When the New York Jets released David Harris, they lost a veteran that led the defense for 10 seasons. Darron Lee is now counted on to step in that role.
The 2017 offseason has been one of major adjustments for the New York Jets front office and their fans. One of the most difficult things for long time followers of the Jets to adjust to is seeing familiar veterans that they team depended on being let go.
David Harris was the face of the Jets defense for most of the last 10 seasons. He hardly missed a game and called most of the defensive signals. What inside LB on the roster will take his place?
After being selected 20th overall in the 2016 draft, Lee suffered through an inconsistent rookie season. After being such a dominant, break through player at Ohio State, Lee had a rough adjustment to the NFL. Towards the end of the season last year, the Jets starting preparing Lee for life with Harris as they had Lee calling the defensive signals when Harris wasn’t on the field towards the end of last season.
For the first time in his life last season, Lee experienced disappointment and losing playing football. The New York Jets lost 11 games in 2016. In four years of high school football, Lee only lost six games. At Ohio State Buckeye, he only lost two.
It pisses me off,” Lee told NJ.com. “I don’t like to lose. I wasn’t born on this planet to lose.”
In 13 games, he had just 73 tackles and only one sack while dealing with an ankle injury that kept him from being 100 percent. One of the major problems Lee had last season was in pass coverage. Opposing QB had a rating of 132.9 when targeting Lee in coverage.
Lee has spent much of the offseason studying routes concepts. An excellent pass defender in college, Lee quickly learned that pro offenses are a lot more advanced than college. Now that he is a pro, Lee knows that he needs to do a better job combining his physical gifts with his mental preparation. Putting those two traits together should make Lee the game-breaking LB the Jets anticipated he would be.
Like the rest of the young New York Jets roster in 2017, Lee will have a lot to prove and is anxious to get last season behind him. The Jets are counting on him to lead this defense and be an example to his young teammates.
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.