By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — This space is usually reserved for weekly observations and opinions on the Jets, but if I spent the next 1,500 or so words simply regurgitating that which my colleagues have already broken down in detail I’d be doing my employers and readers a disservice.
I’ve decided to try something new. And if this bothers you or comes off as crude media speak and ultimate armchair quarterback fighting, I really don’t care. Someone has to say it.
You hear the debate on a daily basis on the radio, in print, on television and on the Internet: which team is the true representative of New York City and its outlying areas? The new-age swagger of the Jets or the old school mentality of the Giants? The Gang Green Army led by the latest incarnation of Patton or the Big Blue Machine that’s carried the torch, often admirably, for 60 years?
The answer is simple and undeniable.
The NFL should hold open tryouts for any team to come in here and attempt to showcase the type of talents the Tri-State Area truly deserves. Because what you have witnessed from MetLife Stadium’s current tenants over the 2011 season’s first five weeks has been an utter embarrassment.
The 2-3 Jets have failed to live up to any form of hype and the 3-2 Giants have found ways to squander that which has been handed to them. It’s been pretty disgusting.
Let’s start with the Jets, who always “can’t wait” to get their perceived swag on. My questions are many. What swag? What “elite” defense do you mean? Which “ground and pound” running game are you referring to exactly?
To this point the Jets have sold you, the hard-working and over-charged public, a bill of goods. Three weeks ago I wrote a column warning nearly everyone that despite the Jets’ 2-0 start they had not won a damn thing. They could easily go on what was a pivotal early season three-game road trip and throw away any chance they had of winning the AFC East. Low and behold, threes games later, the Jets are now two games out of the division lead and 1-3 in conference play.
Now you may not put too much stock in the Bills’ 4-1 start or may think the Patriots, despite their 30-21 win over Gang Green on Sunday, aren’t all that defensively. And you could be right, but what indication have the Jets given you to make you believe they will catch and pass either? I thought the idea this season was getting home playoff games? Well, unless something changes, and I mean in a hurry, this team will be lucky to even be around for meaningful January football, let alone showcase whatever it is they think they have in front of their deserving fan base.
The Jets are so screwed up right now the fan base has no idea who to blame. The players may say they are a united front, but it sure doesn’t look or feel that way. Every week something new falls apart. Even in victory they haven’t looked right.
One week the defense fails to show up; the next the offensive line is in shambles; the next both take quarters off. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walks around with the biggest bull’s-eye in the NFL on his back, while defensive coordinator Mike Pettine somehow gets a free pass or ends up in witness protection. Rex Ryan, for all of his motivational speeches and F-bombs, has looked much smaller in stature of late. While I still believe this guy is the right man for the job, whatever message he’s trying to send has yet to sink in.
Or maybe it’s something more. Maybe the Jets simply aren’t that good, or have been a product of elaborate schemes hiding many faults. If you look at their roster, the Jets, talent-wise, should be feared and menacing. But then the games start and they look disorganized and fragile.
You want to sum up the Jets’ season to this point? Look no further than the fourth quarter on Sunday. After not even attempting to throw the ball down field over the previous three quarters, quarterback Mark Sanchez engineered and 11-play, 85-yard drive that culminated with a 28-yard scoring pass to Santonio Holmes, who for one week at least disappeared from the back of a milk carton. The drive took 5 minutes, 47 seconds and, more importantly, kept the Jets’ somewhat winded defense off the field.
Ah but wait. What happens the second the now-rested defense gets back on the field down 6 with more than half of the quarter still to play? The Jets proceeded to get destroyed on the ground by the immortal BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Patriots put together a methodical 13-play drive that resulted in a field goal with about a minute to play, sealing the game.
There was nothing elite about the defense during that drive. Zero. The Jets may lead the world in three-and-outs on offense, but they did their job the previous possession. The defense then went out and spit the bit.
Again, bill of goods? You’d be a fool to make up an excuse.
Now, let’s segue over some 250 miles to MetLife for the Giants’ matchup with the lowly Seahawks, the Tavaris Jackson-led and, later, Charlie Whitehurst-led Seahawks, mind you.
All Big Blue did was turn the ball over five times in a 36-25 loss to arguably the worst offensive team in football, maybe this side of Jacksonville, or, dare I say it, the locker room across the way every other weekend.
Now I realize the Giants were dealt serious blow after serious blow earlier in the season with a slew of season-ending injuries to key components that would have made you think they somehow offended God in the offseason. But the fact of the matter is, on paper and considering just how bad the rest of the NFC East is, the Giants should win the division. Do you honestly believe in the Redskins? The “Dream Team” Eagles are a joke and embarrassment to their fan base, and if I worked at CBS Philly I’d be having a field day right now. The Cowboys? Who? What? Huh?
The Giants should be 4-1 right now and on cruise control. Talk should be about bringing Tom Coughlin back long-term, instead of the predictable mantra that’s followed this poor man around every time his team has lost a game it should have won.
Eli Manning has a Super Bowl ring and at times can be as good as any quarterback you want to name, but more often than not this guy is just a turnover machine, mostly because he throws a crappy ball. I realize his numbers this season are very, very good, but when he goes south he ends up on Antarctica alone.
Manning has the familiar pose that’s always captured by quick-thinking photographers — head down, aw shucks replaced by where’s the nearest rock for me to crawl under. And he has this look despite having crazy good receivers — and I’m talking about the ones that aren’t injured.
The Giants are supposed to be a team that is much more balanced on offense than the Jets. They have monster running backs and a very good run-blocking offensive line. Yet against the Seahawks, who allow nearly 100 yards per game on the ground, they managed 69. I tend to think Seattle’s run defense, statistically, is even softer than what the numbers show because they give up a slew of yards in the air and, generally, opponents don’t have to pass all that much to beat them. Yet, there were the ‘Hawks on Sunday holding the Giants to 2.8 yards per carry. Now, I understand that Brandon Jacobs didn’t play, but c’mon. Ahmad Bradshaw is a “beast” right? DJ Ward carries the ball out of the end zone? Are you serious?
I got a buddy on Twitter who tried to convince me that no team finds a way to lose more than the Giants. I laughed at first and reminded him of the team that I follow, but then I thought about it a little more. Do the Giants play down to their opponents? Do they take stretches of games off? Are they not inspired on some level? The answer is probably a bit of all three.
Consider this: The Giants got Osi Umenyiora back on Sunday and the guy was a demon. Bookend him with Jason Pierre-Paul, with a healthy Justin Tuck mixed in also, and you have the potential for a devastating line. A line that, even missing one of them, that should never — ever — allow Marshawn Lynch to run for 8.2 yards per carry — as he did Sunday.
The Giants simply leave a lot to be desired on both sides of the ball for reasons that defy logic.
So here we are, heading to Week 6 of an NFL regular season that will be over before you know it. The Jets have been the bigger all-around disappointment of the two area teams mostly because they have failed to live up to their own hype, the hype they created by getting to the last two AFC Championship games and then talking about how even greener pastures were just around the corner. The Giants have failed because, despite their injuries, they have given away some opportunities that have demanded to be capitalized on and have this penchant for disappearing at absolutely the worst possible moments.
Is there a long way to go? Sure. Will both teams make the playoffs? I’d say there is a good chance.
But this notion that either fan base should pound its chest and declare that its team “owns New York” is laughable. They both stink right now. The other shoe drops on a weekly basis. Consistency is just a word in the dictionary, unless, of course, you are looking up consistently inconsistent.
There should be a big “space available” sign in front of MetLife right now. Neither team should be considered worthy of calling that stadium home.
And neither team currently represents you. If you think they do, all I can say is thank God the NHL has started up again.
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