MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Big decision looms: Don’t be surprised if the Jamal Adams situation turns into a repeat of 2006, when first-year general manager Mike Tannenbaum traded a dynamic defensive player (John Abraham) for a first-round pick. Tannenbaum parlayed his No. 1 asset into center Nick Mangold, whom he chose with the second of two first-round picks. The first was left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Just like that, the Jets had an offensive line that would sustain their offense for several years.
Current GM Joe Douglas knows he has to rebuild the line and he can accelerate the process by obtaining extra draft capital. Enter Adams, another dynamic defensive player. It will be the big story in the offseason: Trade or no trade? In my opinion, it’s largely up to Adams because I’ll take Douglas at his word. He says he wants Adams to be part of the future, but this matter is more complex.
Will Adams carry his petty spat with Douglas into the offseason and demand a trade? Will he threaten a training camp holdout? Due to make only $3.5 million in 2020, he probably will demand a new contract and you can bet he will try to become the highest-paid safety, north of $14 million per year. (He will be eligible for the first time to get a new contract.) If he believes he’s on the Tom Brady/Aaron Donald level (pause here to chuckle), why would he seek less than top dollar at his position?
Adams is strong-willed and emotional, which fueled his overreaction to the trade talks with the Dallas Cowboys. His behavior was eye-opening to the organization, and probably his own locker room, because he certainly didn’t act like a captain. Adams insisted, “I’m not a ‘me’ guy,” but that’s exactly how he came off, going public with his feelings about management. Instead of handling it privately, he put himself above the team and became a distraction. He had the audacity to refuse a meeting with Douglas because he was too upset.
The irony is the Pro Bowl safety was hailed as a “culture-changer” when he was drafted in 2017. He’s changing the culture, all right, but not in a positive way. He voiced his frustrations (loudly) in the locker room during halftime of last week’s loss in Jacksonville, a source said. He claimed he’s all-in for the rest of the season, but I think he already has begun to execute his exit strategy.
In a few months, it will be up to Douglas to make the call: Trade or no trade? Adams is a terrific player and will continue to be one for many years (see: Abraham), but he would bring back at least a first-round pick and a second-day pick. The Cowboys were willing to part with a first-round pick and a third-day pick or a potential player, but they weren’t willing to meet the Jets’ demand for first- and second-round picks in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021, sources told ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer.
An Adams trade could give them six 2020 picks in the first three rounds — hmm, tempting.
My prediction: He gets traded.
2. Growing pains: Everyone has a theory on what’s wrong with the offensive line (talent, scheme, etc.). Add this to the list: chemistry. My sense is there was an issue at the start of the season because of Ryan Kalil‘s late arrival.
You know the story: The former Pro Bowl center was lured out of retirement to replace Jonotthan Harrison but sat out the preseason to get in shape. Harrison became a lame duck and was yanked as soon as the season started, which chafed some. They felt bad for the well-liked Harrison, who, thinking he was the starter, busted his rear end in the offseason. This made for an uncomfortable situation, I’m told, and it certainly was reflected in the line’s play. By his own admission, Kalil struggled to get acclimated.
“Our daily lives are difficult, so it doesn’t matter what the situation is,” line coach Frank Pollack said this week of the Kalil situation. “It’s our job to adapt and overcome all challenges, however small or however large they are. That’s what being a pro is all about.”
Midway through the season, the line is sputtering for different reasons. The Jets are only the second team since the 1970 merger to have fewer than 450 rushing yards and at least 200 sack yards lost through the first seven games of a season, per ESPN Stats & Information. The other team is the 1991 Indianapolis Colts, who went 1-15.
3. Costly injury: Kalil (knee) won’t play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS), and that will hurt his bank account. Per his one-year, $8.4 million contract, he gets a $93,750 bonus for every game he is on the active 46. He won’t be active this week, so no bonus. Harrison is expected to start. Tom Compton also got reps in practice.
4. Did you know? On paper, this could be the worst midseason matchup. Ever. This marks the first time in NFL history in which both teams enter with a -100 point differential or worse and fewer than eight games played, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Remember when the Jets-Dolphins rivalry used to mean something? There was the Mud Bowl … 51-45 … the Fake Spike … the Monday Night Miracle. Now all we have is the Gase Bowl, as the Jets’ coach faces his former team. Combined records: 1-13. Gase did a good job of downplaying the game’s personal significance, but you know this means everything to him.
5. Splitsville? It will be fascinating to see how the team responds to a tumultuous week. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who was traded to the New York Giants, was popular in the locker room, and his move stung some players. The Adams-Douglas feud, plus all the trade-deadline buzz, also raised eyebrows. This is the type of stuff that can demoralize a team, which would be a poor reflection on Gase. Or it could go the other way.
“It might be difficult to believe, but I think it made us stronger in terms of ‘screw the outside world’ and, to some extent, you can’t control what the front office is going to do,” tight end Ryan Griffin said. “If we’re going to think about what the press says and what the GM is doing, we’re going to go a bunch of different ways. When we’re on the field, we play for the other 10 guys.”
6. RIP, Sons of Anarchy: In 2015, the Jets had, on paper, a killer defensive line — Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison. They let the wrong guy walk (Harrison), and now the entire group is gone. Two words: Over. Rated.
Matthew Berry lists the players he loves in fantasy for Week 9, including Jets QB Sam Darnold and Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay.
7. Slumping Sam: The craziness of the week overshadowed Sam Darnold‘s two-game skid (seven interceptions). The coaches will try to help Darnold by changing up his launch point — i.e. moving the pocket, which also could help with pass protection. Truth be told, he hasn’t been great outside the pocket, either — 6-for-15, 54 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 44.9 passer rating, per ESPN Stats & Information. That said, it’s still a much-needed wrinkle.
8. Scoreboard watching: The Jets already have lost five games by at least 14 points. Some perspective: In Todd Bowles’ four seasons, which weren’t exactly plated in gold, they averaged four such losses per year. In 1996, widely regarded as the darkest season in franchise history (1-15), they had seven of those clunkers.
“Right now, the scoreboard might say that we’re noncompetitive, but we are far from that,” Douglas said.
Douglas is right. Three of the lopsided losses came during Darnold’s illness, and last week’s loss in Jacksonville was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. It’s too soon to rip Gase for blowout losses. If the trend continues against the relatively soft schedule, well, that’s a different story.
9. Dallas did what? Surprisingly, the Cowboys posted a story on its official website Tuesday about the team’s “reported” interest in Adams. The Jets declined to comment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets called the league office to see if the Cowboys violated an anti-tampering rule.
10. The last word: “It’s funny. A couple of people have come up to me, like, ‘I can’t believe you’ve done a trade with the Patriots and Giants.’ I don’t think of it that way. If it’s an opportunity we believe can help our organization, I don’t think we look at the decal on the helmet.” — Douglas, who was a guest on The Michael Kay Show (ESPN New York radio).