Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) gets past Detroit Lions tackle Michael Williams (73) during the second quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets are preparing for another big season in 2016 with an improved pass rush. Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is ready for a breakout year entering his sophomore season.
Last season with the New York Jets, linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin enjoyed a solid rookie year. Mauldin totaled seven tackles and four sacks in a situational role. He saw limited time on the playing field but as he enters his sophomore season, is a prime candidate to be a starting linebacker on defense.
As the Jets completely upgraded their linebacker corps this offseason via free agency and the 2016 NFL Draft, the starting spot alongside linebacker David Harris is up for grabs. Mauldin could very well see even more playing time this upcoming season, even more so if he earns a starting position.
As Mauldin prepares this summer to further hone his craft, his leadership will also be key for him to turn into the complete linebacker that the Jets need to lead the charge in 2016.
Without further ado, here are five reasons Mauldin will have a breakout season with the Jets.
Next: 5. Speed that will shock opposing offenses
5. Speed that will shock opposing offenses
One of the best attributes for Mauldin is his speed and ability to get to anyone holding the football in a hurry. The Jets will need his speed if they’re to launch a much-improved pass rush that last season, wasn’t consistent at all.
Mauldin was used in a situational role last season, especially in stopping key third down conversions by the opposition. Expectations are high that he can turn into a full-time linebacker that can have a commanding presence at the position.
Since the Jets have a tougher slate of opponents in the regular season, it’s imperative that the Jets put Mauldin in a position to succeed. If he can show that he’s consistent in using his speed effectively to wreak havoc against opponents, he will truly be a force to reckon with. He could very well put up such serious numbers, it’ll help make the defense of the Jets a top five unit.
Entering his second year with the Jets should see Mauldin completely shake off the jitters of his rookie season and see him push his career to the next level. Speed will be the most crucial factor since the Jets want to make sure they field a pass rush that will be able to take down some of the high-profile quarterbacks they’ll be going up against in 2016.
Next: 4. Being mentored by David Harris
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
4. Being mentored by David Harris
Linebacker David Harris continues to be the exemplary athlete when it comes to what execution, preparation and consistency is all about. Mauldin couldn’t have asked for a better situation since he’s learning from one of the best at the position.
Harris is undoubtedly going to coach, train and mentor Mauldin as he embarks on what should be a breakout sophomore season. It’s hard to tell just how much Harris has left in him so this time being spent with Mauldin will go a very long way if he’s to be his eventual replacement.
Mauldin will need to be like his mentor and truly step up as a vocal and confident leader. It’s no secret Mauldin has the skill-set and will only get better over time but he must be the player that sets the tone early and often on defense during the regular season.
When all is said and done and Mauldin eventually puts all the pieces together over this season and into the future, it’ll be largely in part due to Harris showing him the ropes.
Next: 3. Using high expectations as motivation
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles answers questions from media during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
3. Using high expectations as motivation
In an article written by Darryl Slater of NJ.com, there is a great quote by Mauldin on what his head coach Todd Bowles said to him at the end of last season:
"“He said he was expecting a lot from me,” Mauldin said. “My main thing was to live up to the expectations.”"
In life when those in leadership above you have high expectations for you to deliver big results, it’s always used as motivation to get the job done. Besides looking like he can be a premier linebacker for the Jets, Mauldin has a high football IQ and solid hard-working ethics. He’s not afraid to put the work in to prove his worth.
It’s the little things that matter and in Mauldin’s case, can turn into big things. Bowles knows how to get through to his players and have them reach their true potential and purpose. The overall success of the Jets in 2016 is on their defense, specifically their pass rush as if Mauldin can deliver, his breakout season could very well mean an appearance in the NFL Playoffs or not.
Next: 2. Getting a head start in coverage schemes
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) hits Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) In the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
2. Getting a head start in coverage schemes
In that very same article written by Darryl Slater of NJ.com, it was also revealed that Mauldin has already gotten a head start in mastering coverage schemes this offseason. It was an area of opportunity for him last year with the Jets.
This offseason, Mauldin has extensively worked with learning how to drop back into coverage schemes and being able to cover speedy receiving targets. To be an every-down linebacker will require Mauldin to be able to get to the quarterback in a hurry as well as handle coverage assignments with ease and precision.
Mauldin should be able to showcase everything he’s been learning this offseason come training camp and prove that he can keep up with the best of them. Expect to see his name being mentioned often as he added about 15 pounds of extra weight to give him that extra strength to take down anyone coming his way.
Once Mauldin manages how to effectively execute anything he’s assigned to, he will be one of the best defenders to watch every single time he steps foot on the gridiron. Expect to see him develop into one of the top linebackers this upcoming season.
Next: 1. Living up to his potential
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
1. Living up to his potential
In his collegiate career at Louisville, Mauldin totaled 114 tackles, 21.0 sacks and 33.5 tackles for loss. Last year provided fans across the football world a small glimpse of just how big Mauldin’s potential is in the grand scheme of things.
Playing in the city of New York is truly an experience players can never put a price on. It’s the city that never sleeps, the media capital of the world and well, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Mauldin is entering a very important part of his NFL career as second-year players tend to hit the dreaded “sophomore slump” and regress. That won’t be the case for Mauldin since now that he’s in a position to not only earn more playing time and possibly earn a starting spot, he can live up to his potential when he first entered the pros.
His journey to the NFL has already begun and with a year experience under his belt, Mauldin will undoubtedly deliver a huge sophomore season. One of which will prove to the masses that the defense of the Jets will not only be feared but also be one of the main reasons why they’ll win plenty of football games in 2016. Mauldin will be a huge reason why all of it will be true once the games that actually matter are finally here.