The greatest threat to Tom Brady‘s effectiveness is a safety who’s dripping with football IQ. New York Jets safety Jamal Adams fits the bill.
Those slow-footed New York Jets defenders are long gone. No more easy chunks with Rob Gronkowski down the seam or James White in the flat or on the angle route. Think about how many times Pats tight ends and/or backs have abused this Jets defense through the years.
Fear not. That’s all about to change. Jamal Adams is in the building and this Jets defense is fast.
Most of Brady’s greatness stems from pre-snap. He’s a genius when scanning the field and determining matchup advantages. Never does position matter. He targets the weak link and attacks. For years in this series, it’s been Harris at linebacker and Pryor at safety.
This Sunday, he may have to look elsewhere as Adams is Brady’s worst nightmare.
We highlighted the Jets new sub-package after their Week 3 victory over the Miami Dolphins. When offenses are in 3rd-and-long, Todd Bowles deploys a defensive structure that’s tough to take advantage of:
With Terrence Brooks deep alongside Marcus Maye, Adams can sniff the box and literally do everything. He can take the tight end in man. He can drop to a hook-to-curl zone. He can take away the flat. He can even rush the passer as he does several times a game.
The unpredictability of Adams in this position will provide Brady headaches.
Additionally, Darron Lee, for all of his rookie and run-stuffing struggles, is a major upgrade in pass coverage this season compared to the over-the-hill Harris.
What Brady Does So Well
In Week 3 against the Houston Texans, Brady got the Pats on the board first through matchups. On a 3rd-and-goal from the five, he saw the strong safety on Gronkowski in an Iso situation wide left and took advantage:
The next play is another example of the Pats putting pressure on matchups.
It’s an 11 personnel with an empty backfield. Gronkowski is at tight end with running back James White lined up wide left.
On the Pats game-winning drive, a critical 3rd-and-12 brought another Gronkowski play in which they took advantage of one-on-one safety coverage:
So much of what the Patriots do is matchup based. They look to formulate formations and schemes solely based on abusing the weak coverage defenders such as the linebackers and safeties.
Why the Jets Can Defend Brady
Simply put, the New York Jets can defend Brady because they are fast and smart … and have Jamal Adams.
Adams and Lee is such an upgrade over Harris and Pryor that it’s actually unbelievable when you watch the tape. The same can be said for Marcus Maye over Marcus Gilchrist and Morris Claiborne over Darrelle Revis.
They are challenged in terms of a second cornerback and an edge presence when rushing the passer. These are the two areas Brady will look to exploit. The edge rush isn’t a great deal thanks to Brady’s “stepping up in the pocket” nature. The interior rush is much more important against No. 12. But the second and third corner spot will be an issue.
Nevertheless, the rest of the defense is fully-equipped.
Check out the awareness of one Jamal Adams. On this first series drive, a 3rd-and-11, he showcases all-world zone coverage skills:
However, the Jets only rush three and play Cover 3 on the backend with Buster Skrine (the slot corner) taking deep-middle coverage. It’s an excellent play-call and shows great imagine from Bowles.
Look at Adams at the top of the screen. His responsibility is the left flat. His first read is the tight end who he quickly locks off of thanks to him staying in to block. Next, he takes away the slant from the left receiver. After that, he then undercuts the other receiver coming across the entire field all while maintaining eyes on the quarterback.
Next, we have Adams in one-on-one coverage against the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Julius Thomas.
As previously mentioned, this is not the same New York Jets defense. It’s not the same defense that we’ve witnessed for the past four or five seasons. I know this. You may know this. Even Tom Brady this.
The general public still isn’t aware of this.
On Sunday, when Brady and the Pats come to East Rutherford, I have a sneaking suspicion the rest of the NFL will finally start to realize this.
Adams will take care of business. Darron Lee, while he has the tools to get it done, might be the top suspect in terms of Brady’s eye. If he can handle himself against Gronk in the middle, Bowles’s defense will have done its job.
Save for the Lee situation, Brady will have a tough time with this Jamal Adams-led youthful, fast and smart unit.