Originally posted on Player Perspective  |  Last updated 12/12/11

for the second year in a row, the Jets will finish the season without their leader on defense.

If this sounds like deja vu, it’s because it kinda is. Last year Jim Leonhard missed the end of the season due to a broken leg, this time it’s a torn patella tendon. Both injuries happened in early December. The Jets did regroup when they lost him last year…for the most part. But this season has been a little more stumbly for them and Leonhard is a lot more of a game manager than people realize. Earlier today on twitter, I compared Leonhard to Ed Reed. I remember Dawan Landry who played for the Ravens until this year when he went to the Jaguars, said that he basically would line up or position himself wherever Ed Reed said to go.

I think that also happens on the Jets with Leonhard. Leonhard is a miniscule man at his position (5’8 and around 185lbs) but he makes up for it by being the quarterback of the defense. Fifth Down blog said this about Jim last year regarding his importance:

I think a lot of it starts with off-the-field. He’s not just a great football player; he’s a great person. I think his personality is just tremendous, (he’s) very funny guy (and) good-natured. I think he kept the room very light, was very quick to point things out, very quick-witted. That’s a big part of it, to me, is more the personal part of it, the off-the-field stuff. On-the-field, a lot of people do realize what an important part he was, he really did quarterback the back end. He was a big part of helping guys get lined up and he was usually a guy that was in the right place at the right time doing his job. That’s something that we are really going to miss.

The Jets have already said that once Jim recovers from his surgery and is able to be on the sidelines he will serve as an unofficial coach. So at least they will have him in some capacity helping out. But this is definitely yet another test for the Jets in a season when they really could use a break.

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