With the New York Jets’ season coming to an end, the team should focus on building their secondary around safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.
The 2019 NFL season hasn’t exactly shaped up like the New York Jets had hoped it would. Prior to the start of the year, there was optimism and hope surrounding the team, and for good reason, as the organization had made many changes that appeared on the surface to be improvements.
Those changes included re-shaping the coaching staff, signing highly regarded free agents such as Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Jamison Crowder and drafting a potential difference-maker in Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.
With young stars like quarterback Sam Darnold and Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams already on the roster, the future actually looked quite bright for the Jets.
Then, however, the team was run down and depleted by the injury bug. Darnold, for example, missed multiple weeks after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
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Mosley and fellow starting linebacker Avery Williamson have missed much of the season as have starting cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts along with top wide receiver Quincy Enunwa and top tight end Chris Herndon.
Clearly, the Jets haven’t had an easy road this year and while new head coach Adam Gase receives much of the blame, it’s difficult to expect much from a roster that has been stripped down as bad as this Jets one has.
Regardless, there have still been a few bright spots throughout the 6-9 season thus far, with one being the defense, which has been led and developed by coordinator Gregg Williams. Even that unit, which has performed well overall, has its issues, however.
The most glaring issue on the defensive side of the ball for the Jets is likely the absence of an elite level pass rusher, as the team hasn’t had one since John Abraham exited the building nearly a decade and a half ago.
Another issue, however, involves the secondary and specifically the cornerback position.
Aside from the injuries, it was a bit naive for the Jets to believe that they could succeed with Johnson and Roberts on the outside.
Johnson, for example, has dealt with injuries for the past two years now and has repeatedly failed to live up to the massive contract he received prior to the start of the 2018 season. Roberts, meanwhile, has never proven to be a starting-caliber cornerback.
Behind Johnson and Roberts, Blessuan Austin and Arthur Maulet have shown promise at times, but it’s unclear what the future holds for them. Nickel cornerback Brian Poole, who was signed as a free agent last offseason, has done the best job of proving himself as a reliable weapon.
Moving forward, the Jets will need to address the cornerback situation, as former general manager Mike Maccagnan should have in the offseason. This season has proved that.
Since being selected in the first and second rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft respectively, both Adams and Maye have proven that they can be of value to this Jets team.
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Adams, for example, is arguably the best player currently wearing green and white and without question one of the best overall safeties in the league.
He was named to his first Pro Bowl last season and was once again selected this year. In addition, he has been named the team MVP in consecutive years as well.
A vocal leader on and off the field, Adams plays with a type of fire matched by few others. His versatility also makes him an invaluable asset to Williams. This season, Adams leads the team with 72 combined tackles, 6.5 sacks, and one interception.
Maye, meanwhile, has dealt with some injury issues throughout his time with the Jets, but when healthy, he’s performed well for the team. And this year, he’s been healthy, appearing in 15 games and totaling 58 combined tackles, seven pass deflections, and one interception.
Aside from their personal statistics, the two are also the perfect duo, as Marcus Maye complements Adams incredibly well.
While Adams is often used more like a linebacker, playing closer to the line of scrimmage and blitzing more frequently, Maye has the ability to play a more traditional safety role, serving as the team’s centerfielder.
The two proved that just last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers as well, as Adams had eight combined tackles, while Maye had four in addition to an interception and two deflected passes. Michael Nania of Gang Green Nation also detailed the impact the duo had.
Jamal Adams & Marcus Maye showcased why they are one of the best safety duos in the league with an outstanding game against the Steelers:
Maye w/ 4 plays saving potential TDs/huge gains
Adams w/ 7 stops short of the sticks & 3 pressures (one leading to INT) pic.twitter.com/ttjeh6CYFX
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) December 27, 2019
Maye saving TDs as the last line of defense, and Jamal roaming around the entire field making noise in every way imaginable. This game was a perfect encapsulation of both at their best
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) December 27, 2019
Ultimately, the Jets have many holes to fill. And in order to do so, they may have to part ways with some of their top players in order to acquire more draft capital. That’s why both Adams and Maye were involved in trade talks as the deadline neared earlier this year.
But at the end of the day, both Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are still only 24 years old and 26 years old, respectively. They’ve each proven what they bring to the table and they’ve also proven that they’re better together than apart.
The Jets should be looking to build around these two rather than deal them away.