Jamal Adams New York Jets
(Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)


The stat-line of zero interceptions is what’ll cause rookie safety Jamal Adams to wake up at night in a cold sweat, but within the structure of this particular New York Jets defense, zero interceptions are one giant “no big deal.”

Running backs are measured by yardage. Inside linebackers are measured by tackles. Edge players are measured by sacks (although some fans still think the 3-4 defensive end is an edge guy because he simply has “end” in his positional title). Wide receivers are measured by catches … and a dance grade on a scale of one-to-10, for good measure.

Quarterbacks are measured by wins and if you root for the New York Jets, you know this … oh, do you absolutely understand this concept while navigating through life oozing green-colored blood. Based on ineptness, Rich Kotite is now only measured by how many “Schevet” he decided to keep on his lowly 1995 squad.

… as that’s all (Wayne Chrebet) Rich Kotite did during two miserable seasons equaling four wins and 28 losses.

Defensive backs, naturally, are measured by interceptions. On the surface, this traditional line of thinking doesn’t bode well for rookie first-rounder Jamal Adams.

Fifteen games played. Zero interceptions for the No. 6 pick via the 2017 NFL Draft. This exact subject has been a recent topic of conversation in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area and, unfortunately, some are taking the bait.


Are thefts from a defensive secondary important? Of course. Turnovers are huge and a great defense can only play at a dominating level if turnovers are constant.

Considering all of these golden words of wisdom, there’s just no reason to worry about that nagging zero under the INT column in Adams’s rookie box score.

We know it bugs the LSU product. It’s simply the way God made him (if you believe in such a theory). It’s just the way the kid was built. He’ll constantly bury and pound himself in the impossible pursuit of perfection.

Some of his recent public words are almost too good to be true:

Despite his status as just a Pro Bowl alternate, Adams has taken it upon himself to express reality and hunger. It’s probably even true that his lack of turnovers snubbed him from Pro Bowl status a rook. But that’s only because the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest rather than a real measure of football production and value.

Despite no interceptions, Jamal Adams was stellar in 2017. According to Connor Huges of NJ.com, he’s still, and appropriately so, not concerned about that one ugly number.

“I can get criticized for my ball skills, and that’s fine,” Adams said. “I think my ball skills are great, to be honest with you. I dropped the one, but it is what it is.”

“Again, it’s not about me or interceptions. It’s about this team finishing ball games and getting wins. Laying that foundation and building for next year. That’s what it is about, and it will never be about me or interceptions. You can write about it but, that’s my least concern.”

Ninety-nine percent of the time, the kid says the right thing while fully knowing the football truth.

What the smart safety knows and would never admit publicly is exactly why his theft opportunity was slim this season and why nobody should worry. A lot of what was around him was poor, leading to fewer opportunity while forcing Todd Bowles’s hand in utilizing the kid far-too-often near the line of scrimmage.

One of the weakest pass rushes in the NFL

In front of Adams is one of the weakest pass rushes in football. With a grand total of 26 sacks on the season, the Jets currently rank 26th in the category.

Think about a working 11-man defensive unit for a moment. At times, we attempt to evaluate a secondary, an individual player, or a positional group on singular merit. That exact assignment is impossible in this game. What the D-line does via a four-man pass rush means everything to the rest of the defense. Twenty-six sacks won’t lead to any form of defensive greatness, which is, of course, the obvious statement of the decade. (It’s simply forgotten for too often.)

And yet, this secondary played like one of the best groups in football at times (despite its collective youthful age on this Earth).

Adams plays in the box most of the time

Adams, overall, was terrific. Remember, the kid is a strong safety and probably plays nearly 80 percent of snaps in the box. His run-support from the position is excellent and his edge play via the rushing attack, nearly legendary.

At times, he did play centerfield and join his boy Maye in a two-deep setup. Mostly, he was the eighth man in the box for a Bowles-run defense that heavily featured a one-deep look.

Take a peek at Adams in the following situation. Bowles has him lined up on the inside of a seven-man front nickel (leading to a one-deep look with Maye). The short side outside linebacker is tasked with the defensive left edge:

It’s rare to see coaches so heavily rely on a safety within the inside structure of the run defense. Adams sparkles in that specific area of the game.

Marcus Maye put up a better statistical season with two interceptions, two passes defensed, one forced fumble, and 56 tackles. Comparing that to Adams’s rookie slate of zero interceptions, two sacks, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 60 tackles, some believe Maye experienced the better season and thus, is the better player.

Please, don’t go there.

I love Maye and what he brings from centerfield, but there’s no comparison. Adams’s activity level and versatility is something that comes about a few times a decade.

Moreover, Morris Claiborne was head-and-shoulders above projections and both Demario David and Darron Lee finished with career-year solid campaigns.

These guys did it all with a pass rush that couldn’t generate a standard four or even five-man pass rush if its football life depended on it.

New York Jets

Some have overly-criticized Leonard Williams, too. While it’s true, Big Cat suffered through a down season, most of his ills have come from the lack of an edge presence. How in the world can Williams freely operate while both edges are easily handled via one-on-one?

It’s impossible. Williams is doubled every play and not enough is made of that strategical fact.

The same can be said for Adams.

Prior to fully evaluating individual players, put all of the factors in a big pot and stir it around for a bit. This 2017 New York Jets secondary was tremendous virtually all season long despite the porous pass defense stats.

Jamal Adams was tremendous as well despite that ugly zero under his interception column.

He won’t admit what’s held him and others back this season, and that’s a great thing. We’re here to admit it for them.

Don’t worry one bit about JA33’s interception count.


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