The NFL season arrives soon, and the Jets and Giants enter the season with no expectations. In fact, not much buzz about both teams with training camp under way. Are their fans even aware both teams are working right now?
After several losing seasons and disappointments, both New York NFL teams must earn respect and credibility from New York sports fans before they can embrace them again.
The Giants know they can’t be talking Super Bowl aspirations when they had five of their last six losing seasons, not to mention they haven’t won a playoff game since they last won the Super Bowl. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since they lost in the 2010 AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in the process, two head coaches and three general managers come and gone.
The bar is so low with the football teams in town that fans would be content if both teams make progress heading to next season. Far cry from Giants fans talking Super Bowl these last few years. Far away from talk about the Jets owning New York. It’s strange.
Therein lies the rub: How do we measure progress by both NFL teams in town? Just because both teams improve their win total from last year does not mean much. They can’t do any worse than what they did this season. How improved they are? Well, that’s another story.
Winning seven or nine games does not constitute an improvement for the Giants or Jets. Striving for 10 or 11 wins should be the bar for both teams. By getting double-digit wins, both teams would be in a better place heading to the 2020 season. Any team can make the jump to seven to nine wins after a losing season with the help of an easy schedule, so that offers no evidence about a team improving.
It’s fair to ask more from the Giants and Jets. Both teams played lousy in the last few years. They bored the fans in town. It’s not too much to ask for both teams to play meaningful games in December. Now that would be an improvement in itself.
The Jets can be that team that can take the next step. The Jets defense should be much better under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who knows a thing or two about running good defense. He should provide the tonic of changing the identity of the Jets defense from soft to tough in no time.
Most importantly, the Jets have a quarterback that should be even better than this past season in Sam Darnold, who showed a glimpse of what he can do in the NFL in his rookie season by throwing six touchdown passes and throwing just one interception in his last four games after missing time with a sprained foot. Also, signing free agent running back Le’Veon Bell should help the offense score points.
Coaching should be much better. Again, it can’t be any worse than what we saw in Todd Bowles. No one is saying Adam Gase is Bill Belichick, but he got the max out of a mediocre talent in the Miami Dolphins.
No one knows what to make of the Giants. Pat Shurmur failed to impress in his first year as Giants coach, and Eli Manning showed he is ready for retirement after playing awful these last few years. Already, the Giants are in a bind with their wide receivers after Sterling Shepard fractured his thumb, Corey Coleman tore his ACL and Golden Tate being suspended for four games for violating the league’s PED policy. Their defense couldn’t do much.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman boasts about he knows what he is doing based on building championship teams everywhere he has gone as an assistant in the front office, but time will tell if he has the chops to build a championship team as the Giants general manager.
Gettleman’s success rides on Daniel Jones, who he drafted as the Giants quarterback. It’s a reach in a sense since no one saw it coming and no scout had him in the draft board. Gettleman conducts himself as a general manager that knows more about football talent than anyone, so he is going on a limb.
If Jones does well and starts right away, this could be the most important development of this season. Quite frankly, it would be in the Giants’ best interest if Manning stinks so badly that Jones gets an opportunity to play this season. The sooner the rookie plays, the better off he and the Giants be. It’s imperative the Giants see something out of Jones this year.
The Jets are more interesting than the Giants since they have players they can win with. The Giants don’t have much to show for it.
Either way, at least one team needs to show something this year. It’s been too long since we have had relevant football late in the season.
For once, it would be nice if both teams stop having fans encouraging them to tank for a high pick and play meaningful December games.
That’s what we call progress.