Cowart better suited for the middle <p>

With the Jets' inability to stop the run and generate big plays from the linebacker position, the team clearly needs to make some changes. <p>

And one person who could help solve these issues is already on the roster.

How about moving Sam Cowart to middle linebacker? He has played middle linebacker before, so why can't he do it again?

Cowart played in the middle when he was in Buffalo (1998-2001). The Bills played in a 3-4 scheme, and Cowart was their primary playmaker on defense.

In 2000, the former Florida State standout had a career year with 181 total tackles and five-and-a-half sacks, while only playing in 12 games, all as the middle linebacker.

Cowart's play in Buffalo garnered him a reputation as one of the most active play-making linebackers in the NFL.

In 2000, he was even selected to the Pro Bowl, joining Ray Lewis as the only middle linebackers on the AFC squad.

Cowart was injured in 2001, suffering a season-ending Achilles tendon injury on opening day against New Orleans, and was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. This injury ended his time with the Bills.

In 2002, he followed his former defensive coordinator from Buffalo, Ted Cottrell, to New York, and signed with the Jets. However, they signed him to play a different role than he had in Buffalo.

Since Cowart came to the Jets, he has been used as an outside linebacker on the weak side in the Jets 4-3 defense.

While playing in New York, and on the outside, Cowart's numbers haven't been anywhere near what he amassed in Buffalo, and fans and media have questioned his play.

In 2002, his first season with the Jets, he recorded 154 tackles and just two sacks. While his play has been steady, at times, the former Pro Bowl linebacker has looked like a shell of the playmaker he once was in Buffalo.

Cowart refuses to say he is being misused, however, he does concede that his role with the Jets is dramatically different than the one that allowed him to shine in Buffalo.

"To say this is not the same Sam as in Buffalo, my role is different here then it was in Buffalo," said Cowart. "I am not saying that I am being misused. I am saying that what I did in Buffalo, I am not doing in New York. We ran a 3-4 in Buffalo and we run a 4-3 here."

In Buffalo, Cowart was in the middle of the action, constantly making plays in a scheme that funneled the activity his way.

In New York, he is the one responsible for directing traffic into the middle and towards inside linebacker Marvin Jones.

"Anybody who knows football knows that in Buffalo we ran a 3-4, and I was the middle linebacker," said Cowart. "Everything was funneled to the middle, so I was able to run sideline to sideline and make plays.

"But when you are an outside linebacker, you are the one who is doing the funneling. You are turning plays back to the middle."

When you have the worst ranked run defense in the NFL, and teams constantly run the ball with ease, changes need to be made.

Moving Cowart back to the middle, where he was once one of the most feared defenders in the National Football League, has to be a consideration.

If this move does occur, it would likely happen in the off-season.


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