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Around the AFC East: Part II

It's now time for the second part of "Around the AFC East" and it's time to turn our attention to the New York Jets. Here's NY Landing Strip's own Jetfighter:

Phinsider: After an outstanding 2005, Jonathan Vilma's 3rd season was a bit of a disappointment. What do you think the cause of this was and how do you see it being corrected? Is Vilma a potential top 5 linebacker or is he a potential first round disappointment?

NY Landing Strip: The cause of Jonathan Vilma's lack of production was, in fact, the installation of the 3-4. Throughout Vilma's life he has played in the 4-3, including college at Miami. This is where he fit in the best; not the biggest and strongest LB'er, but extremely fast and could get a great hit. He is used to roaming around the middle, scrambling from sideline to sideline in the hunt for a tackle. In the 3-4 in 2006, he had to take on center and guards in his job to clog the middle, but he was too small and got thrown around.

I see the correction, hopefully, in the 2nd round pick of David Harris. At Michigan, Harris was the run clogger and played right behind the NT. This will hopefully allow Vilma to once again roam around, make quick adjustments, and fly to the ball. Yes, I feel that eventually, once Vilma can get accustomed to the 3-4, he will excel (he is very smart: 3.7 GPA with a triple major) and I feel maybe he could be a top 5 middle linebacker.

My take: I'd agree with Jetfighter that part of Vilma's troubles was the new defensive system. But we saw the same change here in Miami, but Zach Thomas (who is smaller and slower than Vilma) shined as much as ever. The way I see it, I think that Vilma is lacking in how he reads the play as it unfolds and that is causing him to take himself out of the play. But it was his first time in a 3-4, so I'll give him a little bit of a pass. But I don't think he'll be a top 5 LB in this league. Why? Because the difference between a top LB and a very good LB is the ability to read and recognize and to be able to adjust. That's why Zach Thomas is a top 5 LB and Vilma will end up being a very good, but not great, linebacker. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Also, be sure to head over to NY Landing Strip to see my response to Jetfigher's question.

I'll be back later with the final part of "Around the AFC East."