New York Jets Special Teams Coach Mike Westhoff (L) and...

New York Jets Special Teams Coach Mike Westhoff (L) and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum talk before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. (Dec. 19, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

What was your immediate reaction when the Jets beat the Patriots last Sunday?

"I was in the locker room, standing with Woody and Chris Johnson, and when Eric Smith returned the onside kick, it was just sheer elation and joy. To beat New England after having the year they had at 14-2 and after getting beaten by them so badly [45-3 last month], it was great."


And your coach?

"It was such a referendum on Rex Ryan. For him to come up with a game plan six weeks later, it was such a great way to display his coaching acumen. A lot of work went into that game."


Your overall assessment of where the franchise is right now?

"I think it really starts with Mr. Johnson, because without a shadow of a doubt, it's the best stadium in the NFL, the best facility, which we're fortunate enough to be in every day, and it leaves a great foundation for us. People see that Rex is a dynamic coach. People say a lot about Rex, but to win four playoff games in two years is a real testament to his coaching."


Do you ever have any problems with some of the things Rex says?

"With Rex, he's a very transparent person who is very comfortable in his own skin and he tells you exactly what he's thinking. He doesn't sugarcoat anything. Players love him because he speaks from the heart, and he's genuine, and he wants players to be the same way. There's no part of him that isn't 100 percent genuine."


How about the trash talk from your players? Does it bother you at any level?

"I certainly wouldn't say some of the things that our players have said along the line, but I'm really proud of them. They're told they should speak how they feel."


That includes Antonio Cromartie's comments about Tom Brady?

"As far as Cromartie last week saying some of the things he said, I'm really glad he's on the Jets. He's worked hard, he's a great teammate and he loves football. Without his kickoff return , we may not even be playing the Patriots. He spoke from the heart."


What has Rex taught you as a general manager?

"We have a great partnership, and even though we have different styles, at the end of the day, it's always about what's best for the Jets. He's taught me that there's more than one way to be successful, which is one of the great things about our sport. But I really do think that it starts with the draft and the foundation that's there."


And others in the front


" Terry Bradway and Joey Clinkscales really deserve a lot of credit. We've been together over 10 years, and we've had hundreds of meetings, debates, arguments, disagreements behind closed doors. The foundation of this team has been built through the draft, with players like Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Mark Sanchez and even further back, Jerricho Cotchery, Eric Smith, Sione Pouha and Shaun Ellis."


You've taken some chances by trading for Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, who both had some baggage from their previous teams.

"We've taken some risks, but they've been calculated risks, and the price has been reasonable. You can take the risk, but Rex is the one who makes it work."


Santonio Holmes has been a huge addition this year. Your thoughts on him and whether you'd like to have him back?

"Santonio is the ultimate competitor; the bigger the game, the bigger he plays, a football junkie. He's a guy we would love to keep."

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