Florham Park, N.J.- One the biggest weaknesses of the Jets defense last season was the lack of team speed, causing the Jets to implement a team-wide offseason plan to lose weight and gain speed over the offseason, but as with every rule there will always be exceptions.
Aaron Maybin has had trouble keeping his weight up to his desired level throughout his career and if there’s one thing Maybin doesn’t lack, it’s speed. So while most of his teammates, aside from Joe McKnight, have focused on slimming down, Maybin has bulked up and he has no intentions of letting the extra weight slow him down.
“When we started off our offseason conditioning program I was probably as lean as I’ve ever been. I was probably around 229-230 so between then and now, I’m up to 243 now.” Maybin said, “So I’m still gaining a little bit, but I told myself I was just going to keep gaining until I felt like it starts to slow me down or hamper me a little bit. But I still feel great, still feel fast, still look fast on film.”
When ever a player puts on weight the first question they will get will be about how the weight gain will effect their speed and Maybin knew this as he answered the question before it was even asked. But he was kind enough to expand on the subject in response to a follow-up question. “I mean, you look at me out there and I still feel confident I can run down most receivers (laughs). So yeah I still got confidence in my speed.”
There were many different factors that contributed to Maybin’s release from the Bills, but the issue of his weight seemed to be a sticking point for many and understandably so, linebacker isn’t exactly the ideal position for anyone having trouble keeping weight on. But although Maybin understands where the talk comes from, he thinks the perception doesn’t meet reality on just how much of a “problem” it has been for him and he’s eager to prove it’s no longer a problem at all.
“Really there was a time where I had trouble putting weight on, this, that and the third. But what a lot of people don’t know is towards the end of my second year there (Buffalo) I was weighing in at 250 and carrying that, I just wasn’t on the field so no one really knew about that. (Then) I had an issue going into that next training camp, where I was fighting a sickness (pneumonia).
“It just always seemed like there was something going on that was holding me back and now this is one of the first times where I can really just say, with confidence, that I feel great. Just physically, mentally, everything has just been awesome this offseason. Our strength and conditioning coaches have done a great job working with me to help me get stronger, help me get bigger and help me maintain my speed and that’s something that we’ve definitely done. All of my weights have gone up in the weight room, I’ve gotten a lot stronger and I feel a lot stronger and more explosive and I think that it’s starting to show on the field, even though we’re only in OTAs.”
Bigger, stronger and as fast as ever Maybin is enjoying his offseason this year as he works to become a better all-around player, but as much work as he has personally put in to improve Maybin thinks the drafting of Quinton Coples will help his game just as much as anything else. When asked if he feels Coples will make his job much easier Maybin said, “I’d say so (smiling).
“When you look at it every time we line up together, I can look at the tackle and tell he’s literally looking back and forth like ‘alright, which one of these guys are we going to double.’ Because it’s really difficult when you have someone that has to be accounted for right next to you, you can’t get all the attention your way and if you look at the progress that he’s making and the amazing progress that Mo (Muhammad Wilkerson) has been able to make, it’s just been incredible so nothing has me more excited than those guys and how they’ve progressed because that’s just going to help us all as a defense. That’s going to help me as an individual, it’s going to help the team. It’s going to help us all and that’s just the direction that we’re trying to go in.”
Learning a new system in football can be a daunting task for any player, let alone a system as complex as Rex Ryan’s. Maybin admitted to having a limited knowledge of the playbook last season saying, ”Man, I can’t even explain how big a factor that (familiarity in the system) plays for me. Just because of the fact that when you look at it, most people don’t really know, the first four weeks that I was playing last year I had to have all my plays on a little wrist band because I had no idea what I was doing, but the fact that I have a whole offseason now where I basically learned everything that we installed last year at this point and now we’re just in a process of refreshing ourselves on the field to what we’ve already been taking mental reps of.”
Despite his lack of muscles and familiarity with the defensive playbook Maybin was still the Jets most productive pass-rusher last season (six sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 games) and he is looking to build off last year’s performance by using his improved athletic ability with his knowledge of the system to become the dominate pass-rusher Jets fans have been desperately clamoring for.
“With me not having to (over) think and me being able to just go out and play fast and not hesitate,” Maybin said, “it’s helped me take my game to another level.”