Morris Claiborne hasn't seen anything like Jets rookies Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye
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Morris Claiborne didn’t beat around the bush. There was no point. He knew his answer.
“Never,” the cornerback said via conference call Monday.
It’s not hard to find the difference between the suddenly-stout Jets defense of 2017, and the one opponents routinely picked apart last year. The two many criticized the Jets for drafting back-to-back six months ago are wildly exceeding expectations.
Adams, the No. 6 pick in the draft, is New York’s everywhere man. He splits time at linebacker, cornerback and safety, and seems to make plays at each. Maye, selected 33 picks later, is more of a traditional safety, but packs a punch with his hits.
The two have 35 combined tackles and two pass breakups through four games. Adams has a ProFootballFocus grade of 84.5, and Maye 70.7. Both grades are ranked higher than the Eagles‘ Malcolm Jenkins, Ravens’ Eric Weddle, and Packers’ Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
“It’s not like we have one rookie back there playing with an old vet who can show him the way while he’s on the field,” Claiborne said. “You have two rookies out there in their first year. To take on the challenges they’ve taken on this season? The way they’re playing? It’s unbelievable.”
The Jets didn’t have many difference makers in the secondary last year. Cornerback Darrelle Revis was a shadow of his former self, Calvin Pryor vastly underperformed, and Marcus Gilchrist suffered an ugly knee injury which abruptly ended his season.
They didn’t have many leaders, either. Things rarely got better once they took a turn for the worse. At no point last season did the Jets have a winning record. They won back-to-back games just once.
The Jets, 25 percent through this year, are victors in two straight. With a win over the winless Browns this Sunday, they’ll have their first winning record since Jan. 1, 2016.
This team — albeit flawed — is different than last year’s 5-11 disaster. Adams and Maye are a big reason why.
“The energy those two guys bring when we hit the field every week is unbelievable,” Claiborne said. “They bring that same energy in practice. We feed off it.”