FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. No-fly zone: The Jets (0-4) are off to a lousy start, but Jamal Adams isn't. The Pro Bowl safety, always an impact player near the line of scrimmage, has expanded his game to fit a subtle tweak in the defensive scheme.
Under coordinator Gregg Williams, the Jets are playing more two-safety looks than last season. With different coverage responsibilities than in the past, Adams ranks second among safeties in passer rating allowed (11.7), according to NFL Next Gen Stats (minimum: 100 coverage snaps). Earl Thomas leads with 9.2.
Adams believes he's the best safety in football, and he's not shy about saying so. He tweeted it, then told reporters: "That's my mindset. That's how I go about my business each and every day. I feel like I'm the best at what I do. I work my butt off for it, and it's not going to stop."
Which raises a question: Will Adams demand a contract that reflects his self-worth? By rule, a player cannot get a new deal until after his third season, which means he's eligible for the first time after the season.
Adams, the No. 6 pick in 2017, is signed through 2020 at $5.6 million per year (fully guaranteed). That's a healthy number, but his current APY ranks only 19th among safeties and his 2020 compensation dips to $3.5 million. He has outperformed his contract, and it would shock no one if he pushes the issue in the offseason. That could be an interesting situation for general manager Joe Douglas.
The Jets, of course, would exercise the fifth-year option for 2021 (at least $9.5 million), meaning they have his rights for at least two more years at a bargain price. The franchise tag would come into play in 2022. Mark my words: It won't get that far. Adams will have a new deal or be traded by then.
You can bet Adams has noted the recent massive contracts for safeties: Kevin Byard ($14.1 million APY), Tyrann Mathieu ($14 million) and Landon Collins ($14 million). If Adams makes another Pro Bowl, he will have a strong argument to be in that financial neighborhood. He believes he's the best. When asked how long he's felt this way, he said, "Since I came out of the womb."
2. Sam the savior? Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said it best about quarterback Sam Darnold: "Sam is not a magic wand." In other words, it's unfair to expect him to solve the Jets' offensive funk.
Truth be told, we don't know what Darnold is. We're talking about a 22-year-old who has started only 14 games, having missed six of the past 11 games (three because of mono, three because of a foot injury). Everybody around the Jets believes he has a high ceiling, but now he has to get on the field, stay on the field and mature into a consistent player.
Darnold 2.0 begins Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m., CBS).
He's an "eraser-type player," according to coach Adam Gase -- meaning a player who can erase the mistakes made by those around him. Yes, even bad playcalls, Gase said. The coaches expect him to improve the third-down offense because of his ability to move in the pocket and improvise.
Darnold will make them better. Be patient, though.
3. Did you know? The Jets have gone 28 straight games without a touchdown on their opening drive, easily the league's longest active streak. Next closest are the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals, tied at 12.
The Jets haven't had an opening-drive TD since Oct. 29, 2017, when Josh McCown threw a touchdown to Eric Tomlinson against the Atlanta Falcons. The 0-fer has covered two coaches, three offensive coordinators and five quarterbacks.
What does it mean? It means the offense is being out-prepared by the opponent. It could mean a poor plan, a lack of mental focus or the inability to react quickly to what the defense is showing.
The bug has bitten the Jets' defense, too. While the unit has performed reasonably well for the most part, it has allowed opening-drive touchdowns in two of the Jets' four games this season. As a result, the Jets have to play from behind.
"That doesn't mean anything," said Gase, insisting four games doesn't make a trend.
Maybe not from his perspective, considering he's new around here, but it's a damning trend for the franchise.
4. Limestone to Gotham: One of the cool, behind-the-scenes stories around the Jets is the teacher-pupil relationship between wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Vyncint Smith, who scored last week on an end-around -- the first rushing touchdown by a Jets receiver since 2014.
Smith grew up admiring Thomas and actually used an action photo of Thomas as the background image on his phone a few years ago. They were teammates last season with Houston and it was Thomas who lobbied the Jets' front office recently to sign Smith off the Texans' practice squad.
"That's the first thing my agent told me: 'Are you ready to get on a 53? Your boy Demaryius gave you a shout-out and the Jets want to pick you up,'" Smith said. "I was like, 'That's awesome, let's go.' I told [Demaryius] I have to take him out to dinner to show my appreciation."
Smith, a blinding-fast receiver from Division II Limestone College (Gaffney, South Carolina), is learning a lot from Thomas -- how to find a defensive back's blind spot, how to use his arm length to create separation, how to get in and out of his breaks, etc. Thomas has amassed more than 9,300 receiving yards in his career, so he knows what he's talking about.
"He's the head of the [receivers'] room," Smith said. "He sets the tone every day and we follow suit."
As for his phone background, yes, Smith showed it to Thomas last year. His reaction?
"He gave me a weird look," Smith said. "He's like, 'That's cool -- I guess.'"
5. Invisible Man: Where have you gone, Bilal Powell?
This has to be a frustrating season for the Jets' longest-tenured player, who has played only two games (three offensive snaps). He was a healthy scratch in the first two games. Powell said his surgically repaired neck feels "real good ... Yeah, I'm fine, 100 percent healed." But he still can't get on the field.
Asked how he's coping, Powell, a man of few words who rarely talks to the media, said, "I mean, it's a crazy question. Obviously, I want to play. Any competitor would want to play." He wouldn't elaborate, refusing to complain or share any personal thoughts.
Problem is, Powell is third on the depth chart, behind Le'Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery. Gase is obsessed with Bell, so there haven't been many scraps for the backups. Gase said "the hardest thing for us" is getting all three backs involved, which is tough to do when the offense can't sustain drives. The reality is, Powell's role probably won't change unless there's an injury.
6. Did you know, part II? The Jets are averaging only 3.2 yards per play, which ranks 14th-worst in the Super Bowl era through a team's first four games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It's the second-worst mark in franchise history (3.0 in 1971).
7. Backup QB: Gase didn't rule out the possibility of adding an experienced quarterback to be the No. 2. The most logical option is free agent Brock Osweiler, who played under Gase in Miami. But he won't be signing with the Jets, per a source. Osweiler is looking for more than the minimum salary. Beyond him, there's not much out there. It looks like they will stick with David Fales as the No. 2.
8. Century Club: Bell is on pace for 108 receptions, which would be one shy of the franchise record (Brandon Marshall, 109 in 2015).
9. K.O. KO'd: I liked the Kelechi Osemele trade in March, but it's not working out. His body is breaking down (knee and shoulder injuries) and there's no guarantee he will get his left guard job back when he's healthy. This has the makings of another Ryan Clady situation.
10. The last word: "I was not a Cowboy fan. My father [George Adams] obviously played for the Giants; I was the biggest Giants fan. So it was all about saying, 'Cowgirls.' That's what it was when I was growing up." -- Jamal Adams, who grew up in the Dallas area.