Bradley McDougald isn’t trying to replace Jamal Adams after the Jets’ blockbuster trade that jettisoned the All-Pro safety to Seattle last weekend. Gang Green’s new safety is trying to create his own path with his new team.
“I can’t be Jamal,” McDougald said in a videoconference call Friday. “I’m not the same person as Jamal. The only thing I can do is show up every day and be the best Bradley McDougald and hopefully that wins my coaches, my players and the fans over.”
McDougald, 29, has the versatility that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams covets. The veteran played free safety for the first few years of his career before moving to strong safety in the second half of the 2017 season to sub in for an injured Kam Chancellor.
Williams made it clear to McDougald, who had 70 tackles in 15 games last season, that he’ll play to the veteran’s strengths.
“The first conversation was intense,” McDougald said. “He’s an intense coach. He’s very passionate about what he does. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him… He’s excited. One of the things that he said he will do is he forms his defenses around his players. And he puts us in the best situations depending on our skillset. That’s exciting that a coach has flexibility within his defense. He doesn’t have a strict defense that you just have to fall in line and play in. He’ll plug guys in different places and I can appreciate that as a player.”
McDougald will be moving from Seattle’s Cover-3 scheme to a predominantly Cover-2 defense this season. His versatility coupled with an ability to cover tight ends will be helpful for Gang Green.
McDougald admitted that he was “kind of struck” when he learned that the Seahawks had traded him.
“I felt abandoned, like they just kicked me out,” McDougald said. “Like they didn’t care about me or value me there. But then I started to think about how much of a blessing this was. Another opportunity… I can come into a program that wanted me to be there. They did their homework and they traded for me. So, I had to think about all the positives. I’m not the first guy to ever get traded. I’m not going to be the last guy.”
The Jets might have lost their most productive player and emotional leader in Adams, but that doesn’t mean that McDougald can’t play an important role this season.
“This isn’t me being here to replace Jamal,” McDougald said. “This is me here as a fresh start. … Just the same way I couldn’t be Kam, I couldn’t be Earl (Thomas). But I still found a way to be successful. It’s the same way with this…. It was above me. It’s not like I came in and said I’m about to take Jamal’s job. I got traded. And that’s that. I’m coming here to be the best me.”
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