From one safety to another, there is a unique sense of camaraderie between Pete Carroll and Jamal Adams.
Yes, Carroll was a defensive back in what feels like a lifetime ago, so he does share that vibe with Adams, the former Jets star who forced his way out of New York and landed with a team – and a coach – that is a perfect fit for his skillset. Carroll played safety as a kid growing up in Larkspur, Californa, and was an All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference defensive back at the University of the Pacific. He went on to cut his teeth in the NFL as a defensive backs coach in Buffalo and then Minnesota, so he knows what he’s looking at in a player like Adams.
"I’ve always felt connected to the DBs moreso and communicate on a different level because of my background and history with that stuff," the Seahawks coach said Wednesday as his team began preparations for Sunday’s game against the Giants in Seattle.
When the Jets were looking to unload Adams, who had made it clear he did not – and would not – want to be with the team long-term, the Seahawks were the team most interested. In large part because of Carroll’s belief that he could add an element that had been missing since the retirement of hard-hitting safety Kam Chancellor. They paid a heavy price to get Adams – first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, a third-rounder in 2021 and veteran safety Bradley McDougald.
But Carroll believes it was worth it.
"He’s a dream, man," Carroll said. "He’s the kind of guy you want to add to your team. He brings juice, toughness, play-making."
Carroll added an adjective rarely used about Adams during his tumultuous three-year run with the Jets.
"He’s really humble around others," Carroll said.
Humble? Adams was anything but with the Jets, often drawing unwanted scrutiny because of his outspoken nature. But you couldn’t argue with Adams’ performance, because he could dominate games when at his best. The Giants were reminded of that last year, when Adams literally stole the ball out of Daniel Jones’ hands and returned it for a touchdown in the Jets’ 34-27 win last November.
Carroll saw it up close in the Seahawks’ 23-17 win over the Eagles Monday night in Philadelphia, as Adams had his best game as a Seahawk with nine tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack. The Seahawks sacked Carson Wentz six times and intercepted him in the red zone to retain first place in the NFC West.
"He’s been awesome, nothing but high energy and very humble, very outgoing on the field and around our players and really high spirited at all times," Carroll said.
Adams has injected the kind of contagious enthusiasm he was known for – at least on the field – with the Jets. While publicly frustrated at the team’s refusal to renegotiate his rookie contract, his effort during games never could be questioned. He didn’t get his wish to have a new contract from Seattle – that will have to wait until the offseason – but he can secure his financial future with the kind of play he exhibited against the Eagles.
"The swagger is through the roof," Adams said after the game. "We’re playing with a lot of swagger, we’re playing with a lot of confidence. We know when we step on the field, we’re going to try to take the ball away, we’re going to get a sack, we’re going to get a pick, then we’re going to invite everybody to the party. That’s what we do."
Adams will get the chance to face his former team Dec. 13 in Seattle, a game that surely will motivate him to show the Jets what they’re missing. In the meantime, the Seahawks will need to keep their momentum going against the Giants, who have won three straight.
Adams was dealing with a shoulder injury three weeks ago, which limited his effectiveness. But he has since recovered, and so has Seattle’s defense. The addition of pass rusher Carlos Dunlap in a trade with the Bengals also has helped.
"We’re getting better," Carroll said. "We took a turn halfway through the Rams game (a 23-16 loss Nov. 15). You could see the second half of that game, and we were real solid last week again. I’m really fired up. You can see the connection happening. The continuity is starting to come."
With a New York-New York doubleheader the next two weeks, Adams is ready to remind folks back east what they’re missing.