First of all I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Eric for taking the time to answer some of our questions, it's always great to hear the thoughts of someone around the organization on a day-to-day basis. Also one of the most genuinely nice guys I've spoken to within any football circle.
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So here we go:
Eric Allen - Thanks to everyone for participating in this. Love to interact with the fans.
Which of the Jets starting D-Linemen plays his position the best – Wilkerson at DE, Richardson at DT or Harrison at NT?
Honestly it depends on the game.
Richardson and Harrison made monster impacts as first-year starters in 2013. It is laughable some immediately questioned Richardson’s fit along the D-line when he was drafted at No. 13 overall — he was the perfect fit because the tackle in this 3-4 is a gap penetrator. Scouting director Jeff Bauer told us last year that Richardson would make an impact “quickly” and boy was he right.
The local media knows it, but I think Harrison goes under the radar on a national level. One NFL executive came up to me in the press box last season and just started talking about No. 94 and how impressive his development has been. That is an undrafted free agent who played like a Top 5 NT last season.
But I will take Wilkerson because to be the “best” at something, you have to display a high level of achievement over time. “Big Mo” has three professional years under his belt and his production has increased each and every year. His teammates also just voted him Team MVP after he led the club with 10.5 sacks and established a career-high with 91 stops.
Last point here. When John Idzik is talking about sustained success, I’m thinking all three of these men are part of the equation.
2) Which positions do you see being the one area with the LEAST amount of depth by the start of the season?
Tough one to answer before the draft. We all know about the current needs at cornerback, wide receiver, safety and tight end. But I might go with linebacker. I think that is a position the Jets are solid at up front, but we know they could use another rush ‘backer who can get to the quarterback. Antwan Barnes’ injury last season really hurt the defense in sub packages. Can he come back at 100% and be a force?
3) How involved was Woody in the decision not to pursue Revis after he was cut from the Bucs?
Frankly I have no idea. I will say that the Jets CEO is a delegator and he lets his football people make football decisions.
At his season-ending news conference, John Idzik used a quote that I think encapsulates the philosophy here.
“When we use organizational decisions, that’s going to entail people in the New York Jets. It’s going to be a New York Jet decision. It starts with Mr. Johnson, of course Rex and myself and then it flows through our staff.”
4) How are we supposed to differentiate your personal opinions from the official stance of the organization?
I control my Twitter account. I have never consulted with GM John Idzik or team president Neil Glat on any one of my tweets.
There have been times when our social/public relations teams have thought I have gone too far with some satire and they have dropped me constructive messages. The organization talks to the fans through @nyjets and I communicate to the fans through @eallenjets. If I went off on some anti-Jets tirade, my account would be shut down. But look I am an employee of the organization and I think it is important for me to have a dialogue with fans on a personal level.
The majority of Jets transactions come via @nyjets, but there are times when myself or @rlangejets tweet out transactions or announcements. Both of us used to contribute to the @nyjets with #EA or #RL (transactions included) not too long ago. The only time we tweet out a transaction is when we are given the green light by a member of the public relations department.
My friend Herm Edwards would always talk about perception and reality. I think most fans know what’s real. They might not agree with all of my opinions, but I think they know my voice by now.
I have known John Idzik for a long time – I broke into the league with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2000. He is building a winner here and I make no apologies for that belief. #ThatsRealBaby
5) Since you are around the facilities as part of the job, are there any players in particular that seem to come in early, stay late, or just generally have outstanding work ethics?
Since the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center is so enormous, there are different entrances and parking lots at our building. I often talk to strength coach Justus Galac about how his group is doing and he is so positive. People on the outside don’t realize just how professional a lot of these guys are because this is a winning business and the average NFL career is less than four years.
To me, work ethics extend beyond football. Muhammad Wilkerson, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Kyle Wilson all stand out to me for what they do in the community as well. We have a really talented community relations department and I’m proud that most of our guys take advantage of the opportunities out there to help others.
6) After missing out in free agency and having at least two glaring holes (WR/CB) and many other places that need improvement. Does this actually put organization in a deeper hole at draft because we are forced to draft need instead of best available a philosophy everyone preaches?
I don’t think the organization is in a hole at all. Eric Decker has already improved the passing game and if you line up tomorrow — Dimitri Patterson would be a starter. Maybe he is a stop-gap on the outside, but he has been productive when healthy and he is excellent on the inside.
Idzik will stick to his talent-based approach, but I would be pretty confident that the Jets aren’t adding a DT in round one. This is a deep WR draft and the Green & White should add to the position. There are some good cornerback finds out there to be had as well.
7) If it came down to having a choice between Lee and Cooks, who do you think the Jets select at receiver with the 18th pick?
Not being evasive here, but I bet you the scouts are debating about such scenarios right now during meetings. Since you haven’t included Odell Beckham Jr. as part of your question, I would lean to Cooks. You can talk all you want about size, but Cooks never missed a game on the collegiate level and he has experience as a return man. He might be more of a game-changer, but I like Lee a lot too and those guys watch a heck of a lot more film than I do.
That would be an interesting scenario.
8) Any chance the Jets take S Calvin Pryor with their #1 pick?
Sure there is a chance. There is healthy debate out there as to who is the top safety in this draft, so you have to include Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the conversation as well. It’s possible. Don’t know if it’s likely though.
9) During your time covering the Jets, what player were you most nervous about meeting/interviewing for the 1st time?
I run on adrenaline, so I get really wired at times. Back in Tampa, Warren Sapp was the most intimidating dude I ever had to deal with. He made it clear that he was going to challenge you and you somehow had to find a way to fight through it. Looking back, I am grateful for that even though I resented him for some time. It gave me thicker skin. As far as the Jets are concerned, I always get those anticipation butterflies before I go on air. I probably put the most pressure on myself when I’m with Mr. Johnson. After all, he is my boss. On one occasion, I told him I liked the NY Giants hat he was wearing even though he was donning a NY Titans hat. Talk about snafus that you would love to take back. Well at least we weren’t live!
10) What's the funniest prank you've seen/heard pulled on another player? Who has been the funniest player during your tenure with the Jets?
The fellas tell me all the time that Ellis Lankster is the funniest Jet on the roster. Bart Scott was the funniest guy I ever dealt with and I owe him so much on both professional and personal levels. He was a friend who kept things light and damn I wouldn’t rather have anybody in a dark alley with me. That dude is a loyal sonofagun. I am not ashamed to say I miss him big-time.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the defensive guys. Marvin Jones is such a character and I had a fun relationship with Mo Lewis. One time, he literally ran away from me following a walk-through and I sprinted after him. Good stuff.
There are a lot of rookie show performances that I can’t get into or else I’d probably make America’s Most Wanted. The funniest Jets story I have was actually not funny at the time. Let’s just say one of our bigger/toughest players got really agitated with a smaller/talkative player at practice. He wanted to get after him real bad. After practice, the coaching staff literally ordered the smaller/chirpy guy to go home in uniform because they were afraid for his safety.