Ok, we got him signed. Now what? What are reasonable expectations for the most expensive safety in the history of football in terms of draft capital lost and money spent to retain contractually?
In May I wrote a Fanpost asking the questions if he was worth the trade?
Now I want to try and answer the question of what is reasonable to expect from him? Adams has been very polarizing guy for the 12's. There are some who feel he is the best safety in football, while there are others, like me, who didn't think he was the best safety on the team last year. Adams is one of 4 defensive players in NFL history to be traded for multiple 1st round draft picks, so I believe it's fair to expect an elite level of play.
Below I will outline some measures that I will use to help answer the question. Obviously, there is a lot of subjectivity here, but I will do my best to keep expectations reasonable even though they will be high.
I will compare Adams specifically to Strong Safeties that played a minimum number of snaps last year as well as hold him to metrics he has achieved in past seasons with the Jets. The majority of my data will be pulled from Pro Football Reference (PFR) since it is free and available to anyone to view. There will be a few metrics and grades pulled from Pro Football Focus (PFF) as well.
In general, I like to keep things simple, so I will use only those metrics that I feel are the most important and relevant for a strong safety (SS). Adams is being paid elite money, so I will expect elite performance and will define elite as being in the top 5 in any given stat. Also, keep in mind that this upcoming season is 17 games, so more would be expected on cumulative stats.
1. Tackles for Loss. These are the equivalent of a sack on a non-QB behind the line of scrimmage.
2. Missed Tackle %. Obviously, the lower the better. Missed tackles lead to first downs and TD's for the other team.
3. Passer Rating when Targeted in coverage. This metric includes a QB's completion %, yards per attempt, TDs per attempt, and interceptions per attempt in one number from 0 to 158.3.
4. Stops. As defined by PFF, "a play where a defender makes a tackle, and the location of the tackle means the play is successful one for the defense" based on the down and distance to a first down or TD. All Stops count as solo tackles, but not all solo tackles count as stops. Stops are MUCH more significant and beneficial to a defense.
5. PFF Grade and Position Rank. These are subjective grades given to a player that is NOT based on any stats, but rather how good of a football play the player made on a play-by-play basis. I think they are a good counterbalance when using a lot of metrics to judge a player.
Here we go....
TFL Expected = Minimum of 9
These are one of Adams strengths. He has led all strong safeties the past 3 seasons in this stat. Last season he had a career-best with 11 in only 12 games, very impressive. He has never had fewer than 9 in a season. Top-5 SS had 7 last year.
Missed Tackle % = less than 7%
Honestly, one of the most impressive stats I saw when the trade went down was his high level of TFL's (10) and low level of missed tackles (5.1%) in 2019, a truly remarkable combo. Unfortunately, he took a step back last season as his missed tackle % almost doubled to 9.8%, which was slightly worse than the average strong safety of 8.8%. Top-5 SS last season was under 5%.
Passer Rating when targeted in coverage less than 75
His last 2 years with the Jets Adams had an average Passer Rating when targeted of 75. Last season that ballooned to 105. Note, PFF actually gave him a Rating of 122 as a result of giving him credit for 3 TD's scored against him. Pro Football Reference did not credit him for any TD's given up. Top-5 SS last season was under 72.
Stops = minimum of 37
Unfortunately, this is not available from PFR and must be found on PFF. Stops are effectively a win for the defense each time one is made by a defender, the more the better. This is another strength of Adams as he has averaged almost 37 per season for his career. Top-5 SS last season had 33 or more.
PFF grade of at least 88 OR a safety position rank in the top 5
His last 2 seasons with the Jets Adams had an average grade of almost 89 and was ranked inside the top 5 both years. Last season represented his worst PFF grades and rank of his career at 64 and was ranked #37 out of 64 safeties.
You may note that sacks are not included in the above because I think they are a terrible measure of how good a strong safety is. Don't get me wrong, sacks are immensely beneficial to a defense, but using them as a measure for how good a safety is would be like using interceptions to judge a defensive end.
There are some other stats like passes defended, interceptions, forced fumbles, yards per target, and solo tackles that I will be tracking with him, but, in my opinion, are of lesser value than the aforementioned stats above
Lastly and most importantly there is one more expectation....
Defensive points and TD's allowed per game less than 22.2 and 2.5
In 2019, without Adams, the Seahawks defense gave up 22.2 points and 2.5 TD's per game. In 2020, with Adams, they gave up 23.4 and 2.5, showing no improvement in either stat. If Adams is truly a game-changer with the potential to elevate the defense then it must be reflected here. My expectation is that the defense will not only improve upon last season but will also improve upon 2019.
Those are my expectations/hopes as they relate to Jamal Adams this year. If he can pull them off then I will likely be all smiles about cashing in the kid's college fund to acquire and sign him. He is going into the season healthy and without the excuse of not being familiar with the defensive scheme. Time to play.
What are your thoughts?
Do you think these expectations are fair?
What are your objective expectations for Adams and the team this year?