Jamal Adams has plenty to say, and his words carry weight even though he’s 23 and in just his second season.
Adams already is a captain and one of the Jets’ best players, not just on defense but overall. Adams used his voice after the 37-17 loss to the Vikings on Sunday to tell everyone in the locker room that this season won’t be like last season.
“It’s not,” Adams said. “I’m not going to let it happen. It’s simple and plain. It’s not going to happen.”
The Jets (3-4) need some of that passion and resistance after not showing much against the Vikings. The true test of whether Adams’ words made a difference will come Sunday in Chicago when the Jets face the Bears.
The offense staggered and stumbled throughout the game. Sam Darnold completed only 40 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions. The defense let up big plays – three touchdowns of 34 yards or more, including one on fourth-and-8 – and failed to recognize a fumble when Kirk Cousins threw a pass behind him to Stefon Diggs, who recovered it.
The special teams committed four penalties for 28 yards in the first half. Andre Roberts muffed one punt, fumbled another out of bounds and misplayed another, letting the ball sail over his head as the Jets lost valuable yardage.
As bad as it was, the Jets believe they beat themselves and are confident they can bounce back this week.
“I don’t think it defines who we are as a team and what this season is going to be like,” receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “I think we have a lot of football left. We’re still in the first half of the season. A lot of moves and whatnot come down to the second half of the season. This is going to be a huge learning experience for us.”
That’s what last year was for many of these Jets, and they vow not to follow the same path.
The Jets were 3-4 last year and trying to keep their season together after two straight losses by a total of 10 points. But they won only two of their remaining nine games and finished 5-11 for the second straight year.
Adams has talked about this group being more committed to working and improving and not letting their teammates down. All of that has given them the belief that this season will not be like last year.
“We’re fine as a group,” linebacker Darron Lee said. “We’re a lot more close-knit. I know in the first couple years I was here, the wheels would fall off and all hell would break loose. We’re fine. No one is panicking here.
“We trust each other. We’ll be fine. No one’s worried here.”
But the Jets clearly have concerns, especially health-wise. They’re banged up in the secondary – they could be down four players there this week— and at wide receiver, in the backfield and on the offensive line.
The undermanned Jets wilted against Minnesota at home and now they go into Chicago to face one of the better defenses, and it has something to prove after two straight losses. The Jets can’t afford to play mistake-filled football, especially with so many key players hobbled.
“It’s a long season,” Adams said. “What’s crazy about the NFL that people have to understand is anybody can be beat. Anybody can be beat in the league. It doesn’t matter. You got to show up every week. If you don’t, you find out the hard way.
“Those are the things that we understand in this locker room. It’s semi kind of early, we’re almost halfway. We got to move on. We got to bounce to the next game and refocus and get our focus on Chicago.”