The start of the final quarter of one of the most difficult seasons in Jets franchise history takes the Green & White to Seattle this weekend. Entering their 13th game and still searching for their first win, the Jets will look to grab it Sunday against an opponent that it will be connected to for years.
Last July, Jets GM Joe Douglas sent All-Pro safety Jamal Adams and the Jets' fourth-round selection in 2022 to Seattle in for the Seahawks' first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, along with a third-rounder in 2021 and veteran S Bradley McDougald. The Jets have four games to play, and Douglas has the capital to quickly improve his roster this offseason with not only financial flexibility but also nine picks in the first three rounds over the next two years.
In eight games with Seattle, Adams has a career-high 7.5 sacks and is closing in on the NFL's single-sack record by a defensive back. Adams, 25, an instinctive force who knows only one speed, could be on his way to the postseason for a first time.
"He's a guy who is going to come downhill and wreak havoc for the offense," said wide receiver Jamison Crowder. "You just have to prepare for him and prepare for that defense as much as possible and go out there and play the game. He's definitely the guy you circle on the scouting report to see where he's at, at all times. But at the end of the day, you have to go out there and play and make plays and still have fun and try to do your thing."
The Jets will attempt to do their thing after suffering the cruelest of heartbreaks. With victory in their grasp against the Raiders and a 28-24 lead last Sunday, Raiders QB Derek Carr beat a Cover-zero blitz with a 46-yard scoring pass to Henry Ruggs with :05 seconds remaining. A win vanished and questions followed if the Jets had anything left, but Head Coach Adam Gase said the energy was "phenomenal" this week at practice. Some players pointed to the need for amnesia while others said progress continues to be made.
"The way we practice doesn't reflect our record by any means," said C Connor McGovern. "I've been on teams with better records that didn't practice this hard and with this much enthusiasm and energy. And I think that's why we've gotten better every game this year, we're improving, we're one play away every time right now, the last couple of weeks."
The Jets have been closer -- three of their past four contests and four of their past six games have been one-possession losses. But numbers also support that they've played their best ball at MetLife Stadium. In five road games, the Green & White have averaged 12.2 points and haven't eclipsed 9 points in three of those contests. Conversely, they've yielded 31.2 points on average away from home and opponents have reached 34 points in three games.
One would figure a fast start would be imperative for a Jets club that needs to be focused on what's in front of them and that's a Seahawks team that is 8-4 and smarting from a disappointing 17-12 home loss to the Giants. The Jets have scored on six consecutive opening drives, which is both the longest streak in the NFL and tied for the longest streak in franchise annals.
"These guys are doing a good job, turning the page and figuring out a way of when they step on the field of going new week, new opponent," Gase said. "Let's go figure out a way to go win a game."
Quarterback Sam Darnold said: "Just like any other team, there are ways to be able to make our hay. But we have to do a really good job with all the details and focus in."
The offense will have to make their hay without Denzel Mims, though, as it contends with a Seattle defense that not only ranks 32nd against the pass (309.8 Yds/G) and 28th in third-down efficiency (47.5%), but also 26th inside the red zone (67.4%) and yielded 190 rush yards to the Giants.
On the other side of the coin, interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush will call the signals for a unit that hopes to slow down Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson & Co. Bush, a coordinator with the Houston Texans in 2009-10, played linebacker at N.C. State under a coordinator named Pete Carroll.
"He taught me, if not anything else, how your attitude is going to dictate a lot of things for you," Bush said of Carroll, who's led the Seahawks to eight playoff berths and a Super Bowl title since 2010. "If you just have a proper attitude and be positive about things, things kind of having a way of working out. I've kept those lessons with me and I've watched how he operates now. I know what he brings to his team, so that's exciting."
Bush can take comfort knowing that Marcus Maye, Adams' former safety partner in the Jets secondary, has been a great leader for his unit. Maye, who has talked with Adams throughout the year, smiled when asked how much he thinks Adams would like a win over the team that drafted him.
"I'm pretty sure we all want it just as bad as he does," Maye said. "So it's coming from both sides."
This Jets are not going to quit and they'll face a Seahawks team that cannot afford a second consecutive home defeat. As far as the Adams trade, nothing will be decided on Sunday and this could be a rare swap that works in the long term for both teams.
"I think both sides got what they wanted," Gase said. "At the end of the day, I think it will benefit both sides, too."