Brandon Contes. 9th November, 2009 - 4:42 pm
Almost a year ago, on November 23rd 2008, the Jets gave the Tennessee Titans their first loss while improving to 8-3 on the year. At the same time, the New York Giants improved to 10-1, unleashing the Jets-Giant Super Bowl talk. Everyone knows the story of how dreadful both of these teams finished, so who would have thought that after Week 3 in 2009, that same Super Bowl talk would be rekindled. Both teams were 3-0, Mark Sanchez was playing like a veteran, Eli Manning looked better than Tom Brady, and once again fans were overhyping their teams, thinking, could an all New York Super Bowl be in the works once again?
Fast forward to Week 9; the Jets have lost four of their past five games, falling to 4-4 on the year, while the Giants have lost four straight with a 5-4 record. Another year of overreacting to early success. So does that mean we?re overreacting to their midseason struggles by calling it a crisis for New York football? I don?t think so; both teams have looked awful while playing in strong divisions and competing against tough teams for Wildcard spots.
Over the first five games, Eli Manning looked like he may be the third best quarterback in football. He threw ten touchdown passes, and just two interceptions. Over the last four games Manning threw just five touchdown passes, and quadrupled his season total of interceptions to eight. Every year we see Manning struggle in the second half of the season as the weather gets bad. He will never be able to throw 35 touchdown passes in a season like his brother, because of the swirling winds at the Meadowlands. However, this season?s struggles seem to be coming earlier than usual. You can blame it on the planter fasciitis, although he looked fine against the Raiders, but then again that was the Raiders.
Over the Giants first five games, the defense allowed 71 points, during their current four game losing streak they have given up 133 points, while twice allowing their opponent to score more than 40 points. Is this due to injuries, coaching, better opponents, or does the blame just fall on the players not performing? Yes you could say losing Steve Spagnuolo has affected the defense, and put some of the blame on first year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. But, I put it on the players more than the coach. They have struggled to put pressure on the quarterback, and struggled to stop the run. The Giants have also failed to make big plays when they need them. They could not move the ball successfully on the final drive against the Cardinals, and they could not stop the Chargers on their final drive this week. The Giants rank near the bottom of the league in both red zone offense, and red zone defense. So while their defense may lead the NFC in yards per game allowed, they have not played nearly to that level.
The Jets defense is ranked 2nd in the AFC in yards per game allowed. Unlike the Giants, they have actually played well in all but one game this season; the Monday Night game against the Dolphins where the Jets defense looked completely lost against the wildcat formation. The Jets have only given up nine offensive touchdowns, four of them came in that Monday Night game. However, even with a strong defense, the Jets have looked like the typical Jets. They find ways to lose. In their last game before the bye, they gave up 30 points to the Dolphins, but only one of the Fins? touchdowns were offensive, and that came halfway through the fourth quarter. The Jets outgained the Dolphins 378 to 104, and still managed to lose. The Dolphins scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, without the offense even taking a snap. In week 6 the Jets rushed for 318 yards against the Bills. They rushed the ball only 37 times, and Mark Sanchez completed 15 of 29 passes, but five of those passes were caught by the wrong team. Neither the Bills, nor the Jets, looked like they wanted to win that game in overtime, but due to penalties and turnovers the Jets forced the win on Dick Jauron and the Bills
Both teams have been hampered by significant injuries. The Giants free agent acquisitions; LB Michael Boley and DE Chris Canty have missed the majority of the year. Cornerback Aaron Ross has yet to play a down due to a hamstring injury, and Safety Kenny Phillips was placed on injured reserve after week 2. The Jets lost arguably their most valuable offensive player in Leon Washington, and their most valuable defensive player in Kris Jenkins.
The Giants don?t look like a Super Bowl or even a playoff team. They beat up on bad teams in the beginning of the year, and they have looked like a bad team since then. The Jets don?t look like a Super Bowl team either, and unfortunately they act like a Super Bowl team. They?re 4-4 and their arrogance is wearing thin. The talking was fine in the beginning of the year when they were backing it up on the field, but its time to be quiet while they?re getting beat. Calvin Pace called Chad Henne a ?clown quarterback,? just after Henne picked apart the Jet defense. Pace and Bart Scott both mocked the wildcat formation, just after they lost to the Dolphins for a second time this season. Rex Ryan has made bad decisions like not calling a timeout at the end of the Monday Night game against the Dolphins, or kicking to Ted Gin after he already returned one for a touchdown, and his reasoning was he ?knew they would stop them.? His confidence has proved to hurt the team, and its time this team stops acting like they have won something. So while the Giants have looked like a fraud this season after their 5-0 start, the Jets talk has proved to be fraudulent because they are nowhere near as good as they think they are.
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