There is going to be alot of talk over the next couple of months, and it will only intensify as we edge closer to the league year beginning, about what the New York Jets should do this off-season and the different avenues they can take to improve their team.
There will be suggestions on cuts, trade options, trade rumors, free agency targets, mock drafts, more mock drafts, even more mock drafts, and all of this will be designed to both get the fanbase talking and to exhaust every possible solution to end a 9 year playoff drought for the guys in green. As a team that has not particularly drafted well in recent memory, there are not many internal decisions they need to make this year. They already traded Leo Williams, really the last homegrown player they had to decide to keep, and the one thing we can agree on is that this team should look very different next year.
We know Sam Darnold is the team’s QB, as he will almost definitely become the 2nd Jets QB in the last 20 years to start three straight season openers (Mark Sanchez being the other). We don’t know who he will be handing the ball/throwing the ball to. We know Jamison Crowder is entrenched as Sam’s top pass catcher, but we don’t know if Robby Anderson or Quincy Enunwa will be back. Ryan Griffin is fresh off a contract extension and will start at TE, while Chris Herndon is coming off a lost second season where his off the field suspension gave way to some weird injury that seemed to linger. We don’t even know who will be blocking for Sam, as Kelvin Beachum is a free agent, Brian Winters could be a cap casualty, and Ryan Kalil should definitely not be back. On the defensive side, there are less questions.
Trumaine Johnson will definitively not be back, and Avery Williamson could join him. Leonard Williams has already been jettisoned, and the defense was actually better without the former 6th overall pick. Nathan Shepherd took a big 2nd year leap, James Burgess developed very well, Bless Austin seemed to solidify one of the outdoor cornerback positions, and Marcus Maye had his best season as a pro. Gregg Williams did an amazing job coaching around a multitude of injuries (the same cannot be said for Adam Gase), and keeping his defense in most games as Sam struggled to take a second year step in the right direction. Even with getting virtually nothing from an injured CJ Mosley, Gregg had his guys show up to play. The offensive players even endeared themselves to Gregg, which was refreshing to see considering the open disdain alot of players showed towards Gase both here (Sam dismissing him) and Miami. There’s one guy that Gregg REALLY turned loose this year, though, and it’s really a testament to the job he did.
Jamal Adams, the best Jets first round pick in quite some time, was a second team All-Pro last year. That is nothing to scoff at, as the Jets had a total of five All-Pro position players in the last 20 years (with only three being original draft picks of the team, that being John Abraham, Nick Mangold, and Darrelle Revis). This is a team that has not had much draft luck in most of my adult life, with Eric Mangini being the sole reason they even have players young Jets fans know, if we are being honest.
What did Jamal Adams do for an encore? Well, he upped that 2nd Team All Pro to a First Team All Pro for starters (joining Revis and Mangold as the ONLY Jets draft picks in the last 20 years to have multiple All-Pro selections). Jamal, also, increased his tackles for a loss from 9 to 10 despite playing in 2.5 less games, had more QB hits this year (13) than he had in his first two years combined, and had he not missed time he would’ve undoubtedly set the single-season record for most sacks by a defensive back. In 515 pass coverage snaps, he was only targeted 30 times as he continued to showcase his underrated ability to cover. To circle back to his sacks and QB hits, Jamal had a pass rush win rate of 24.1 percent. For context, that is higher than the following players:
Za’Darius Smith, Dante Fowler, Preston Smith, Grady Jarrett, Calais Campbell, and Ed Oliver and just .9 percent less than Aaron Donald and Jadaveon Clowney. Whereas Sam did not take that step this year, the unquestioned leader of this defense did. It’s why the Jets must do whatever they can to pay him now and not trade him.
The Jets listened to trade offers at the deadline for their all-world safety. Joe Douglas was right to, as he comes from the Ozzie Newsome/Howie Roseman tree where nobody is off limits. Jamal reacted like every 22 year old kid tends to when they believe they’ve been lied to: he sulked, sulked some more, had a really bad first game post-deadline, and had some really pointed remarks about the team, coach, and general manager. The fanbase, which had celebrated his brashness and confidence to an extent, started to turn on him. Some Jets fans even had the audacity to suggest that Marcus Maye was better as anyway (something that neither film nor production has shown in the last six years dating back to their time in the SEC).
Then Jamal singlehandedly started to win and close games for the team he wants so desperately to lead to victory. There was the pressure on Dak Prescott in Dallas pre-deadline, the strip sack and TD on Daniel Jones, the pick-six, the hits on receivers. Adams was everywhere Every time you looked up. He, also, seemed to stop chirping. Suddenly, the thought of trading him seemed ridiculous (even if Joe Douglas was right to listen to offers, he was also right to demand a ransom for the game’s best safety in a safety league) and the Jets had a misleading 6-2 end to a disappointing season.
They now enter the off-season at a crossroads with their star defensive player, a player who has actually shown more than the QB they gave up so much to go get and who has gotten more collateral extended to him than anyone on the team.
When Sam plays poorly, it’s very rarely Sam’s fault. There are injuries, you hear. His coach is bad, you hear. The OL is not good, you hear. Very rarely do you hear that the young QB played poorly or made a bad decision, except from the most rational fans. With Jamal Adams, he is expected to produce regardless of who is around him. He has no pass rush to speak of, has played with terrible corners most of his career, has an injury prone running mate that just completed his first healthy season, and has been saddled with below average offenses his entire career so far. Jamal Adams deserves a contract extension as he enters year 4, and deserves to be part of this neverending rebuild we’ve been undergoing. He told us he was built different, let him continue to show us that, instead of running him out of town in hopes you find a game changer on the back end as good as him. He is Mike Maccagnan’s best pick, the best Jets draft pick since Darrelle Revis, and should end his career in the Ring of Honor.
Pay the man, Joe Douglas. He’s earned it.