Suddenly, a new question to wonder as Jamal Adams begins his Seahawks career this week: Is he going to find himself feeling sleepy in Seattle?
The question arose after New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on Thursday said Adams “may get bored’’ in Seattle because of the way the Seahawks use their safeties compared to how the Jets use theirs.
Or put more succinctly, that the Jets’ defense is more complex than Seattle’s.
“We’re so simple here and basic,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said sarcastically when asked about Williams’ comment during an interview on Sports Radio 950 KJR on Thursday (that wasn’t the only barb Carroll threw at Williams. Asked what Adams brings to Seattle, Carroll said, “He’s not bringing Gregg Williams with him, that’s for sure” and noted that in his defense “we don’t make as many mistakes as he does.”)
And with the condensed version of the quote being the one that spread quickly on Twitter, it was easy for Seahawks fans to also take similar shots, especially considering Williams’ history for verbosity and controversy, such as his involvement in the Saints’ infamous Bountygate scandal.
In its full context, though, Williams makes a point that has some validity.
Here’s what Williams said, in response to a question about whether the Jets will change how they use their safeties without Adams:
“Jamal may get bored there because they don’t use their safety-type things in all the different complexities of maybe not showing what they are doing as much as what we do,’’ Williams said.
Indeed, as Carroll’s comments referenced, the Seahawks are known for the simplicity of their defense, especially during the Legion of Boom heyday when Seattle’s philosophy was basically that it had 11 players it could line up in the same spot on every down and dare you to figure out a way to beat them.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. The Seahawks do lots of intricate things within the defense that only really trained eyes might see.
But Carroll also has never denied there’s a beauty in keeping things simple, with his comment that “we don’t make as many mistakes as he does” not just a shot at Williams but also carrying a lot of truth.
In fact, keeping things simple enough to let players play as fast as they can is at the heart of Carroll’s defensive philosophy.
Seattle’s secondary has long been known for its use of the Cover 3 defense, meaning three defensive backs each playing zone in a third of the field, though it has mixed things up a bit more the past few years.
Recall that Earl Thomas made a similar comment a year ago about the basic simplicity of Seattle’s defense after he was a few months into his career in Baltimore.
“This defense is very complex compared to what we did in Seattle where we just ran Cover 3 all the time,’’ Thomas said.
And in an Associated Press story in 2018, former Seahawks player and coach Marquand Manuel (who worked under Carroll from 2012-14) perfectly encapsulated the philosophy of the Carroll defense, which has been heavily replicated by teams with former Carroll assistants the past few years such as Atlanta, Jacksonville and the Chargers.
“You call plays that guys understand,’’ Manuel said. “You can get exotic (and create) paralysis by analysis; guys are overthinking on the field. That’s part of what you see in this defense. I guarantee you in each one of these (Seattle-influenced) defenses, guys are flying around and playing fast because they’re not thinking.”
Williams is a bit different, as he likes to move guys around, having done so with great effect last year with Adams.
According to Pro Football Focus, Adams last year played 401 snaps at strong safety (which has been his primary position in the NFL and the position he is listed at by Seattle), 297 at free safety, 131 in the slot, or as a nickel back, 96 as an edge rusher and 34 at corner.
The result was a year in which Adams was named first-team All-Pro, making 75 tackles with 6.5 sacks and one interception that he returned 61 yards for a touchdown.
“He had maybe his most productive year here because we highlighted the skill sets that he’s had,’’ Williams said.
Williams’ point is obviously that the Seahawks won’t use Adams in as many different ways as the Jets did.
Or will they, and maybe break some from precedence?
General manager John Schneider hinted the Seahawks might be more flexible in how they use Adams than maybe they were in the Legion of Boom days, when one reason for not moving guys around some was that they had basically the best player at each spot already.
“Adding a guy like Jamal who has that versatility to play down in the box and play in the hole and play man coverage is really important to us,’’ Schneider said recently in an interview with Peter King of NBC Sports.
The Seahawks also showed a little more variety last year, unveiling more six-defensive back packages than in years past, though that also seemed maybe a concession to issues with personnel at some spots and needing more bells and whistles to try to make up for it — something that compelled a trade for a player like Adams, but also something the Seahawks might hope adding Adams will decrease the need for.
Carroll so far has promised only to put Adams in position to make the best use of his talents, saying what he likes most about Adams is his “primal mentality.’’
“Forget all the playmaking stuff,’’ Carroll said. “It’s that element of mentality that I love to add, so that Bobby (Wagner) gets to play with a guy like that, and (Jarran) Reed gets to play with a guy like that, and Bruce (Irvin), and they’ll all feed off of each other, because we all love to be that way. That’s what we love about this game, is cutting it loose and letting it go and getting to that primal mentality that this game allows.”
The Seahawks are scheduled to meet the Jets on Dec. 13 in Seattle.
And even if Williams’ comments Thursday are a simple football observation pretty much backed up by fact, expect Adams to want to show the Jets that he’s finding Seattle’s defense more than interesting enough.