The Jets notched their second victory of the season Sunday, beating their stadium co-tenant Giants 34-27. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. After doing his talking on social media and to the traditional media two weeks ago, Jamal Adams did his talking with his play Sunday. Boy, did he make a statement.
Adams was dominant against the Giants. He had nine tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and the defining play of the game when he pick-pocketed Daniel Jones and then scored a touchdown.
The 24-year-old safety still is not in the class of Tom Brady or Aaron Donald, who he compared himself to a few weeks ago, but he made his case why the Jets should think twice about moving him this offseason.
There is no doubt in my mind that Adams is going to ask for a new contract after this season. He will be entering the fourth year of his rookie contract and that is when players are permitted to ask for new deals. Adams is scheduled to make $3.5 million next year when the highest-paid safeties are making $14 million per year.
There is no doubt that Adams is one of the best safeties in football, but here is the rub for the Jets: Do you pay a safety when you have so many other holes? If Adams were a cornerback, this would be a no-brainer, but safeties are not considered foundation pieces like quarterbacks, left tackles, edge rushers and top corners.
But Adams showed Sunday what a disruptive force he can be. This will not be an easy decision for Joe Douglas this offseason. Douglas also faces a major roster rebuild and one way to get an extra first-round pick is to trade Adams. If the Jets have two first-round picks, they could take two offensive linemen or a lineman and an edge rusher. The argument against trading Adams is the Jets are unlikely to select a player as good as Adams is at his position.
So, do you want the elite safety or take your chances on two high draft picks?
It is going to be the story of this Jets offseason. If the Jets don’t pay or trade Adams, they could have an unhappy player next summer and a possible holdout situation.
That is getting ahead of ourselves, though. On Sunday, Adams made his case for a big payday. Will the Jets be the team to give it to him?
2. The Adams issue is yet another illustration of how quickly things change in the NFL. It would have been hard to imagine discussing an Adams trade two months ago, then it felt likely two weeks ago and now it feels like it might be crazy again.
The Jets-Giants meeting Sunday made me look back at the last time they played to see how many starters from that game remained with the team. It is crazy how much turnover there has been with both teams in four years.
Jets guard Brian Winters is the only player on either team who started the game on Dec. 6, 2015 and Sunday’s game for the same team. One player out of 44. Eli Manning is the only player among the Giants starters who is still on the team. Leonard Williams started both games, but for opposite teams.
Can you imagine if I told you in 2015 that Odell Beckham would not be a Giant in 2019? Or how about Williams would be a Giant and not a Jet?
It shows how quickly things change in the NFL and how trying to predict the future is silly. That won’t stop us, of course. There is no doubt these two rebuilding teams will look drastically different in 2023 when they meet again. Will Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones still be the quarterbacks? The last Jets quarterback to start two consecutive games against the Giants was Chad Pennington in 2003 and 2007.
How about the coaches? It feels like Adam Gase and Pat Shurmur may not make it to Thanksgiving, never mind 2023. The last Jets coach to face the Giants two games in a row was Joe Walton in 1987 and ’88 when the teams played more often.
Here’s hoping the game in 2023 is more meaningful for both teams and maybe these teams can turn it around over the next four years.
3. Former GM Mike Maccagnan has been a punching bag for how poorly his draft picks have performed, but Sunday was a pretty good day for some Jets draft picks. We already covered what 2017 first-round pick Jamal Adams did, but there were others.
LB Jordan Jenkins, a third-rounder in 2016, had two sacks, one coming on a third-and-12 late in the game for the Giants. Jenkins, a free agent after this year, is a solid player who should be brought back.
QB Sam Darnold, the top pick in 2018, had a turnover-free day and accounted for two touchdowns.
DL Nathan Shepherd, a 2018 third-rounder, played his best game as a pro with three tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss.
DL Folorunso Fatukasi, a 2018 sixth-rounder, had two tackles, one for a loss, and played a big role in bottling up Saquon Barkley.
DL Quinnen Williams, the first-rounder from this year, had a huge hit on Daniel Jones.
OT Chuma Edoga, a third-rounder this year, looked more comfortable at right tackle after playing on the left side for the past three weeks.
TE Trevon Wesco, a fourth-rounder this year, had a huge fourth-and-1 run for two yards and a third-and-1 pass reception, both to keep scoring drives alive.
CB Bless Austin, a sixth-round pick, made his debut and had three tackles, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
This roster still has plenty of holes, but Maccagnan could point to some production from his picks on Sunday.
4. One more thing on Austin, who played his first game since Sept. 1, 2018 when he tore his ACL for the second time at Rutgers. He is a tremendous story. Watching Austin run on a side field all training camp, I kept thinking how frustrating that must be for him. He just wanted a chance but the medical staff wanted to wait.
Austin got his chance on Sunday when he replaced an ineffective Nate Hairston in the second quarter. He took advantage of the opportunity and has earned himself playing time going forward.
Revealing stat: Five different Jets players registered tackles for loss in the game and the 23 rushing yards allowed are the fewest the team has given up since a 2016 win over the Ravens when they allowed a franchise-record 11.
Surprising snap count: Brandon Copeland played all 72 snaps in the game. Copeland has moved from outside to inside linebacker, a position decimated by injuries. He played well on Sunday and was all over the field.
Game ball: There is only one way to go with this: Adams was dominant. The only play anyone is going to remember from this game in 10 years is his strip-sack for a touchdown. But don’t forget the other fumble he caused from Jones and the fourth-and-1 stop on the quarterback sneak by Jones. Adams was a beast.
For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast: