- Last Updated: 9:34 AM, July 20, 2012
- Posted: 12:35 AM, July 20, 2012
Jets linebacker Bart Scott would like to forget 2011 even happened.
“It was a football version of depression,” Scott said recently. “It wasn’t joyful coming to work every day.”
Scott, who is usually the loudest voice on the practice field, got quiet. He sulked at his reduced role on a defense that was once his. By the time he walked off the field after the team’s final game, he figured he was done as a Jet.
“I didn’t handle the adversity well,” Scott said. “It got difficult when you want to be on the field and you’re not there. Every season doesn’t go smoothly. It started off great the first couple of games and then it just went south. I think the entire season for our whole football team went south.”
Coaches and teammates say they have seen a renewed Scott this offseason. He has dropped 10 pounds, his trash-talk is back at its regular rhythm and he seems genuinely happy to still be a Jet.
How all of this will translate this fall remains to be seen, but Scott feels ready to prove his critics wrong. That begins on July 26 when the Jets open training camp in Cortland, N.Y.
“Sometimes perception is reality but it doesn’t make the perception the truth,” Scott said. “When something is perceived about you, you can’t just slightly dispel it, you have to kick the door down.”
The perception about Scott off last year is he cannot cover anyone anymore. The Jets coaches took him off the field on passing downs, something that caused his frustration.
According to profootballfocus.com, Scott played just 64 percent of the Jets’ defensive snaps last season. That is down from 84 percent in 2010 and 94 percent in 2009, his first season with the team.
“I think he came to realize there were times from a matchup standpoint that we couldn’t have him out there on third down,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. “I think he realized the way the league is trending, the tight ends that he used to be able to cover aren’t in the league anymore.”
Scott said he added weight last year because he thought that was what the Jets wanted. Because of the lockout, he was unable to communicate with coaches. He showed up for training camp bigger than he ever had been in his career.
The 31-year-old became increasingly unhappy when he was taken off the field at each game’s biggest moments. He figured he was gone after the season, but $4.2 million guaranteed kept the Jets from ditching him. At one point, there were talks of a trade, but there was no interest.
“I don’t think there were any takers around the league,” Pettine said. “So, I think that was a bit of a wake-up call for him.Listen, ‘If I’m a Jet I have to suck it up.’ I think he became very introspective and realized that he needed to correct some things and he’s done it.”
A common refrain around the Jets these days is “Bart is back.” He looks and sounds like a different person. Scott, a college safety, is back down to what he feels is a comfortable weight.
He’s anxious to prove the doubters wrong.
“You always want to know what they say about you,” Scott said. “If they say I can’t run, let me show them I can run better than I’ve ever run. I’ve committed myself to running.”
The Jets are counting on him to be the player they made their first free-agent target under coach Rex Ryan.
“I don’t know if this isn’t the best Bart Scott we have had since I have been here with the Jets,” Ryan said. “ I think he is better now than the first year we brought him in here. He is running great. He is in super shape. He is smart. He is really leading. I think that was what we needed.”
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