Raiders quarterback Derek Carr remembers the first time he played Jamal Adams and the impression he left on him.
Carr was struck by Adams’ passion and intensity. He told Adams after the Raiders beat the Jets in 2017 to keep playing that way and the rookie would become one of the best players in the league.
Adams has, and Carr has been paying attention
The Jets safety has been a game-wrecker lately and playing the best football of his career. He recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles over the last two games, both Jets’ wins. Adams will try to lead the Jets (3-7) to a third-straight victory Sunday against the Raiders, who know what’s coming.
“That guy is unreal,” Carr said. “When you turn the tape on you can feel his presence without being there . . . He’s not just one of the best safeties, but one of the best football players in the NFL.
“If you don’t account for that guy, he can ruin a football game.”
The Jets defeated the Giants and Redskins for their modest two-game winning streak. They could use Adams at his best against the Raiders, who have won three straight.
The Raiders (6-4) are the best team the Jets have faced in more than a month. This game should tell plenty about whether the Jets truly are on the rise.
Rookie Josh Jacobs is the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher with 923 yards and seven touchdowns. The Jets’ No. 1 run defense will be tested. But Oakland might also try and attack the Jets’ inexperienced cornerbacks Arthur Maulet and rookie Bless Austin.
Carr has completed 72.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 15 touchdown, five to receiver Tyrell Williams and three to tight end Darren Waller, who leads the Raiders with 56 catches for 666 yards.
“They’re an explosive team,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “They’re doing a great job of run after catch. What’s really impressive is they might not throw it down the field all the time but when they do, they’re hitting big. That’s a problem.”
That, and Waller’s presence, might keep Adams from blitzing as much as he has lately. Carr could shred this defense if the Jets aren’t careful. But careful is not a word you use to describe defensive coordinator Gregg Williams or Adams.
“I don’t play this game to be careful,” Adams said. “I got to be smart. I know what type of offense Jon Gruden likes to run. I have a lot of respect for those guys.”
Gruden also praised Adams. He called him “a train wreck” and said he wishes he had “six of those.”
Adams is a defensive coordinator’s best friend because he can lineup just about anywhere and he’s a playmaker. Williams has let Adams loose lately. But Adams said some of it comes from his film work and game preparation.
“A lot of times, believe it or not, I’m doing some things on my own that I see,” Adams said. “But I am being put in some great positions. I give my coaches credit.”
Two weeks ago, Adams stripped the ball from Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and ran it in for a touchdown. Last week, he sacked rookie Dwayne Haskins three times.
“Just taking an educated guess, put it like that,” Adams said. “Sometimes I anticipate right and sometimes I don’t. Lately I have, so I’ve been getting lucky.”
The Jets’ offense also has played much better lately.
Quarterback Sam Darnold is coming off the first four-touchdown game of his career. Darnold has led seven touchdown drives over the past two games. The Jets’ offense had just seven over the first eight games.
Oakland isn’t as bad defensively as the Giants or Redskins. But the Raiders have the sixth-worst passing defense. They allow 262.2 passing yards per game.
Jamison Crowder (touchdowns in three straight games) and tight end Ryan Griffin (team-high four touchdowns) again could be in for big games if Darnold can take care of the football. He’s thrown just one interception the past two games.
“It's just seeing the field,” Darnold said. “I feel like I'm seeing it really well right now. If I just continue to do that, continue to put our team in a good position and if we continue to play with the tempo that we're playing at, I think we'll continue to play that way.”