With DE Carl Lawson, Veteran to Return Up Front After Missing the 2021 NFL SeasonJack Bell
With those two words DE Vinny Curry summed up his approach to the 2022 NFL season after re-signing with the Jets one week before the NFL Draft.
"Unfortunately, last year what I had going on took care of itself and now I'm back to get this thing rolling," Curry told Eric Allen on a a new edition of "The Official Jets Podcast."
Curry, drafted in the second round by the Eagles in 2012, reached the pinnacle of the professional game as part of the Philadelphia team that won Super Bowl LII. He will turn 34 in June and returns to coordinator Jeff Ulbrich's defensive line that has been improved and could receive additional reinforcements in next week's draft. The Jets could emerge with an elite edge rusher, holding picks No. 4 and No. 10 in the first round and No. 35 and No. 38 in the second round.
"I felt like I owe it to the Jet fan base to come back and do what I do, play really, really hard," he said. "I'm excited for the season, excited for the year and I'm excited for what this year brings."
After signing in free agency with the Jets from Philadelphia in March 2021, Curry was expected to form a working relationship at DE with Carl Lawson, also signed in free agency. But in late August, it was discovered that Curry had a rare blood disease. After a battery of tests, Curry's spleen was removed. Subsequent complications led to him being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list on Aug. 24, initially for what was expected to be a spell of six weeks. But Curry, who crossed paths with Jets GM Joe Douglas with the Eagles, was soon out for the season.
Like three of his important teammates -- Lawson (torn Achilles tendon in the preseason), S Lamarcus Joyner (sustained season-ending triceps tear in Week 1) and OL Mekhi Becton (48 snaps vs. Carolina) -- Curry was forced to the sideline.
"I had an enlarged spleen and it had to be removed," Curry said. "When they first told me, I said 'what, I'm perfectly fine.' Now I'm 100 percent healthy and ready to get back to the grind. If we hadn't known and if I would have got hit, it [the spleen] would have burst and probably killed me. Tests and more tests and the next thing you know I have surgery and my season is over. I was devastated."
Curry may not have been on the field with the Green & White, but he rarely was away from One Jets Drive as he worked with the team's medical and training staffs to regain his fitness.
Curry has an interesting web of connections to New Jersey, the Eagles and the Jets. Asked what it was like growing up in "South Jersey," he quickly corrected the geographic reference to Neptune, in "Central Jersey." After high school, he played in college at Marshall and after being drafted by Philly chose to wear jersey No. 75 in honor of the 75 people killed in the 1970 crash of Marshall's football charter. This year he's back to No. 99 (which had been worn by the Eagles Jerome Brown, but was retired after Brown's death), his jersey number in college.
Having worked with Douglas as he contributed to the rebuilding of the Eagles and observing Jets HC Robert Saleh construct a strong defense in San Francisco, Curry said that the two men leading the Jets' football operation are special people.
"Saleh, he just wants to win," Curry said. "He puts in so much time because he wants to win so badly. Have fun, compete, play with passion and energy, and win. When it happens we're going to need everybody. When it comes to him, you can feel what he's saying. Most people just talk and say 'I hear what you're saying.' With him you can actually feel it.
"I've got so many things to say about Joe D. There's nothing more important to him than bringing a championship to New York, having a team that when you turn on the TV on Sunday, you want to watch the New York Jets play. He cares so much about the staff and the players and wants to see everyone succeed. He holds you to a higher standard in his own way. He's brutally honest, when you can be brutally honest, there's no in-between."
With the return of Lawson, and the signings in free agency of DE Jacob Martin and DT Solomon Thomas, Curry's return adds to the group's depth.
"We can start off JFM [John Franklin-Myers], Carl Lawson, I love how he plays," Curry said. "Sheldon [Rankins], Nate [Nathan Shepherd], I love the way he plays. New talent in Martin and Q [Quinnen Williams], he wants to win so bad. Maybe this year or next this league will be his. I expect him to win defensive player of the year within the next three years. He got it in him.
"With Carl, when he comes back, he's going to dominate, he's going to be himself. This is a great system for him, this is a match made in heaven for him and the rest of those guys."
Curry said that he can feel the excitement and anticipation building around the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. He cited the influx of free agents and the development of the team's growing number of "young veterans."
"I'm chasing it again," he said. "If I can give a message to guys in the locker room it's that there's no feeling like it [being a champion]. We have to take care of ourselves and hold ourselves to a high standard. To feel that crown, it's something you never, ever forget. There's no experience like it. In Philly, the guys loved each other, we came to work happy. The NFL season is so long, but there's a snowball effect when you start feeling it and getting the results. It gets bigger and bigger."