Jets Linebacker Feels ‘Revitalized’ in Robert Saleh’s System

Jarrad Davis

Getty New York Jets linebacker Jarrad Davis exits the field with the Detroit Lions on November 18, 2018.

When general manager Joe Douglas and the New York Jets announced their first free-agent acquisition of 2021, many were surprised and even disappointed.

For one year and $5.5 million ($3 million guaranteed), former Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis became a Jet. Although it seemed like a lot of money for a prove-it contract, there was no denying that the former first-round pick had some untapped potential.

His best season with Detroit was his sophomore campaign in 2018. Davis had 100 combined tackles and six sacks, not to mention 10 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for a loss. That was also defensive-minded head coach Matt Patricia’s most successful year at 6-10.

After 2018, things went awry for both Patricia and his defense, including Davis. As playing time became more sparse, so did the linebacker’s love for the game according to a recent confession in a press conference on July 28, 2021.

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Davis Contemplated Walking Away From the Game

“I love this game. I contemplated walking away, I really did man, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t have felt right doing anything else,” said Davis, explaining that he wasn’t happy.

He continued: “I was making the game everything and I was making myself the game. When I was doing that, it just didn’t feel right. This is such a competitive sport at this level like you have to put your everything, you have to put your all into it, but there has to be a balance… If my personal life got in the way of football, it didn’t exist.”

Davis also talked about the pressure he felt like he was under with the Lions. “It’s one of those things where I want to be right, I want to be out there, I want to be that guy and wanting to be that guy, it handicapped me, you know I handicapped myself,” he told reporters.

“The battle’s up here,” Davis stated while pointing to his head, “and I was losing that battle every single day.”

Hearing the linebacker wear his heart on his sleeve, you could tell how much he was going through mentally before joining the Jets. Davis noted that the call from Robert Saleh and the franchise revitalized his spirit.

He said: “I had to do a lot of soul-searching personally [after Detroit], not knowing how things were going to turn out and honestly to get that phone call early in free agency from the Jets, it was a blessing to know that I had an opportunity like this.”

Davis noted the scheme fit that was similar to his college days at Florida, the height of his playing career so far. He also admitted boldly that he sought out some psychological help.

The linebacker put so much value into each play, especially his mistakes, but he’s learned how to “revalue” his life since then. “I’m a human being before I’m a football player,” Davis proclaimed, advocating for any athletes out there that may still be suffering from any sort of anxiety or depression.

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‘Freeing’ Scheme Has Davis Excited

The ex-Lion has already looked more comfortable with Jeff Ulbrich and Saleh. Earlier today in practice, he managed to disguise himself in coverage and intercept rookie Zach Wilson on a ball over the middle.

Davis told the media that he was attracted to Saleh’s system because “it’s so fast man, like, it’s freeing,” mentioning that there aren’t an overwhelming amount of different responsibilities for the linebackers.

In the 4-3 Cover-3 scheme, the position generally drops into zone coverage on passing plays and hits their gap assignments on runs. Occasionally, they’ll mix in some man coverage against a tight end or running back.

“It allows us to just plug our personalities into the scheme, and that’s really exciting to me,” Davis voiced. He also described Coach Saleh: “He’s very confident in who he is and what he’s trying to push… we practice this [and] he believes in this.”

According to Pro Football Focus, the linebacker excelled most as a pass-rusher in Detroit but his coverage grades improved a lot in 2020. PFF gave him a 72.1 in coverage in his most recent campaign, which was a huge upgrade from his 64.5 grade in 2018 and 30.0 in 2019 (limited snaps).

“The defense is so layered,” Davis concluded, “it’s about all 11 doing their job.”

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