With the addition of Darron Lee by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Gang Green is poised to develop one of the best and youngest pass rushing duos in the league.
It’s no secret that the pass rush of the 2015 version on the Jets was their kryptonite. Without a consistent effort against opposing quarterbacks, the Jets were never a true contender last season. Yes, they set offensive records with a journeyman quarterback and one of, if not for at least a single season, the best receiving duo the Jets have ever seen. But missing the NFL Playoffs with a 10-6 record says a lot about how they got there in the first place.
For an organization known for its defensive prowess above all, not getting to the opposing quarterback is a glaring weakness. Save for the remarkable five-game win streak last year led by the offense, the Jets were always middle of the pack at best precisely because they couldn’t get through or around the offensive line. The silver lining, however, was last year’s addition of linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin.
Nov 8, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) reacts during the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
In his rookie season, Mauldin recorded 17 combined tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble and emerged as the edge rusher the Jets so desperately needed. Mauldin, with his Gang Green inspired dreadlocks and reserved swagger on and off the field, has quickly become a fan favorite. Would the Jets get him some help at linebacker, with another speedy and consistent hard hitter?
General manager Mike Maccagnan once again displayed his focus on the future on the Jets with the selection of Lee out of Ohio State. He is a solid choice to sure up a pass rush that will need to perform well this season to improve on the success of 2015 and provide that extra push to make it into the playoffs. If his consistency and speed translates well into the NFL, we can see one of the most formidable pass rushes for years to come.