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Jets HC Robert Saleh on S Tony Adams: 'He's Going to Be a Fixture Here for a While'

Second-Year DB Says QB Aaron Rodgers ‘Brought that Juice’ Back to Late Season Practices


After the Jets signed safety Tony Adams as an undrafted free agent in 2022, coaches made it clear that he would need to learn to control his emotions.

"The coaches used to tell me I am a very emotional player," Adams said. "Passion is okay, but when you play with emotions, that is when you start to make mistakes."

With that in mind, Adams improved by leaps and bounds in first full season as a starter. He converted that fiery passion into a productive year 2 – highlighted by a few timely interceptions.

"It was important for me to understand who I am," Adams said. "And how that affects me while I am on the field, so I can prepare for it. And in think it helped me this season."

After veteran Chuck Clark, acquired by the Jets in March, sustained a torn ACL in April, Adams earned the starting job during training camp. Playing alongside primarily Jordan Whitehead and Ashtyn Davis, Adams started 15 games and registered three interceptions, five pass defenses and 82 tackles – all career highs – and the safety trio accounted for 11 of the team's 17 picks.

"He's been great," head coach Robert Saleh said of Adams. "You have to remember, he's young. He's a second-year player. As excited as we are about him, we know he's going to have some ups and downs. The ups are going to continue to become more and more frequent. He's a freak athlete. It's important to him. He's a tremendous communicator. He has tremendous explosiveness and speed and instincts. I stand by it — I think he's going to be a fixture here for a while."

In Week 6, Adams picked off Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter and returned the ball to Philadelphia's 7-yard line, setting up a game-winning touchdown run from RB Breece Hall. Following the Jets' Week 7 bye, in Week 8 against the Giants, Adams played another elite game with a career-high 10 tackles to help the Green & White to a third consecutive win.

"Near the middle of the season, I reconnected and asked myself why I love this game," Adams said. "Because sometimes, the losses and injuries pile up and things aren't going as planned and I came to the conclusion that I feel in love with the game when that ball touches my hands and the joy it brings to you and the things that it can do to you. So, when I got that pick against the Eagles, it just showed my love for the game. It was a special moment.

"The coaches just remind me to keep working and doing my job. I have had some bumps in the road and this team has had some bumps in the road, but [safeties coach] Marquand Manuel does a great job at recentering us and getting us focused for the next week."

Adams continued his steady progression over the final month of the season with 2 interceptions and 3 pass defenses in the final 3 games. In Week 18, Adams intercepted a pass from Patriots QB Bailey Zappe that was tipped by Davis. The pick helped seal the Jets' 17-3 win as they snapped a 15-game losing streak to New England.

"Things slowed down for me 100% this season," Adams said. "It has come with experience and learning and going through the growing pains. I have been learning not to get frustrated with myself. Even going back and watching the film, I can see the game slowing down for me. I just understand football at a different level. I am starting to take to heart what the coaches are preaching, and it is all starting to make sense."

In terms of wins and losses, the season didn't end how Adams hoped as the Jets went 7-10 and were eliminated from postseason contention in Week 15 after a loss to Miami. However, the young Jets defender got a taste of what 2024 could look for like for opposing defenses after four-time MVP QB Aaron Rodgers returned to practice in December.

"He is special," Adams said of Rodgers. "That is all I can say about him. When he came to practice, it was like everything changed. It became like training camp all over again because you know he was coming out there to play. He had no plans to play around, so we needed to be on our A-game. It made us compete every day and it brought that juice and energy back to practice that we needed so bad."

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