The NY Jets will need to rely on these three members of the roster to replace Jamal Adams.
But in the short-term, there are few ways to truly replace an All-Pro talent like Adams. That said, there are ways to mitigate the concern.
There is no one player on the Jets’ roster who will be able to match what Adams does. No one will provide the on-field leadership and energy that he did. There’s no one capable of equalling his stat-sheet production.
Rather, it will be a collection of individuals who do their best to alleviate the concern of losing a player as talented as Adams.
It will be the responsibility of both the players and the coaching staff to replace what Adams brought to the table. That’s certainly an unenviable task given everything Adams accomplished in his three years in New York.
After all, there’s a strong argument to make that he’s the best safety in the NFL.
Nonetheless, the Jets have the talent necessary to replace Adams more than most teams. And it’ll be all hands on deck in 2020 as the team looks to do just that.
Let’s take a look at three members of the Jets’ organization who must do their part to replace Adams this season.
Next: 3. Gregg Williams
3. Gregg Williams, DC, NY Jets
We’re cheating a little here since Gregg Williams isn’t technically a player, but he remains critical to the Jets’ defensive success this season regardless.
Williams was nothing short of phenomenal in his first season in New York. The former Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator made the most of a lackluster supporting cast and captained one of the better defenses in the NFL last year.
The Jets finished with the No. 2 run defense in football despite countless injuries at the linebacker position. For reference, the Jets’ leading tackler on the season was James Burgess, a practice-squad player who was the team’s fifth option at linebacker.
That wasn’t all, however, as Williams was forced to deal with essentially no edge rush and what looked like one of the worst cornerback groups in the NFL going into the year.
But Williams got the most out of virtual unknowns such as Blessuan Austin and Arthur Maulet and the Jets’ cornerbacks were actually top-10 in the NFL over the second half of the year. No one could have seen that coming.
However, he’ll once again have his work cut out for him in 2020 after losing his best player.
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Williams will need to maximize the talent at his disposal and get creative in his usage of certain players. That’s nothing he didn’t do last season, but it remains crucial that he puts together a repeat performance in 2020.
While the attention will be on a number of players to match Adams’ production, perhaps no one remains more important to the defense’s success than the man calling the shots behind the scenes.
Next: 2. C.J. Mosley
2. C.J. Mosley, LB, NY Jets
The Jets may have lost their best defensive player in Adams, but they’ll be looking to return the next-best thing in C.J. Mosley.
Mosley missed essentially all of last season after injuring his groin in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills. For the two quarters that Mosley was healthy, he looked like one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all we saw from a healthy Mosley in 2020. Now with a full offseason of rehab under his belt, the hope is that Mosley is healthy and ready for a bounce-back season this year.
And with Adams now out of the picture, the Jets will be relying on him more than first anticipated.
Not only will Mosley be the most talented, accomplished defender on the field for the Jets, but the team will need some way to replicate Adams’ on-field leadership. Mosley isn’t as vocal as Adams is, but no one has ever questioned his leadership.
The four-time Pro Bowler was a team captain for a number of years with the Baltimore Ravens and was the unquestioned leader of a defense that featured some pretty experienced players.
Mosley will not only be asked to match some of Adams’ production on the field, but he’ll be asked to captain the defense much as he did in Baltimore.
And provided he’s healthy, there’s no reason why he can’t do that.
Next: 1. All three safeties
1. All three NY Jets safeties
Much like how there won’t be one single player replacing Adams’ production, there won’t be one individual player replacing him in the starting lineup. In reality, all three of the Jets’ top safeties will be tasked with replacing him on the field.
The incumbent Marcus Maye will share more responsibilities than he has in the past, perhaps being asked to play in the box or in man coverage more than he has before in his career.
Newly-acquired veteran safety Bradley McDougald will be given the first crack at the strong safety role that Adams filled, but there’s no chance he’s used in the exact same way as Adams was.
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Instead, we’ll likely see some of 2020 third-round pick Ashtyn Davis who will surely find his way on to the field in his rookie season. While a free safety by trade, Davis is versatile enough to contribute wherever Gregg Williams asks him to play.
And that, in essence, is how the Jets will replace Adams in the defensive backfield.
Maye will take on more responsibility. McDougald will provide a veteran presence and replace Adams in the most traditional way. And Davis will be used as a swiss-army-knife, chess-piece for Williams to play with.
All three together will be tasked with replicating Adams’ production. Will it happen? Likely not to the same degree, but there’s enough talent at the position that it’s not really a true weakness even without Adams.
The Jets have the talent to replace Adams, and it will be up to Maye, McDougald, and Davis to make sure the defense doesn’t take a huge step back without their star safety.