The New York Jets defense is automatically turned legit by the mere presence of stud safety Jamal Adams, but a fatal flaw remains that presents a severe championship-caliber handicap.
Despite the fact he’s so incredibly football intelligent that he knows and realizes it, he’d never admit it. Why? Becuase he’s the damn president.
He’s the New York Jets president on and off the field, taking care of business every step of the way with professionalism, pride and, most importantly, doing so without hesitation. He’s that tremendous locker room teammate specially blended with generational-like talent that has 32 NFL general managers drooling for weeks on end.
He’s Jamal Adams, strong safety of the green-colored football squad that makes its home in the swamps of Northern New Jersey.
What he knows and what he’d admit are two completely different items. He knows his mere presence among the Jets defensive unit makes for a special gang, a legitimately sound NFL defense. But he also fully realizes the unit comes to every football party with one horrid flaw that offers a handicap no defense could overcome en route to a Vince Lombardi Trophy.
This Jets defense cannot get to the quarterback via a standard four-man pass rush. It’s a flaw seldom football units ever overcome.
A year ago, Todd Bowles‘s unit finished a depressing 28th in sacks with a total of 28. Only the Buffalo Bills (27), big brother New York Giants (27), Indianapolis Colts (25) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22) finished behind New York. But forget sack totals. While a higher number brings on an unexplainable warm and fuzzy feeling (that has us all picturing our team pummeling the opposing quarterback), it rarely tells the entire story.
What the spotlight needs to remain shining down upon is pressure from every angle along the line of scrimmage. This is something that’s been completely out of whack with this organization for over a decade.
Jets fans want a quarterback. How about a solitary edge presence?
Yes, the name John Abraham remains insanely popular within the fanbase and it’s interesting due to the fact the 13th overall pick circa the 2000 NFL Draft was more familiar with the Jets training room than the actual turf inside of Giants Stadium. He remains such a popular name only due to the 12-year hunt for a legit outside pass rusher while looking to ultimately replace the man.
Sure, the names of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison and Leonard Williams did scare the hell out of offensive lines once upon a time. Attempting to run through the A, B or even C-gap against those guys was an incredible challenge a couple years ago. But could you imagine these guys with at least one legit outside source of energy? Big Mo and Sheldon attempted to play the outside at times and it only hurt the defense’s integrity in the long run.
The only remaining man from that foursome experienced a down year in 2017. Big Cat mustered a mere two sacks and 22 total tackles in 16 games started. Suffice to say, it was a major disappointment after the attention-grabbing Pro-Bowl nod the season prior.
His surprisingly disappointing campaign wasn’t 100 percent his fault.
Offensive coordinators feasted on the fact the Jets continuously threw out one of the poorest edge combos in the league. Never was a double-team needed outside. The fullback rarely needed to kick out and the back who stayed in as the sixth man in pass protection could always just focus on the A or B gap—the area Leonard Williams will always come from.
Jamal Adams finished his rookie campaign with no picks, two sacks and 63 tackles. If you’re one who’s actually disappointed in that production, go back and watch the film.
This secondary—with the arrival of Adams and Marcus Maye—represented one of the top few defensive backfields in the entire league. Time and again, it was the front seven that let them down. In not displaying the ability to generate any pressure with a standard four-man rush, blitzing is upped and extra creativity in sending five and six-man rushes is needed—further putting the secondary in a handicapped position if the QB remains comfortable.
When analyzing the current depth chart, yes, the edge spot is the obvious place in which upgrades are needed. Hell, even during the Rex Ryan era, it was his extravagant blitzes that generated a top-rated defense in the early going. Once offenses caught up to what he was doing, it steadily declined over time. Never was a true standard pass rush assembled.
Should the Jets not want to waste the matchup-equalizer in the extremely special talent that is Jamal Adams, a conventional four-man pass rush must be gathered … immediately.
You think the kid was good in 2017? If he and the boys had even a middle-of-the-pack rush up front, forget about it—a championship-caliber defense will suddenly be born featuring the type of do-it-all safety that is needed in today’s league to shut down silly dink-and-dunk tight end and running back mismatches.
This is your official warning, Mike Maccagnan. Don’t you dare waste this special safety.