One of the most vocal leaders in the locker room, LB Bart Scott is one of the main catalysts for the Jets defense. His hardnosed style of play will be needed on Sunday as the Jets face the Raiders in Oakland, and look to extend their record to 3-0.
Standing in their way is Oakland's dynamic tailback, Darren McFadden, who poses multiple threats to the defense.
"He's tough, he's fast, he's a taller running back," said Scott. "He's one of those guys you don't want to get to the edge because he has home run speed. And he's very good at catching the ball out of the backfield."
McFadden is the NFL's second leading rusher, and boasts a 5.3-yards-per-carry average. Despite his talent and the Raiders' run-first approach, Scott is confident the Green & White will be able to stop McFadden in the Black Hole.
"I think we're a disciplined football team," he said. "We know how to stop the run, we understand what is important for a run to be successful, and we try to negate that."
So far, Scott and the defense have done exactly that. Through two games, they are holding opponents to 3.3 yards per carry, eighth in the NFL. Sunday figures to be a case of unstoppable force vs. immovable object, a battle that should prove to be a vicious physical matchup, and one that will demand the full use of Scott's abilities.
His 14 total tackles rank him second on the team, behind only S Eric Smith's 20. In addition to his high tackle numbers, Scott is the team leader with two sacks.
"We're trying to get him back to blitzing a bit more," said head coach Rex Ryan. "Bart's smart. He's been there and done that. When an opportunity presents itself, Bart takes advantage."
In only two games, Scott has equaled his sack totals from the past two regular seasons combined. To see him in the opponents' backfield may be out of the ordinary for Jets fans, but Scott says it's just business as usual.
"When the situation presents itself, you have to take advantage of it," he said. "There are certain situations that we know we have the advantage in our favor, and you have to be willing to pull the trigger, and that's all I'm trying to do."
In 2006, Scott had a career-high 9.5 sacks while a member of the Ravens, but even including that he's averaged only two sacks a year coming into 2011. Whether his role is as a blitzer or as a coverage linebacker, it doesn't really matter to him at this stage.
"I suggested that I would do whatever the team needs me to do to be successful. If that's me blowing up linemen, that's it. If that's me jamming receivers, that's it," he said. "I'm at the point in my career now where I just want to win a Super Bowl. That's all I'm worried about."
In the more immediate future, the focus is on the Raiders and their corps of speedy wideouts, improving quarterback Jason Campbell, and of course, McFadden. Head coach Hue Jackson was the quarterbacks coach in Baltimore at the time Scott was a member of the Ravens, and he has a pretty good idea of what to expect from Jackson and the Raiders come Sunday afternoon.
"I know his temperament, I know what he wants to do, and I know the mentality he's trying to instill in that place," he said. "I know those guys will be ready and up for the challenge that I'm sure he's going to present."