Oh, it’s most definitely possible. New York Jets rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye could be the NFL’s best safety duo in 2017.Don’t overthink it. Of all things holy surrounding America’s Game, the great game of football, don’t you dare overthink it.
These kids are that good.
When Mike Maccagnan and the New York Jets snagged not just one safety in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft but two, they completely transformed the organization’s defense virtually overnight. (OK, so while Round 1 now stands alone in primetime on Thursday, let’s call it an overnight success.)
Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are the real deal.
Forget the idea that they’re rookies. Sure, a rookie safety in the National Football League will navigate through his own bumps along the way. It’s understood. It comes with the territory.
That alone won’t hold either guy back beginning in Week 1 when the Jets take on the Rex Ryan-less Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York.
A few decades ago, the safety position wasn’t as crucial. They acted as the last line of defense and the strong versus the free version were completely different players, often times becoming dictated by what the lumbering full back does. Today, a solid argument can be made that the safety position is the most important spot on the defense.
Through a dynamic safety, matchup problems are solved. No longer can that vertical stretch tight end completely abuse a defense. The cover safety handles that. No longer can the offense sneak a run against a light seven-man box. The aggressive, extremely athletic safety snuffs it out as the eighth man before the O-line knew what hit ’em.
In the NFL during the year of 2017, the safety is the answer to all match-up and athletic issues defensive coordinators face on a weekly basis.
Adams, the No. 6 overall pick and arguably the best talent in the pool this past spring, can literally do it all. He’s a do-everything safety in a league that heavily rewards that exact prototype.
The film on him from his senior season at LSU is ridiculous in itself. Unlike a guy like Calvin Pryor, who’s now rotting away in Cleveland, Adams can play from the line of scrimmage to another zip code (should he be tasked with the middle-third).
Here’s Adams protecting the edge as that eighth man in the box. He’s literally a heat-seeking missile:
Here’s Adams playing center field. While he’ll never be the caliber of an Earl Thomas as a middle-third guy, he can absolutely get the job done in a FS spot as a SS at this level:
Here’s Adams laying the wood and even playing special teams:
Here’s Adams in coverage via both the man-to-man and zone variety:
Here’s evidence of just how responsible the kid is everywhere on the field in all spots. Despite the flow of the play, his football sense and nose for the ball and his responsibility is off the charts:
And finally, here’s Adams getting dirty in goal line situations:
Then there’s Marcus Maye. While we don’t have the phenomenal footage on Maye like we do Adams, you’ve already seen what Maye can do via the New York Jets Green & White Scrimmage this past Saturday night.
At MetLife Stadium, Maye stepped in front of Robby Anderson and returned a Josh McCown pass 60-yards to the house for a pick-6.
Welcome to @MLStadium, @alldayMAYE. #JetsCamp pic.twitter.com/0eQQFzRTd8
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 6, 2017
All Day Maye.
The intriguing part about this duo is that both parties are 100 percent interchangeable. Adams can play high and low, and so can Maye. There’s no need for specific, counterproductive defensive gameplans that protect one or the other from the dangers of playing deep centerfield.
This is what makes this particular rookie duo so dangerous.
And before you begin to wave off this silly notion of two rookies combining to make up the league’s best safety duo in year one, take a look around the football landscape for a moment. Which duo is the best in the land?
As far as secondaries are concerned, the Jets can’t even crack the top 24 thanks to their horrid corners. The Denver Broncos and New York Giants are among the best total secondaries, but do they possess better safety duos than the team in green?
- Patriots: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung
- Ravens: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson
- Jaguars: Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church
- Broncos: T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart
- Chiefs: Eric Berry, Ron Parker
- Giants: Landon Collins, Darian Thompson
- Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett
- Vikings: Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo
- Falcons: Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen
- Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, Vonn Bell
- Cardinals: Tyrann Mathieu, Antoine Bethea
- Seahawks: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor
These are 12 of the best safety tandems in the league. Some might argue the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions deserve to be on the list, but regardless, here’s a pool of almost half of the league’s duos.
Where exactly can the Jets duo fit in once year one is complete?
The Seahawks, Pats, Packers are probably the creme of the crop. Sure, guys like Tyronn Mathieu, Landon Collins, Eric Berry and Eric Weddle are tremendous, but their other halves aren’t. In the case of the Jets, both guys are equipped with incredible ceilings and none of these squads can match the draft status of the Jets at this spot.
It’d be foolish to already proclaim the Jets tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye the greatest in the league. But it would also be foolish to pretend these guys don’t have the opportunity to finish the 2017 NFL campaign with that exact tagline.
Don’t overthink it. Yes, they are rookies, but they’re rookies who are that damn good.