In the previous Darron Lee film room from earlier this year, we stated that Lee needs to use his uncommon athleticism to make more impact plays. The last three weeks he has done just that. In this film room we’ll focus on his performance against the Bills in week 9 and the noticeable improvements he has made.
In this first play, you see a subtle improvement. Darron Lee (lined up facing the left guard) makes the correct run read and doesn’t hesitate but fires into the gap he’s responsible for and stands his ground, causing McCoy to cutback. McCoy spins so hard here he hurt his groin and picked up a first down. However, you can see the improvement in Lee here, reacting quicker and being more physical. This was a trend.
This next play is underrated awesome. It’s the type of play you don’t notice how good it is live. Lee is lined up facing the left guard. At the snap you see Demario Davis blitz in what turned out to be backside A-gap. Lee see’s the play going away from him and cross the face of both the left and right guard to help make the play on Mike Tolbert. This is going above and beyond your responsibility. He made up for a poorly timed blitz by using his speed to track down the play. You have to love how physical he is here again. The right guard thought he was take him out and Lee somehow shed him.
Next up, Lee shows good discipline and responsibility against a shifty running back like McCoy. It’s not a splash play but Lee reacts to the run, finds his gap, avoids the combo block and makes the tackle.
On this next play, Darron Lee is being used a spy on Tyrod Taylor. This is something we could start to see consistently from Lee against mobile QBs. Here you see Lee shows good discipline shadowing Taylor discretely and then pouncing as soon as Taylor starts to make a move to get outside the pocket. Lee lays a huge hit on him at the end.
Next up is Darron Lee as a spy once again. He does the exact same thing, waiting for a quick count and then making a downhill sprint. This time he gets the sack.
This next play perfectly summed up the improvements he has made. Lee (lined up facing the left guard), makes the right run read immediately but has to take on the left guard. In the past we’ve seen him get cleaned out of the hole. However, on this play Lee takes on the left guard, bounces off, and makes the tackle for a 5 yard loss. The scouting report might have been to just get hands on Lee before, but it looks like he’s changing that.
Next, Lee is again lined up over the left guard. Bills run power away from him. Lee takes maybe a split second longer to read the play than he would want but makes up for it with decisiveness, speed, and physicality. He darts into the play-side A gap, avoiding the combo block from the center and guard, and makes the tackle.
On this last play, Lee shows great instincts. He’s lined up facing the right guard here, and drops back in coverage after the snap. Tyrod Taylor can’t find anyone open and eventually starts to make his way out of the pocket. Lee notices this but also notices Mike Tolbert crossing his face over the middle. He stays with Tolbert but then breaks off towards Taylor once Tolbert is past and helps force the turnover. Jordan Jenkins is the one who stripped Taylor but Lee was there for the assist.
Everyone has been waiting for it to just “click” with Darron Lee and it really just might have. The Jets coaching staff deserves credit for starting to steer him away from bad habits and putting him in position to make plays. Lee’s physical traits have always been impressive. But if he’s now finally putting that together with sound fundamentals and good decision making, that could be a scary deal with opposing offenses. Particularly, with the defensive line now seeming to show itself to be the force we expected it to be. So is this the Darron Lee we’ll see from now on? Time will tell. But at least now we have a better idea what he’s capable of.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com