New York Jets rookie Jachai Polite, despite off-the-field worries, means everything to Gregg Williams’s defense in 2019.
The raw talent encouraged a potential first-round selection. At worst, perhaps a second-round slot. Instead, issues plaguing his stock forced Jachai Polite to slip into the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan took advantage. At least, at this stage of the game, we think he did.
Ready or not, Jachai Polite means everything to the Gregg Williams defense in 2019.
Polite, 21, regularly runs a 40 right up there with the big boys. His speed off the edge is a box that remains checked. His physical attributes aren’t what held him back.
Maccagnan’s been known to gamble on talent when the “other stuff” may not be present. Polite’s disastrous combine didn’t end with poor results on the Indianapolis field (4.84 forty-yard-dash). He didn’t take criticism very well. Quotes leaked from every direction.
After a meeting with the Green Bay Packers, Polite took the offensive.
#Florida EDGE Jachai Polite said that when he met with the 49ers at the Combine, they didn’t even really talk football with him at all. “They just bashed me the whole time… Idk.”
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) March 2, 2019
The full exchange with Florida's Jachai Polite when he was asked about his meeting with the #Packers. pic.twitter.com/OD49VbAx8x
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) March 3, 2019
The Los Angeles Rams served as his favorite of the bunch. Why? They didn’t “bash” him.
Jachai Polite said Rams were his best meeting “bc they didn’t bash me. Everybody else picking at my game”
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) March 2, 2019
He even went as far as to admit he doesn’t watch himself on film.
Was poor in the interview. I asked him about something I saw on film. Stunned when he told me he's never watched film of himself. He looked bewildered. pic.twitter.com/bZLGvbJkdo
— Brett Yarris (@Brett_PFN_BX) March 3, 2019
It’s alarming stuff. Talent alone never gets it done at this level. Usually, a maniacal work ethic combined with the “unmeasurables” is what separate the men from the boys.
During the aftermath, Polite bounced back with the right words, per Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report.
“It’s been pretty tough, but it’s a major learning experience for me, something I’ve never been through in my life. I just keep learning every day. Nobody in my family has been through anything like this, so I had nobody to help me, really, other than my agent. But I never knew how serious and how mentally tough you had to be for this moment.
“… At the end of the day they are trying to pay you to play for their team, so I get why they did everything they did. It wasn’t really that bad, I just took it the wrong way and was frustrated and stuff.
“I just wasn’t ready at all. I just wasn’t ready mentally.”
It makes for an interesting rookie campaign. Not only does Polite need to overcome his early NFL struggles, but he’s now thrown into one of the league’s most dire EDGE situations.
The Jets need this kid as much as any player on the roster.
“Inside pressure is the new, best type of pass-rush,” is what the Jets fan constantly proclaims after the exciting Quinnen Williams selection. Up the middle is how to defeat Tom Brady. Get right in his face and don’t allow No. 12 to climb the pocket.
Aaron Donald (20.5), J.J. Watt (16) and Chris Jones (15.5) finished one, two and three in sacks. All three are interior big heavies. Justin Tuck running from the inside out of Steve Spagnuolo’s NASCAR look to knock off the perfect New England Patriots still dance in our heads.
Why wouldn’t the pass-rushing craze focus within the meat of football humanity?
There’s just one nagging issue oftentimes missing from the inside-pressure argument. A completed unit is required prior to any type of individual sack-happy dominance.
Only three times has a Jet finished with double-digit sacks in a season since John Abraham‘s presence a decade-and-a-half ago. Muhammad Wilkerson tallied 12 in 2015 against a cupcake schedule and 10.5 in 2013, and Calvin Pace collected 2013. The Jets have put forth just three double-digit sack seasons over the last 13 seasons with the likes of Shaun Ellis, Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and Big Mo employed.
The lack of an edge presence doesn’t allow the inside to flourish.
Justin Tuck had Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora as bookends in that fearful NASCAR set. Aaron Donald has Donte Fowler Jr. and now, Clay Matthews. J.J. Watt has Jadeveon Clowney and a severely underrated Whitney Mercilus. Chris Jones had Dee Ford and Justin Houston.
Gregg Williams, whose defense always features dynamite edge rushers, needs the rook. Big Q and Big Cat need Jachai Polite, whether he’s ready or not.