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Thread: Jets' David Harris growing into role as vocal leader of defense

  1. #1
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    Jets' David Harris growing into role as vocal leader of defense

    Updated: Saturday, August 18, 2012, 9:35 AM

    By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger

    During three weeks of training camp, this became the pattern.

    Before the start of each 11-on-11 team period, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would say, “D, bring it up.” That was David Harris’ cue.

    The sixth-year middle linebacker would step in front of the defense with a brief message. Sometimes, he’d say, “Let’s work to get better today.”

    Sometimes, after a poor performance in the last section of practice, he’d implore his teammates to step it up.

    The player with the reputation of being quiet is loud in this moment.

    “You can feel the conviction when he’s speaking,” linebackers coach Bob Sutton said. “They are not just words flying out.”

    This is part of the next step for Harris. Since the Jets drafted him in the second round in 2007, he has been a steady, all-business player, leading the team in tackles four of the past five years. But he has never been known as a vocal leader.

    He’s working on changing that.

    “You just take ownership of the defense,” Harris said, “and get everybody going.”

    Harris saw a need to fill that role. He was angry at the way the 2011 season ended, and the opportunities lost.

    As the Jets prepared for tonight’s preseason game against the Giants, he remembered the defense being embarrassed in the pivotal Christmas Eve loss to their crosstown rivals, on plays like Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown catch.

    It was part of the three-game skid that dropped the Jets from the playoffs for the first time under coach Rex Ryan, and Harris saw the collapse one way: “The defense, it falls back on us.”

    “A lot of the guys who have been here in Rex’s system for the last couple years weren’t happy with the way things finished last year,” he said, despite the defense ranking fifth in the league. “Because we know what it’s supposed to look like when it’s clicking on all cylinders.”

    Harris saw a way to make a difference.

    He has individual objectives, like improving in pass coverage. Harris had four interceptions and eight batted passes last year, but he knows it’s easy for linebackers to get burned in a league that fielded three 5,000-yard passers in 2011. So Sutton runs the linebackers through coverage drills with the running backs and tight ends in the first individual period of each practice.

    It’s in front of the team, though, where Harris has shown the most growth. He admits he feels more “at ease” now, so the kind of leadership often associated with his position comes out more naturally.

    “I think he looks around and thinks, ‘Hey, I’m the middle linebacker; I’m the one standing in front of the huddle. I need to take the next step up and be that vocal guy,’ ” Pettine said. “It’s not like he is all of a sudden trying to turn into Ray Lewis, but at the same time he has increased it, because he knows there is a need for it.”

    Sutton, who has coached Harris for his entire professional career, knows how meticulously he prepares both physically and mentally. A mental mistake is a rarity for him.

    Now, Sutton said, Harris is able to take the standards he has held himself to, and tell his teammates he expects the same out of them.

    “When things aren’t going well out here on the field, somebody has to be able to shake them up and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get this straight,’ ”
    Sutton said. “We can’t go through another period like we just did. It’s too valuable.”

    He added: “I just think he’s grown into that.”

    With three weeks until the regular season, Harris counts two important changes in the defense: Players are hungrier and more accountable. His vocal leadership could be the third.

    http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/201...eloping_i.html

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    Nice article.

    It is good that one of our drafted core players is becoming a vocal leader. Players look up to Harris and I think his words carry weight b.c he backs it up on the field. Always likes Harris. I think he handled his contract situation perfectly a couple of years ago, it was refreshing that he was willing to wait his turn and showed faith in the FO and his faith was rewarded.

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    Hhm, maybe a custom Harris jersey is in order.

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    One of the most underrated players in football.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Apache 51 View Post
    Hhm, maybe a custom Harris jersey is in order.
    Quote Originally Posted by jetsfan920 View Post
    One of the most underrated players in football.
    Co-Sign...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetsfan920 View Post
    One of the most underrated players in football.
    I agree 100%. He conducts himself more like a professional than most players in the NFL, and his play speaks for itself.

    I believe his play will be elevated this year due to the depth on the D Line.

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    he's always been very good, let's see if he can take that next step and become elite.

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    Probably my favorite Jet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Untouchable View Post
    Probably my favorite Jet
    I agree. He's up there for me. One of the few that I'm always saying "thank God we have him."

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    great Jet. If only we could clone him to take bart scott's spot...

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    Very underrated. He goes sideline to sideline and makes tackles the way they are supposed to be made, not to get on the opening highlights of Sportscenter. He reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Jets (and really may still be) Kyle Clifton. Just keep your mouth shut and do your job kind of guy.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rumrunner View Post
    Very underrated. He goes sideline to sideline and makes tackles the way they are supposed to be made, not to get on the opening highlights of Sportscenter. He reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Jets (and really may still be) Kyle Clifton. Just keep your mouth shut and do your job kind of guy.
    Attitude is the same, but Harris is a way better ILB, IMO. Clifton was never a high level LB, while Harris makes game changing plays.

    Clifton was very blue collar. Did his job. He couldn't shed a blocker, if I remember, rather, he was good at pushing himself off the blocker towards the ball carrier as the runner hit the hole - which turned into a 4-5 yard run downfield instead of a 2-3 yard run. Changed everything.

    Sure handed tackler, not very athletic or strong.

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    My favorite Jet and my favorite jet writer. Jenny is brilliant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John_0515 View Post
    Attitude is the same, but Harris is a way better ILB, IMO. Clifton was never a high level LB, while Harris makes game changing plays.

    Clifton was very blue collar. Did his job. He couldn't shed a blocker, if I remember, rather, he was good at pushing himself off the blocker towards the ball carrier as the runner hit the hole - which turned into a 4-5 yard run downfield instead of a 2-3 yard run. Changed everything.

    Sure handed tackler, not very athletic or strong.
    I agree 100% Harris is head and shoulders above Clifton athletically and a much better LB. He just has that lunch pail mentality that I like. My 2 favorite non-Jets of all-time are Walter Payton and Mark Bavaro, probably for similar reasons. I think Walter Payton was the greatest player I have seen in my lifetime. Favorite non-Jet...sounds like a good idea for a thread.

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