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Jets new defensive QB: This is the year it all comes together.

It is not lost on Darron Lee that the likes of Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas did not have to adapt to a move to inside linebacker as NFL pups. So there have been growing pains for Lee, and growing pains are always painful to young men in a hurry. But as his third season...
Time: 21:21     Date: 13.06.2018
Last US Sport News: Jets new defensive QB: This is the year it all comes together. NY Post 24 - US News

So there have been growing pains for Lee, and growing pains are always painful to young men in a hurry.

But as his third season with the Jets nears, Lee is all grown up, dedicated to his craft, believing his time has arrived.

“I had to be patient with myself coming in, especially learning the gist of it, but now, I knew once I got a grip of everything, now it’s time to let the chains off,” Lee told The Post.

Asked what Jets fans should expect from him this season, Lee said: “A way, way, way, way better version from the first two years.”

The Maturation of Darron Lee has been hastened by his new responsibility as defensive signal-caller with mentor Demario Davis gone. Lee, remember, won big at Ohio State. He has been 5-11 twice as a Jet and — along with fellow first-round draft picks Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams — needs to lead the way to a breakthrough.

“Winning’s great. Losing’s the best teacher,” Lee said. “I feel like I’ve been taught a lot of lessons. I don’t like 22 lessons. I gotta make a better version of myself so that I can put this team in the best position to win. That requires endless amount of sacrifice, which I’ve done, and an endless amount of just knowledge.

“I’m signal-caller this year. Studying has gone up. Now I’m just kind of trickling down to everybody and just educating them. Me kind of like telling them, ‘Hey, this is what you got, blah blah blah,’ it’s helping me just learning. I’m more comfortable every single day.”

Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers: “That’s a little bit more preparation, and it’s more growth and more experience and more people depending on him to do his job.”

Darron LeeBill Kostroun

The Maturation of Darron Lee is critical to the Jets’ fortunes and is not lost on the coaching staff:

Assistant head coach/inside linebackers Mike Caldwell: “He has all the tools. He’s getting better by being able to see things faster. His eyes are better. Coming from college, it took him a while to understand the professional game. He’s done a good job of finding his niche, and he’ll just continue to improve doing that.”

Lee’s rookie season was marred by an ankle injury, which slowed his progress so much that Pro Football Focus rated him the worst rookie linebacker in the Class of 2016. He has wisely tuned out the critics.

“I just focus on my growth and growing as a linebacker,” Lee said. “It’s really helped me zone in on my craft. It comes with maturity, to be honest with you. Just growing up and focusing on your job and the task at hand. I can’t control what everybody says, I can control what I display on the field.”

What he displayed in a game against the Bills last season — a pair of sacks — could foreshadow a bigger role as a blitzer. Lee is a 6-foot-1, 233-pound speed demon who overcame a slow start to finish with 94 tackles.

“I fell short of 100 last year, but I missed a game, also,” Lee said. “Trying to have over 110 [this upcoming season]. But I need some interceptions. So that’s gonna be a huge emphasis.”

Adams will also be looking for his first interception. Told that it eats at Adams, Lee said, “It eats at me every morning I wake up.”

Why is that?

“ ’Cause I should have ’em,” he said. “I’m just expected to. I got [three] in college. … Not just getting ’em, I expect to score.”

Adams and Lee are young monuments to swagger.

“Jamal always had a swagger, but I gotta call plays so I can’t be super loud like that and hooting and hollering like that all the time ’cause I can’t be out of breath making a call. That’s not gonna help anybody ’cause everybody’s gonna be like, ‘Wait, what? What’d you say?’ ” Lee said. “That’s fine, that’s him. He can do that. And I’ll feed off of that.”

The pass rush is a huge question mark, but in the meantime, Lee envisions a “Dancing With the Stars” defense nevertheless.

“A lot like how you saw that night against Buffalo, you know, dancing, having a good time,” he said. “But very focused, very detailed, and we’re just looking to take that next level.”

He credits Williams with making his life easier.

Sam Darnold is the future at quarterback.

“That boy can throw it,” Lee said.

It is coming up on 50 years since the Jets won Super Bowl III.

“It takes time to build chemistry and build a team and build an identity amongst each other which we can carry out and show the world,” Lee said. “And it’s like the first time since I’ve been here that everyone is really holding each other accountable. It seems like a team now. Not saying that in the past, we weren’t a team, but I wouldn’t say we were as much of a team as we are now.

“I know everybody’s name. I couldn’t say that before. I’ve talked to everybody in this locker room, and we all talk amongst each other. We all mesh well. That’s gonna pay dividends on game day.”

A team on the rise?

“Very, very on the rise, and you’ll just have to see,” Lee said.

All grown up and somewhere to go maybe.

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