When new Jets head coach and former Baltimore Ravens defensive mastermind Rex Ryan made the move from the Ravens during the off-season, he brought along one of his most prized assets: linebacker Bart Scott.
Scott, who was an unrestricted free agent following the 2008-09 season, signed a six-year, $48 million contract (five years for $40 million and a sixth-year option) with the Jets and will be relied upon to provide leadership as Coach Ryan implements his complex 3-4 defense.
But Scott’s career wasn’t always defined by multi-million dollar contracts and expectations of leadership. After going undrafted out of Southern Illinois University in 2002, Scott was signed as a rookie free agent and although he saw action in all 16 regular season games, it was mostly in a special teams capacity.
It wasn’t until Ray Lewis injured his hamstring in 2005 that Scott started seeing significant playing time, making 10 starts and recording 92 tackles on the year.
2006 would serve as Scott’s breakout season as he posted 103 tackles, 9.5 sacks and two interceptions en route to his first (and only) Pro Bowl appearance.
The move to the Jets will undoubtedly be challenging for Scott as he adjusts to new personnel and an increased amount of responsibility.
But perhaps the greatest challenge Scott will face this season is responding to some burning questions on the mind of every Jets fan. Bart Scott, welcome to the Bleacher Report Hot Seat.
1. To what extent did Rex Ryan’s move to the Jets affect your decision to sign with the team as a free agent? Did you forgo any more lucrative offers to remain with your former defensive coordinator?
2. Coach Ryan’s complicated defensive schemes have been described as “organized chaos.” As someone at the heart of the defense, what percentage of the time are you always fully cognizant of the formation at hand? And conversely, how often are you simply fulfilling an individual role within a grander scheme?
3. What new challenges do you anticipate as you move from the AFC North to the AFC East? Do you feel that you match up better with the offenses in the AFC East, and if so, was that a deciding factor in free agency?
4. Your pairing with David Harris at inside linebacker looks like a potentially devastating combination. How excited are you to play with Harris?
5. During the Patriots’ undefeated regular season run in 2007-08, your Ravens team came closest to beating them. Are you looking forward to the opportunity to exact revenge now that they’re your divisional rivals?
6. Speaking of that Ravens-Patriots game in 2007-08, you received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the waning minutes, first for throwing your helmet and then for throwing the resulting flag into the stands. One could argue that these penalty yards hurt your team’s chances of mounting a late comeback. Can Jets fans expect to see this lack of discipline this year?
7. You don’t play the Ravens during the 2009-10 regular season. Are you secretly hoping for a match-up against your old team in the AFC playoffs?