FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets safety Jamal Adams might have ignited a locker room controversy, saying in a published interview that the team had a bad culture when he arrived last season as a first-round pick.
Adams told Bleacher Report that “everybody was used to losing. You can always tell that vibe. I came in, and it was like everybody wanted to do the bare minimum. They didn’t want to go above and beyond. They didn’t want to take that extra step.”
The comments were made in the spring, but not published until Tuesday.
Coach Todd Bowles, speaking after practice, said he spoke to Adams on Tuesday and once before regarding the remarks. There was no public rebuke from Bowles, who chalked it up to inexperience.
“Jamal is a very young player, and he’s a very smart player, and he speaks from his heart,” Bowles said. “We talked about it. He didn’t mean a lot of the things that came out wrong.
“When you give everything and demand people to be like you, everyone is not like you. Some people learn differently, some people don’t. … It’s part of being a young player. He’ll learn over time things to say and what he really means and what not to say. We dealt with it. We’ve moved on.”
Adams came from a winning program at LSU and is known for his intense attitude. He didn’t name names in the story, so his sweeping comments might not sit well with some of the holdovers from last year’s team, which finished 5-11.
Addressing reporters, Adams said he was referring to players no longer on the team. The most likely candidates are former defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, both of whom had a history of being late for meetings.
Adams said he doesn’t regret the remarks, but he tried to soften his position.
“I’m very passionate,” he said. “Coming in, I was wide-eyed. I just wanted to come in and work hard and make an impact. The things that came out, I didn’t feel very strong as far as me saying that.”
Adams admitted that he does “things a little different as far as how passionate I am when I’m on the field. In this world, period, not everybody works as hard as someone else. Those things are left unsaid and we’re moving forward.”
Adams said he “never meant to bash any teammates,” adding that the locker-room culture has improved from last season.
Bowles had cleaned up the locker room last season after internal strife in 2016. Adams’ comments to Bleacher Report suggest it wasn’t a winning atmosphere.
“You have to be willing to sacrifice and willing to do the little things. And the team, the organization, just wasn’t doing those things. It could’ve been two or three people on the team that were doing it and then the rest weren’t or vice versa. But if you’re not clicking on all cylinders with the 53-man roster, everybody upstairs, the staff, the whole organization, it’s not going to go anywhere, man.”
Defensive end Leonard Williams said Adams’ comments were “a little bold” for a player with only one year in the league. At the same time, he wasn’t critical of his teammate. He believes Adams was expressing his opinion on what it takes to become an elite team.
“I don’t blame Jamal at all for what he said,” Williams said. “He probably just didn’t word it in the best way. He’s a young guy, he has a lot to learn on and off the field. This is part of the off-the-field stuff he has to learn.”