The Jets parted ways with an integral part of their defense on Monday. Later this week, they will be reacquainted with the defense’s best playmaker with whom they parted ways less than five months ago.
All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, who thrived last year under now fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, will face his old team for the first time Sunday in Seattle. Adams will try to add to his career-best sack total of 7.5 by bringing down Sam Darnold every opportunity he gets.
"Jamal presents a challenge for everyone, for our tight ends, our receivers, our line, myself, our running backs," Darnold said. "He’s a really, really good player, physical player, super smart as well. So, we’ve got our hands full there."
Adams needs one sack to set the record for most in a season by a defensive back. Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson had eight in 2005. Adams, who forced a trade from the Jets, probably wants nothing more than to do it against his former team.
It’s abundantly clear that the winless Jets miss Adams and his passion. They haven’t won a game since he was traded to Seattle.Adams was a main reason that the Jets were the seventh-ranked defense in the NFL last year. "There’s some days when you miss that energy," Darnold said.
Williams let Adams loose and used him in ways he hadn’t by the previous staff. Adams lined up more at the line of scrimmage and was in coverage less. He became the Jets’ best pass rusher, leading them with 6.5 sacks — one more than he had his first two seasons combined.
If Adams was still a Jet, he might have been able to make a game-saving and coach-saving play when Williams dialed up an all-out blitz at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. That call, which resulted in Derek Carr hitting Henry Ruggs for a 46-yard touchdown with five seconds left, led to Adam Gase dismissing Williams.
Now Frank Bush is running the defense for the rest of the season. He spent Tuesday putting together a game plan to slow down quarterback Russell WIlson and receiver DK Metcalf.
On the other side, the Jets know they have to be very aware of Adams, the do-it-all safety who is blitzing with Seattle more than he did for the green and white.
"Going up against someone so much in practice during training camp definitely helps," Darnold said. "I’ve just got to continue to watch tape of their defense and how they continue to use him, whether it’s blitzing or in coverage. Like I said, we’ve got our hands full, but we’re excited for the challenge."
The Jets wanted to keep Adams, the No. 6 pick in the 2017 draft. But they decided they weren’t going to extend his contract this past offseason. Adams still had two years left on his rookie contract. General manager Joe Douglas wanted to wait and make other moves before he re-upped with Adams.
When the Jets’ timeline didn’t match the one Adams had, he chose to tweet out disparaging things about ownership and took shots at Gase and Douglas in an interview. Douglas sent Adams and a 2022 fourth-round pick to Seattle in July for two first-round picks (2021, 2022), a 2021 third-round selection and Bradley McDougald.
Recently, Adams said he "fought depression" when he was with the Jets because they lost so frequently.
The Seahawks fell to the Giants last week, but Seattle is 8-4 and competing for a playoff spot. The eight victories are one more than the Jets had all of last season, and one fewer than Adams’ first two years combined.
Adams missed four games with a groin injury, and he’s playing on a defense that has been extremely porous. But he’s made an impact and will try to have a big one Sunday.
"Jamal is a great athlete. Jamal is a great player," defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi said. "When I had him here, he was a great teammate. If there’s anything I know about Jamal, he’s going to treat every game the same. He treats every opponent with great detail to do well.
"Much respect to Jamal. He’s going to be in this league for a long time and his name is going to continue to ring, year after year."
Just no longer as a Jet.
Notes & quotes: The Jets signed defensive back Elijah Campbell to the active roster. Campbell was elevated from the practice squad last Sunday and played 13 special teams snaps versus the Raiders. TheJets also signed linebacker Brady Sheldon to the practice squad.