On Monday Night Football versus the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets safety Jamal Adams was fined $21,000 for a hit on quarterback Baker Mayfield that was borderline roughing the passer in the first place.
Let’s go through the sequence:
Mayfield and the Browns line-up at midfield for third-and-8. Across from the Browns’ right tackle, Chris Hubbard, stands second-team All-Pro safety Jamal Adams prepared to put pressure Mayfield. The ball is snapped. Adams steps up. Mayfield swings his hips left and begins to roll out. But before Mayfield can take his second step, Adams is sprinting all the way across the field to cut off the quarterback, forcing Mayfield to pick up the necessary yardage in the air while absorbing a hit from the darting safety. Final result on the play: incomplete pass intended for Jarvis Landry on the sideline.
But wait, there’s more!
The incredible heads-up play by Adams becomes rescinded by a late roughing the passer call on — who else — Jamal Adams. The play was, well, look for yourself:
Only in the post-2018 NFL would an official throw their flag so quickly for this hit. Given the current criteria for roughing the passer, I understand the call made. But looking at the entire play from a tackle football perspective, how can a quarterback be so immune to contact? I am 100 percent in support of protecting the players, keeping the quarterback safe, and banning dirty hits, but preventing defenders from hitting players under any circumstances is unfathomable.
The call is what it is. Whether or not you personally believe that the hit was worthy of a flag is irrelevant because the call was made. Move the chains and the game goes on. But once the game was finished, the NFL doubled-downed on the officials call by mailing Adams a $21k fine.
Most personal foul penalties, including roughing the passer, avoid punishment from the league and usually are only subject to fines if the defender shows a reckless disregard for the player’s safety. Other times, the NFL will send a fine to a player who commits several of these penalties in a game to send a message to the player. Adams did neither of these.
This was a slap in the face to an already struggling New York Jets team that blew a 16 point third quarter home-lead to the Buffalo Bills, lost QB Sam Darnold to “the kissing disease”, lost LBs Avery Williamson to a torn ACL and C.J. Mosely to a nagging groin injury, lost backup QB Trevor Seiman to a gruesome ankle injury, and have a 0–2 record to start the season.
The Jets’ next four games include two matchups with the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, the prior year’s Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys, who have the firepower to represent the NFC in Miami this February.
The Jets schedule is like “The Office.” The beginning will have a ton of cringey moments, and honestly, it’ll be difficult to watch, but the Jets should preach, as Matchbox Twenty did in 2002, “Stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see a different side of me.” New York’s final nine games include two meetings with the Dolphins, a rematch with the Bills, the Jaguars, Giants, Washington, Raiders, Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers. Not to say the Jets are set to win all or any of those final games, but they could easily make a late-season run with these opponents once their injury-riddled roster heals up.
The Eagles matchup comes directly following the Jets Week 4 bye. An early bye week is usually perceived as terrible because it doesn’t nearly split the season in half, but in the case of the 2019 Jets, it’s a godsend. The Jets and Darnold are hopeful the quarterback can return to the lineup for the Jets’ Week 5, and Mosely — barring any setbacks — will be ready to go as well. If the Jets can piece it back together during the bye and steal a game or two before Week 7, they can be in a position to win meaningful games in the back half of the season as they begin to gain momentum. However, the difficulty in these next games could easily slide gang green to 0-6, sending their confidence and poise as an organization to the bottom of the dumpster with the Dolphins, seriously damaging to Adam Gase’s credibility as a head coach in the NFL.
Next stop: The Jets head to Foxborough to face the Patriots with former Washington State QB Luke Falk under center.