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JetNation Chats With Gregg Hayim

We had a chance to chat with Gregg Hayim after the Eagles game on Sunday.  Gregg is the voice behind the JetNation.com Podcast and covers the Jets for Jets Confidential.  We asked him to share his thoughts on the Jets season so far.

It is a lot easier to get players to buy into your program when the team is winning. After the slow start, have there been any rumblings about player discontent towards Eric Mangini?

One thing you learn early on when covering this team is that it is rare to hear a player publicly voice displeasure. The Mangini/Tannenbaum regime has bred a culture of secrecy, and the players fully understand that any problems they may have are expected to stay in house. Additionally, this team feels as though they are only a handful of plays away from being exactly where they were last year, and in this regard, they may be correct. I do not believe they were as good as they were perceived last year and subsequently, I do not believe they are as bad as they are perceived this season. So, the answer would be no, with the exception of Chris Baker’s questioning of the late-game play calling this week, I have not heard of any rumblings of the players losing faith in the system.

For the most part, the players have all said the right things about the slow start. Does Chad really have the respect of this team and do they feel he can still get the job done?

After the Giants loss, Coles was quick to come to Pennington’s aid, deflecting questions and attempting to point blame at himself. Given his performance in that game, we obviously know he wasn’t the problem. If Chad has nothing else, he will always have the respect of his teammates. All of the little things that we the fans/media so easily forget, playing through injury, previous successes, etc. his teammates do not. Chad is a terrific teammate and willingly takes the brunt of the criticism. So while we push the bulk of his successful career aside, choosing to harp on his poor play and lack of arm strength, the team tends to take a different approach.

Assume that Chad Pennington had 9 lives. How many does he have left?  How close is Kellen Clemens to becoming the starting QB of this team?

Sunday’s loss was big. At 1-4, there was still a glimmer of life that this team could rebound and make the playoffs. The team climbed out of a similar hole in 2002. However, 1-5 and a loss to the Eagles is a different story. Couple the loss with Chad’s play of late, and it’s hard to think that the team is not, at the very least, flirting with the idea of starting Clemens. However, once again, Mangini was quick to defend Chad and put to bed any quarterback controversy rumors. Although everyone seems to be targeting Pennington as the catalyst for the 1-5 start, the truth remains the team has a slew of problems, the quarterback position is just one of many. No, Chad has not played well to this point. Uncharacteristically he has committed a few untimely mental mistakes that cost the team dearly. However, to be fair to Chad, he is one the most accurate quarterbacks in NFL history and a proven winner when healthy. Despite the early struggles, the team does not seem ready to concede the season and regardless of public opinion, Chad does give them the best chance to win.

This is your first year covering the NY Jets. What has been the best part of that for you? Are any aspects of the job more challenging than you anticipated?

The best part for me has been the experience of being around the team everyday and the information it provides. There are certain things that cannot be perceived without being there everyday. Often, getting a feel for what’s really going on is not about what a player says, but rather how they say it. Having the ability to talk to the players, on a daily basis, and read body language has given me a deeper insight as to what’s really going on. The most challenging aspect of the job thus far has been the way the season has unfolded. Obviously, I have a job to do and I am forced to remain objective. However, I am still a fan at heart. Given the hopes this team had coming in, and seeing this team lose as they have, has been very disappointing to me. The locker room is a much friendlier place after a win.

Laveranues Coles looked to be in a lot of pain when he hurt his knee against the Giants. Yet he returned a few plays later. He was listed on the injury report last week. Do the Jets feel this injury will limit Coles for an extended period of time?

It’s a running joke that Laveranues Coles must be superhuman, or perhaps related to the villain in Terminator II. It seems that once every few weeks, he goes down with what looks like a catastrophic injury. Yet, magically, he reappears the next series as if nothing happened. Coles’ style of play lends itself to injury. He plays much bigger than he is and he shows no fear going over the middle. Chad’s style doesn’t help him either. Point being, LC would not be as successful as he has been without being tough as nails. It’s unlikely that he will even enter a game completely healthy. But, no, I do not feel that his injuries will be an issue this season.
If the Jets don’t turn things around and finish with a losing record are any assistants in jeopardy of losing their jobs?

Despite questionable play calling from Brian Schottenheimer this season, I do not believe his job is in jeopardy. The funny thing with being a creative play caller, like Brian is, is that when the results are favorable, you are dubbed a genius. Subsequently, when those same plays fail, the opposite holds true. If the season progresses at the current rate, it’s hard to think that those same opportunities that were rumored to be there for him last off-season, will be there again this summer. I think he will be back with the team next year. On the other hand, if the defense doesn’t improve, I do believe Bob Sutton could lose his job after the season. Sutton’s defense doesn’t seem to have adapted well to Mangini’s philosophy and the unit seems to have regressed from last season.

If the Jets could handle things differently with Pete Kendall, do you think they would?

I don’t think so. From day one of the current regime, the organization has taken a stance that they will not allow players to walk all over them. The way Kendall voiced his displeasure left a sour taste in the teams mouth and, I believe, they were happy to get rid of the headache. Additionally, if Tannenbaum caved to Kendall, he likely would have had a line outside his door of other players looking for more money. Interestingly enough, the offensive line has improved throughout the season. No, they are not a dominant bunch, but Brick has progressed nicely and Adrien Clark has done a decent job in replacement of Kendall.

Take a look into your crystal ball. 

-Will Justin McCareins be a member of this team at the end of the year? How about in 2008?

I do believe Justin McCareins will be gone after the season. Since his performance in Baltimore, regardless of what Mangini wants us to believe, his role in the offense has diminished. A major loss for this team that goes relatively unspoken of was the injury to Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey was fantastic during the preseason and was looking like a late-round steal. The Jets could use a playmaker like that right about now.

-Will Jacob Bender see any time this year? If so will it be at offensive guard or tackle?

As far as Bender is concerned…Not only did he have to make a gigantic leap from 1AA to the NFL, the team also asked him to change positions, he was a tackle in college. Those two components combined make his leap to the pros a quantum one. He was inconsistent in the preseason, but has continued to progress. As I mentioned, Adrien Clarke has performed decently and unless this season gets completely out of hand- think 2-9, 1-8, that sort of thing, – I would be surprised to see Bender in game action.

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