The Jets’ special teams were the difference in the 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans and their contributions did not go unnoticed by linebacker Bart Scott this afternoon. The 28-year-old Scott might be an ascending star now, but he didn’t start an NFL game until his fourth NFL season.
“I knew if I didn’t get out of it before my fourth year, then I would be pretty much labeled as a special teams player for the rest of my career,” Scott said on the latest installment of “Barking with Bart.”
“I said, ‘You know what? When I go to camp, I’m just going to start knocking people out and either they’re going to cut me or they’re going to say, "You know what? Let’s play him." I’m going to take every day, every practice like a game and I’m going to wear people out, and I’m going to make people not want to practice against me.’ "
Eventually the Ravens gave the “Madbacker” a defensive package, and then his football career changed in Chicago on Oct. 23, 2005.
“My opportunity came in the way of Ray Lewis pulling his hamstring Game 6 against Thomas Jones and the Chicago Bears," he said. "My first start was against the Pittsburgh Steelers and all I did in 10 games was put up 120 tackles and five sacks. I was hungry, and when you’re hungry, you either eat or starve.”
And in his 52nd pro game, Scott made his first start count with nine tackles, including six solo stops. He became a fixture in the Ravens’ lineup until he left for the Jets in February. His message to young players, like the Jamaal Westermans of the world, is to continue to grind while maintaining a positive attitude.
“Keep plugging away because at some point football always gives you one chance,” he said. “And if you’re too busy complaining or upset where you are when that opportunity comes, you can’t take advantage of it.”
After starting three years at Southern Illinois, Scott’s name wasn’t called during the 2002 draft and the Ravens signed him on April 25 that year.
“I like to say that I was drafted on Monday. The draft was on Saturday and Sunday, and I was an 18th-round draft pick unofficially of the Baltimore Ravens,” he said. “But I don’t know if I was drafted that I would be standing here. It created a hunger in me and I always play with a little chip on my shoulder.”
We’ve seen that “little chip” early and often as the Jets have started the season 3-0 for just the fourth time in franchise history. Scott’s a bona fide tone setter, a player who makes his presence known to his opponent early.
On the second play of the season, he flattened Texas QB Matt Schaub. Then last weekend he put Tom Brady on his back to end a drive and let the future Hall of Famer know he was in for a long day. And Sunday he stuffed Chris Johnson for a 2-yard loss as Tennessee got off to an ominous offensive start.
In a smashmouth affair against the Titans, Scott was at his best as he paced the “D” with nine tackles (five solos), one stop behind the line and one QB hit. Scott, who’s totaled four tackles for loss and seven QB hits in September, is becoming a headliner in New York.
“There were a lot of shadows over there [in Baltimore] overshadowing me, who already had their name. If you don’t come in as a drafted player, you don’t get the spotlight where people know,” he said. “A lot of people doubted why the Jets brought me here, but Rex Ryan knew what I had done and knew what my role was and knew that I could expand my role if asked to. I played my role as pretty much a fullback for Ray Lewis and picked up blockers for him so he could be successful.”
A key Jets cog, Scott is a passionate soul. Football is a violent game and he lives for the collision. The Jets’ next test is in New Orleans as they’ll face a 3-0 Saints team led by Drew Brees that’s averaging 40 points a game.
“He knows his offense inside and out. He’s able to read coverages on a dime,” said Scott. “And even though he’s short [6’0”], you don’t see a lot of his balls being batted down because he knows hot to move inside the pocket and buy time with his feet. He’s pretty much like Sanchez, but he has a stronger arm, I believe. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge and he’s poised — been there, done that.”
“Barking with Bart,” which airs weekly on Jets TV, will be available to fans on most Tuesdays throughout the regular season and the program will also always be available from our archive.
The Jets have set up an email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — for people to submit their charitable causes and Bart selected his first weekly winner in this week’s episode.
All charitable requests must include the following information: 501(c)3 Tax ID Number, a sampling of programs, and what one would do with a small grant from Bart Scott.
Encouraging fan barks as well, the Jets have an email address — email@example.com — so fans can write in to No. 57 and selected comments and questions will be read on-air.
Tags: Barking with Bart, Bart Scott, Chris Johnson, Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Eric Allen | 32 Comments »