For one crazy, where-did-that-come-from Sunday afternoon, only the most coldly analytical Jets fan could have focused on the bigger picture and draft day, 2018.
The Jets did not just defeat the Dolphins, 20-6, and eke out an any-given-Sunday fluke; they obliterated them.
As WFAN’s Joe Benigno, for years a go-to voice of Jets fans, put it on the air Monday: “What they did yesterday was phenomenal, and I loved every freakin’ second of it.”
But the most important thing about Sunday’s game was not the final score, because let’s be real: It still is true that too many victories could damage the Jets’ chance to become a Super Bowl contender in the foreseeable future.
What really mattered was the way some pieces of that potential future performed, starting with the most dynamic of all.
Yes, we’re looking at you, Jamal Adams. The rookie safety was hailed as a can’t-miss prospect as the sixth overall pick out of LSU in last spring’s draft and for once, the experts doing the hailing appear to have been right.
The entire Jets defense seemed to be possessed against the Dolphins, no one more so than Adams, who was all over the field, including his first career sack and two tackles for losses, as the Jets used him in a variety of roles.
On the Dolphins’ first rush of the game, he dropped Jay Ajayi for a 2-yard loss, the first of many failed Miami rushes. In the second quarter, he broke up a deep pass and sacked Jay Cutler on consecutive plays.
In his spare time, Adams was one of the players, along with quarterback Josh McCown, to lock arms with Jets CEO Chris Johnson during the national anthem before the game.
He also could be seen exhorting the crowd to make noise at MetLife Stadium and generally bouncing around before, during and after plays to burn off excess enthusiasm.
“He’s an exciting player,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He did a lot of things the right way. He brings a lot of emotion with him. He got the team behind him and got them into it.”
Said Adams, “I definitely want to keep that energy when I’m on the field. Set the tone. The fans feed off of us as much as we feed off of them. When we got excited, we started making plays.”
On one unfortunate occasion, his energy got him into trouble. After Buster Skrine sacked Cutler on a third down in the fourth quarter, Adams taunted the fallen quarterback and was penalized, extending the Miami drive.
Young Mr. Adams has a bit of Odell Beckham Jr. in him, which is both a good thing and a bad thing, pending how he channels his emotions.
Like Beckham, Adams also is a gifted gabber with the media who could grow into being a team spokesman on a roster that needs all of those it can get.
When he spoke in the locker room after Sunday’s game, he attracted a crowd of journalists so thick it was impossible to see or hear him from outer rings. That used to be Darrelle Revis’ job.
That sort of star power – combined with youth and talent – is exactly what the Jets need after an offseason purge of recognizable veterans, with a new era at hand. And Adams does not even turn 22 for three weeks.
Assuming he stays healthy and focused, check off one box on general manager Mike Maccagnan’s championship to-do list.