FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- What in the world is Jets head coach Rex Ryan thinking? In preparation for this week’s organized team activities, Ryan gave special-teams coach Mike Westhoff permission to use veteran linebacker Bart Scott -- the heart and soul of the Jets’ defense -- on special teams.
"I don’t mind it," said Scott. "I will do anything to help this team win."
Scott is never shy about expressing his real feelings. But in this case, notice what he didn’t say -- he didn’t say that he’s thrilled to be pressed into service on the punt return team unit.
"I told them, ‘If you’re going to put me on special teams, just give me something where I can get off the field and sit my [butt] down right away and we’re good,’" he said.
Scott said this is how he got his "foot in the door" in the NFL, playing special teams with the Baltimore Ravens.
But he’s not a rookie anymore. Scott will be 30 this season. And do you want one of your more important defensive players to be exposed to injury playing on the punt return unit?
Ryan said he was not concerned. "He’s got a little Gumby in him," said Ryan. "He’s just got to block one guy. He’ll be all right."
Remember, as the Jets navigated through the playoffs last season, Scott had a severely sprained ankle, which limited his effectiveness in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts.
Newly acquired veteran pass-rusher Jason Taylor is counted as a linebacker. But he's 35 and is coming off a shoulder injury. And somewhere in the NFL rule book it must say, "Guys who were on 'Dancing With the Stars' don't have to play special teams." Linebacker Bryan Thomas is not fast enough. Calvin Pace needs to be fresh to rush the passer. And David Harris is too valuable.
That leaves Scott to step into the breech. Punt coverage is very important for a ball-control, field-position team like the Jets. And it’s hard to doubt Westhoff, one of the league’s best special-teams coaches. The Jets finished fifth overall in special teams last season.
But this decision is not on him. If Scott gets hurt shadowing an interior punt coverage kamikaze, Ryan may regret this move.