Bobby Tuzzio ’20
Chief Sports Editor
It would be wrong to say that the matchup between the New York Giants and the New York Jets isn’t going to be ugly. After all, both teams have struggled all season, with the Giants posting a 2-7 record and the Jets starting the first half of the season 1-7. Football in New York City has been a complete and utter mess the last few years; however, this year might be the worst of them all. Both teams have virtually shown no progress this season, leading, in the words of New York sports radio legend Mike Francesa, to tagline Sunday’s game “The Inept Bowl.”
Coming into the season, expectations for the Giants were not very high. Saquon Barkley was the clear highlight of last season. He came into the league in a big way and really gave Giants fans hope for the future. This season, he’s been good, but not dominant. A lot of his runs have been one or two yard gains, unlike Ezekiel Elliott, who really hits a homerun on most of his runs. Elliott’s rushing pattern is six to eight yard gains (or more) almost every single time. Barkley is still the second best running back in the league (Elliott being the best in my opinion), but it’s amazing how the Giants have made him look so ordinary this season.
Now to Daniel Jones. Game in and game out, Jones makes some really great throws, and he really does show that he has the potential to be a very good NFL quarterback in the future. However, the biggest problem with Jones continues to be his ball security. He’s a fumbler, plain and simple. It is an issue that he’s going to have to work on, otherwise he’ll never reach his full potential. People were crazy to think that Jones would turn this team around in his first year. It is extremely rare for a rookie quarterback to make an immediate impact on their franchise (with Dan Marino and Patrick Mahomes being notable exceptions, even though the Chiefs offense was already really good without Mahomes). Thus, through experience and time, we will see what kind of quarterback Daniel Jones really is.
The Giants defense has also been lackluster. Forget the defensive line (although pass rush has certainly been an issue), it is their secondary that has been atrocious. The Giants’ secondary, time and time again, gives up big plays to pretty much every opponent they face. The secondary provides bad coverage on big third-down scenarios, and it is no surprise that their opponents’ offenses stay on the field for so long. That is an area that the Giants desperately need to figure out.
Overall, the Giants have many flaws, but they can be a winning team in the future. They have a talented offense, but they lack fundamentals, make plenty of mistakes, and practically force the officials to throw the penalty flag. Over time, with a more stable offense, and probably a better head coach, this team could win down the road.
Now to the Jets. The Jets came into this season with medium expectations. Their quarterback, Sam Darnold, had a really strong rookie year, and hopes were high that he could build off that this season. They also acquired running back Le’Veon Bell, who had some dominant years in Pittsburgh. Moreover, they had what I thought was a really good draft performance. Thus, many people, including myself, thought that the Jets might be half-decent this season.
Their first game of the season, they lost to the Bills. Okay, no sweat, they lost a close game to a good Bills team. Then tragedy struck when Darnold got mono and was out for multiple weeks. Without him, it was obvious that the Jets would struggle, and they certainly did. However, when Darnold came back in Week 6 to face the Cowboys, a game that the Jets were supposed to lose, Darnold and company showed up in a big way, beating a really good Cowboy team. So, some optimism about the rest of the season returned.
Then, Darnold started seeing ghosts. The Pats crushed the Jets on Monday Night Football, and Darnold looked really bad out there, throwing four picks. The same could be said for the next two weeks, with a loss to the Jaguars, and an embarrassing performance against the Miami Dolphins.
All of a sudden, Darnold, the man who was supposed to save the franchise, is looking less and less like the strong rookie he was last year, and is now showcasing what is referred to as a “sophomore slump.” Down the road, it could be said that Darnold could return to strong play, because he is extremely talented, and with a much better offensive line, he’ll get better pass protection. So, Jets fans should not give up on Darnold just yet.
However, if there is one person that Jets fans should give up on, it is Adam Gase, their head coach. He has turned this franchise into an absolute disaster. If the Jets get blown out by the Giants this Sunday, it could be Gase’s last game with the team. If he doesn’t get fired after this weekend, he certainly will by the end of the season.
Overall, I could see the Giants winning on Sunday. Realistically, the game is going to be decided by who plays a little less poorly than the other. If Darnold plays the same as he did against the Jaguars and the Dolphins, and if Daniel Jones has a strong outing, then expect the Giants to come out on top. However, whatever the outcome, both teams have many issues to fix before New York football returns to relevance.