By Tim Graham
The New York Jets' coaching staff has been showcasing Aaron Maybin to the rest of the team as an example of how they want their players to approach the game.
This is the same Aaron Maybin the Bills drafted 11th overall in 2009 but cut after two seasons. He's the same Aaron Maybin who, in his first training camp in 2010 (he held out as a rookie) touched off a brawl when he knocked running back Fred Jackson down from behind in a no-tackle practice, causing center Eric Wood to yell "Give back some of that money you ain't f------ earned!"
But with the Jets, Maybin has remained a favorite of head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
"The guy has been tremendous," Ryan said in a transcript the Jets disseminated Sunday. "Mike Pettine did a great job [Saturday]. He showed [a film clip of] Aaron running to the football like he does. He said 'Guys, as teammates you have to be embarrassed because this guy embarrassed the other 10 guys that were out there at that time.'
"They might have been thinking they were going hard, but this guy reminds me a little of [two-time Pro Bowl defensive end] Michael McCrary in the fact that when I had this young man in Baltimore, he was relentless. That's the way Aaron plays.
"He goes 100 miles an hour. ... He doesn't play with any brakes. He doesn't slow down until he runs into something. That's who he is, and that's who he's been since he's been a New York Jet."
Bills head coach Chan Gailey told me at the 2011 NFL owners meetings that Maybin's failures with the Bills weren't for lack of effort. That seems to jibe with the player Ryan and Pettine are coaching now.
Maybin didn't have any sacks in his two seasons with Buffalo. He was a healthy scratch on occasion and started only one game because the Bills wanted him to be an all-around outside linebacker. With the Jets last season, he recorded six sacks and forced four fumbles as a situational pass-rusher.
Ryan was asked if Maybin might get more playing time as a three-down outside linebacker.
"I could definitely see that," Ryan said. "He's going to earn that, and you have to earn your way out there, and I think he's on his way to earning more reps and more responsibility from us."
Maybin is a weird story angle for Bills fans. The consensus when the Bills cut him was "Good riddance." He was tough to root for because of his cocky persona and invisible production. I get the sense Bills fans still are glad he's gone even though the team didn't get anything in return.
But as long as he's with the Jets and getting Ryan excited, then there's reason to dread facing Maybin twice a year. He's now one of those villains Bills fans can't stand to see doing well.
(Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press)