First off, forgive me if my thoughts are a little scrambled. I just got out of the 7 hour marathon that is the LSAT, so my brain is a little fried. But I want to discuss an issue that I saw pop up in the comments before the game tomorrow. The question was as to why the Jets would activate newly re-signed DE/OLB Aaron Maybin, instead of DT Kenrick Ellis. Here is my answer.
There has been word recently that the reason Ellis is on the bench is due to his pad level. His technique needs refinement, not unusual for a rookie from a smaller school, but that is what is keeping him inactive, for now. What Ellis does well is tie up blockers using his size and athleticism, as well as stop the run. From the DT position in a 3-4 base defense, he isn't really going to be used much to rush the passer. Instead, he'll help collapse the pocket and stuff the run. Let's jump below and see why that isn't good enough, yet, for Ellis to start.
The Jets have a plethora of run-stuffers, including Sione Pouha and Mike Devito. It may not have seemed like it last week, but they're really good at what they do. Until Ellis' technique improves, he doesn't do anything that the other linemen don't already do. Ellis doesn't do anything, again, yet, that substantially differentiates himself from the other members of the defensive line. Maybin, however unproven, offers more possibility.
What Maybin has that no other player on the Jets defense has is pure speed rushing ability. It's absolutely true that Maybin has never flashed his potential in a regular season game, however we saw in the preseason what potential he has. It's that potential that gives him the edge over Ellis, because unlike Kenrick, Maybin offers something to the Jets that they don't already have.
In addition, there has been word from Rex and Maybin himself that they plan on using Maybin this week in very specific packages to rush Flacco from the right side. He would be working against Ravens LT Bryant McKinnie, who is slow and who has had trouble against speed rushers. This matchup may be key, because if Maybin can gain an edge over McKinnie, then we'll finally see some of that pass-rushing that we've so desperately cried for in past seasons. This is why, it seems to me, the Jets are going to activate Aaron Maybin, while keeping Kenrick Ellis, beast as he is, on the bench until he's developed more. Which of the two would you prefer to see play tomorrow?