"It's kind of weird being the older guy, but feeling like the younger guy because I don't know anything when I first moved up here."
That's the best way that Avery Williamson summarized the dynamic between him and fellow Jets linebacker Darron Lee, the patrolmen of the middle of the defense.
Lee, the team's first-round pick in 2015, enters his third season as a starter while Williamson, whom the Green & White signed in March, is going on Year 5. Typically the elder statesmen isn't the newbie, but Lee is the one who's been around the block.
"Darron's helped with the playbook and the first couple of weekends we were hanging out and he was showing me stuff," Williamson said. "It's a huge plus when you have someone your age."
"It's good he definitely took me under his wing."
The 26-year-old Williamson said after he joined the Jets, he often went to dinner with the 23-year-old Lee. Although they've only known each other for three months, their shared drive to win and excitement to line up next to one another is apparent.
"He's kind of a guy who can do it all," Williamson said of Lee. "He can cover the pass and he can make plays in the run. For myself, I can do both and I feel like he's a little bit better at some passing situations. But I feel like we can definitely have a great mix. I see us really thriving out there. We're starting to get our communication down and definitely helping each other out with the calls. Once we get our camaraderie together, I feel like it's going to be crazy."
Top Images of the Jets Linebacker Unit at Multimedia Day and On Field
"He definitely brings tenacity," Lee said. "You can tell just by his demeanor that he wants to win, but he's a loose guy also, which helps him mesh in from a chemistry perspective. Guys are really loose. We're focused, but we're loose. Most people think us to be uptight. Last year we were probably a little more uptight than normal because we wanted to prove it to the world. Now we're just proving to ourselves we can win.
"Avery agrees with that and is vetted in the culture that we have brewing here. That's huge."
Head coach Todd Bowles said Lee and Williamson will tackle the majority of play-calling duties in the season. But until Williamson digests more of the playbook, Lee will call most of the plays as he has the microphone in his helmet.
"I feel like this is all falling into place at the right time," Lee said. "I've got the tutorial, I had my training wheels the first two years. Having David Harris, who's an ultimate pro, and Demario [Davis] was a great pro and he had a great year last year, I learned a lot from them. Just in those two years, I have a pretty good sense of direction of where to take it for this team and what's going to be asked of me to help this team succeed."
Inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell said Lee was excited about taking on more responsibility and expects him to make a jump as a leader this season. Caldwell also believes Lee and Williamson will feed off each other given the way their personalities mesh both on and off the field.
"I think Darron being the real athletic guy, being able to understand how to use his body, and Avery, being the veteran that's been in the league and been in a bunch of different wars, he'll be able to show Darron the way," Caldwell said.
While the Jets have had three different inside linebacker pairings in as many years, Williamson feels like this combination is going to be successful a long time.
"I feel like the closer the teams are, the more success you're going to have," he said. "Being close with your teammates, you want to know everything about the guy you're playing next to. If I can't talk to this guy, then I feel like we can't play well on the field. I feel like it's a good vibe in the locker room. Of course there are going to be arguments in the locker room, but at the end of the day, it's a brotherhood and that's a good thing we got here."