Bradley McDougald
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New York Jets strong safety Bradley McDougald welcomes the new opportunity that’s taken him east to New Jersey.

Robby Sabo

Bradley McDougald thought he was in trouble. Why would the Seattle Seahawks be calling him now, at this exact moment? It’s what made that moment terrifying; he thought something had seriously slipped up in his life. He thought he did something wrong.

Instead, the seven-year vet picked up the phone to find out he had been shipped to the New York Jets for disgruntled star Jamal Adams. McDougald—despite his veteran status—had never been traded before, so his initial feeling was one of shock.

He could not believe the team he had worked so hard for did not want him anymore.

“It was almost like his voice echoed in my head & he continued to speak for like two more minutes and all I heard in my mind was Jets, Jets, Jets,” McDougald told reporters on Friday’s media availability.

McDougald, 29, revealed that he was eating dinner with his family when Seahawks general manager John Schneider dialed his number.

If any NFL player had his shot to get mad at the world, it was this guy. But as Jets fans will soon come to learn, the man does not dwell on the negative aspects of any situation—no matter how hard it hits initially.

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His professionalism took hold and his attitude about the situation quickly corrected itself. Opportunity always lies ahead.

“I had no time to feel sorry for myself or focus on anything negative other than just come into a new program, earn my respect from the players and the coaches, and go out there and be the best me in New York.” McDougald said.

“At first, I was kind of struck. I felt abandoned, like they just kicked me out, like they didn’t care about me or value me there. But then I started to think about how much of a blessing this was and another opportunity (to impress).”

No matter the Jets’ feeling on their new safety, the organization’s defense will look drastically different in 2020. The cold, hard reality that nobody can replace Jamal Adams is as clear as Joe Namath’s famed nightlife.

Rigid safety looks featuring Adams low and Marcus Maye high worked thanks to the former’s versatility. Whether it was rushing the passer, setting the edge with authority or plugging an interior run-support responsibility, McDougald’s strengths contrast with Adams’.

Gregg Williams surely knows this already. More interestingly, McDougald knows his defensive coordinator is already aware of his incoming personnel and how to make it work on the field.

“Intense” is how McDougald categorized his first conversation with Williams.

“The first conversation was intense,” McDougald said. “He’s an intense coach. He forms his defense around his players.”

Besides, the safety who prides himself on versatility shows up with an express purpose that avoids trying to replace Adams.

“I can’t be Jamal. I’m not the same person as Jamal. The only thing I can do is show up every day and be the best Bradley McDougald and hopefully that wins my coaches, my players and the fans over.”

McDougald not only spoke of his versatility, but he also thought the recent criticism that called out his lack of tackling ability was unjust. That, along with his self-proclaimed man-coverage abilities, serves as ammunition for not only Gregg Williams’ 2020 defensive identity, but for McDougald’s football mentality.

He’s not Jamal Adams yet he already feels confident with the New York Jets, courtesy of Gregg Williams’ football genius.

Bradley McDougald is right: there’s always opportunity in any situation. Only a player with that mindset can turn an undrafted rookie status and special teams-only player into a starting strong safety NFL role who represents a key cog in a package that replaces the best at his position in the league.

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