By Ernie Palladino
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Now that Madison Bumgarner and Conor Gillaspie have consigned the Mets to the dusty pages of wild card failures, New York can focus all its attention on the next bit of business.
Yeah. Thanks loads.
Because Jeurys Familia couldn’t keep a glorified bench player inside the Citi Field fences and the lineup fell prostrate at the hands of a postseason master, a diversion to the area’s two football teams no longer exists. And, brother, could the Jets and Giants have used some relative privacy to straighten out the worsening train wrecks of their seasons.
Now, all attention and its inherent pressure flows to Sunday, where the hopes of Gag Green and Little Blue having any kind of season meet rather bulky roadblocks in Pittsburgh, where Ben Roethlisberger awaits in early afternoon after dismantling the Chiefs, and Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers can’t wait to aim his throwing arm at Trevin Wade.
These are not the preferable opponent profiles to put a season back on the rails. The Jets had those chances, first in Kansas City and then against a Seattle team whose star quarterback played on one leg.
No worries for the Seahawks there, of course, as Ryan Fitzpatrick remained imbedded in his journeyman past and Brandon Marshall continued what could be a season-long struggle with an Week 2 MCL strain that came a hair’s breadth from shelving him for the season.
The secondary was so porous last week — and could be again this week if Darrelle Revis’ strained hamstring preludes him from playing — that it turned a solid front-seven pass rush into a non-factor.
The same alignment of Marcus Williams, Buster Skrine, Calvin Pryor, and rookie Justin Burris would have to contain the uncontainable Antonio Brown, who caught two of Roethlisberger’s five touchdowns in last week’s 43-14 rout of Kansas City. Considering the Jets have already given up a league-high seven completions of at least 40 yards, the pressure to harass the sturdy Roethlisberger is increased 10-fold.
At 1-3, the Jets need one more win in this six-game killer of an opening stretch to have a shot at a season.
It probably won’t come Sunday.
The Giants could use a boost, too. Two straight losses, including the eminently-winnable setback against Washington two weeks ago, have Ben McAdoo’s 2-2 squad reeling. More than mere on-field results, McAdoo has now drawn attention for his failure to rein in Odell Beckham, Jr. from his self-destructive emotions.
For all the criticism leveled against Tom Coughlin for Beckham’s out-of-control behavior, the problem has only worsened under McAdoo. And that has given rise to questions not only about the wisdom of keeping the supremely talented but increasingly unhinged Beckham around, but whether McAdoo is the right guy to steer his franchise out of a four-year playoff slump.
McAdoo’s play calling in last week’s mess in Minnesota didn’t help his case. Eli Manning looked skittish in the face of the Vikings’ pass rush, letting several passes go even as he had a tick left before ex-Giant Linval Joseph and the gang got a hand on him. Beckham was barely targeted in a career-low evening.
The ground game failed to become a significant factor — again.
The secondary, this week charged with controlling wide receiver Jordy Nelson and a Pro Bowl quarterback who has thrown just one interception, is a mere quilt of a unit. One wonders if Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, out last week with a back issue, will ever be healthy again. Or whether the safety unit will ever have a hearty mate for an outstanding Landon Collins. Or whether DRC fill-in Wade can rebound from the abuse Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford heaped on him a week ago.
Then, there is the mental game. Nineteen penalties for 197 yards over the last two games.
There are better ways for a first-year coach and an undisciplined team to walk into Lambeau Field.
It appears wins for both squads will come at a premium, at least for now.
The local football scene is a mess.
Now that the distraction of postseason baseball is out and the hockey and basketball preseasons draw as much interest as drying paint, all attention can focus on the growing disasters on the gridiron.
Thanks loads, Mets!
Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino