Lichtenstein: Jets Can Spare Fans Further Humiliation By Stepping Up Against Giants

Steve Lichtenstein
November 08, 2019 - 1:11 pm
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Jets fans might not care about another game for the rest of the season, but for this week, they have a simple plea for their 1-7 team: Please don’t get embarrassed by the Giants!

Listen to your team news NOW.

Now, I get that a large segment of the fan base has completely checked out already. They’re too disgusted by the entire organization’s incompetence——the owner, the former GM, the coach, and the players—to watch this disgrace for one more second. They wouldn’t mind, and many would actually prefer, if the Jets ran the table with defeats in order to maximize the value of their first-round draft asset in April 2020.

Still, this is Giants week, and if you think this season hasn’t been humiliating enough for Jets fans, wait until late afternoon on Sunday if Gang Green trudges out of MetLife Stadium again with their helmets burrowed in shame after receiving a shellacking from their co-tenant.

You can feel free to call it the “Tank Bowl” or the “Toilet Bowl” or whatever. I agree that it would be a misnomer to state that any matchup between two teams with a combined record of 3-14 is for “bragging rights.” In reality, neither fan base should be bragging about anything this season. 

But Giants’ fans surely will if their team emerges victorious.

You see, not only have they been able to lord their four more recent Super Bowl titles over their long-suffering neighbors, now they’ll have ammunition to attempt to claim superiority over the two teams’ future prospects.

Brad Penner / USA Today Sports

The Giants selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft when it was obvious that their quarterback, Eli Manning, was on his last legs. Several QBs were considered worthy on that day, including USC’s Sam Darnold, who was snagged by the Jets with the next pick. One year later, the Giants got their man in Duke QB Daniel Jones at No. 8 while the Jets chose the less impactful interior defensive lineman Quinnen Williams at No. 3.

Like it or not, there will be comparisons and conclusions drawn, however premature and without context, every four years when these two clubs meet in games that count. Which franchise got it right? Imagine, and it isn’t hard to do, if Darnold continues his penchant for gruesome game-changing mistakes while Jones and Barkley light up an injury-depleted Jets defense on Sunday. The headlines will read, to some effect, that the Jets goofed and that the Giants are soothsayers.

Spare me. As poorly as Darnold has played this season, with just six touchdown passes to nine interceptions in five games (he missed three contests after contracting mononucleosis), let’s wait until he is properly coached and isn’t besieged by pass rushers running free through the Jets’ porous offensive line on nearly every other drop-back before we render final judgment, okay? 

On the other side, Jones, who has been experiencing similar issues with turnovers (10 in eight games) and pressure (a league-high 43.7% of his drop-backs, per ProFootballFocus.com) as Darnold this season, will have a far easier time of things on Sunday given the Jets’ decimations at inside linebacker and cornerback. 

Beleaguered starting corner Darryl Roberts, who has yielded 42 receptions for 460 yards and four touchdowns this season when targeted, is the latest casualty, tweaking his calf during Wednesday’s practice. Though it was deemed a “non-contact injury,” there’s no truth to the rumor that it was sustained while backtracking from his Twitter rant against Jets fans for their negativity. Outside of solid slot man Brian Poole, the Jets’ depth chart at corner currently reads: Nate Hairston, Arthur Maulet, Maurice Canady (picked up on waivers on Wednesday) and sixth-round pick Blessuan Austin, if he is fit enough to return from his season-long stay on the PUP list (ACL tear).

Woof.

In addition, your guess is as good as mine as to which ill-equipped Jets linebacker will be chasing down Barkley in pass coverage on Sunday. Plan A, I would assume, would be the return of Neville Hewitt, who has missed the last three games with neck and knee woes and has been limited in practice this week. Then again, he’s been brutal in coverage, allowing 15 receptions on 19 targets for a league-worst 16.9 yards per reception among linebackers with at least 300 snaps. The other option? That would be James Burgess, who received PFF’s lowest coverage grade among all linebackers in Week 8 when he attempted, to no avail, to stick with running back Leonard Fournette in Jacksonville. 

On paper, this appears to be another game that won’t be pretty in the eyes of Jets fans. You’d think that the Jets would have an edge as the home team, but I’m predicting closer to a 50/50 split given how many folks I know who dumped their tickets at the first sighting of backup QB Luke Falk earlier this season. 

Still, the “Any Given Sunday” mantra of the NFL dictates that it’s possible for the Jets to step out of their dumpster fire and play a competitive game for just the third time this season. So, Gang Green: How about showing up just one more time so your fans aren’t feeling blue on Sunday night?

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1

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