A spark last year who has plans on igniting a fire, Jamal Adams is determined to help the Jets become an elite NFL team.
"I honestly feel I was born to play football, and I was born to inspire. That's what I love to do," Adams said. "I just love to have fun. I live each and every day like it's my last. I enjoy life."
The LSU product inspired others his rookie season with the Jets. Reeling in two sacks, five pass defenses, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, the first-round pick was recognized as a third alternate for the 2018 Pro Bowl.
But Adams was never focused on individual accolades. He believes he is here to help his team experience sustainable success.
"Winning is everything to me. I'm a sore loser," he said. "I can strongly say that. But when we do lose, I always say, 'I don't lose, I learn.' It's a learning experience. So I never drop my head after a loss. But I definitely learn from all of the mistakes we had as a team, as a defense."
One learning experience for Adams that was on full display was the Jets' first meeting with the New England Patriots back in Week 6. Facing a future Hall of Famer in Rob Gronkowski, Adams allowed two touchdowns and was charged with a 24-yard pass interference call.
Adams was dissatisfied in his performance, but the 24-17 loss was taken as an opportunity to grow. He was confident his next individual matchup would be different when the Jets faced the Patriots in Week 17. He didn't disappoint.
On New Year's Eve at Gillette Stadium, Gronkowski wasn't targeted once and finished without a catch for the only time in 2017.
"Gronk got the best of me. He did. And I learned from it," Adams said. "I went into this game with that chip on my shoulder, and I wanted to pitch a shutout. And I definitely did. At the end of the day, it wasn't good enough, because it's not about one person."
Adams wasn't content after the Jets dropped the 26-6 contest in the final week of the season. But he was encouraged by his first professional steps, which he took alongside another gifted safety in his first year, former Florida Gator Marcus Maye.
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"Marcus is a great player and outstanding person off the field. Our chemistry, our philosophy back there just automatically clicked when we came together," Adams said. "The sky's the limit for the both of us. But we're just going to keep striving and keep getting better and hopefully be one of the best duos in the National Football League."
While many changes are on the horizon, Adams believes he has an opportunity to be at the forefront of a new era with the Jets.
"This team is striving for excellence. We're not far off. We're just missing a few pieces. But once we get those things and once we lock in as a team, and focus throughout all four quarters, this team has a chance," he said. "This team has the talent, the energy, the passion, love and confidence to be special."