As aggressive as Rex Ryan's Jets defense is, it had been lacking a pass rusher outside Calvin Pace. This season, the Jets have benefited from a rejuvenated Aaron Maybin, who leads the team with six sacks and four forced fumbles.
Maybin had been written off as a bust when the Bills cut the former first-rounder after two seasons. Maybin never got a sack as a Bill, but he sacked Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick twice when the Jets beat Buffalo in Week 12, and he is starting to see his reps increase.
"We pretty much go on a week-by-week basis. I've been comfortable with how we've been doing things for a few weeks now," Maybin told PFW. "That's the reason for the expanded role, in some cases, that you've seen over the past couple weeks. I've been able to have a better grasp on things as weeks have gone on."
Maybin is part of a three-man rotation that has replaced OLB Bryan Thomas, who is on injured reserve. Jamaal Westerman and Garrett McIntyre see their time in the team's base defense.
"It's hard to replace a guy like Bryan Thomas," said Maybin, who is only 23. "As young players, we understood that we had to take our preparation up a notch and really focus on the little things."
Maybin sealed the Jets' win over the Redskins in Week 13 with his strip-sack of Rex Grossman. Rex Ryan has described Maybin as playing "with his hair on fire."
"That's always been my style of play ever since I started playing the game," said Maybin. "I've always been smaller than most of the guys I've played against. Usually what's given me the edge is the fact that regardless of how big or strong they are, I've never played against someone that's been able to outwork me."
At 6-4, 240, Maybin has been considered too small to play against the run, and he has only nine total tackles on the season. The third-year pro, who is making a push for Most Improved Player of the Year, isn't paying attention to those who knock his supposedly one-dimensional play.
"I'm playing the position that Rex wants me to play. Whatever it is that they ask me to do, I'm going to continue to do to the best of my ability," he said. "As long as the Jets are happy, I could care less how everybody else sees it."
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