New York football is back

Ben Kuchipudi ’25

Sports Editor

Six weeks into the season, no one expected both New York teams to be the fifth seeds in their respective conferences, but that’s exactly the case. New York has seen a resurgence this season with the Giants and Jets’ winning records for the first time since 2015. Brian Daboll is in serious consideration for Coach of the Year, and Robert Saleh is 4-1 since telling the media the Jets were keeping receipts on their doubters. There were questions about both of these teams’ legitimacy, but after the Giants beat the Baltimore Ravens and the Jets stomped the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau, I think it’s safe to say that both of these squads are for real. 

Giants fans have gone through some rough seasons since they last made the playoffs in 2016, going 22-59 through five seasons while rotating between some horrible coaches in Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and Joe Judge. They also dealt with Dave Gettleman and his atrocious free agent signings. However, they cleaned house and hired Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their head coach and Bills’ assistant general manager Joe Schoen as their general manager. They made subtle improvements to an awful offensive line and they drafted difference makers in edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and tackle Evan Neal in the first round. Daniel Jones has also been playing the best football of his career as he’s been limiting his turnovers, and the receivers have been stepping up in a big way after Sterling Shepard tore his ACL and Kenny Golladay forgot how to play football. But the reason for the Giants’ success is because of one man: Saquon Barkley. It’s clear that his injuries haven’t slowed him down as he is second in the league in rushing yards and is literally the Giants whole offense. There were rumors of Barkley being traded before the season, but now he’s playing himself into an extension. This season was supposed to be an experimental year, as New York declined Daniel Jones’ fifth year option and Barkley was up for an extension this year, but now the Giants seem to have a set plan in place. Barring a collapse, Jones should be the quarterback in 2023, and Barkley should be the heart and soul of the team for the foreseeable future. The Giants still need to find that number one receiver as the Kenny Golladay experiment failed miserably and Kadarius Toney looks like a bust, but when they find that guy, watch out for Big Blue.

As a Jets fan, the way Gang Green has been playing this season is very emotional. After many analysts projected the Jets to be 0-9 by their bye week (cough cough Brady Quinn), they have already matched their win total from last year six weeks into the season. Over the last decade plus, the Jets have dealt with horrible drafting, more than questionable free agent signings, a rotating carousel at quarterback, and some god-awful coaching. Now, the Jets seem to have finally gotten it right with Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh running the ship. Second year quarterback Zach Wilson hasn’t been flashy, but he’s been playing safe football and not giving teams the chance to capitalize. Rookie running back Breece Hall is the clear favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year after amassing 318 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in his last two games. Rookie Sauce Gardner already looks like a top ten corner, and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and guard Alijah Vera-Tucker are making their cases to be All-Pros. Before last week’s game, people were skeptical about the Jets since all three of their wins came against backup/rookie quarterbacks, but they made a statement in Week 6, blowing out the Packers by a score of 27-10 at Lambeau, a game where the run game, pass rush, and special teams dominated. This team is very reminiscent of the Jets team that last made the playoffs in 2010. They have an elite run game, a bend don’t break defense with a cornerback duo playing like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and a second year quarterback that doesn’t light up the stat sheet, but can deliver when called upon. It’s beautiful to see how much not just the Jets players have grown in the past year, but the coaching staff as well. This team is not “the same old Jets,” and Robert Saleh is gladly taking all those receipts of the haters going into their Week 7 matchup against the Denver Broncos. 

The way these teams have played this season shouldn’t just make their fans happy, but fans around the league as well. The Giants and Jets have been the worst teams in football the last six seasons, and the way they both put it together this season should serve as a blueprint for other rebuilding teams (Lions, Jaguars, and Texans – take notes). They don’t have the star power on their roster that many other contenders have, but they have a great group of glue guys that play hard and fight for their coach. Joe Douglas and (I guess) Dave Gettleman built their teams through the draft and supplemented that core with solid free agent signings. Big Blue and Gang Green both sit at fifth place in their respective conferences, and the way that they are playing, they could rise even higher in the standings. The Giants’ next four games are all against bottom ten teams from last year, so they could very well be fighting with the Eagles and Cowboys for first in the NFC East. The Jets are currently a game behind the Super Bowl-favorite Buffalo Bills for first in the division and the AFC, but the way they have been playing as of late gives hope that the Jets could compete for first place by the time they play them in Week 9. It’s been a long time since both New York teams were good, so I can say with full confidence that New York football is back, and it should be for a while.

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