Jamal Adams blames season on lack of talent, not coaching

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, December 31, 2018

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Star safety Jamal Adams blamed the New York Jets' 4-12 season on a lack of talent, not coaching, essentially challenging general manager Mike Maccagnan to upgrade the roster in the offseason.

"We need more players and we need more dogs, simple as that," Adams said after Sunday's 38-3 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Adams, who has become the team's vocal leader, defended coach Todd Bowles, who finished his fourth season with a 24-40 career mark and likely will be fired by Monday, per sources. Maccagnan, who was hired with Bowles in 2015, appears safe, sources said. The second-year safety came close to criticizing Maccagnan, the architect of the team.

Asked if Bowles is being made the scapegoat for a talent-poor roster, Adams said, "Hey, man, I always support my coach. ... I've always said what I've said, and it's not his fault, if that answers your question."

The Jets went 10-6 in 2015, but they won only 14 games over the past three seasons as they tried to rebuild the roster with young players. Adams was their only Pro Bowl player on offense or defense, and rookie Sam Darnold showed promise as a quarterback. Beyond them, the Jets lack any true stars.

"You have to go get players, man," Adams said. "You have to get big-time players. It's simple. You look at the Saints. You look at the Rams. You look at the Chicago Bears. You look at all those teams. You have to go get players.

"We have talent. We're just not all the way there," he continued. "You can't beat around the bush. That's why we've been losing. We've been beating around the bush. You can't beat around the bush. You have to get real with yourself."

Adams correctly noted the Jets will have about $100 million in salary-cap space. He lobbied the front office to sign big-name free agents, even mentioning running back Le'Veon Bell by name. The Jets are expected to pursue the Steelers star, who sat out the season in a contract dispute.

"It's something we hope Mr. Maccagnan can get done and just give us some help," said Adams, adding that he will be heavily involved in recruiting free agents.

Free agency isn't always the answer, as the Jets learned with cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who signed a five-year, $72.5 million contract last offseason. His disappointing season ended on a bitter note, as he was made a healthy scratch for a disciplinary issue.

A source told ESPN that Johnson was late for meetings and missed practice last Wednesday. Johnson admitted he overslept and showed up late. He told reporters Thursday that he still expected to play in the finale, but he was informed by Bowles at the stadium that he'd be inactive.

"I was upset, but I couldn't do nothing about it," said Johnson, who apologized to teammates for his transgression.

Bowles refused to give any specifics, calling it a coaches' decision and saying he wanted to give the younger players a chance to play. Bowles rarely benches players and has been criticized for being too soft.

Bowles has been on the hot seat for several weeks. As he left the stadium on Sunday night, Bowles was hanging in limbo, awaiting his fate. He's expected to meet Monday morning with CEO Christopher Johnson, but his ouster could happen before then, sources said.

"I don't talk about my job," Bowles said, commenting on whether he expects to be fired.

An emotional Adams sounded resigned to a coaching change. His eyes welled up when Bowles' status was mentioned by a reporter.

"Todd is my favorite coach since I've played this game," he said. "I hate to see him go down like that, which is probably happening."