Coming out of Ohio State last year, Darron Lee was considered one of the more versatile linebackers in his class. Despite this, Lee struggled at times during his first NFL season. Starting in only nine games, Lee only recorded 42 tackles and one sack. His biggest weakness was in coverage as opposing teams saw the undersized linebacker and continued to attack him. Opposing QB’s had a rating of 132.9 when they targeted Lee in coverage. Even with his struggles last season, there are several people that believe that Lee is due for a breakout season in year two.
Throughout training camp, Lee and the defense have shown that they have the tools to be a top unit in the NFL this season. As the Jets offense continues to struggle throughout camp, the defense has looked incredibly sharp, especially when it comes to the overall energy that is brought. That is something that Lee wanted to push in his second year.
“We always want to have energy at all times. When we came out last year, we had that energy but can we sustain it?” said Lee to reporters after yesterday’s practice. “Now at practice this year you are starting to see us sustaining that energy.”
While the defense has looked solid through camp, it has been Lee who has shown great improvement from last season, specifically against the run. Lee believes his improvements have to do with his overall knowledge of the pro game after a full year competing.
“I know what I am doing now. I’m far more comfortable… knowing where I got to be on each and every call.”
With Lee, the Jets have paired him with a familiar face within the organization in Demario Davis. Davis’ return to the organization had led to shifting in energy that Lee appreciates.
“He (Demario) is fitting in perfectly. He brings that swagger and energy that we need in the defense.”
Even with the improvements and raw potential that the Jets have shown, they are still a team on the rebuild. While Lee focuses on the playing side, he knows that finding an identity is the first goal to any rebuild.
“We just come out here and try to get better. We are all trying to find our identity on defense.”
Lee’s struggles in the passing game stem more from his overall size than his skill. At only 6’1″ he is an open target for many opposing teams looking for mismatches. Despite this, Lee has shown vast improvements from his first year in the NFL. With the Jets in full-on rebuild mode, it is going to be up to Lee to show that he can be the leader of the defense for years to come.
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