To even float that word now is way premature

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Why does this word get thrown around so loosely and quickly? It’s way too early to even go there . . .

New York Post headline – “This is Darron Lee’s chance to prove he’s not a bust.”

For goodness sake, the guy started nine games last year as a rookie, after coming out of school after his redshirt sophomore year, and he’s already at the point where he must prove he’s not a “bust?”

We are already at that point?

Playing in the NFL is really, really hard, especially when you are forced to make a major position change.
Lee went being a college outside linebacker to a 3-4 inside linebacker. It’s a different world. I thought he was rushed into the starting lineup considering how big his transition way. I would have used him as a sub-package linebacker, on obvious passing downs, until he got up to the speed.

He’s very, very bright, but he was often a tick late reacting in coverage because he was thinking too much out there, and not reacting.

“I thought he played well last year,” Todd Bowles said this spring. “He gave up a couple of plays. I don’t think he struggled. I thought he played well as a rookie.”

To say “he played well last year” might be a little strong.

Some might consider it hyperbole or maybe even propaganda.

And to say, “I don’t think he struggled,” is perhaps glossing over the reality.

He struggled.

And that is understandable. Being rushed into action at a new position as a rookie is far from ideal for any athlete.

I think Todd is at the point as Jets coach, after the disastrous 2016 season, that he isn’t even going to try to make objective points. He is going to give cliché answers and defend his players to the hilt. It’s the world against the Jets right now, and he knows it, so he’s not going to provide the media any raw meat to go after his players.

In a recent town hall meeting with Jets fans, I heard him talk about how good Buster Skrine was in his first two years with the Jets. That was way too strong also, but once again an example of how Bowles isn’t going to going to give the media any fodder that can be used against his players.

It’s going to be to be fascinating (to me at least) to see how Lee does in Year Two.

Last year, he had very little impact in coverage, and that was his calling card coming in. Like I mentioned before, he was often late reacting as he learned on the job. He extremely bright, so in his second year on the job, and after an full off-season to work on the mental stuff, he should improve.

Another question about him is in run support. He’s an undersized 3-4 ILB, and at times, got engulfed by offensive linemen pulling to the second level, and couldn’t shed them (see the San Francisco game). Will his stack-and-shed ability improve in Year Two?

I will be very interesting to see the kind of player Lee is in his second season.

But it’s way to early to even bring up the “B” word.

July 18, 2017

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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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