Sam Darnold, Jamal Adams
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets 34-3 stomping of the Oakland Raiders highlighted the fact that Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams are natural-born leaders. 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—After a 1-7 start, the New York Jets have won three in a row to up their record to 4-7. The latest triumph was a 34-3 destruction of the Oakland Raiders in which they dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Before I get to Sam Darnold, let’s talk about this defense, which, once again, stifled a team with a good rushing offense early and often, limiting the visiting Raiders to 68 yards rushing for the day.

“Curtailing the run is a team effort,” said Jamal Adams, “and it is something we work on tirelessly because we realize what a big impact shutting down the run has in the game.”


Every time I speak to Adams, I get the sense there is not a better leader in this town. He always takes accountability and shares credit with his teammates, but also does it in a profound way. He confided in us that the team was hearing boos in the pregame warmup, likely from visiting Raider fans.

Before the game, he sensed his team was angry about it, which served as fiery motivation.

I have my own theories about that. I think it irritated Jamal and he shared that with his team, thinking, as most leaders do, that fact could further motivate a team that was getting ready to take on a squad most thought was a litmus test for the Jets.

That is what makes him a special leader.

Speaking of leaders, Darnold took another big step in his development on this day, completing 20 of 29 passes for 315 yards and two touchdown passes, while adding in a rushing score as well. But more importantly, his throws were accurate all day long, showcasing a touch over the outstretched hands of linebackers and well before the defensive backfield.

He also threw passes to nine different Jet receivers while never coming close to turning the ball over. He also gathered his players together after an early touchdown negated via a Jon Gruden offensive pass interference challenge. He got three points back after the reversal with a field goal, but told his team on the sidelines not to lose sight of the fact that the drive proved the Jets could move the ball at will against the Raider defense.

Both Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams used their leadership skills on this blustery November day to push their record to 4-7. Now, talk about a playoff run might be premature, as I personally feel they need to get to 7-7 before any talk about that should even be entertained.

The greater idea is the Jets are building something special with two leaders that will make sure their team has every chance to win—now and in the future. And that is how you build winning football organizations, especially, when after eight games, a 1-7 record spurred experts to the proclamation Joe Douglas needed to back up the truck.

I’ve said it all year: this team had the right mindset and, yes, the right head coach to move in the direction all Jet fans want to go. Desperation breeds insanity. But it also provides a crash course education, learning about oneself along the way.

The quarterback and strong safety lead this team.

That is what I learned about Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams over the past few weeks. Their leadership will provide wins. And Jets fans, you can take that to the bank.


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