NY Jets: How the defense looks in the post-Jamal Adams era

NY Jets (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets defense is now without Jamal Adams, so now where does this leave the team?

Well, it was fun while it lasted NY Jets fans, the Jamal Adams era is over as he is headed to Seattle in a trade that shakes up the league. While the Seahawks gain a Pro Bowl safety, where does that leave the Jets defense?

The obvious answer is, without their best player.

It’s no secret that Adams has been the leader of the Jets defense over the last two seasons, but that doesn’t mean that Gregg Williams’ squad will be that much worse without Adams.

While the primary draw of this trade for general manager Joe Douglas is the three draft picks, an added bonus that will make an immediate impact in 2020 is safety Bradley McDougald.

The seven-year veteran will step into the starting lineup and attempt to replace Adams as the starting strong safety in Williams’ defense.

McDougald provides experience in the secondary and should pair nicely with Marcus Maye as the two will very likely be the two starting safeties come Week 1.

While McDougald isn’t expected to have the same impact near the line of scrimmage as Adams, his skill defending the pass is pretty solid and comparable to the departed star safety.

McDougald has similar pass defense numbers as Adams last season — six passes defended and two interceptions. He will also provide more experience and will hopefully calm things down in the Jets locker room.

So while the pass defense will have a realistic replacement for Adams, how will the Jets make up for his disappearance near the line of scrimmage against the run and rushing the passer? As far as I can see, there are four players who need to step up this year to fill that hole.

The NY Jets will need these four players to step up in Jamal Adams’ absence

The first two are in similar situations — both middle linebackers who missed most, if not all, of last season due to injuries. C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson will return to the lineup this year and will be the stars of this Jets defense now that Adams is gone.

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Mosley missed all but two games last year in his first season with Gang Green. Most notably, he made a distinct impact in the Jets’ Week 1 loss last year against the Buffalo Bills. A game that the Jets defense looked dominant in, prior to Mosley’s injury.

In his last full season with the Baltimore Ravens (2018), Mosley made 105 total tackles, six of which were for a loss, along with five passes defended. Overall, Mosley offers leadership for this defense and will be a huge help to an already-strong run defense.

His partner in crime will be Williamson. The 2018 addition to Gang Green’s defense was very solid in his first season with the team, recording 120 tackles, three sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles.

His speed in the middle of the defense will add to the skill already presented with Mosley and will make this duo of inside linebackers one of the best in the league.

Moving to a different position where the Jets need more production, we look at the defensive line, in the form of second-year lineman Quinnen Williams. In his rookie year, the third overall pick recorded underwhelming stats tallying only 28 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Williams played in 13 games in his first campaign and was frequently subbed in and out of the game, which is a staple of Gregg Williams’ defensive schemes.

While he could certainly use to see some more snaps, Quinnen Williams’ play will need to be elevated this year for the defense to succeed.

When he came out of the draft, some thought that he was the most talented player in the draft class. While that didn’t pan out in his rookie year, Williams can certainly have a bigger impact if he can put more pressure on the quarterback this year, which will be much needed without Adams’ impact.

One final player who I believe needs to step up in Adams’ absence is Jordan Jenkins. The outside linebacker who signed an extension this offseason will be much needed this year.

Racking up eight sacks in 14 games, Jenkins’ pass-rushing skills will be a huge help in replacing Adams. Pass rushing is something Jets fans want to be improved, to begin with. Now that Adams is gone, Jenkins’ role in this will be even more important.

Overall, you can’t say that the Jets have improved with the loss of Adams, but it also may not be as bad as some may think. The pass defense will not be affected all that much, especially with the addition of McDougald.

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While the run defense and pass rush will certainly take a hit, some of that can be made up by the play of certain key players returning from injuries and others stepping up this year.