Are the Giants and Jets Watchable Yet?

We enlisted two experts — one locally focused, one nationally — to offer readers their opinions.

This season, we’ve enlisted two experts — one familiar with the ins and outs of New York’s football teams, the other a nationally focused football analyst — to answer an essential question as a service to readers: Are these teams good yet?

Devin Gordon, who has written about sports for ESPN and GQ and is the author of “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets, the Best Worst Team in Sports,” observed both the Giants and the Jets from a locally focused perspective.

Diante Lee, an N.F.L. analyst at Pro Football Focus, offered a national view.

The Giants (0-3) lost, 17-14, at home to the Atlanta Falcons (1-2) on Sunday.

In last week’s edition, I introduced the concept of “funnible” — the evolutionary state in which a young team is extremely fun to watch but also still, at root, terrible at football — and offered the 2021 Giants as a textbook example. Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, a team the Giants should have run circles around — and frequently did at times — was a master class in funnible football.

Like last week, the Giants once again lost on a field goal as time expired, but let’s focus on a specific play: midway through the third quarter, with the Giants behind, 7-6, but driving into Falcons’ territory and facing a crucial third-and-4. Daniel Jones called an audible, and those of us watching at home could hear the chaos at the line of scrimmage. “WHAT IS THE PLAY?” a Giants player shouted. “WHAT IS THE PLAY?”

Whatever the play was, it didn’t work. The Giants got flagged for holding and there ended the drive. The game did not turn on this play, just to be clear, but if you’re a Giants fan, your confidence probably did.

For one drive in the fourth quarter, though, the Giants showed why they’re worth watching every week: jump-ball specialist Kenny Golladay drew a pass interference call in the end zone, Saquon Barkley vaulted three stories over the pile for his first touchdown since 2019, and Jones ran in a keeper for the 2-point conversion. They held a 14-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson dropped a potential game-sealing interception of a Matt Ryan pass in the end zone. Sure, the Falcons’ game-tying touchdown came a few plays later but … consider me tantalized.

Verdict: They’re bad but compelling. — Devin Gordon

Every player on the Giants’ roster better bring their jogging shoes for practice this week — there will be laps upon laps to run after Sunday’s bad loss to the Falcons. A walk-off field goal from Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo sent the Giants to 0-3 and a guaranteed them spot at the bottom of the N.F.C. East standings.

With ten days to prepare against a defense that’s allowed 80 combined points in its first two contests, it should have been a feel-good win at home as the Giants retired Eli Manning’s jersey. Leave it to the Giants’ offensive line to finish the game by producing the least effective rushing attack the Falcons have faced all season (3.7 yards per carry).

While Jones was sacked only once, the pass protection unit continues to lose its one-on-one matchups. The passing game was able to manage in Week 2 against Washington, but downfield opportunities were much harder to come by against a Falcons defense that plays much less man-to-man coverage.

The Giants’ defense looks like it’s regressing from the 2020 season to now, but that wasn’t the team’s major issue on Sunday until the final drive of the game. With a tackle for loss and a sack, Leonard Williams still looks to be one of the five best interior defensive linemen in the league, and the coverage was better this week (given, this was against Ryan, whose arm is closer to an N.F.L. backup’s at this stage in his career) — but if the Giants can’t move the ball on offense, defensive improvements won’t matter.

I shudder to think of what this offense might look like against a much better defense on the road, with the New Orleans Saints up next. This season is shaping up to be a few steps backward after 2020’s baby step forward.

Verdict: Not watchable, and trending in the wrong direction. — Diante Lee

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Jets lost, 26-0, to the Broncos (3-0) in Denver on Sunday, falling to a 0-3.

When it comes to eluding capture on a football field, it’s hard to overstate the importance of groin muscles. So it was already alarming enough when the Jets announced last week that Zach Wilson, their rookie quarterback, would be managing a minor groin injury for the rest of the season. But there was also the urgency of now: The Jets were about to depart for Denver, where the thin air makes offensive linemen gasp for oxygen and Broncos linebacker Von Miller makes offensive coordinators gasp in horror.

So how’d it go? Well, the Jets allowed more sacks (five) than they scored points (zero). Speaking of zero, that’s how many first-half touchdowns they have scored through three games this season. The Broncos shut them out Sunday, and that doesn’t begin to capture how far the Jets were from scoring. Over 11 drives, they managed just 162 yards of total offense. Several low points come to mind, but let’s go with the taunting call against their special teams unit, which came when they were down 17-0. After a Broncos fair catch. That’s next-level dopey.

Not all 0-3s are created equal. The Giants are winless, but not hopeless. They have “Danny Dimes” and Barkley and chances are they will beat some decent teams this season. The Jets still haven’t played a meaningful second-half snap. Wilson has been running for his life on a gimpy groin. If you grab a pair of binoculars and search the horizon for a silver lining, perhaps it is that the kid remains unafraid to fling it. His right arm will be the Jets’ only draw this season. But how much longer will it be attached to his shoulder?

Verdict: Too early to just end the season, but not by much. — Devin Gordon

Let’s start with the (only) good news: Most defenses in the N.F.L. aren’t as good as the ones the Jets have faced the last two weekends.

The Jets were blanked, 26-0, by the Denver Broncos, and for the second consecutive week, seemed out of contention the moment they faced a two-score deficit. Whether it was by design of the game plan or his own volition, Zach Wilson tried to do whatever he could to avoid the four-sack nightmare he experienced against New England. Wilson looked to throw the ball underneath — out of harm’s way — even to the detriment of the offense. Going into the fourth quarter, he had fewer than 100 yards passing and only three completions deeper than 10 yards.

In the fourth quarter, Wilson figured fortune would favor the bold, and he was punished for his ambition. The first of his two interceptions on Sunday was as poor a throw as those he threw in the second half against New England, trying to fit the ball into double coverage. The second was an inaccurate deep throw on the run in garbage time.

In a league like the N.B.A., rebuilding teams with potential franchise prospects can be a fun kind of bad. It’s not so enjoyable in the N.F.L. and Wilson isn’t singularly great enough to make anyone trust this process.

Verdict: Find a nice brunch instead. — Diante Lee

Source: Football -


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