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Jets Safety Reset: Big Three in the Deep Middle

Jamal Adams 'Still Rising,' Marcus Maye Had Impactful Return, Ashtyn Davis Joins the Group

Table inside Article
How Signed Returning Jets Newly Arrived Recently Departed
Draft Jamal Adams (2017 1st Rd), Marcus Maye (2017, 2nd Rd) Ashtyn Davis (2020 3rd Rd)
Waivers Bennett Jackson (2019 BAL)
VFAs Matthias Farley (2019) Rontez Miles (2013 VFA / 2020 UFA), Blake Countess (2019 VFA / 2020 Released)
1YFA Anthony Cioffi (2019)

Cornerstones and Returnees
Jamal Adams leads the way for the Jets' safety position, their secondary, and their defense. With 91 tackles, he edged LB James Burgess and became the first safety to lead the Jets in tackles since Victor Green in 1999. Of his 7 PDs, he took one back for his first INT-return TD at New England. His big leap was in pushing the pocket: His 3 sacks at Washington tied the NFL record for most sacks in a game by a DB, his 6.5 sacks (all in a four-game span) set the franchise record for a season and challenged the league mark, and one of his sacks was a strip of the Giants' Daniel Jones that he took to the house for his second TD of the year.

Adams joined Erik McMillan (1988-89) and Dainard Paulson (1964-65) as the only Jets safeties to play in back-to-back Pro Bowls, and he became the only Jets safety to twice be named Curtis Martin Team MVP. Whew!

No. 33 was teamed up again with No. 20 — Marcus Maye, after struggling through multiple injuries in 2018, put in a full season as his 1,089 scrimmage plays and 1,127 total plays led all Jets on both sides of the ball. His best play may have been the monster last-minute end zone PD that preserved the late-season 16-10 win over the Steelers. DBs coach Dennard Wilson said he was "one of our best players on defense" in the second half.

Matthias Farley signed as a free agent late in camp and played in 13 games, virtually every snap on special teams. Bennett Jackson was off and on the roster all year and saw limited December action.

Comings and Goings
Ashtyn Davis is a highly athletic, hard-working third-round rookie out of the U. of California who figures to carve out a niche for himself in the secondary. Anthony Cioffi is a first-year man from Rutgers was a final cut of the Raiders in 2017, played two seasons in the CFL and was signed as a free agent in February.

Rontez Miles bled green and white since he joined the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of California (PA) University in 2013. He played in 54 games (6 starts) and on defense he logged 749 plays and 89 tackles, had his only INT in 2015, 2 forced fumbles in '16 and a fumble recovery in '18. But specials is where 'Tez starred: He put in 1,205 plays on teams and unofficially racked up 58 kick coverage tackles, the Jets' leader from 2013-19. He is a free agent now.

Blake Countess was also released this offseason after signing with the Jets as a free agent last October and playing exclusively on special teams over six games.

Wilson knows he's got a dynamic safety position to work with. On Adams, he said: "He's still rising. Jamal's one of those guys, he doesn't want to be average, he doesn't want to be good. He wants to be great."

On Maye he said: "I think for Marcus, the sky's the limit. ... He's a leader in the back end. He loves football. He's willing to do anything for the team to have success. I love coaching the young man, I love being around him, I love everything he stands for. I think going forward you'll see the best of him."

And of the newly arrived Davis, Dennard said at Cal "you saw a guy that competes at a high level. He's sideline to sideline. He didn't have the opportunities a lot of people had coming into college, so everything he had to do, e had to work for, he didn't skip steps. Guys like that, you know in his core, his character, the way he attacks the game, he's not going to change. He's willing to go above and beyond."

See the Jets Safeties in Images Leading Up to the 2020 Season