One of the offseason coaching changes the New York Jets made was to bring in Hall of Fame LB Kevin Greene. Green’s enthusiasm has always been a major part of his success.
Despite drafting on defense in the first round for each of the last eight drafts and 10 of the last 11 overall, the Jets finished 28th in the NFL in points allowed last season. The Jets 27 sacks ranked 29th in the NFL. Based on those numbers, Greene has a huge task ahead of him.
Looking at his resume, his credentials are very impressive. Greene was drafted in the 5th round by the LA Rams in the 1985 draft. He played 15 seasons in the NFL for four different teams (Rams, Steelers, 49ers, Panthers), ending his career in 1999 with the Panthers. Ten times in his career Greene finished with at least 10 sacks, including each of his last four seasons. His 160 career sacks rank 3rd all-time behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White. Twice he led in the NFL in sacks in a season (1994, 1996) and was named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s.
Of the current LB on the Jets roster, only Bruce Carter and Demario Davis have more than 20 starts. Surrounding Greene on the practice field at minicamp are young players that were taking in every word he had to say. “The sky’s the limit for all my kids,” Greene told Daniel Popper of the Daily News. “I’m teaching my kids technique and fundamentals not based on athletic ability and skill. It’s based on physicality. It’s based on drive and desire and want-to and being a student of the game. … All my kids can really be as good they want to be.”
Head coach Todd Bowles, who has been a lot more strict with his younger roster so far has noticed how his players have taken to their new coach. “Those guys gravitate towards him and he’s a sponge towards them,” Bowles said about his linebackers coach. “I think he loves it sometimes more than they love it. If he could get out there right now, he would. But his knowledge in teaching those guys right now is invaluable.”
Despite retiring from the NFL in 1999, Greene hasn’t spent that much time coaching. In 2008 Greene served an internship for the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant LB coach during training camp. In January of 2009 he was hired as an outside linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers. He stayed with the Packers, where he won a Super Bowl in 2010, until the end of the 2013 season when he announced he was retiring to spend more time with his family. After indicating he wanted to get back in coaching, Bowles hired Greene in January to replace Mark Collins as outside linebackers coach.
Throughout his career, Greene always was known for his exuberant personality and enthusiasm. He even ventured into professional wrestling in the late 1990s, teaming with wrestling greats such as Ric Flair and Roddy Piper in the WCW. His enthusiasm is something that the young Jets LB have picked up on.
“He’s a nut,” said 2016 third round pick LB Jordan Jenkins. “He really gets excited when guys make plays and when guys are hitting people. He loves all that. He wishes he could do it now. He loves intensity and energy is just oozing out of him.”
Regardless of where the Jets finish in 2017, it looks like their young core of LB has an excellent mentor to guide them.
Mark Kelly covers the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. Looking for more Jets news and features? Like our Jets Facebook page and also follow @spot_jets on Twitter.