“The CFL, it’s a lot of fun,’’ said Bishop, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound outside linebacker who played collegiately at Western Michigan. “It’s a different game of ball up there, things are a little different, it’s a little faster game. I’m happy to be back down here, I’m happy to get that yard back.’’
The yard he’s referring to is where defensive linemen are allowed to line up. In the NFL, linemen line up even with the edge of the football. Not so in Canada.
“Up there, you’ve got to be a yard off the ball, so that hinders a defensive lineman, especially a pass-rusher,’’ the 26-year-old explained. “So being back down here, it’s good to get that edge back and kind of even up the playing field.’’
Even playing a yard off the ball, Bishop managed 11 sacks for the Calgary Stampeders last season, plus another in the CFL playoffs. That number was enough to get the attention of Jets and several other NFL teams.
“I don’t know if you compare the number [to the NFL], but 11 sacks is 11 sacks,’’ Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “I was in Miami when Cameron Wake got there, and we took him from Canada. Sometimes it takes a couple guys some time to develop, and you can develop over there and then come back over here and be good players, or you can develop over there and have a career over there. So hopefully, we saw some things in Freddie, not just the sacks, but as far as him playing the position and knowing how to play the position that made him endearing to us and make us want to sign him.’’
Bishop chose to sign with the Jets because he felt “a good vibe’’ from Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan and because the team, which parted ways with veteran rush linebacker Calvin Pace after last season, offered him the opportunity to earn playing time.
Bishop said he played mostly as a stand-up defensive end in Canada, so playing as a rush outside linebacker in the Jets’ 3-4 defense should be similar. He said the primary thing he’ll bring to the Jets is speed off the edge.
“I have good hands; I’m able to get the edge on guys well, and I play to my toolbox,’’ he said. “I don’t try to go outside of my toolbox. I know things that I do well and that’s what I do.’’