Keep it real at all times

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Sometimes . . .

in the pro sports player personnel business, you have to hurt some feelings.

And that means making some lineup changes if things aren’t working.

This obviously isn’t T-Ball.

Before the season, when people were hyping the New York Jets’ defense, and one player said they had the potential to rival the 1985 Chicago Bears, I wrote that we needed to hold our horses a little, and see how two positions improved from last year.

And those positions are linebacker and safety.

Last week, the Jets’ defense had a rough game in a 30-10 loss to Dallas, and those positions certainly didn’t shine.

They had plenty of company, including the X’s and O’s, but those positions are still an area we need to keep an eye on.

You can’t have blind faith in people.

The film don’t lie.

I could be wrong, but seemed like players at those positions were out of position perhaps a little too much in Dallas.

Sometimes it seems like the current Jets brass gets too caught up in toughness, hustle and “strain.”

They love “strain.”

They love hearing guys panting, after running around, giving 200 percent, to use a bad cliche.

There is a defensive tackle, who is no longer with the team, who I wrote about a lot in this space, who was once called, “The King of Strain.”

And there is no doubt, the guy gave everything he had. His motor was impressive, especially for how big he was, about 320 pounds.

However, his instincts were suspect, leading to him being out of position and on the ground too much. There are a lot of big runs at him.

It wasn’t a lack of effort.

But once again, “The film don’t lie.”

It just seemed that no matter how many big runs went right at him, his role never changed.

He would spell a starting defensive tackle, every series or two.

It just seems to me there is too much blind faith in certain defensive players.

No matter how many times they are out of position, they keep rolling with them, because of their toughness and “strain.”

Like at linebacker.

There is a linebacker, who is one of the toughest players you will ever meet,

He is one of the most ferocious hitters in the league and always plays hard. He has the heart of a lion. He’s also a great guy.

However, he’s consistently out of position, and often overruns plays due to his aggressiveness.

But it seems like with the defensive coaches and in the media, there is nothing to see here.

To me and I could be wrong, but at linebacker, while having top-shelf toughness and hitting ability are important, instincts need to be at the top of the list as well.

If you trigger wrong at that position, it can lead to big plays.

One of my all-time favorite NFL players was Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. I never met the man, so it’s not personal, but OMG, his instincts were incredible. He saw things before they happened.

A similar player, a kind of poor man’s version of Kuechly is Buffalo’s Matt Milano. Ironically, they went to the same school – Boston College. The Jets know first-hand how good his instincts are. He’s been a thorn in their side ever since he arrived at 1 Bills Drive.

The Bills play Washington this week, and the Commanders’ OC, absolutely gushed over Milano this week.

“Let me give Mr. Milano his flowers. He is a beast. I am a fan of his,” Eric Bieniemy said. “Over the years we’ve played, I can’t speak enough volumes for him.”

Milano’s instincts are off the chart.

At linebacker that is incredibly important.

As is looking at the film, and if something isn’t working, you make some changes.

September 22, 2023

Premium will return at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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