New York Jets: Jamal Adams, young defense making strides

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — There are numerous cliches when it comes to the NFL, about games being played on the field, not on paper, and that anything can happen on any given Sunday.

Of the 14 games played this past Sunday, eight teams that were underdogs based on Vegas odds, including the New York Jets, won the game, while three of the other six covered the point spread, and another, the Lions, came within a half-yard of doing both.

Honing in on the Jets, it wasn’t necessarily shocking that they beat a division rival in their home opener. It was that the did it in such dominant fashion.

It was that a defense that had allowed a league-worst 370 rushing yards in the first two weeks held Miami’s Jay Ajayi to 16 yards on 11 carries after he went for 122 yards the week before. It was that Josh McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson after the offense’s longest play to that point was only 34 yards. It was that a safety, Terrence Brooks, who played only 30 snaps, was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting two passes.

He had one career interception in four NFL seasons before Sunday.

So while improbable outcomes happen all the time in the NFL, the Jets’ domination was rather inexplicable.

“Absolutely perfect game,” Boomer Esiason said Tuesday night on “Inside the NFL” about the Jets. “When you watch the tape, what you’re gonna see is young, defensive guys flying all over the place. … Pretty impressive.”

Youth is fickle in the NFL. It sometimes leads to silly mistakes, but it also comes with immense talent and promise, something the Jets’ defense has run the gamut of in only three weeks. The average age of the Jets’ starters on defense is just over 25, with two rookie safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, and the only player over 30 being 31-year-old nose tackle Steve McLendon.

With the team in rebuilding mode, Sunday’s crowd seemed to feed off the passion the defense played with, and that was evident the most on crucial downs, as the Dolphins went 1-for-12 on third downs and failed to convert three fourth-down plays.

“I definitely want to keep that energy when I’m on the field. Set the tone,” Adams said. “The fans feed off us as much as we feed off of them. When we got excited, we started making plays.”

Adams epitomized the give-and-take that comes with young players. He recorded his first career sack on Sunday and had another tackle for a loss and a pass deflection. But he was also called for a taunting penalty after Buster Skrine’s sack on third down that gave the Dolphins a first down near midfield. The penalty came after the game was already a blowout, so it didn’t hurt the Jets, but Adams will need to control his emotions in closer games.

“He’s an exciting player. He did a lot of things the right away,” head coach Todd Bowles said about Adams. “He brings a lot of emotion with him.”

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