RENTON — It was a mid-October Tuesday, a usual off day for Seahawks players, five days after a demoralizing loss to the rival Rams that left the Seahawks with a 2-3 record and, more significantly, without their star quarterback.
With Russell Wilson about to be sidelined for the next month, the Seahawks’ season was barreling toward its nadir. By this point, Jamal Adams’ on-field frustrations had already peaked.
That Tuesday, Adams requested a sit-down meeting with Pete Carroll in the coach’s second-floor office at the team’s headquarters. There, the Seahawks safety expressed his growing impatience with his new role in Carroll’s defense, according to a source close to the team.
Adams had taken the Thursday-night loss to the Rams hard. He had allowed two egregious touchdowns in pass coverage, and after the game he was one of the last Seahawks players to leave the Lumen Field locker room, tears welled up in his eyes.
Five days later, Adams told his coach he didn’t feel his greatest strength was being utilized in Seattle’s shifting defensive scheme, which asked him to play more like a traditional back-end safety in zone coverage.
A year after setting an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back, Adams saw his blitzing opportunities cut in half this season.
Why, Adams asked Carroll, can’t he go back to the hybrid pass-rush role, when he set an NFL sacks record?
Why, Adams asked Carroll, couldn’t he be more involved closer to the line of scrimmage?
Carroll explained his reasoning for Adams’ evolving role.
Part of the reason for the change, as Carroll relayed in a news conference Wednesday, was opponents had gotten wise to Adams’ blitzing. They were double-teaming him, shifting their protection or having the running back account for him, which made him less effective in those opportunities.
“We rushed him from all different angles (this season). He was all over the place,” Carroll said Wednesday. “We found that that wasn’t the right thing to do. Just wasting (him) and running into an offensive lineman? It wasn’t the right thing.”
Another priority, as Carroll explained to Adams, was to keep him healthy, after the safety had missed extended time during the 2020 season with shoulder, groin, elbow and finger injuries.
Then news came early Wednesday that Adams will miss the rest of the season with an injury to the same shoulder he had surgically repaired in January.
Adams’ left shoulder “popped out” of its socket, a source told The Times, in the second quarter of the Seahawks’ victory over the 49ers on Sunday. An MRI revealed he tore his labrum for the second time.
“He’s really rocked by it, of course,” Carroll said Wednesday. “I’m really disappointed for him, as well as us.”
The Seahawks team physician, Dr. Edward Khalfayan, performed the first surgery on Adams’ left shoulder in January.
Adams has elected to have this next operation done by a surgeon in Dallas, near his hometown. It’s the same surgeon who operated on Adams’ right shoulder when he was in high school.
The latest surgery is scheduled for Thursday.
So ends for Adams a roller coaster year, now bookended by two major surgeries on the same shoulder.
The record-setting contract he signed in August — four years, $70 million, the largest ever for an NFL safety — has made him, fair or not, an easy target for broader criticism of the Seahawks defense this season.
“I’m not really here to complain about the opportunities that I don’t have or that I don’t get from last year to this year,” Adams said in an Oct. 21 interview. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m not here to prove anything to anybody. You know what I mean? I’m here to prove myself right. I’m grateful to continue to play this game at a high level. I don’t get caught up in the outside noise. I don’t get caught up on mistakes. Because at the end of day, we are human. We make mistakes.”
Adams did seem to settle into his new role after his mid-October meeting with Carroll. He had been more effective of late as a back-end safety, alongside veteran Quandre Diggs, often playing in a more traditional Cover 2 scheme. The Seahawks defense as a whole has been better too, if still imperfect, as the team has sputtered to the bottom of the NFC West standings.
In 12 games, Adams finished the season with 87 tackles, five passes defensed and two interceptions. He had just two QB hits and no sacks.
“Obviously, I was getting a little bit more opportunities (last year) to rush the passer and creating some things and creating some havoc,” Adams had said in October. “But we’re working through those things.”