In two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, after being drafted with the 11th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Maybin hadn’t shown enough for the Bills to want to keep him around any longer.
For whatever reason, the former Penn State product just did not mesh well in Western New York, and in August of 2011, the Bills decided he wasn’t worth the trouble anymore.
What a difference a year makes.
In just 219 total snaps over 13 games with the Jets, Maybin had a team-leading 6 sacks, along with five forced fumbles. The young man Joe Paterno called “Mayhem” was back.
It’s a credit to Ryan and his coaching staff that Maybin was put into a position to succeed, as he was tasked with simply rushing the passer on 185 defensive snaps, 84% of the plays he was on the field.
Maybin responded with a breakout season, earning the praises of the folks at Pro Football Focus, who named him the Jets’ 2012 “Secret Superstar.”
PFF’s annual Secret Superstar series chronicles 32 players around the league who had an unsung, under-the-radar big season for their respective teams.
Last year, defensive end Mike DeVito was the Jets’ Secret Superstar, after he finished the 2010 season as PFF’s top-graded run-stuffing 3-4 DE.
Unlike most of their Secret Superstar selections, Aaron Maybin is someone with name recognition, albeit with a not-so-sterling reputation that he’s trying to turn around after getting a second chance in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson praised the Jets’ handling of Aaron Maybin, as they kept him out of the running game and coverage situations, allowing him the freedom to create mayhem as a pass rusher.
Though the Jets made it easy for him, Maybin finally showed the burst and speed around the edge that was never on display in Buffalo. He finally put down on NFL tape what scouts had seen on his college tape, and he finished the season with a +7.5 pass-rushing grade which, from under 200 snaps rushing the passer, is an impressive achievement.
His sack total of six was enough to lead the Jets last season, but Maybin also showed a knack for the Holy Grail play of pass rushers, the strip-sack. His first two career sacks were both of this variety, and he ended the season having forced five fumbles in addition to his sacks. In short, Maybin had become a playmaker for a team in desperate need of a pass rush.
Going into 2012 and beyond, he needs to show that 2011 wasn’t a fluke, and that’s what he should have been bringing to the table from the outset of his career. At his age he was better placed than most to be able to write off his first two seasons in the league, but he needs to continue to produce now, and to carve himself a larger role in the Jets’ defense.
The good news is that the Jets still have a big need for an impact pass rusher, and they can afford to ramp up the number of snaps Maybin sees on the field in the hope that he can continue to grow and maintain his level of play. Last season Calvin Pace was the closest Jet to Maybin in sacks (five), but Pace played over 700 more snaps and rushed the passer almost twice as many times. The Jets need to get Maybin to see more of the field in 2012, and they can treat him as a bonus draft pick.
Already on to his second career at the age of 24, Aaron Maybin had two strikes against him in Buffalo, but he connected with his first pitch in a Jets uniform. He heads into 2012 with a chance to emerge from the wreckage of those first two seasons and show people why Buffalo chose him as high as they did. Aaron Maybin was the Jets’ Secret Superstar in 2011, what can he become in 2012?
Maybin is certainly a lot of things, and although Buffalo fans probably wouldn’t use too many praiseworthy words to describe him, nobody can deny that he is a talented young man.
2012 will be a big year for the young linebacker, as he looks to cement his status as a bonafide part of the Jets defense. To the Bills, he’s a bust, but to the Jets he can be so much more.
The opportunity is ripe for the taking.