The Second-Year Defensive Back on Josh Allen: ‘He is Pretty Dangerous’ John Pullano
In August, the Jets named S Tony Adams, in his only second season, a full-time starter for one of the league's elite defensive units. Since the start of the season, Adams said he's felt pressure to play at the "standard" set by All-Pro defenders C.J. Mosley, Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner, and risen to meet it.
"We have all these guys that play at an All-Pro level, and it makes you want to be better," Adams said. "I am just going out there and trying to be better because of those guys. And one day, I have hopes to play at that level too."
DC Jeff Ulbrich added: "He is a guy that it is all so important to him. It is not pressure from a standpoint of it being too big for him, it is pressure from not wanting to let anyone down. You are starting to see him settle in and he will just keep growing. He has all the things we can't coach."
Adams, signed as an undrafted free agent in April 2022 out of Illinois, admitted when talking to Jets team reporter Ethan Greenberg that the adjustment to full-time starter hasn't been easy. He has made "a lot" of mistakes. But the young defensive back has made strides to become a valuable member of the league's seventh-ranked defense in points per game (19.1) and top-rated defense by Pro Football Focus (89.8).
"I felt like before, in my college career, I would put too much pressure on myself to make a play," Adams said. "But when I got here, I understood that this game is really simple. It is all about details, execution and violence. And if we play to the standard, which is excellence, then you are always going to come out on top. So, just understanding that, that is the only thing I care about for the rest of the season and helping this team win."
After he started in the Jets' regular-season finale against Miami last season - in which the team was already eliminated from playoff contention -, Adams made his second career start in Week 1 against the Bills in the Monday night opener. He had 5 tackles and helped Green & White force Pro Bowl QB Josh Allen into 4 turnovers.
"I felt like that game was super loud," Adams said. "MetLife was rocking, and I loved how I carried myself and my poise. I made some mistakes, but I know every game isn't going to perfect. As a starter I feel like I have been learning and getting better each week. I am still listening to my coaches an getting better each day."
Adams credited HC Robert Saleh, Ulbrich, defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel ,and teammates Jordan Whitehead and Adrian Amos for their guidance.
"They make me so much better because they hold me accountable and to the standard," Adams said. "And this whole defense, they play to a standard of ball. It is a standard the coaches hold us too. I can say that no one is satisfied and that makes you want to push more."
Adams missed games in Weeks 3 and 4 with a hamstring injury. But since his return he has been comfortable in his role. It showed in Week 6. When the Jets trailed the Eagles, 14-12, with fewer than two minutes remaining, Adams jumped a pass from QB Jalen Hurts and returned the ball 45 yards to the Philadelphia 8-yard line to set up BR Breece Hall's game-winning TD run.
With the team from Western New York coming up on the schedule again in Week 11, Adams will get an opportunity to show just how far he's come.
"A great quarterback and a really good running game and great receivers," Adams said. "It is always a great challenge going against a guy like Josh Allen. He is an All-Pro level QB that can make all the throws but what is scary is that he can do it with his legs as well. He is pretty dangerous. Knowing you have to contain him and Stefon Diggs outside and their running backs, you know it is always a challenge going against the Buffalo Bills, but we always embrace it."