The story that just won’t go away is the link of the Dallas Cowboys to All-Pro Safety Jamal Adams. Just as things got quiet on that front, it was reported yesterday that Adams has requested a trade from the New York Jets and has listed the Dallas Cowboys as one of his desired destinations.
The Cowboys showed interest in Adams just before the trade deadline in 2019. Only the Jets asking price was utterly unreasonable. They never had much intention of dealing Adams. However, as the contract situation for their star player continues to linger into the Summer, the idea of trading Adams may have become more plausible for the Jets.
Though the Dallas Cowboys brought in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency to play alongside Xavier Woods, neither of those players should preclude you from trading for one of the best safeties in the NFL.
If the price is reasonable from the Cowboys perspective, they should quickly pull the trigger and bring in the game-changing safety.
1. More than Just a “Box Safety”
You hear the term “box safety” thrown around a lot in the modern NFL. Generally, it’s used to distinguish safeties who are more or less players who stick near the line of scrimmage and play the run. The connotation is often a negative one, and it alludes to a player’s inability to play in coverage or only affect the running game.
Jamal Adams is more than that.
Yes, he’s at his best when he’s playing around the line of scrimmage or in the box, but that’s not because he can only affect the running game. As a pass rusher, he’s excellent, and he isn’t the liability in coverage that people want to make him out to be.
Per Pro Football Reference, Jamal Adams was 15th in the NFL among safeties in passer rating allowed at 75.2. He was eighth in the NFL in yards allowed per target at 4.9 among all defensive players and third amongst safeties behind Juan Thornhill and Earl Thomas — two players linked to the Dallas Cowboys over the last couple of years. Adams also tied for the team lead on the Jets with seven passes defended.
As a pass rusher, Adams had 6.5 sacks, which were second on the Jets and would have been second on the Dallas Cowboys. His 10 tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hits were each tied for the team lead.
Adams isn’t someone that you’re going to play in the deep middle of the field, but that doesn’t mean he can’t affect the game like those safeties that typically play on the back end. Just scheme him around the line of scrimmage and prosper.
2. Team Leader
The New York Jets were not a good team in 2019, yet they came away with a big win over the Dallas Cowboys and were able to win six of their final eight games of the season. Yes, that was during the part of their schedule, where they only faced two teams with a winning record.
They lost pretty handily to the Baltimore Ravens, but they were able to beat the then 8-6 Pittsburgh Steelers in a low-scoring 16-10 game.
Jamal Adams was a captain for that 2019 team and a catalyst for their win over the Dallas Cowboys.
One of the issues with the 2019 Dallas Cowboys defense was a lack of leadership with Tyrone Crawford out with an injury. After being acquired via trade, it didn’t take long for Defensive End Michael Bennett to establish himself as a powerful voice in the locker room. That leadership void on the defensive side of the ball led to an inconsistent showing from a group that had high hopes coming into 2019.
Adding Jamal Adams could help provide some of the leadership and intensity that was lacking last year.
3. Game-changing Defensive Piece
The best way to describe Jamal Adams is disruptive. He is always around the football and affecting the game. He’s a player that you could line up at several spots in the defensive formation, and he’s going to make life difficult for the opposing offense.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan would have a lot of fun scheming up blitz packages with Adams. He can rush off the edge or up the middle. Adams, combined with Jaylon Smith, would make for an incredible tandem to send on rushes up the A gap while DeMarcus Lawrence and a combination of others rush off the edge. Adams’ ability to time and snake through the offensive line makes him one of the more effective blitzers in the NFL.
We were all witnesses to this disruption in the Dallas Cowboys week six loss to the New York Jets in 2019.
On a third and one and then fourth and two against early in the game, Adams found his way through the blocking scheme to disrupt both plays in the backfield and force the turnover on downs. On third and one later in the game, Dak Prescott targeted Jason Witten on a short flat route, after Witten appears to make the catch, Jamal Adams puts a hit on him that dislodges the ball for an incompletion.
On the two-point conversion attempt to tie the game, Adams timed the snap perfectly and went completely unblocked through the line of scrimmage and hit Dak Prescott as he threw the football leading to an incompletion and ultimately the end of the game.
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Just because Jamal Adams does his damage at or near the line of scrimmage, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss his value as a safety. The Dallas Cowboys have struggled over the last several years to control the line of scrimmage consistently and keep the second level from getting blocked. Adams’ ability against the run could help.
Obviously, as in all things, the price matters, however, Jamal Adams is one of the best players in football. If the Jets are willing to deal their All-Pro safety, the Dallas Cowboys have to take a shot at adding one of the most prolific playmakers in the NFL.