What New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said to Jamal Adams after the game continues an appropriate organizational theme.
In spite of the predictably lopsided result, this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill NFL regular-season game. The New York Jets‘ 40-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks marked the Jamal Adams Bowl, the contest that saw the excellent strong safety square off against the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2017.
The hoopla, of course, commenced. It didn’t matter that the 0-12 Jets were sure to lose. It didn’t matter that the two clashing squads presented a severe mismatch in the personnel department. The Jet hero-turned-villain had a chance for a touch of revenge, something that sells like hotcakes in this country.
It also presented the Jets organization a shot at another class move, a commonplace attribute in the Joe Douglas era.
Heading into the game, Adams made it clear that he didn’t hate anybody on the Jets, including his former head coach, Adam Gase. Gase made it clear he wouldn’t avoid Adams after Sunday’s contest. These were his public thoughts after Adams decided to nuke his then-current head coach in a one-on-one interview with the New York Daily News in July.
It all came together for a bit of a Hallmark conclusion when the Seahawks stud safety revealed what his former head coach had to say to him following the game in the Great Northwest.
“He told me to go get one. He was talking about a Super Bowl,” Adams told the media in the postgame Zoom call. “A lot of the guys came up to us and I don’t want to blow our guys’ heads up or myself, which I’m not, but they were just saying that we have a great team. And we’ve always believed in that. But he just congratulated me, wished me well, told me to stay healthy.”
It’s not personal; it’s strictly business.
Adams, 25, broke the NFL’s safety single-season sack record Sunday. While the sack didn’t come in ferocious style (chasing Sam Darnold out of bounds), the play helped him leapfrog Adrian Wilson‘s previous record of eight.
Gase informed the media that he hugged Adams after the contest. What he said vocally wasn’t offered up as media material, as Gase would rather keep those personal moments away from public consumption.
“I hugged him,” Gase told the media on his postgame Zoom call.
Now, with 8.5 sacks on his 2020 stat line, Adams looks to do damage in the NFL postseason—something he has yet to experience courtesy of his first three seasons in New Jersey.
Despite the fashion for which he exited the Florham Park, NJ building—a pure nuke job—it’s still all love.
“I don’t have any hate towards, not even just Gase, to the organization,” Adams said. “Everybody just has different views and we had to move differently. We had to take a different leap. Obviously, the trade happened and I’m happy to be here. I wish those guys nothing but the best, I really do. I mean that. I know a lot of the Jets fans don’t really think I’m coming from the heart but I really am. I’m thankful for my time over there.”
Consider the unfolding events since the 2019 NFL trade deadline. Consider how Adams treated the organization. And then consider how the Jets have reacted while under the worst possible circumstances.
This isn’t the same organization that would have surely seen Rex Ryan challenge a man or 10 via the media. Instead, the Jets are playing the long game. It’s strictly business.
Adams first went off the deep end after he was told the Jets were “shopping him” to other teams.
At the end of the week last week, I sat down with the GM and Coach Gase and told them I want to be here in New York. I was told yesterday by my agent that the GM then went behind my back and shopped me around to teams, even after I asked him to keep me here! Crazy business.
— Jamal Adams (@Prez) October 29, 2019
Douglas’s response was telling. Instead of avoiding the topic, he decided to fall back on his front office education (courtesy of Ozzie Newsome teachings), explaining that he was taught to pick up the phone when other teams call about a player. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily “shopping a player.” It simply means he should listen to all thoughts, a valuable weapon when wheeling and dealing with 31 other franchises. Getting to know each organization’s real-time thoughts help possible future dealings.
In the following days, Adams clearly expressed his hurt.
“It definitely hurt me,” Adams said. “I hold myself at a high level. The Rams, they don’t take calls on Aaron Donald. The Patriots don’t take calls on Tom Brady. You know what I mean? That’s where I hold myself.”
On one hand, Adams wants to be considered in that upper-tier of NFL players. On the other, he desperately wants to win. Yet, his chances of winning are hindered by emotions that make it impossible for the general manager to do his job to the best of his ability.
After repeatedly stating that Adams was part of the Jets’ long-term plan, it was clear Douglas wasn’t ready to sign him prior to his fourth NFL season. This was unacceptable in Adams’s eyes, leading to unacceptable teammate actions such as telling the world he was “trying to get to Dallas,” saying goodbye to Marcus Maye publicly, mixing it up with Jets fans on social media and even publicly bashing his head coach.
No matter how right any one person feels he may be, every one of those offseason actions is incredibly wrong as one member of a family. Nonetheless, Douglas and the Jets stayed the course. Not one negative word about Adams came from the Jets camp. Not one negative report was leaked—something that happens routinely in this league in order to save face.
“This is a business and you don’t take things personally,” Douglas said following the trade that sent Adams to Seattle. “Obviously there’s a reason why those things were said. I don’t take those things personally and I don’t think anyone took those things personally. You kind of understand why those things were said and I can promise you that didn’t affect any of our decision-making that happened over this last week.”
What Gase did following Sunday’s game just added to the Jets’ new-found positive message. Here’s a coach, most likely on his way out with no incentive to play nice, and he delivers professionalism while employed by the Jets. And he played nice with the very player that destroyed him publicly just several months prior.
Whether Adams is truly at peace or not isn’t the real question. The kid pulled an all-timer to ensure the Jets traded him before the season—something that could haunt an independent contractor in this league for years to come if things don’t fall into place.
As for vindication, only time will tell. The impatient men and women of football will point to the Jets’ 0-13 mark and scream, “See, Jamal was right.” Those who understand the organization’s decade-long path en route to this current predicament know better, and Gase’s postgame message to Adams should remind everybody of that corrected course.
Separating the Douglas-led work from the previous poor player development and drafting is the sole item currently providing hope. Whether or not Adams could identify that isn’t important now. How the Jets have handled this entire situation is incredibly important now that Adams is in Seattle—one of the franchises he listed as a possible trade destination.
Douglas and the organization never once badmouthed Adams publicly, indirectly or backhandedly. They never allowed themselves to senselessly roll around in the mud. And despite his future with the franchise, Adam Gase continued that theme under tough circumstances.
It may not seem ultra-important on its face, but it matters when thinking bigger picture. And only the bigger picture is important to Joe Douglas right now. The bigger picture is the only thing that can turn this ship around.
It’s never personal; it’s strictly business, and it has to be in this hardened salary-cap football world.