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Demario Davis, LBs Made Some Strides

Still Room to Grow, but Double-D's Career Year Helped the Unit Show Improvement


On the Active Roster in 2017 (GP/GS, Defensive Snaps)
Demario Davis (16/16, 1116), Darron Lee (15/15, 1026), Jordan Jenkins (16/15, 715), Josh Martin (13/8, 489), David Bass (13/2, 326), Dylan Donahue (4/0, 53), Freddie Bishop (5/0, 97), Julian Stanford (16/1, 91), Obum Gwacham (5/0, 22), Bruce Carter (14/0, 10), Edmond Robinson (1/0, 0). Injured Reserve: Lorenzo Mauldin (0/0, 0).

Potential Free Agents in 2018
David Bass, Bruce Carter, Demario Davis, Julian Stanford. Exclusive Rights: Freddie Bishop.

Following Double-D's LeadThe linebackers showed improvement in 2017 and a lot of that can be traced to the return of Demario Davis to the Green & White after a year away in Cleveland.

"Demario had a good year," head coach Todd Bowles said at season's end. "We played better inside with the 'backers, with Darron [Lee] having another year under his belt and Double-D adjusting at the Mike position coming in."

Short story: It was a career year for Davis. Longer version: His 171 tackles by coaches' video breakdown were the most by any Jets defender since Jonathan Vilma's 187 in 2005, and that includes the venerable man he replaced at Mike linebacker, David Harris, who led the team in tackles the previous eight seasons. Davis' five sacks led the Jets and was a career high. And his 13.5 tackles for loss/no gain also led the defense. Oh, yeah, and was in for all 1,116 defensive snaps this season, the most by a Jets defender since David Harris' 1,181 in 2010.

Davis has said all along that he came into this year with a new approach, especially in tackling.

"A lot of those years where I was getting 110, 120 tackles probably could've been up there at 140, 150 if I would've put in the detail in my work that I'm doing now," he said. "So this season's not really a surprise, but I thought this formula would work and it's working and that's good to see."

Lee made strides in his sophomore season and while he has more to do, he improved his tackle total to 123 was second behind Davis with his 12 TFL/NGs.

The outside group, under the tutelage of Hall of Fame LB/assistant coach Kevin Greene, was also interesting with Jordan Jenkins, another second-year man, and veterans Josh Martin and David Bass. Martin, who had one start in his first four NFL seasons, had nine starts this season and hung up 10 tackles for loss/no gain and 20 QB hits, second on the defense behind Leonard Williams.

"When KG got here, I was telling him the challenge ahead, where most people would view that position as an area that we need to improve in," coordinator Kacy Rodgers recalled. "But those guys have done everything we ask them. They set the edge in the run, they're affecting the quarterback, and they're kind of doing it by committee."

The one hole in the defense was still a lack of a top edge rusher. That's not all on the 'backers, but the Jets were 28th in the league in sacks/pass play and Jenkins had the D's only strip sack all season.

Looking AheadLB is the most vulnerable position on the Jets to free agency departures as Davis, Bass, Julian Stanford and Bruce Carter all can become unrestricted free agents.

As for QB pressure, where might that come from in '18? The top rushers in early mock drafts appear to be D-ends, not OLBs, although Bradley Chubb, NC State's 275-pound DE, is considered by some to be the top defensive player in the draft. And there are no monsters among the potential UFAs.

But Bowles, Rodgers and Greene still might have answers with Dylan Donahue and Lorenzo Mauldin. Donahue, last year's fifth-rounder, barely got his rookie feet wet in four games before going on injured reserve with an elbow injury. And Jets fans have been waiting for Mauldin to erupt since he arrived in the third round of the '15 draft. 'Zo had been working well last preseason before a back injury landed him on IR.

Best Images in Black & White from the 2017 Season

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