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Four Quarters with Jamal Adams: Final

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a little fatigued from all the tape analysis, feel free to skip down to my summary. I marked it with three asterisks. My assumption is that no one has any reason to trust me. The NFL has become plagued by BS analysis. Watching a game, and obfuscating your memory of the game with black box statistics and jargon, is not analysis. Therefore I show my work. This took forever, and it was worth it for me. You get what you put in, I think, and I love to learn. My understanding of Adams’ game has significantly improved.

1ST & 10 AT DAL 25(03:23)

(3:23) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short left to M.Gallup to DAL 32 for 7 yards (D.Roberts).

Jamal Adams does a good job in press man coverage. Dak never really looks Jason Witten’s way.

2ND & 3 AT DAL 32(02:57)

(2:57) (No Huddle) D.Prescott pass short right to B.Jarwin to DAL 37 for 5 yards (N.Hewitt).

Adams’ backpedal looks fine when not matched man-to-man.

It’s debatable whether he’s wide enough to provide underneath coverage on Michael Gallup (#13), but it doesn’t matter. Prescott’s on autopilot, and Gregg Williams seems perfectly happy to allow him easy completions underneath.

1ST & 10 AT DAL 37(02:32)

(2:32) D.Prescott sacked at DAL 29 for -8 yards (J.Jenkins).

This is a coverage sack.

Prescott’s best bet would probably have been to scramble. Every receiver has a defender over top except for Blake Jarwin, and Adams is so tight to Jarwin that you’d swear it was one head, one torso and four legs running up field.

2ND & 18 AT DAL 29(02:01)

(2:01) (No Huddle, Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short left to C.Wilson to DAL 39 for 10 yards (B.Poole).

Adams gets an excellent jump without telegraphing too badly that he’s rushing the passer.

New York only rushes four meaning this is not technically a blitz. However thanks to a zigzagging motion by #60 Jordan Willis, the Jets are able to get the favorable matchup they’re seeking.

Elliott is known to be good at picking up free rushers. But, well ...

Get him a body bag?

3RD & 8 AT DAL 39(01:56)

(1:56) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass incomplete short left to M.Gallup (D.Roberts). PENALTY on NYJ-D.Roberts, Defensive Pass Interference, 13 yards, enforced at DAL 39 - No Play.

The next six plays involve a penalty. That’s one way to kill drama, National Football League.

Adams swings around to the left A gap. It looks like he has a lane.

But I suspect he’s reading Elliott in a green dog blitz. I.e. he rushes if Elliott blocks, but he covers Elliott if Elliott releases into a route. He neutralizes Elliott as a receiver but at the expense of his own chance to rush the passer.

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 48(01:52)

(1:52) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short left to E.Elliott pushed ob at NYJ 36 for 12 yards (N.Hewitt). Penalty on NYJ-B.Poole, Illegal Contact, declined.

Adams is miles from the action.

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 36(01:46)

(1:46) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass incomplete short left to E.Elliott. PENALTY on NYJ-B.Cashman, Defensive Pass Interference, 24 yards, enforced at NYJ 36 - No Play.

Even with all the camera angles available to me, it’s not always easy to get screen grab which clearly depicts Adams’ performance. This looks to me like a modestly blown coverage against Witten.

Prescott, in keeping with his tendencies, gives no more than a token look to his right before locking onto Elliott.

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 12(01:40)

(1:40) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short middle to J.Witten to NYJ 6 for 6 yards (B.Poole). PENALTY on DAL-C.Williams, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at NYJ 12 - No Play.

Witten finds a hole in the zone. Adams does not look quite as wide as you’d like here, given that Tavon Austin appears completely open, but Adams is reading the quarterback. And if Dak’s not gonna look at Austin, neither is Adams.

1ST & 20 AT NYJ 22(01:34)

(1:34) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short left to E.Elliott to NYJ 20 for 2 yards (J.Adams). PENALTY on DAL-M.Gallup, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at NYJ 19.

Here’s a hidden gem.


Not looking good, Jets fans.

Haha! You block no one Connor Wililams!

But the play is nullified by penalty.

1ST & 27 AT NYJ 29(01:28)

(1:28) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass incomplete short middle to J.Witten [L.Williams]. PENALTY on NYJ-J.Adams, Defensive Pass Interference, 13 yards, enforced at NYJ 29 - No Play.

This is damn good defense.

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 16(01:24)

(1:24) (Shotgun) D.Prescott scrambles left end to NYJ 8 for 8 yards (D.Roberts).

Pretty much as soon as Adams drops deep to cover Witten, Prescott begins his scramble.

It’s good coverage. He doesn’t otherwise factor into the outcome of this play.

2ND & 2 AT NYJ 8(00:58)

(:58) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass incomplete short right to T.Austin (M.Maye).

Adams is circled. The receiver targeted is in a rectangle.

3RD & 2 AT NYJ 8(00:54)

(:54) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short middle to E.Elliott to NYJ 4 for 4 yards (B.Cashman).

You’d think Elliott would be able to do something with this but nope.

1ST & 4 AT NYJ 4(00:47)

(:47) (Shotgun) D.Prescott left tackle for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Qb draw. Witten uses surprise to get a good block on Adams. Adams eventually escapes, of course he does, but it’s too late.

Prescott scores to put Dallas within two.

Our dramatic finish!

Adams is lighting quick off the snap.

Right away he’s pressuring the right A gap.

Adams forces the off-balance throw effectively winning the game for New York.


TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. D.Prescott pass to J.Witten is incomplete. ATTEMPT FAILS.

* * *

Adams is a downhill player with exceptional, exceptional footwork. Check out these two screen grabs and take note of his right foot.

He’s gonna trip for sure.

Tada! He’s not even gonna lose a step!

I was skeptical of Adams’ ability to blitz. Gregg Williams gives his DBs opportunities to blitz and that leads to sacks, but whether that’s a sound strategy, and whether those DBs were actually good at blitzing, was not very clear.

Shawn Springs, one of my first favorite players, had six sacks in 2004 while playing for Williams. He had 8.5 for his career. He’s hardly alone. DBs who had uncharacteristically effective pass rushing seasons under Williams include Samari Rolle, Coy Wire, Pierson Prioleau, Matt Bowen, Rashean Mathis, Roman Harper (a good blitzer but he had 12 of his 18 career sacks in three seasons under Williams), Lamarcus Joyner, Maurice Alexander and Nate Orchard. Which forces the question: Were these good pass rushers or were they schemed free? Did they win by surprise alone? I don’t know but ...

Adams is an excellent pass rusher. He’s sudden, he’s exceptional at working through trash, he’s calm as Frank Gore in tight spaces, and he abuses running back blocks. The one problem with all that?

Pete Carroll has not blitzed the safety. Recently. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor combined for just two sacks in their time in Seattle. But in 2010 his first season in Seattle Carroll got four sacks from Lawyer Milloy. Carroll recently compared Adams to Milloy. As a pass rusher, Adams is better. He better get some opportunities. And he will.

One thing which shows up on tape is Adams’ size. He’s really big. In a league in which Joey Hunt and Rodney Hudson can be listed as the same size and height, seeing a player on the field and comparing him to his peers is important. Guys wear weight in weird ways. Guys carry bad weight. Weights fluctuate. Adams has a good size frame and long arms and legs. He’s not Kam Chancellor but he’s big, and he’s not going to get manhandled. So many plays are determined not by the ball carrier or the tackler, but by the interactions of all the players around them. Size and length contribute every snap, every damn snap.

As does speed. Mike Mayock claimed he clocked Adams at 4.38 at LSU’s pro day. Eh, that’s not what I saw, but he’s plenty quick, and most importantly, his agility and footwork maximize the speed he has. Lofa Tatupu was one of the great all-time Seahawks defenders in his brief prime, and I see in Adams that same maximization of speed. He sees the field well, and perhaps more importantly, he has that rare ability to see two places at once. Adams has the athletic intelligence to look at the receiver, look at the quarterback, and through his understanding of what he saw the receiver doing, see the receiver even when he’s not looking at him.

His backpedal in man coverage was pretty damn ragged. That left him flying all over creation when tracking Witten out of his breaks. I think Williams misused Adams in this way, and that Adams would benefit greatly from zone coverage and specifically zone coverage in which he plays over. It may be that playing over will enable him to make more plays on the ball. Adams may be a better blitzer than Milloy, but in his first three seasons Milloy had 11 picks. Adams has two. That said, it sure looks to me like Adams has no trouble at all tracking the ball in flight. He just isn’t often in position to turn that awareness into an assertive attempt at intercepting the pass. But regarding this especially I admit that what I saw was a very small sample of his overall play.

He’s a plus-plus run defender who will enable Seattle to play more nickel. He brings much needed speed to Seattle’s defense. He should also help Seattle improve its ability to minimize run-after-the-catch. He takes great angles of pursuit, and something I just fricken loved, he even knows how to approach a scrum so that if a ball carrier does break free, he has a poised Jamal Adams waiting to make him regret doing so.

Finally, what I liked most about his leadership is just how much Adams was willing to listen to his teammates. Communication is not yelling. Confidence is not swagger. Adams talked but Adams listened too, and on almost every down you could find him working with his teammates to put everyone in proper alignment, including himself. He’s a big bravado MFer with a lot of swagger, and he’s also a confident young man with a lot of substance.

Which is why it cost so damn much to acquire him. And, unlike money, fans pay too when draft picks are exchanged. But this has been discussed to death. I won’t belabor it, only say, in life, when you give up a mid-round pick, you tend to get a mid-round talent. One can go broke through a million small acts of waste. One can get rich through a few major investments.

Or go broke, of course, and however much I am excited to see Adams play in Seattle, this trade is very much a win-now move. In 2020, especially, Seattle has a full draft class, first-round pick and all, and a maximally motivated Adams on a rookie contract. That’s a big advantage, but it’s only gonna last a year. But for the first time in a very long time, one of these ronin Seattle’s brought in to fix a shaky unit has a very good chance of sticking around. Strong safety is not a building block for most schemes, but it is for Carroll’s, and if this whole happy marriage carries on into the future, I suspect Adams will be a big part of another great Seahawks defense—maybe even this season. We’ll see.

For today I’ll say: When you buy a Lamborghini, you want it to be the freakin’ Aventador. Friends, can you hear that deafening roar coming around the bend?