Oh, the irony.
Jamal Adams, the Jets’ All-Pro safety who was so miffed at trade rumors involving him two weeks ago that he declined to speak to coach Adam Gase for days, may have just given Gase a reprieve with a virtuoso performance Sunday versus the rival Giants.
With pressure mounting on their crumbling 1-7 ship, the short-handed Jets needed every one of Adams’ many beastly plays to escape with a 34-27 victory.
Adams was like the violent Charles Jefferson character, who also wore uniform No. 33, portrayed by Forest Whitaker in the 1982 movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” “Hit by Adams! Crunched by Adams! Adams! Adams! Adams! Again by Adams!”
Equally spectacular was Adams’ leap, Troy Polamalu style, to deny Jones’ QB sneak on a Giants fourth-and-1 with just under two minutes remaining in the first half.
“I told (nose tackle Steve McLendon) that I was going to go over because I knew it was going to be a sneak, because of (Jones’) height and he’s strong,” Adams said.
Less noticed, yet extremely clutch given that the Jets had just taken back the lead, 31-27, early in the fourth quarter, was Adams’ tackle of Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton 2 yards away from converting a third-and-14. Slayton had initially squirmed out of linebacker Brandon Copeland’s grasp, but Adams moved in quickly to make sure Slayton couldn’t lunge forward past the stick.
That was the closest the Giants came to crossing midfield the rest of the way.
You may ask, why am I going gaga over a meaningless victory against a team that is just as, if not more, atrocious as the Jets? Because it showed that while general manager Joe Douglas was correct to take all incoming trade calls on Oct. 29, despite Adams’ misplaced anger toward the organization (all sides say there are no longer any hard feelings), Douglas was also correct to set a very steep price for Adams, even though he plays a position that is generally regarded as less impactful. Per OverTheCap.com, only eight safeties have average annual compensation of at least $10 million as compared to 19 cornerbacks.
Adams is that special of a player, which means the Jets would have to be similarly overwhelmed before accepting any deals for him on draft day 2020. He’s under team control for the next two seasons. What are the odds of the Jets selecting a player anywhere near Adams’ level with a first-rounder from a team like Dallas’ slot? Or, if another second- or third-round pick were added, how likely could they recoup Adams’ value in the aggregate?
Adams may have slumped a bit in recent weeks, missing tackles and slacking off a tad in coverage (118.1 QB rating allowed when targeted in the three previous games, per ProFootballFocus.com), but he was still rated by PFF as the league’s ninth-best safety this season going into Sunday. He’ll be moving on up the ladder this week.
And let’s not discount that he's also the team’s spiritual connection to its fan base. On opening day, Adams — not quarterback Sam Darnold or megastar free agent running back Le’Veon Bell — was the last starter introduced to the MetLife Stadium crowd, earning a thunderous ovation. Jets fans can tell which players are willing to go above and beyond for the cause. Adams, 24, has been one of those very few guys here since the Jets selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2017 draft.
According to Adams, “People don’t understand. This is nothing. I can tap into a whole ’nother level, man.”
Where he is now won’t be enough to save the Jets’ 2019 season, but it was good enough to temporarily hold off the calls for his coach’s head.