The Jets have two big losses on defense to overcome this year after losing safety Jamal Adams and C.J. Mosley over the course of a week. What was once a sturdy Jets defense a year ago is suddenly filled with question marks.
At the very least, the Jets have experience playing through the loss of C.J. Mosley. Mosley missed nearly all of last season, only healthy for the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said that the team’s experience without Mosley last year has prepared the defense for the challenges ahead.
“We went through a lot of that defensively here last year and the next man up and how we adapt to those things,” Williams said. “The focus and energy right now are on that and on those things, and the energy is outstanding, the attention to detail is outstanding and we’ve got to stay healthy.”
Adams, the Jets’ do-it-all stalwart last season, had 75 tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and two defensive touchdowns in 2019. That production is going to be difficult to replace, but Williams seems to believe they got a capable safety in Bradley McDougald, who came over from Seattle in the Adams trade.
“He is very, very good and you know I love those kind of guys that have had to (prove themselves) as (they) rise up through the ranks.” Williams said about McDougald. “He’s intelligent. He works extremely hard and the thing that makes it or breaks it for you at this level is that you are not afraid to work when nobody else is looking.”
The Adams trade will give the Jets a new starting safety tandem for the first time in three years as McDougald will be taking over Adams’ spot next to Marcus Maye. Maye and Adams were drafted together in 2017 by the Jets and have been the backbone of the Jets’ defense.
“It was a lot of stuff going on with him,” Maye said about Adams’ split with the Jets. “Me just being a friend with him, I was just listening to him, just in his corner. Obviously, we were in two different situations, so whatever he was going through in the situation I was there to listen to him and be there for him.”
Maye said that the Jets can only focus on who is on their roster moving forward. Like his defensive coordinator, Maye was complimentary of McDougald’s skillset.
“We’re both versatile, we both can play in space and in the box,” Maye said. “So it’ll be interesting to see how coach does it with lining us up in different places and stuff like that. I’m excited to have him here and we’ve been communicating and working to get better every day.”
Maye said that it was “tough” to learn that Mosley was opting out just a week after Adams was traded, but that the linebackers stepped up last year so they’ll have to do it again this year. Defensive end Jordan Jenkins said the team has to maintain their “next man up” philosophy as they endure the losses of Mosley and Adams.
The Jets are saying all the right things as they move forward into 2020 without two key defensive weapons. Soon enough, they’ll have to back up their confidence with results on the actual field.
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