|Newcomer Kenyon Coleman appearing to be perfect fit for Jets' defense|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 15 September 2007 07:24|
After all, he had coached Coleman for the last four seasons in Dallas and ran a 3-4 defensive scheme similar to that of the Jets' Eric Mangini. The former Cowboys coach apparently gave a glowing recommendation.
``Oh, I'm thrilled about it,'' said Coleman, who was signed by the Jets to a five-year contract in March. ``The thing about Bill is that if Bill didn't like you, you weren't going to be around very long. I was very fortunate and very blessed. I was in Dallas for four years, so for Bill to do that, I really appreciated it.''
And so did the Jets. Coleman rewarded them with the best game of his NFL career last Sunday against New England, piling up a team-leading 12 tackles - 10 solo - while starting at right end.
``I had 12 tackles, but a lot of times when you make a tackle, it's predicated on someone else doing their job,'' Coleman said. ``That's the thing about the 3-4. If someone else is doing their job, it allows you to come and make the play. It's unique for a defensive end to have 12 tackles in the 3-4, but a lot of times it's just guys doing their job.''
That humble approach has helped the 28-year-old Coleman fit right in with his new teammates.
``He never had the new-guy label,'' fellow defensive end Shaun Ellis said. ``Once he came here, we accepted him and he was just like one of the guys.''
The Jets are hoping he becomes more than just another player on defense. They think he could be an important part in the team improving on its pass rush and run defense, which will be tested Sunday by Willis McGahee and the Baltimore Ravens.
``Kenyon had a real good camp and performed well in his first outing here in the opening game,'' defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. ``Like all of our players in our entire unit defensively, he's got areas he's got to improve. I think he showed signs of what we thought when we acquired him. Hopefully, if he can continue to improve, he'll become a very solid player for us.''
He was a serviceable, if unspectacular, player during his first five NFL seasons. Coleman was drafted by Oakland in the fifth round out of UCLA in 2002 and had one tackle in the only game he played. He was inactive during that postseason, when the Raiders went all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to Tampa Bay.
``It was still a great experience even though we lost,'' Coleman said before being asked if that seems like a lifetime ago.
``Oh yeah,'' Coleman said with a big smile that revealed two rows of braces. ``It goes by fast.''
And so did his stay with the Raiders, who traded him to the Cowboys the following summer. He steadily improved during the next few seasons, playing in 56 games and starting five. Coleman's best year was last season, when he had 35 tackles, including four in the playoffs, and four sacks for Dallas.
Still, it seemed almost a reach a few months ago to give a player with his credentials - someone who's previous career high for tackles in a game was five - the type of contract the Jets awarded him.
``He was a person that we obviously liked very much in free agency,'' Mangini said. ``He's been a great addition in terms of the locker room and the value he adds there. I was pleased with Kenyon in the game and, really, throughout his time here.''
Coleman, who also considered signing with Cleveland, certainly looks the part of a potentially game-changing defensive end. He's 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds with a thick neck, broad shoulders and massive arms. He's also quick off the snap and, most importantly, seemingly a perfect fit for New York's 3-4 defense.
``I think that's why they wanted me here,'' he said. ``The one thing I need to continue to do is get better and do the things they ask me to do. If it's pass rush, I'll pass rush.''
Just as long he's on the field to make plays for the Jets.
``I'm glad I have an opportunity here,'' Coleman said. ``I'm starting and getting a fair, good amount of plays in games for the first time in my career. So, I'm very pleased. I just want to do my role and do what I can.''