TOJ Film Room – New York Jets ILB Erin Henderson

AJ Sicignano with a TOJ Film Room breakdown of New York Jets ILB Erin Henderson

AJ Sicignano steps into the TOJ Film Room today with a breakdown of newly signed New York Jets ILB Erin Henderson. Make sure to check out yesterday’s film room breakdown of Jets UDFA TE Wes Saxton right here.

Henderson has had an eventful career to say the least if you go back to look at the entire picture starting at the University of Maryland…

  • In 2005 he misses the entire season after tearing his ACL.
  • In 2007 he’s a semifinalist for the Dick Butkus award, which goes to the nation’s best linebacker.
  • Skips his senior season and enters the 2008 NFL Draft only to go undrafted and signs in Minnesota.
  • In 2009, his second year in the NFL he is suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
  • In 2011 breaks into the Vikings starting line up.
  • November 19, 2013 is arrested for DWI.
  • 2 months later Henderson is arrested again on Jan 1, 2014 for DWI and possession of marijuana.
  • Henderson misses the entire 2014-2015 NFL season

After looking at that timeline it is hard to fathom a NFL team taking a chance on Henderson again. Yet, the Jets targeted Henderson and inked him to a one year, veteran minimum contract with virtually no risk involved.

In last week’s TOJ Podcast Kris Dyer of Metro New York had strong praise for him post minicamp. Dyer mentioned that Henderson could “start probably for 90% of the teams in this league and here he might actually be a back-up.” We decided to dig up some old Minnesota Vikings film and look into exactly what type of player the Jets now have.

Before we jump into any film on Henderson let’s look at his production in Minnesota after he earned a starting spot:

  • 2011: 70 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 15 games.
  • 2012: 79 total tackles, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble in 14 games.
  • 2013: 112 total tackles, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble in 14 games

Henderson showed steady improvement despite starting his career at outisde linebacker and later being moved inside, with his production improving every year as he got more comfortable inside. He has terrific instincts with a seeming sixth sense for the football and is constantly involved in most plays thanks to a nonstop motor.

Against Detroit, they tried to take advantage of Reggie Bush’s speed going with a lot of delays and misdirection runs. Henderson played disciplined football throughout this match-up. He didn’t try to make up for his lack of speed by over pursuing plays. He stays home, let’s the play develop and then attacks the football.

Another look into how efficient Henderson is when it comes to stopping the run, this time against the New York Giants. He watches the play develop as Hillis tries to get to the outside and attacks downhill to get him behind the LOS for a loss of two.

More times than not Henderson puts himself in solid position to make a play on defense but you do see him take a bad angle or take himself out of the play completely from time to time. Here you see the discipline on the end around to Jeffery to stay home but instead of cutting Jeffery off outside near the sideline, he attempts to go inside, around the blocker and Jeffery winds up taking it for a huge gain.

The following play was reviewed and ultimately ruled a TD but it is still something you like to see from a linebacker down at the goal line. Henderson’s knack for the football comes into view when you see him punch the ball out of Joique Bell’s hands here at the goal line.

Overall, from what I gathered Henderson is a well-rounded player. He does a competent job covering tight ends in man coverage and is not a consistent liability from a defensive pass coverage standpoint. Henderson shoots the gaps and fills the running lanes impressively. He was not a big pass rushing weapon in Minnesota but if Bowles/Rodgers can get him to use his gap shooting ability here on passing downs, he could contribute. His straight line speed is average and will prevent him from chasing down backs and receivers in the open field. An underrated takeaway is Henderson generally avoids penalties and major mental errors.