Chris Gross is back with Fact or False, this week focusing on the Madbacker and what kind of season to expect from him in 2012. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter
New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott is coming off his worst statistical season as a member of Gang Green. Recent reports out of OTAs and Mini-Camp are suggesting that Scott, who played at a much heavier weight than he was used to playing at last season, is lighter and looks just as fast and impressive as he has ever been. While we should expect an improvement in performance out of Scott this season, there are several important issues to keep in mind when it comes to “Can’t Wait!” For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine what to expect from Scott, as well as his importance to the success of the Jets’ defense.
Bart Scott will have 100 tackles this season. False. Scott has posted 100 tackles only once in his 11 year career, during the 2006 season, in which he also tallied a career high in sacks with 9.5. Although the high 80s, low 90s could enter the realm of reality if Scott is truly revived, he will not be reaching the century mark this year. Historically, he has never been a hundred tackle player, and this should not be expected coming off of a season in which he had his lowest tackle total since 2004.
Scott will serve as an excellent mentor for rookie DeMario Davis. Fact. While some may view this proclomation as delusional due to Scott’s brash attitude and questionable choice of action at times, there is no one more equipped on the Jets roster to tutor the young mind of Davis than Scott. Other than the fact that Davis is the incumbent replacement for Scott when he eventually leaves New York, there is not one player on the team with a better understanding of Ryan’s scheme than number 57. Davis will have constant exposure to Scott’s mind as the two will be in every meeting, film session, and drill together, and this will prove to work wonders for the rookie out of Arkansas State. Davis will learn the defense, inside and out, from the longest tenured Ryan disciple, and will likely pick up some attitude and swagger along the way as well.
Bart Scott reflects Rex Ryan to a T. Fact. Many people have discussed the transformation being displayed by Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. The toned down bravado and lack of guarantees this offseason already have us seeing a side of Rex that has yet to be revealed. However, no one is speaking of the identical transformation occuring within the Jets locker room, in Bart Scott. Scott has reportedly dropped a significant amount of weight and his performance in OTAs and Mini-Camp has him catching the eyes of his teammates and coaches alike, some of whom have declared this to be the best the madbacker has looked in years.
Scott, like Ryan, was certainly humbled after last season. The lasting image most media and fans have of Scott is the linebacker’s farewell gesture to reporters following the meltdown in Miami at the conclusion of last season. Now, we are seeing a dedicated, hard working player seemingly motivated to prove all of his doubters wrong. Scott has admitted that he was not the best player he could have been last season, while also owning up to the fact that his attitude was poor at times due to his struggles and collective loss of playing time. Similar to Ryan admitting he did not have the pulse of the team last season because he lost touch with his roots, so too has Scott admitted a similar declaration. Scott is a pure reflection of Ryan, who he has been with since entering the league in 2002 as a Baltimore Raven, in terms of passion, motivation, desire, bravado, and now, humility.
Scott’s trash talk will be toned down this season. False. Although he is a reflection of his head coach in most ways, unlike Ryan, Scott’s brash talking during games will not diminish this season. Reports out of mini-camp have shown reflections of the player we have come to know and love in terms of his passion and trash talking. Scott has never been shy about being the vocal leader of this defense, and he has thrived in that role since joining the Jets three seasons ago. Scott’s talking is part of who he is as a player, leader, and motivator, and it should certainly be encouraging to anyone associated with the team to see this characteristic return in him.
Bart Scott is the straw that stirs the drink in terms of the Jets’ defensive success. Fact. This is not to say that Scott is the best player on the defense, because he surely is not. However, when looking at Scott’s numbers in terms of the success of the defense, one can not help see a correlation. Last season, for instance, was the worst statistical season for Scott since becoming a Jet. In that same season, Darrelle Revis was still trapping receivers on his island, David Harris was still David Harris, and the defensive line was no worse than it has been in the Rex Ryan era. The defense ranked, statistically, the lowest it has ever been under Ryan at fifth best in the NFL. This was the same season that Scott posted career lows as a Jet with just 66 tackles, despite recording 4.5 sacks. Conversely, Scott racked up 92 tackles in 2009 and 81 in 2010. During those two seasons the Jets ranked 1st and 3rd in overall defense, respectively.
It is certainly easy to point out other aspects of the Jets defense as the cause for their struggles last season. The case can surely be made for safety Jim Leonhard as the key to defensive success, although Leonhard was lost to season ending injuries in both 2010 and 2011. His drop off was not nearly as impactful as Scott’s, as displayed by the defense ranking third in the league without him in 2010, and also winning two road playoff games during that same year. The revival of Bart Scott should be extremely encouraging for all associated with the Jets. If history tells us anything, it is that Scott is vital to the success of the defense which has reflected his play during his time as a Jet. If Scott is truly back to 2009 form, expect nothing less than a top ranked defense from Gang Green this season.
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