Looking at it now, it’s impressive that it took only five weeks for the New York Giants and New York Jets to destroy any remote shot their fans had at enjoying the 2020 season.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, why would anyone believe good things could happen to these two teams, especially in 2020?
Coming into the year, the Giants owned the NFL’s worst record over the past three seasons (12-36), and the Jets, well there’s a reason they have a two-word, seven-letter nickname that isn’t exactly printable.
Contrary to recent history, there actually was reason to believe this year would be different.
For the Jets, Tom Brady was finally gone, meaning for the first time in basically two decades, the AFC East was considered a winnable division. There wasn’t a bizarre front-office firing midway through the offseason. Joe Douglas drafted Mekhi Becton to shore up the offensive line, and the team had young playmakers on both sides of the ball in Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams.
When it came to the Giants, general manager Dave Gettleman went out and hired Joe Judge, a no-nonsense disciple of Bill Belichick. They drafted Andrew Thomas to protect the team’s two most important assets in Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. With the absence of any true NFC East powerhouse, they could have made a run at the division title.
While the rest of America dealt with the pandemic, protests and an increasingly off-the-rails presidential election, things in the New York football universe seemed, dare I say, optimistic?
Well, here we are, with the Giants and Jets a combined 0-10 and leaving nothing else for New York football fans (not you, Buffalo) to say other than “Screw 2020,” am I right?
Where does the blame lie for the Jets?
Midway through the summer, Douglas traded Adams, the team’s top defensive talent, to Seattle for three draft picks (two first-rounders) and Bradley McDougald. At the time and even now, you could defend trading a disgruntled star for assets and keeping salary-cap flexibility.
Since the deal, however, Adams finds himself on a Seahawks team that is 5-0 and looks more like the NFC favorite to make the Super Bowl with each passing week.
The Jets, on the other hand, are in the bottom third of the league in total defense and are second to only the Cowboys when it comes to points allowed.
Somehow, things are even worse on offense. Despite having a potential franchise quarterback in Darnold, the Jets rank last in passing yards (176) and points per game (15). In fact, the Jets are on pace for the third lowest points total in team history (240).
The blame doesn’t solely fall on Darnold. Per Pro Football Reference, the Jets rank near the bottom of every advanced metric when it comes to QB pressure, leaving the third-year quarterback under duress for 22 percent of his dropbacks. The beaten-down Darnold didn’t play in the Jets’ 30-10 loss to the Cardinals and will miss Sunday’s game against Miami as he deals with a shoulder injury suffered against the Broncos in Week 4.
To make matters worse, Adam Gase, who is by all measures a lame duck coach, continues to alienate his star players and force the team’s hand. Le’Veon Bell, the team’s big-ticket offensive free agent from the 2019 offseason, had just 22 touches so far this season due to injury and feuded with Gase since the preseason over practice reps.
The Gase-Bell rivalry came to a head this week when the former Pro Bowl running back liked several social media posts criticizing his workload. Days after the social media spat, the Jets released Bell, who had $27 million in guaranteed money left on his contract, receiving nothing in return.
Not even Fireman Ed could put out this dumpster blaze.
Giants’ recipe for disaster: Injuries and turnovers
When it comes to the Giants, things aren’t any better.
Days before the season began, the Giants cut DeAndre Baker, a 2019 first-round draft pick, after he was arrested for his alleged role in an armed robbery at a Florida card game earlier this year. Baker faces four counts of armed robbery and will be arraigned in January 2021.
Although they are 0-5 as well, the Giants have been competitive in some of their games this season. In Weeks 2, 4 and 5, the Giants lost by only one score, with the most recent defeat coming against the Cowboys on a last-second Greg Zuerlein field goal.
The real question facing the Giants moving forward is what do they have in Daniel Jones? After a strong rookie season, Jones has regressed in his first five games of 2020 and is on pace to turn the ball over 25 times this season.
At least a part of Jones’ regression can be attributed to the loss of Barkley — by far the most talented Giants offensive player — after he tore his ACL in the second game of the season and a suspect offensive line that has allowed Jones to be sacked 16 times in five games. Ball security is a major issue that the Giants will need to address with the second-year quarterback.
The bright spot, if there is one, is that the Giants rank eighth in total defense after spending $103.4 million on free agents and Leonard Williams’ franchise tag this offseason.
Bonus upside is that you can’t take a boat trip in Miami during a playoff week if you don’t actually make the playoffs.
Will either team win anytime soon?
All of that considered, the dismal New York State of Mind could all come to an end this weekend as the Giants host the Washington Football Team, which, despite actually having a win, doesn’t seem much better off than either New York team.
Washington’s visit to MetLife is one of a handful of winnable games (Eagles, Bengals) for Judge’s team this season.
As far as the Jets are concerned, fans should begin preparing for the very real possibility that the team goes 0-16.
Yes, the Dolphins games and the Chargers contest seem like spots where the Jets could get into the win column, but with Miami and Los Angeles coming off strong Week 5 performances against the 49ers and Saints, respectively, there are doubts.
At this point, fans of both teams should at least be grateful for and hoping that neither is competent enough to accidentally win a game and take themselves out of the top spot in the Tank for Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
And if that doesn’t work out, I hear Bills Mafia is accepting applications for the 2021 season.
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