- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The last time Buffalo Bills fans saw Aaron Maybin at Ralph Wilson Stadium, he was a struggling first-round pick failing to find his niche in the NFL. Maybin, the No. 11 overall pick in 2009, never produced anything close to what his draft status suggested. He was cut by the Bills this summer, ending the two-year experiment.
But the New York Jets' version of Maybin is a different player this season. He is getting to the quarterback and is tied for the team lead with three sacks. Maybin also leads the Jets with three forced fumbles. He is finally living up to the "Mayhem" nickname he earned at Penn State.
A rejuvenated Maybin 2.0 returns to Buffalo on Sunday in a Jets uniform. He credits a change of scenery and New York's coaching staff for his newfound success.
"To me, it's not much of a difference other than the fact it's a different team," Maybin said in a telephone interview with the AFC East blog. "There's nothing different about me physically, from a preparation standpoint, or anything else from how I've been my entire career.
"The difference is I'm here. I'm with an organization and with a coaching staff that is putting me in the position to help the team win. Those opportunities put in my lap and faith being put in me have allowed me to go out there and be able to have a little bit of success this year."
Maybin' transformation was instantaneous in New York. He had a great preseason in Rex Ryan's scheme and recorded 2.5 sacks this summer in limited playing time.
Since then, Maybin has made his mark as a situational rusher in New York. He's recorded a sack in three of his four games. He had his best performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 on "Monday Night Football," when he recorded a sack and forced two fumbles.
Playing in the New York City market rarely provides less pressure. But that has been the case for Maybin. He no longer has the "draft bust" label that he carried every day in Buffalo. He's simply a role player with the Jets.
"Whatever he gives the Jets is gravy -- it's total opposite expectations," said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. "Oh, by the way, Ryan, Bart Scott, Darrelle Revis, they're not going to let you sit around and be a slacker. They're going to grab you behind the scenes and say 'Hey, this is how we do it around here.' There's a lot more leadership on that side of the ball."
Maybin acknowledges he's "pumped" for his return to Buffalo. It's his first chance to show the Bills the level of play he couldn't deliver in his first two NFL seasons.
In Buffalo, Maybin played for three head coaches in two years -- Chan Gailey, Dick Jauron and interim coach Perry Fewell. Maybin speaks very highly of Ryan, his fourth NFL head coach.
"Coach Ryan is a player's coach. He's the kind of coach that every player wants to play for and every coach wants to coach for," Maybin said. "He keeps the locker room excited every day. Sometimes it's even surprising to me how he's able to do that. He will come into a room that has no energy and the whole room will be energized within five minutes of him talking.
"He is passionate and coaches with his heart on his sleeve, just like most guys in this locker room play with their hearts on their sleeve. He's an awesome leader and a guy this whole locker room stands behind."
Not only is this a big game for Maybin, it's also a big game for the Jets.
Buffalo leads the AFC East with a 5-2 record. New York (4-3) is just one game behind Buffalo and the New England Patriots (5-2). That is surprising, considering New York's three-game losing streak last month nearly crippled its season. The Jets responded by winning two straight games to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"That was the first thing coach Ryan emphasized -- that us as a team and a locker room stay together," Maybin said. "We didn't let anybody come in and start to divide us and start to convince us that we weren't the team we thought that we were. That's what we did. We never lost sight of our focus and we never lost faith in each other. Now, we're starting to come out of it."
The same can be said about Maybin. The Jets saw something in him that Buffalo did not. Now, Maybin is repaying the Jets' confidence in him with his productive play on the field.