Jamal Adams is changing the safety position. These five plays showcase why.
Jamal Adams has redefined the limits of what an NFL safety can do as a pass rusher. After setting a new record for the position with 18 pressures in 2018 (since the stat was first tracked in 2006), Adams came out and clobbered that record with 23 pressures in 2019 – even while missing two games.
Of the 352 players (at any position) with at least 50 pass rush snaps in 2019, nobody created pressure at a higher rate than Adams (25.6%), who picked up his 23 pressures over just 90 opportunities.
What makes Adams so special in this phase is that he has legitimate rushing skills. Any defensive back can get home if their coach sends them at the right time. Adams is able to go beyond what is schemed up for him through his package of pure pass-rush traits that few DBs in league history have boasted.
It’s a combination of both mental and physical proficiency that makes Adams an unstoppable force. Adams times the snap well, knows how to masquerade his intentions, and takes crisp/efficient routes to the quarterback. Physically, he can power through tight ends or running backs, can win with speed and quickness, has the motor to chase down from the backside, and even shows off some finesse moves.
Let’s dig into five tremendous plays that exemplify what sets Adams apart as a pass rusher.
Hesitation move vs. Redskins (Finesse)
Most defensive backs have very little polish to their pass rushing game. They usually run as fast as they can towards the pocket and hope for the best, lacking the ability to defeat blockers in any way.
Adams is a different breed. He has all of the tools necessary to evade obstacles and reach his destination.
On this play, Adams uses a subtle hesitation that forces the left tackle (Donald Penn) to open up, freeing himself to get around the corner and bring down Dwayne Haskins. Also take note of how Adams dips his inside shoulder to bend the edge and avoid the tackle’s punch, sealing his victory.
Safeties are not supposed to have those weapons in their arsenal.
Manhandling of Saquon Barkley (Power)
Adams had one of the best individual defensive performances of the 2019 season against the Giants, highlighted by two strip-sacks of Daniel Jones in which he destroyed Saquon Barkley.
The second of the two was downright rude.
Adams shows how much of a mismatch he is against a running back in a 1-on-1 situation. He lowers his center of gravity and gets his inside arm into Barkley’s chest (who foolishly lowers his head) to blast him back, then reworking his hand up to Barkley’s shoulder to toss him out of the way. Adams snatches the ball from Jones and takes it to the house.
I mean. . . sheesh! This angle prominently showcases how dominant that play was.