Jamal Adams
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

Let’s take a dive into the mind of New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams when he’s reading a play-action pass.

Pure athleticism in this league only gets you so far. Every NFL player can play this game at the highest level.

What’s required are the things fans oftentimes don’t see on Sundays. The intangibles, including worth ethic and smarts, help the star player to an incredible degree. Possessing an astonishing football IQ helps, as well.

One man who knows it that incredibly well is Jamal Adams.


The New York Jets stud strong safety—the best at his position in the league—deploys an incredible football IQ to the point he’s seeing the football field similarly to Neo in the third Matrix. Blindfold the man; it would not matter. Instincts and feel would then take center stage.

Play recognition highlights Adams’s football IQ. When diagnosing plays, there’s nobody better in the game and today we’ll get inside his Matrix-type mind when playing defense against a play-action.

Jamal Adams

The Play

  • First-and-10 situation, 14-7 Jets, 7:55 remaining in the second quarter
  • 21 personnel, Weak-I vs. 3-4, SS Box, CB Press, Single-High

The Giants dial-up a first-down play-action with just a three-man route concept. Pat Shurmur is hoping for protection upfront that’ll allow one of his two receivers to shake loose downfield while facing a one-on-one situation on the outside.

The safety valve comes in the form of the tight end, whose block-and-release is designed to free him up on the field-side flat.

Jamal Adams

Adams’ Responsibility

It’s a Cover 1 all the way. Adams’s responsibility is the tight end. His positioning on this first down within the 3-4 base makes it, essentially, an old-school 5-3 look, which favors the Giants on a first-down play-action call.

Both corners are showing press. The top cornerback bails while the bottom runs. Marcus Maye is, of course, in a single-high angel look.


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