is involved to the point that I see him at most games, usually walking or talking with GM Mike Tannenbaum. He's not the type of owner, as you say, like George who will be hiring and firing managers and making personnel decisions. However, in a sense he does since he controls the purse strings and is not known as an overspender. Tannenbaum does have to pass all financial moves past him for his approval. But the losing has definitely not driven him away.
[Kerry Rhodes] 8:15 pm: Andrew, Can you tell us about the Jets Cap position next year? I expect them to be in GREAT cap shape and believe they have the ability to be major players in FA if they choose. In year 3 Mike Nolan went out and made big moves, In year 3 so did Romeo Crennell...Do you expect in year 3 that we will be making major acquisitions? Do you think they will be aggresive? Also the top 5 picks of this draft look like a bad place to be, any thoughts on that?
[AndrewGross] 8:19 pm: I agree they should be in great cap position, at one point prior to this season they were approximately $10 million under, that tightened a bit but not significantly. Plus, if they trade or cut Chad, who I believe counts a whopping $7.8 million against the cap next season but don't hold me to that, they should be in even better position. I would sincerely hope they make stronger moves this off-season than the past two - signing Kimo von Oelhoffen was an abomination... and while Kenyon Coleman is serviceable, it seems they made a mistake bringing in Darian Barnes, who they're not using and who'll be gone after one season. But David Bowens is essentially just a special teams player. They do need to spend money but that goes back to my last answer on ownership - don't always blame Mangini and Tannenbaum for the moves not made.
[Jerricho89] 8:19 pm: Andrew, the Jets could use some more emotion, particularly in the second half of games. Mangini and his coordinators are not emotional guys. Do you think they could use a Herm-type personality as an assitant coach to take on the role of motivator?
[Andrew Gross] 8:22 pm: As for emotion, Newsday's Tom Rock said this the other day. When you're winning, this even-keel thing looks like confidence. When you're losing, it looks like incompetence. I do think football is necessarily an emotional game and it would serve the team well if there was somebody on the staff to be that guy. Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff is awfully animated but it doesn't seem to be enough. Also, it can't be Mangini because coaches should never try to be what they aren't. The players would see through the BS immediately.
[AndrewGross] 8:24 pm: Yes, I think the Jets should see what they can get for Vilma at this point. Actually, I was telling people before the trade deadline and before Vilma got hurt, the Jets should see what they could get for both JV and D-Rob. Vilma would definitely be helped by a better defensive line so he wouldn't be taking on linemen directly all the time. But though Mangini would argue this forever, I think Vilma is just a guy who's talents are suited to more of a roaming role in a 4-3.
[SAR I] 8:25 pm: I have two questions: First is a follow up to my first......are you saying that Woody is cheap and is deliberately preventing the FO from getting free agents? That Tannenbaum has been told "no" when he's asked for funding towards landing a guy we need? Second question: In your opinion, is this franchise safe in trusting the next 5 years to Kellen Clemens or do we not know enough or do we need to use our Top 5 pick on a QB prospect?
[AndrewGross] 8:26 pm: I don't have absolute proof of that, but I found it strange that the Jets didn't actively pursue Adelius Thomas when he was available. He would have been a perfect fit. Also, you've got to look at the $1 million the Jets wouldn't give Pete Kendall. Mangini and Tannenbaum are both bright guys, no way they couldn't have foreseen weakening the team with Adrien Clarke at left guard. I really think that came from above. I think there are too many immediate needs to spend a top five pick on a QB. Granted, it will be too soon to tell exactly what Clemens is. But even if they draft a QB, they're going to have to spend two years at minimum developing him. If I have a top five pick, I'm going defensive line.
[barkus] 8:28 pm: Andrew, do you see DeWayne Robertson coming back next year?
I would think hobson would be resigned, do you agree?
[AndrewGross] 8:29 pm: It's really hard to blame everything on a 34-year-old, non-Pro Bowl offensive lineman leaving the team but I think the results speak for themselves. With Kendall, this team would have been closer to .500.
[AndrewGross] 8:30 pm: I think it would be best for both parties if D-Rob went elsewhere. The Jets are killing his career by forcing him to be an undersized nose tackle. What I would like, though, is to see the Jets either sign a big, run-stuffing nose tackle through free agency or draft one, then slide Dwayne to the outside and play him on an angle so he can best utilize his speed off the ball. He's an excellent rusher when given space. As for Hobson, I see no reason not to re-sign him. He's playing loads better than Bryan Thomas right now.
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:30 pm: AG...Mangini has many excuses for a bad defense this year, but is it just that he's trying to fit square pegs in round holes? The players don't seem to fit the schemes. Do you agree?
[AndrewGross] 8:32 pm: Soothsayer, couldn't agree more. He talks around and around the subject, never giving a straight answer. But I thought it was telling on Wednesday when Mangini was again saying don't buy too much into the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 (BT either in a two- or three-point stance according to EM, yeah, right) and then getting Mike Tomlin on a conference call and the rookies Steelers coach saying he adapted to the already-installed 3-4 in Pittsburgh because he wasn't looking to make a stamp on the team, he just wanted to win. I'm of the belief EM should have seen what he had in NY, specifically in D-Rob and Vilma, and stuck with Herm's 4-3.
[Kyle Clifton 59] 8:31 pm: HI ANDREW The jets picked up Will Montgomery several weeks ago who looks like a big upgrade over Clark will he be playing soon any info on him Thanks
[AndrewGross] 8:34 pm: As for Will Montgomery, couldn't tell you much about how he's doing, don't see much of him in practice. Obviously, there was a chance to unseat Adrien Clarke and Montgomery hasn't taken it as of yet. Which should tell you something.
[Lord of War 599] 8:35 pm: Do the players really hate Mangini or is just that he doesn't relate to the players the way Herm did? Also do you see Bob Sutton gone as DC at the end of the year?
[AndrewGross] 8:37 pm: The whispers out of the locker room are that, not necessarily hate, but they don't enjoy playing for Mangini. Obviously, some of that is not winning. But they weren't having a big party last year when they were winning, either. Players would always prefer to play for a Herm-type over a Mangini-type. That doesn't mean one is better than the other. It does mean that Mangini needs to turn this around quicker because while he hasn't lost the players yet, that will always loom over him... As for Sutton, and this kills me because I really like Bob going back to my days covering him when he was the Army coach, I don't see how you can bring him back off of this performance. Mangini would lose credibility in the room. He has to show he's trying to improve the team, otherwise the players could start mailing it in, like was almost the case with the Falcons recently.
[Jets Fanatic] 8:37 pm: 1)Do you think that much of the failure of this season is because of lack of skills on the roster? or lack of planning and leadership in coaching and Front Office? 2). Have you gotten a chance to check any college prospects that could fit our need for a big NT, or do you think that player may be available in Free agency?
[AndrewGross] 8:40 pm: This is going to sound like a Mangini answer, but it's a combination of both. I think this team overachieved last season based on the talent and is underachieving this season. The talent, particularly on defense, is not what it should be. That said. Mangini has not done a good enough job improving off of last season. The rest of the league now has a lot of tape on him and Schottenheimer and Sutton, they need to adjust to the adjustments and they haven't at all. I knew somebody was going to ask me that and I'm ashamed to say I haven't done my HW yet in that regard. I'm just taking it one day at a time, like Mangini says. If you hold on one second, I think I can run to the car to get my new issue of Pro Football Weekly (plug, plug, I contribute to that) and they have a list.
[Andrew Gross] 8:42 pm: The best d-tackle would seem to be the Titans' Albert Haynesworth but, knowing Mangini, he might shy away from that guy based on character issues. But, sometimes, you don't need character guys, you need pure athletic talent.
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:43 pm: ie: Randy Moss
[AndrewGross] 8:43 pm: Moss being the perfect example. I know Mangini thought Belichick was crazy for bringing that guy in.
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:45 pm: Crazy like a fox
[Kyle Clifton 59] 8:46 pm: do you think the Jets will draft Mcfadden do you think they will trade down? if they trad down who could be a partner Thanks
[AndrewGross] 8:47 pm: I certainly think the Jets would entertain trading down if they could get two first-rounders in return. But a chance to get a guy like Long might keep the Jets in the top five if it comes to that. I think it's a little too early to tell who they're trading partner might be. It won't be New England.
[SAR I] 8:48 pm: Question regarding the psyche of the team. The Jets have lost all their games (excepting the Pats) by a fraction. A play here or a play there. A single score in the 4th quarter for the most part. Is the positivity of that holding the team together ("we're not that bad") or is the negativity of being that close ripping the team apart ("if the FO did something different we'd be a playoff team")?
[AndrewGross] 8:48 pm: There's no negativity about to rip the team apart. The coaching staff definitely hangs onto the ``we're so close, play here, play there'' explanation. I look at it as a team that's forgotten how to win. They get to the fourth quarter and can't seal the deal. That's a confidence issue.
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:48 pm: AG, do you think the Pats have a chance to surpass the 73-0 shellacking the Chicago bears gave the Redskins in 1940 when they play the Jets in Dec?
[AndrewGross] 8:49 pm: LOL, I think Belichick would love to put that kind of beating on the Jets. I don't think that will happen because that game will be the Jets Super Bowl this year, not that it wasn't the Redskins' Super Bowl way back when. But I could see something in the recent Redskins' 52-6 range, maybe 59-10, around there. Actually, some writers, won't specify who, think the opposite, that the Jets will actually cover the spread. Of course, the spread might be 22-23.
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 8:50 pm: AG: Do you think Leon Washington will make the pro bowl as a KR?
[AndrewGross] 8:52 pm: At this point, I'd call Leon a lock. We've been trying to research whether one team has ever sent a different kick returner to the Pro Bowl in successive seasons. OK, maybe research isn't the right word. We talked about maybe, possibly, looking that up. And I'm sure we'll get to it soon.
[Kyle Clifton 59] 8:54 pm: what do think we could get for Vilma, chad And drob in trades?
[AndrewGross] 8:56 pm: Speculating here of course but I'd like to see the Jets get a second-rounder for Vilma, a pipe dream, especially coming off a knee injury might be a low first rounder but I think second round is realistic maybe a second and a sixth or seventh. For Chad, a third or fourth rounder depending on how desperate the team is for a quarterback but if there's a soft market, it could well be a fifth rounder. D-Rob is interesting, if I'm a 4-3 team, I'm interested but D-Rob carries a hefty salary and has underperformed, mainly because of what he's being asked to do. The Jets might have to settle for a third or fourth rounder. I could see Barton coming back, Mangini seems to like the way he helps Harris make the defensive calls. I can't imagine McCareins coming back. Of course, I said the last thing last off-season but I really mean it this time.
[thebigragu] 8:59 pm: What is the best move for this team this season.Should we win out or lose out in your opinion whats the best for the jets as a whole
[AndrewGross] 9:01 pm: I've never been a fan of teams worrying about draft position. A couple of years ago, I was covering the NHL and there was the many people were writing and saying the Penguins should deliberately drop games to get the top pick. That really bothered me. I think that really undercuts the integrity of the sport when you have teams not competing 100 percent to win. Plus, that's when players get hurt. I know the coaches would say win out. The players would too. I don't think that's possible but at least I'd try. Sadly, with economics playing such a huge role in pro sports, it's more cost effective to have a pick between 10 and 20 rather than the top five
[THE_SOOTHSAYER] 9:01 pm: Andrew, thanks so much for your time. I love reading your column every day and your blog rules. You are welcome back anytime, Bud.
[thebigragu] 9:01 pm: thanks for your time
[yisman] 9:01 pm: thanks andrew
[Jets Fanatic] 9:02 pm: thank you
[norcaljet] 9:02 pm: thanks
[AndrewGross] 9:02 pm: Hey guys, thanks for having me, really enjoyed the questions, they were great.
[Kyle Clifton 59] 9:02 pm: thanks Sooth, thanks Andrew goodnight everyone.