Jamal Adams shapes Seattle defense
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
By Kartik Mathur
The world of NFL was stunned when this blockbuster deal took place. The Seahawks gave up an ocean to acquire Adams from the Jets, trading two first-round picks (2021, 2022), a third-round pick (2021), and Bradley McDougald. Was it worth it? Definitely. Seahawks anyways have a bad history with first round picks, so they didn't have much to lose. Jamal Adams brings the total package to the Seahawks defense, solidifying Seattle's pass rush, coverage and of course bringing along the hype. Adams has the speed to cover receivers on the outside, agility to cover them in the slot, size to cover tight ends the strength to stop the run, and wits to rush the passer. He literally is the entire package. Not only does he do all of those things, but he does them at a high level, resulting in his PFF grade of 87.9 in 2019, and an 89.8 in 2018. Anyone who doesn't know why he's so special; he finished the year with 75 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, seven passes defended and one interception. Adams also returned an interception for a touchdown and returned a fumble for a score.
Adams graded as PFF’s seventh-best safety in pass coverage last year. His 2019 grade was good enough to rank him second in the NFL for safeties. His ability to blanket tight ends in man coverage is the most valuable. He actually played 14.5% of his snaps in the slot as well proving to be quite versatile. Adams’ strength enables him to slow the TE's release, which disrupts the timing of the play and enables Adams to get the better position.
Adams is so effective against tight ends because he’s one of the few defensive backs who understands how to fight for position at the catch point. Most DBs lack the strength and body awareness to prevent tight ends from boxing them out at the catch point, but not Adams. Looking back at Kam Chancellor, who went up against big tight ends and locked them down, Adams will definitely bring a similar sight.
Over the last two seasons, Adams ranks first in the NFL in run stops (80) and top-10 in tackling efficiency among safeties, per Pro Football Focus. He understands how to read and react to blocking schemes while demolishing through the offensive lineman, both with physicality and smoothness. Adams’ awareness of blocks and ability to sneak by them is a huge reason why he’s so effective in run support. There are numerous safeties who can make tackles when they’re unblocked, but Adams is only one of a few who can still make an impact even when opposing blockers try to get their hands on him. This forces the running back to cut back inside into the jaws of the defense, thus usually being tackled for a loss.
Adams plays a significant amount of his snaps in the 'box' in order to contribute to the run game, but also plays zone a lot here. His game-play with the Jets showed he was responsible for curls, digs and in/out routes. In these situations, Adams displays outstanding vision and awareness that enables him to take away QB reads, contest the catch point and limit the yards accumulated after the catch on underneath throws. While playing deep, quarterbacks don't test him. For example, the longest completion made on Adams last year was just 21 yards — the fourth-lowest among starting safeties last year. Aside from his exceptional football IQ, his speed and quickness allows him to cover the field in a span of a second and lay big hits on receivers and running backs. Overall, his abilities allow him to rule the field on defense while proving to be the most versatile safety in the league. Seahawks spent a lot of time playing zone coverage in 2019, so Adams should be fitting in with ease and will play a big role in the upcoming 2020 season.
Adams has more sacks in his first three seasons (12) than any defensive back in the NFL since sacks were first recorded in 1982. He also had 17 quarterback pressures last season, which was 10 more than any other defensive back in the league. Since 2006, Adams is the only safety in the league to finish a season with 20-plus pressures, and he’s done it each of the last two seasons ( 22 in 2019, and 25 in 2019 ). Aside from all this, he is the best safety at blitzing, and definitely is of the best defensive backs in this criteria. Towards the end of the regular season in 2019, Adams had the 2nd-best pass-rush win rate (21%) and the highest pressure rate . Over the last two seasons, Adams has the same pass rush win rate as Dee Ford. Pass rush has been probably the biggest need for the Seahawks and Adams definitely brings an instant change and will probably record more sacks than he did last year.
Overall, he improves practically every aspect of the defense. Adams fits perfectly with Seattle as well. He brings a competitive attitude and devotion to winning and already loves the fans and the culture. He'll pair up with Quandre Diggs to form possible one of the best duos in the league. With Shaquill Griffen and Quinton Dunbar on either side, and Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs behind them, the Seahawks just created an elite secondary.