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Where does Adrian Amos fit in the NY Jets’ defense?

Adrian Amos, NY Jets, Stats, Analytics, Grade
Adrian Amos, New York Jets, Getty Images

Breaking down New York Jets safety Adrian Amos

The New York Jets signed veteran safety Adrian Amos to a one-year deal on Tuesday afternoon.

For a few hours, it seemed like the addition of Amos gave the Jets a third starting-caliber safety alongside Jordan Whitehead and Chuck Clark. However, we soon found out that Clark is believed to have suffered a serious knee injury, which will likely sideline him for a substantial period of time (he is waiting on a second opinion).

Now, it looks like Amos has a strong chance of starting for the Jets. He will compete for reps against Jordan Whitehead and Tony Adams among others, but as a ninth-year vet who has started 68 consecutive games dating back to 2017, Amos has the inside track to a starting job.

Amos, who turned 30 in April, ranks sixth among active safeties with 122 career starts. The Penn State product was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and immediately proved he belongs, starting all 16 games for the Bears as a rookie. Amos played four seasons in Chicago before joining the Packers in 2019, going on to start in every regular season and playoff game for Green Bay over the past four seasons.

Who is Amos as a player? What are his strengths and weaknesses? What role suits him best in the Jets’ defense?

We will answer all of these questions and more in this all-encompassing breakdown of Amos’ stats and analytics.

Build/athleticism

Amos’ testing numbers are from eight years ago, so it’s fair to assume he has probably lost a step, but it is still worthwhile to get a feel for the type of athlete he is.

  • Height: 6’0″ (34th percentile among S)
  • Weight: 218 lbs (88th percentile)
  • Arm length: 32¼” (71st percentile)
  • Hand size: 9⅛” (34th percentile)
  • 10-yard split: 1.50s (91st percentile)
  • 40-yard dash: 4.56s (50th percentile)
  • Vertical jump: 35½” (50th percentile)
  • Broad jump: 122″ (60th percentile)
  • 3-cone drill: 7.09s (28th percentile)
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.03s (90th percentile)

Amos is on the larger end for a safety, weighing in at 218 pounds (if you’re wondering, he is still listed at 218 on the Jets’ official website). Meanwhile, his height is below average at exactly six feet, suggesting he has a stocky, powerful build for the position. He also has above-average arm length.

While Amos thrived in the 10-yard split, suggesting he has excellent burst, his 40-yard dash wasn’t nearly as good, which suggests his long speed is mediocre. Amos also shined in the 20-yard shuttle, though his 3-cone time was subpar. This could mean he has good change-of-direction speed but doesn’t have the best short-area quickness, which could relate to bending around a blocker or flipping your hips in coverage.

Role/usage

With great size and burst but lackluster long speed and short-area quickness, Amos’ athletic profile is more befitting for a physical box safety than a rangy deep safety – and that’s exactly how he has been used in his career. Amos has definitely not been pigeonholed to the box – he’s actually quite versatile – but his teams have leaned toward using him near the line of scrimmage more often than most other safeties.

Seen below is a breakdown of how often Amos lined up at each position in 2022 (in terms of the percentage of his defensive snaps) and where he ranked among 73 qualified safeties. Also listed are the 2022 league averages for safeties, which helps us visualize how Amos’ usage compared to the average safety.

  • Deep safety: 45.2% (42nd) – NFL average for S: 51.2% (Amos: -6.0%)
  • Box: 37.9% (17th) – NFL average for S: 26.7% (Amos: +11.2%)
  • Slot: 14.3% (37th) – NFL average for S: 16.2% (Amos: -1.9%)
  • Edge: 1.2% (58th) – NFL average for S: 3.9% (Amos: -2.7%)
  • Outside CB: 1.2% (42nd) – NFL average for S: 1.9% (Amos: -0.7%)

Amos ranked 17th among safeties with 37.9% of his defensive snaps coming in the box, which was 11.2% higher than the average safety in 2022 (26.7%). Over his four years in Green Bay, Amos played 35.1% of his snaps in the box.

Here is a comparison between the 2022 usage rates of Amos, Jordan Whitehead, Chuck Clark, and the Jets’ previous free safety, Lamarcus Joyner.

NY-Jets-Safety-Stats-Role-Alignment-Free-Strong

Amos’ usage compares closely to Clark’s. The main difference is that Clark was placed on the edge far more frequently, but they had the exact same percentage of deep snaps. This means Amos should be a good fit to fill the role Clark was going to play.

It will be interesting to see how the Jets alter their usage of the safety position compared to 2022. As you can see in the chart above, the Jets’ two starting safeties in 2022 had clearly-defined roles. Joyner was the deep guy and Whitehead was the box guy.

With nearly three-quarters of his snaps coming as a deep safety, Joyner was one of the heaviest deep-leaning safeties in football. He would man the high safety position in the majority of the Jets’ single-high coverages. Whitehead would roam around the box in those single-high looks. He’d typically only play deep if he were joining Joyner in a two-high look.

Now, with Amos replacing Joyner alongside Whitehead, the Jets have two safeties who are more comfortable in the box. Neither is comfortable in the Joyner role, where they will have to play a significant number of snaps as a high safety.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Joyner struggled last year, and Whitehead also struggled in his role, so it could be good to change things up. I’m just curious to see what the Jets have planned. Having either Amos or Whitehead directly replace Joyner’s role would not make sense, so a big change has to be coming.

That is, unless Tony Adams wins the starting job as Joyner’s replacement while Whitehead and Amos duke it out for the role Whitehead played last year. That would be a feasible path to maintaining the same roles, but otherwise, the Jets would have to make changes to how they utilize their safeties compared to 2022.

Primary strength: Tackling consistency

As we will get into later on, there are a few areas where Amos’ production has declined over the past few years. However, he can still be counted on to provide reliable tackling.

Here is where Amos ranked in missed tackle rate over the past four seasons.

  • 2022: 7.8% (18th-lowest of 73 qualified safeties)
  • 2021: 6.4% (9th of 74)
  • 2020: 9.5% (20th of 67)
  • 2019: 5.9% (8th of 68)

Overall, Amos missed 7.4% of his tackle opportunities in Green Bay, which is much lower than the 2022 league average for safeties (11.6%).

Amos is particularly sound in the passing game, where he has a stellar missed tackle rate of 5.1% over the past four seasons. In total, Amos only missed 10 tackles against the pass across 68 starts with the Packers. He is not quite as consistent in the run game, posting a miss rate of 9.9% as a run defender in Green Bay, although that is still better than average.

Amos provides a high level of involvement against the run. Since 2019, he ranks ninth among safeties with 176 total tackles in the run game. He is adept at making stops on his own; Amos is third among safeties with 111 solo tackles in the run game since 2019.

Concern: Two consecutive years of declining coverage production

Amos was a solid coverage man in his prime, but over the last two years, he started to decline in that phase.

Here is where Amos ranked in passer rating allowed over the past six seasons.

  • 2022: 123.8 (66th of 74)
  • 2021: 95.7 (40th of 74)
  • 2020: 71.7 (9th of 67)
  • 2019: 82.4 (27th of 68)
  • 2018: 78.8 (23rd of 67)
  • 2017: 81.8 (24th of 74)

In 2022, Amos was charged with allowing 33 completions on 44 targets (75.0%) for 307 yards (7.0 yards per target), six touchdowns, and one interception, per PFF. Amos was also tagged with six touchdowns in 2021, although the rest of his numbers were far better: 32 completions on 55 targets (58.2%) for 316 yards (5.7 yards per target) with two interceptions.

Amos was only charged with six touchdowns in total from 2017 to 2020.

Zone coverage is the main issue, especially in two-high coverage

It’s in zone coverage where Amos has shown the most decline. He was a standout zone defender throughout his prime.

Back in 2020, Amos was PFF’s top-graded zone coverage safety (91.4 grade), and according to NFL Next Gen Stats, he allowed a completion percentage over expected (CPOE) of -11.2% in zone coverage. That ranked sixth-best among the 42 safeties who faced at least 20 targets in zone coverage.

But in 2022, Amos ranked as PFF’s fifth-worst safety in zone coverage (52.7 grade) while his CPOE rose to 3.2%, placing 39th of 51 qualifiers.

More specifically, it’s in two-high coverages where Amos has taken the steepest drop-off.

In 2019, Amos’ CPOE when targeted in two-high coverage was a stellar -12.7%. He remained elite with a -10.1% mark in 2020. Across those two seasons, opponents completed just 14 of 34 passes (41.2%) for 224 yards against Amos in two-high coverage, with those passes having an expected completion percentage of 52.3%.

Amos stooped to mediocrity in 2021 with a CPOE of 2.1%, and in 2022, he tumbled yet again to a brutal 14.3%. In 2022, opponents completed 7-of-11 passes (63.6%) for 190 yards when targeting Amos in two-high coverage, despite those passes having an expected completion percentage of 49.3%.

The Jets ranked third in the NFL in two-high frequency last season, using two high safeties 50.9% of the time (versus league average of 40.8%), so it will be problematic if Amos does not get back to his previous heights in this area.

Not a standout in man coverage or slot coverage

Amos has shown he can occasionally line up against tight ends in man coverage, although his production isn’t great.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Amos played 112 man coverage snaps against tight ends from 2019 to 2022. He was targeted 28 times and allowed 19 receptions (67.9%) for 183 yards (6.5 yards per target / 1.63 yards per cover snap), two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His CPOE was 2.8%, and he only recorded one pass breakup.

Amos also isn’t impressive in slot coverage. Since 2019, Amos has recorded 324 snaps in slot coverage (4.9 per game), allowing 45 completions on 66 targets for 415 yards (6.3 yards per target / 1.28 yards per cover snap), five touchdowns, and zero interceptions, resulting in a 110.4 passer rating.

It’s best to temper expectations for Amos

Amos is an accomplished NFL starter, bringing much-needed experience and durability to a safety unit that already needed both of those things even before Chuck Clark went down with a serious injury. For those reasons, he is certainly a worthwhile pickup for the cost of a one-year contract that is worth up to $4 million.

However, it would be wise to keep expectations tempered for Amos. He’s shown some significant signs of decline in coverage over the past two years. The NFL appears to be similarly skeptical about Amos’ outlook, considering he lasted in free agency until June and could only fetch a modest one-year contract from a somewhat desperate team. Teams were not exactly itching to sign him.

At the least, I would expect Amos to bring efficient tackling to the Jets’ defense, especially as a last line of defense against the pass. That alone would make him an upgrade over the Jets’ safety play from last year. He should also be an active playmaker against the run.

But there are a lot of questions about his coverage that need answering. Is Amos entering the declining phase of his career? Or does he have a resurgence left in the tank? Amos was never a great man or slot coverage guy – his bread-and-butter was zone coverage. So if he is no longer capable of thriving in zone, he could be a massive liability in coverage, especially in this two-high-heavy Jets defense.

It also remains to be seen how the Jets plan on using Amos and their other safeties. Amos and Whitehead’s skill sets are similar. Can the Jets really afford to start both of them?

Safety remains the most suspect position on the Jets’ defense entering 2023. However, the addition of Amos helps the Jets land on their feet after losing Clark. From a skill set standpoint, Amos is an ideal fit to fill Clark’s shoes. Plus, his experience should be beneficial for the development of the Jets’ many young safeties.

There is some upside that comes with Amos, too. Yes, he just turned 30 and has shown signs of decline, but the guy isn’t 40. We’ve seen safeties succeed into their thirties, as it is a highly cerebral position where instincts and smarts can help you succeed even as your athleticism deteriorates. Amos also hasn’t dealt with any serious injuries that could hinder his longevity. With all of that in mind, it is not impossible that his 2022 season was an anomaly and he still has at least one great year left in him.

That is the best-case scenario, though. For now, it is best to keep expectations in check for Amos. He’s a solid pickup to replace Clark, but all of the same concerns this unit had on Tuesday morning are still intact.

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Matt Galemmo
11 months ago

“it is a highly cerebral position where instincts and smarts can help you succeed”

I’ve always believed this to be true. I like the guys that “play faster than their 40” at safety. It’s more important to go to the right place quickly than the wrong place super fast.

I was hoping you would have a theory for what happened last year, but if you told the whole story then it appears there is none. No scheme changes, different usage patterns, or injuries to teammates? Was he exposed on particular routes or areas of the field that the Jets might be able to cover over? Was he exposed on longer plays, where an improved pass rush might make a difference?

I’m tempering expectations, but can you give me something the coaching staff can do to make 2022 an aberration?

Jets71
Jets71
11 months ago

I have a feeling we may see a trade for a safety. I think Becton could be on the block and could bring a good safety (I know nothing just a wild prediction). I also think this could be a year they trade a draft pick for a safety. The projection is; they could be receiving a couple of compensatory picks so trading a 3rd for a solid starter could make some sense.

Jonathan Richter
11 months ago
Reply to  Jets71

I can’t see anyone wanting to trade for a guy that hasn’t played in 2 years.

Psi
Psi
11 months ago

I agree with 71 that the team will be in the market for a Safety. Tony Adams also is a super important piece with the way this off-season has gone. Best case scenario is he continues to improve and solidifies the FS role and allows the SS role to be the focus of personnel improvement via trade or Whitehead’s second year in system.

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