Two games into the 2013-14 NFL campaign, some New York football fans are ready to give up on the season. With the New York Jets splitting their first two games and the Giants dropping both of their contests, some folks around here are counting the days until the NBA season or MLB Playoffs start. Well, I would not be ready to punch out on this season for both teams just yet, especially when both teams play in winnable divisions.
After losing their first two games, the nickname Big Blue has taken on a whole new meaning, mainly for Giants fans. They looked lost at times and appear to be a shell of their former self and are not what we have been accustomed to. The Giants running game has been anemic, gaining less than 100 yards combined thus far into the season. The Giants unchararistiscally have turned the ball over 10 times in the past two games with quarterback Eli Manning leading the way with seven interceptions and running back David Wilson coughing up the ball twice in the first game against Dallas. And the defense which has been a staple of this franchise for years has looked less than ordinary. It might appear that the season is over really before it has gotten off of the ground. But we have seen this scenario before.
Remember back in 2007? Folks were saying the same thing. Big Blue lost their first two games. The defense was giving up points at an alarming clip. Eli looked lost and some of the fans as well as members of the media were calling for Manning’s and Coach Tom Coughlin’s heads on a platter to be displayed in Times Square. Well Eli got it together. Coughlin relaxed his stringent ways. And the defense got healthy and started to crush every opponent in their path. After the initial panic, the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that season.
Now I’m not predicting that the Giants will be the NFC representatives in MetLife Stadium come February for the Super Bowl, but stranger things have happened. First of all, Big Blue has to make the playoffs and that is not even a stretch playing in the NFC East.
Despite being in a 0-2 whole, no team in this Division has separated itself from the pack. Dallas and Philadelphia are 1-1 and the preseason favorite to the Division, Washington, are right there with the Giants at 0-2. Despite the six turnovers in the Dallas game, the Giants were still in a position to win it in the end. Philadelphia can’t stop anybody on the defensive side of the ball and Washington just looks lost. Therefore, this Division is up for grabs. With seven division games remaining, the Giants still have a chance to control their own destiny and not rely on a Wildcard spot. And as 2007 and 2011 have proved, anything is possible once you punch your ticket to The Post Season Ball.
The Jets, on the other hand, are a different story. Sitting at 1-1 to start this campaign, one would think that the sky is falling in Gang Greenville. They won a game that they should have lost to open the season. Then they lost a game they should have won Thursday at the hands of their old nemesis, the New England Patriots. Some may look at it and say that they should be 2-0, or you can look at the results thus far and say that could be 0-2. I look at it and I’m happy that they at least split their first two games. I was encouraged at the play on both sides of the ball in New England defeat despite some glaring errors. Yes, someone blew an assignment on Aaron Dobson’s touchdown catch. But other than that, the defense had a stellar game aided by a few drops by the Patriots receivers.
And yes, there are some passes that Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith would like to have a mulligan on or a chance to do over. But overall he had a decent game that would have been better if the Jets wide receivers would have held on to some perfectly thrown passes that hit them on the numbers. Clyde Gates dropped a very catchable ball in the end zone that took away four points in a three-point loss and Stephen Hill fumbled after making a thirty yard catch. If Gang Green had executed those two plays, they most likely would have walked out of Foxboro last week with a victory.
Smith did throw three interceptions in that game, but he should not have been put in that position to make that many throws. The running game was tearing apart the Patriots defense and the Jets should have kept the ball in the hands of Chris Ivory, who had 77 rushing yards and 109 total yards for the team. The Jets dominated both lines of scrimmage and held the explosive Patriots to 13 points. Normally that is a recipe for victory but not this time.
If Smith continues to improve and the Jets defense sustains this level of play, things could be interesting in Gang Greenville this year. Remember three weeks ago, most people were hoping that the Jets would win a couple of games this year. They look much better than most would have predicted so let’s not bury them so fast.
In this new NFL world, anything is possible. Teams go from worst-to-first within a year and superstars emerge out of nowhere. The Giants and the Jets are in position to either make some noise or go out with a thud. Let’s see what happens before we start writing their eulogies.