December 7, 2016

From Rexy, With Love?

So Shaun Ellis is now a member of the New England Patriots. For Jets fans, this may not have the exact same emotional impact as Ty Law suiting up for the New York Jets did for Patriots fans, but its close. On the surface, it seems like a tremendous move for the Patriots, getting a guy who seems to be able to seamlessly fit into their defense, while removing a key cog (and thorn in their side) from the Jets. Was this a gift from Rex Ryan and the Jets?

To get the NY perspective on Ellis and his move to New England, we reached out to one of the biggest Jets fans out there, Brian Bassett, founder of The Jets Blog to get his perspective on things.

The biggest question around here, seems to be why the Jets didn’t make more of an effort to retain his services. Did they think he was over-the-hill?  “The Patriots postseason game dispelled any notions of that in both New York and New England, I am sure.” Bassett says. He adds “Ellis is a very capable player, maybe a tad “under the radar” but he’s a solid player who gives it his all every down and is extremely durable. Given the need, I think that Shaun Ellis is still entirely capable of starting, but I don’t know that he’d be as effective at this point in his career in that role over the course of a whole season – he’s probably better suited in a situation like New England offered, working in a situational role to as needed.”

So you think he can contribute to the Patriots in 2011?  “Most definitely, this guy is fiendishly suited for a Belichick-ian system. While he’s not exactly ripping off sacks in scores (as most DLs aren’t in a 3-4), he’s still a very capable two-gapping 3-4 End who can stuff the run, tie up blockers to free the OLBs or provide pressure on the QB when required.”

Right. Pressure on the quarterback. Something that has been lacking in this team the last few season. What’s the best way to use him if you want to generate pressure?  “As a pressure player he’s best one-gapping, even if it’s from the interior of the defensive line. As just pointed out, one of his biggest strengths is his ability to play the 3-4 End spot or move inside to the 4-3 Tackle based on need.”

Bassett then says, “He’s extremely versatile and is a solid contributor, but don’t expect him to be the second coming of Richard Seymour.”

I think at this point, we’d welcome the second coming of Jarvis Green, circa 2004.

Given Ellis’ career in New York and his status with the Jets, his departure seemed pretty curious. Then you had Rex Ryan flippantly saying that he wouldn’t be wishing Ellis well in New England. Did the Jets misplay this situation?

Bassett doesn’t think so. “Shaun Ellis has been making comments to the press about wanting to finish his career as a Jets since Rex came to New York. Shaun made it clear he wanted his contract re-worked to reflect that. Rex and the front office rebuffed his advances (both privately and publicly), citing Rex’s policy of not extending veteran deals. Rather, the required Ellis to play out the string, and hoped to get him to come back at a low-cost.”

So did the lack of urgency mean that Ellis was expendable? “While he was a valuable piece of the Jets defensive line in Rex’s first two years, it was clear that he wasn’t “Rex’s guy” and the shoe was going to drop eventually – a fact made very obvious when Rex brought in Trevor Pryce midway through last season to help bolster the team’s depth at line. ”

OK, so maybe he wasn’t as “must-keep” guy, in the head coach’s eyes. But couldn’t he have handled that press conference a little better? “As far as what Rex said to the press in the past week about not wishing him well? That’s Rex and it was conflated in the media. He’d say the same to Ellis in a private moment as he would to the press. While he respects Ellis and appreciates his contributions, he’s not looking for him to come to New York and terrorize his QB like Ellis did to Brady in January.”

So Bassett doesn’t seem to be moaning and wailing over the loss of Ellis. How are Jets fans in general reacting to this”

“I think by and large, Jets fans are disappointed to lose Ellis. Ellis was the last man standing from the much ballyhooed Jets 2000 NFL Draft class. One of four rookie first round draft picks. In New York, he’s jokingly referred to as “The Dean of the Defense” or “The Dean” for short. Through four coaching staffs, even more coordinators, he was a guy that the Jets could count on to pretty much be playing every game, contributing, pressuring the QB and stuffing the run.”

He concludes “While Wilkerson represents the future of this team at the DE spot, easing Ellis out and Wilkerson in would have been a nice cushion for Jets fans … but the economics of the thing and the strained relationship between the Jets and their longest tenured starter were too much for the situation to hold together.”

What about the comparison to Ty Law going to the Jets? (The first time) It’s not a perfect comparison, Law had won Super Bowls here and been one of the top players in the league, and was still a top-notch cornerback. I’m not so sure how much Ellis has left.  “It’s an interesting comparison,” Bassett says, “and I do think that the Patriots over-reached for his services. But then again maybe they’re paying more for their production. Consider it Kevin O’Connell in reverse. Ellis ain’t as good as he once was, but he’s as good once as he ever was.”

It remains to be seen what Ellis can contribute to the Patriots in 2011. Given the reported size of the contract, it seems like they’re figuring on him being a pretty big piece to the puzzle. The two games between the Patriots and Jets should be even more interesting than usual, and many eyes will be on Ellis, seeing if Rex Ryan and the Jets made a mistake handing Ellis to the Patriots without much of a struggle.

 

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