FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The odds were stacked against him. A big name that had yet to live up to his even bigger expectations – after all he did come out of Linebacker U – came to an organization that has been known for their defensive prowess and was asked to learn on the run.
Aaron Maybin, who was nicknamed Aaron “Maybe” by the Bills faithful after never posting a sack in his two years in Buffalo after being selected eleventh overall, was quickly compared to the Jets former first round pick turned draft bust, DE/OLB Vernon Gholston – who ironically also never posted a sack in his three years with the Jets. But that’s really the comparisons end with the two players. Gholston, an alleged bull rush from the edge, appeared to be chiseled from stone – a brute, physical monstrosity. Maybin used a combination of speed and power to beat offensive lineman on the outside — at least that’s what he showed at Penn State.
When Maybin was pulled from the scrap heap by G.M. Mike Tannenbaum, a move we’ve become accustomed to seeing from “Trader” Mike, he was given the tough task to come in and learn Ryan’s complex defensive scheme while outshining players who’ve spent, at the very least, the off-season studying the system.
He wasn’t asked to do too much, just line up outside and get to the quarterback. And that much he did. He led the team in sacks with two and a half in the preseason, highlighted by a standout performance in the preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles where he recorded a 1.5 sacks and nearly missing out on another.
After the game many had thought, myself included, that his performance was enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, which he initially made. However he received the unfortunate news that he would be cut from his second team in a month, to make room for waiver wire pick-ups center Colin Baxter (San Diego Chargers), safety Andrew Sendejo (Dallas Cowboys) and receiver Mardy Gilyard (St. Louis Rams). The linebacking core was one of the deepest positions on the Jets roster, as they kept eight linebackers, three of whom have zero NFL experience.
Was he given his fair shot? Maybin is ineligible to be on the practice squad where he was active on the Bills’ roster for at least nine games last season. It’s true; the Jets are deep at the outside linebacker position with Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Jamaal Westerman. But all three are slow off the edge, offer a tad better coverage and stop can stop the run. And as far as Westerman goes, it appears he was given a spot solely out of Ryan’s affinity for him. To this point in 2011, I haven’t seen enough from Ryan’s self-proclaimed DPR (designated pass rusher). But those three players play the same type of game. Maybin’s speed off the edge could have been a nice change of pace for a defense where the pass rush was one of the weak points last year.
Most likely, it was Maybin’s lack of size that may have kept him off the team. He reported to Jets’ training camp 15 pounds under his preferred weight of 255 pounds, due to what he called a “sickness”. Perhaps Ryan feared that the numbers he put up in preseason against most team’s second unit wouldn’t be duplicated against bigger, more skilled offensive lineman.
His raw talent coupled with his cheap salary should be enticing enough to see a decent return on their investment.
Only time will tell if the move proves to be a moot topic or if Ryan’s defensive strong-minded ego got in the way of hitting it big on a roll of the dice. But either way it’s an uncertain time for Maybin. Did he show enough to get yet another shot from another time? Will the Jets bring him back in the coming weeks? There’s only one answer to both of those questions as of now: Maybe, but maybe not.
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