Were the Scouting Reports Right? – Darron Lee

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My 2017 Season: Darron Lee Youth New York Jets Darron Lee NFL Pro Line Green Team Color Player Jersey

If you told me to grade myself at the end of my rookie year on an A-D scale, I’d give a D-minus.

I hold myself to very high standards, which is what made it difficult when my position coach, Mike Caldwell, gave me an offseason checklist. It was hard not because I couldn’t do it, but because I already knew what was on it — study, master my footwork, improve my coverage skills. Simply put, I knew I had to step up in my second year.

Once Dave [Harris] left, I took it as a signal that I needed to speed up my learning curve regardless of who takes over the Mike. I was brought here to make splash plays. I know I’m a young guy at 23 years old, but you have to act older than your age in this league and I feel like my maturity is one of the reasons I’m here.

I felt good going into training camp as I knew what to expect. Playbook — check. Calls — check. This year it was time to just go out and compete. Deep breath. 3…2…1…

I didn’t exhale until we lost in Oakland. I kept inhaling and I didn’t relax. We just allowed 370 rushing yards in two games and that was going to be the end of that story. It was a huge reality check. I was trying to control everything instead of focusing on my assignments and that’s not how this game goes. You can only control your job. Now it’s nice and smooth on the field. I inhale and exhale.

When I settled in, that’s when the fun began. I was comfortable, hungry. I diagnosed plays quicker, I was bringing down the ball carrier behind the line and covering a lot better. Demario [Davis] and I played off each other, making sure we had each other’s backs. He set us up, I honed in on offensive checks and alerted the guys what’s coming. My personal favorite is when you call their play out and you’re right. When everybody on offense looks at you after you call the play, that’s how you know you hit the nail on the head. It’s so much fun. That’s why we were able to play fast. We started doing that in Week 3.

Even though I’m better than my rookie season, don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of splash plays I can make to help change the outcome of the game. We’re right there. Look at all the close games we played in. That’s the best part.

Moving forward, my main focus is turning our hard work into wins. I want to better myself, but I always want to do so in a position where our team is expected to win games instead of everybody counting us out. That’s the next step and that’s a huge hill to climb, but it’s possible.

Let me tell you this, Wholesale Jets Jerseys Nation — greatness is forming inside these walls. Everybody is confident and no one is worried. We’re all sticking together and going out to get better every single day. That’s the beauty of this. We know we’re a young team, we know we’re a hungry team. If you quit, you’re never going to know how good you could be, so that’s why we’re going to keep pushing each other. I’m really looking forward to the growth. We know if we keep chipping away, we’re eventually going to get to the pot of gold.

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Were the Scouting Reports Right? – Darron Lee

Previously, I looked back at the predraft scouting reports of all 2017 Jets rookies to earn significant playing time. With that class in the books, let’s rewind the clock one year and start looking back at the scouting reports of the 2016 Jets draft class.

We’ll start with the 20th pick of the 2016 draft, Darron Lee. Here is a look at the positives of his scouting report, as seen on NFL.com:

Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball. Has athleticism and flexibility to contort his body and succeed through difficult tackle angles. Plays with loose hips, quick feet and desired agility of an NFL weak-side linebacker. Former high school quarterback with the change of direction and speed to be a rangy playmaker. Comfortable in space and excels there. Has plus man cover talent. Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened. Capable gap blitzer with ability to get skinny through the holes.

What seems right?

Yikes. I don’t want to be overly harsh, but there is little from this section I saw from Lee on a weekly basis over the past two years. Is he athletic? Sure, I guess. He doesn’t look like a slug out there, but would any NFL athlete look like one at that raw age? Because, I don’t think he’s a speed demon either. Really, the only part of this I can agree with is that he looks to have somewhat above-average athleticism, but I can’t agree on elite.
What seems off?

“Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball” – In year one, Lee could not do these things. He had more moments of smart play in year two, but he still struggles to consistently do exactly what this scouting report says he was good at doing; finding quick, efficient routes to the football.
“Comfortable in space and excels there. Has plus man cover talent.” No and no, in my opinion. His man coverage ability, though the Jets have thrown him a lot of difficult cover assignments over David Harris and Demario Davis, has not yielded positive results. In space, he takes poor angles and isn’t a great finisher.
“Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened.” I’m not sure about this either. Lee doesn’t seem like a very physical linebacker, and he too often is responsible for leaving gaping holes up the middle.
His weaknesses:

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Smallish linebacker. Play strength doesn’t come close to matching puffed up listed weight. Balance issues at point of attack could plague him over his NFL career. Has the body type of a big safety. Tape shows few authoritative tackles. Involved in too many arm and shoestring tackles. Comes flying in and fails to come to balance at times. Charged with 21 missed and five broken tackles over the last two seasons. Always at size disadvantage and will have to learn to slip more blocks. Can get better at finding targets in zone coverage.

What seems right?

All of these weaknesses seemed to still plague Lee in 2017. He is absolutely small for the position. I would agree he is less physical than ideal. “Tape shows few authoritative tackles. Involved in too many arm and shoestring tackles.” – I definitely think his ratio of crushing tackles to whiffs is bad. Really, this entire section can still apply if you were writing a report on Lee’s NFL profile.
What seems off?

I can’t disagree with anything in this section.

All of the question marks surrounding Lee on draft day have been issues throughout his NFL career, and they have held him back from utilizing his best traits to their fullest potential. He is definitely the kind of player I thought the Jets were getting; an athletic, but undersized linebacker who takes on a lot of coverage responsibilities. He just hasn’t developed as quickly as hoped.

I will say that I thought Darron Lee took a step forward this year. Specifically in the middle of the year, he had a stretch of games where he really seemed to be putting it together. His 2017 was overall better than his 2016, but it was a case of moving from awful to less awful. He still needs to get better with his recognition, coverage, and tackling. He has solid athleticism for the position and has showcased the ability to string some solid games together. Can he overcome his size deficiency and become a disciplined enough player to complete a full season of quality play? Still only 23 years old, Lee was a very young prospect who has had a lot on his plate early in his career. He’s entering year three, though. It’s time for him to learn from all of those early experiences and start producing like a first-round pick, since that title alone isn’t going to buy him playing time much longer.

Discount Men’s Chicago Bears Walter Payton Nike Navy Retired Player Vapor Untouchable Limited Throwback Jersey

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Exactly 40 years ago Monday, Bears superstar running back Walter Payton delivered one of the greatest individual performances in NFL history.

On Nov. 20, 1977, the legendary Hall of Famer set a single-game league record by rushing for 275 yards on 40 carries in a 10-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.

What made Payton’s performance even more impressive is that he accomplished the feat while battling the flu. Sweetness told reporters after the game that he had felt queasy up until kickoff.

“I had hot and cold flashes on Wednesday, and felt weak,” Payton said at the time. “You put your faith in God, and he’ll take care of you. I was hoping he would do so today, and he did.”

Payton eclipsed O.J. Simpson’s NFL record of 273 yards by just two yards, breaking the mark on his final carry, a four-yard run late in the game. Simpson had set the record a year earlier on Thanksgiving Day in a 27-14 loss to the Lions in Detroit.

Payton’s 58-yard run on his 38th rushing attempt put him in position to set the record and gave the Bears a first down at the Vikings’ 9-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 6, Payton picked up four yards, turning the ball over on downs at the Minnesota 2 with 2:12 remaining.

Protecting a 10-7 lead, Bears coach Jack Pardee passed up the chance to kick a short field goal because he felt “that was the only way we could lose, for them to block a kick and return it 90 yards for a touchdown like they did against Los Angeles last year.”

The Vikings were adept at blocking kicks in the 1970s. In fact, their only touchdown against the Bears on Payton’s record-breaking day came when Matt Blair blocked a Bob Parsons punt and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown, closing the gap to 10-7 late in the third quarter. It was Blair’s fourth blocked kick of the season and third against the Bears.

Going into the teeth of a strong wind, the Vikings reached their own 45 with :45 remaining. But the Bears knocked quarterback Bob Lee out of the game and replacement Tommy Kramer was intercepted by Bears cornerback Allan Ellis, clinching the win.

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As you’d expect, all of the talk after the game revolved around Payton’s performance.

“As to Walter Payton’s achievements today, they were outstanding,” said Vikings coach Bud Grant. “I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. If I were better with words maybe I could. He had a great day. It’s his field and it’s where he does his thing best.”
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Payton, who scored the Bears’ only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, may have been the only one who wasn’t blown away by the performance.

“Maybe it’ll mean something later, or in three or four years when I’m out,” said Payton, who went on to play 10 more seasons. “But right now it’s just another game.”

Just another game? No chance. On that blustery afternoon 40 years ago Monday, Payton became the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards more than once, broke his own Bears record for yards in a season, became only the third player in league annals with at least 40 carries in a game and rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half for the third time in 1977.

Payton’s 275 yards also were more than the 229 yards that Bears leading rusher Ross Montgomery accumulated during the entire 1970 season.

Payton’s record stood for 23 years until it was broken by Bengals running back Corey Dillon, who rushed for 278 yards on Oct. 22, 2000. It was such an impressive accomplishment that the Pro Football Hall of Fame requested Payton’s jersey and the ball he carried to set the mark.

Payton led the NFL in rushing in 1977 with 1,852 yards and was named league MVP. A nine-time Pro Bowler, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993 after spending his entire 13-year pro career with the Bears and retiring as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards.