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Jamal Adams’ single-season sack record is good for Seahawks and NFL

New York Jets v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Jamal Adams got his sack against his former team, and the NFL record is his.

The Seattle Seahawks’ star safety now has 8.5 sacks, the most for a defensive back in one season. It came in Week 14 against his former team, the New York Jets.

He did it in nine games.

It’s significant for the Seahawks in many ways, but the reality of their recent plight stands out at the top. Adams is now the most productive pass rusher that Seattle has had in four seasons, outside of 2018 Frank Clark. He’ll probably end up beating 2017 Frank Clark with three games left. Clark had 9 sacks that season, and Adams has three more shots.

Again, he’s a safety.

Good for Seattle

This has been the conversation around Adams all season, with plenty of opinions landing in the camp of “don’t rush the safety so much it exposes the secondary.”

Jamal Adams had a very typical Jamal Adams game on Sunday. That is to say, he played very well. He scared people. He made the ball go places the other team did not want the ball to go. He was involved on tons of plays. He dropped the easiest interception of 2020. He gave up the first passing first down conversion of the game in coverage.

He’s a safety, but it will only cause untoward stress to consider him truly part of the secondary. He’s part of the front half of the field as often as he can, which the Seahawks allow, which is good.

On a night when Carlos Dunlap did not play, Adams and Poona Ford were very effective on the line of scrimmage. Adams finished with another classic game for him, which involved at least one tackle for loss, QB hit, sack, forced fumble, and pass defended.

This pass, the one that he...defended.

Adams’ emergence as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, period is very good. The fact that it comes from a “secondary” position is extremely good.

He is, statistically, a similar anomaly to Aaron Donald. No, not as good so don’t say I said that.

Sacks are hard to get and affecting the quarterback is at the top of the defensive priority list these days. Not just pressures on the stat sheet, but actual, affecting.

Aaron Donald and Jamal Adams do that, and they are the two best players in the league at doing it from somewhere other than a typical defensive end.

Now factor in the trade for Carlos Dunlap.

Opposing offensive coordinators have to account for Dunlap, an accomplished pass rusher, from a typical position. They then have to account for Adams, an accomplished pass rusher, from a completely unorthodox position in that he can effectively line up wherever he wants.

And as has been the conversation for about three weeks now, this has made a difference. With Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers largely out of late, the secondary is suddenly “better.”

Because affecting the quarterback goes miles in this league, and Seattle is finally doing it with two players again.

Good for the League

It’s a much smaller point, but this record could be a blessing for the NFL as a whole. Adams was one of the largest trade hauls in recent history. Sports Illustrated listed their thoughts on the five biggest trades in NFL history and only one was from this millenia (Robert Griffin III). I’d argue the Mitchell Trubisky trade topped that and the two firsts for Adams has to be in conversation. Khalil Mack also garnered two firsts and some change two years ago.

The point here is that the Seahawks gave the going rate for one of the best defensive players available, but were able to put him in a position to do even more than his previous team. When general managers get fearful, they tighten up. When deals are too scarce the league stagnates. That the Jets can get the picks they got, and that Adams is a better player (yes) for Seattle is great for future superstar deals, which is simply exciting news for the fans. But the real win is that Pete Carroll and his team have been willing to let Adams be himself. He can get mad at Joe Fann all he wants, but a player with plus plus coverage makes that catch, and other plays.

Instead, he’s the defensive back single-season sack record holder on three quarters of a season while having his coverage skills critiqued week in and week out. It’s interesting, it’s entertaining, it’s been a good trade, and he’s the player that the Seahawks needed.

If Adams gets 1.5 more sacks he’ll be in double digits, matching Frank Clark as the only Seattle Seahawk to do so since Cliff Avril in 2016.