Jamal Adams
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Here are the statistics and facts behind New York Jets safety Jamal Adams‘ ascension thus far in the National Football League.

Michael Nania

In 2018, Jamal Adams had one of the best individual seasons by a New York Jets player we’ve seen in recent history. It would also be completely fair to argue that Adams’ 2018 campaign was the best ever by a Jets safety.

Let’s dig into some of the numbers behind the young stud from Louisiana State University.

Improvement in Coverage

Over the last two seasons, I’ve been personally tracking individual coverage stats for Jets defenders.

As a rookie in 2017, Adams was picked on quite a bit in the passing game. I tagged him as responsible for allowing 23 completions on 39 targets. Those completions resulted in 291 yards and 16 first downs, with five of those going for touchdowns—tied with Buster Skrine for the most on the team.

However, it seemed clear that the potential was there for Adams to make great strides as a pass defender in the future. He was brutally close to making a huge amount of plays on the ball, often coming an inch short or falling victim to a phenomenal play by an opponent. Adams’ IQ and instincts were clearly there, but a little bit of sharpening was needed.

Sure enough, Adams improved his coverage tremendously throughout his sophomore campaign.

In 2018, Adams was a bigger part of the action than he was in 2017, as I credited him with giving up 26 completions on 48 targets. However, despite the increased target volume, he was allowing very little success when teams threw his way. On those 48 targets, Adams allowed only 256 yards and 11 first downs. This resulted in sublime numbers of 5.3 yards per target and a 23% first down rate, both best on the team.

Perhaps best of all, I didn’t tag Adams as solely responsible for a single passing touchdown.

Casual onlookers will point to his low interception total (only one so far), claiming it proves Adams is poor in coverage. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. His coverage ability is without a doubt in the conversation for the best in the league at the safety position.

Groundbreaking Playmaking

Adams has been a big-play machine for the Jets. In fact, very few young safeties in recent history have even been in Adams’ neighborhood when it comes to splash play production.

Here is a look at Adams’ totals in a few different categories, and where they rank among all safeties over their first two seasons in the league since 1999.

  • Tackles for loss: 18 (1st)
  • Quarterback hits: 10 (1st)
  • Sacks: 5.5 (3rd)
  • Forced fumbles: 4 (T-6th)
  • Recovered fumbles: 3 (T-7th)
  • Passes defended: 18 (11th)

Adams’ accomplishments thus far put him in some elite company.

As seen above, Adams’ 18 tackles for loss stands as the most accumulated by a safety over their first two seasons in the league, since the stat was first tracked in 1999.

Only one other defensive player since 1999, at any position, has recorded both 18+ tackles for loss and 18+ passes defended over their first two seasons: J.J. Watt.

From 2017-18, Adams was the only player in the league, regardless of position or experience, to record 18+ tackles for loss and 18+ passes defended. If you knocked the qualifier down to 15+ tackles for loss and 15+ passes defended, Adams would be joined by Harrison Smith, Carlos Dunlap, Cameron Jordan, and Bobby Wagner. More spectacular company.

Adams really stands out when you mash all of his big play metrics together. So far, he has accumulated a total of 43 combined tackles for loss, passes defended, forced fumbles, and recovered fumbles.

Here’s a look at the top safeties since 1999 in total accumulated TFL + PD + FF + FR over their first two seasons.

  1. Jamal Adams (43)
  2. Ed Reed (41)
  3. Landon Collins (38)
  4. Sean Taylor (37)
  5. Roy Williams (37)

Adams remains at the top when you look at the same metric among all safeties over the last two seasons.

  1. Jamal Adams (43)
  2. Harrison Smith (37)
  3. Jordan Poyer (35)
  4. Malcolm Jenkins (33)
  5. Eddie Jackson (32)

There are an infinite amount of ways you can slice up the data, but the bottom line is this: Jamal Adams is really, really effective.