This Clash of Trash on Sunday at MetLife Stadium could be a high-scoring free-for-all, as both these defenses are sorry sights. But that is presuming these impotent offenses can get out of their own way. So it could be an afternoon where 17 points wins it.
When two teams that specialize in losing meet, it turns into a political slogan. When they go low, we go lower. It is a race between a tortoise and a three-toed sloth. A food fight among super models. Choosing between cold pizza and warm beer.
This is the prequel to “Dumb and Dumber’’ with a working title of “Bad and Worse.’’ The Giants and Jets are both bad, and now we get to find out which sad-sack operation is worse. Must-win game? More like must-not-lose game. Something’s gotta give, and these are among the most giving teams in the league. So sit back and enjoy (or at least tolerate) the Battle of New York in New Jersey.
Giants pass offense vs. Jets pass defense
For the Jets to do some damage, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is going to have to use looks to confuse and rattle rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones has been a turnover machine (he has 16 with eight interceptions and eight lost fumbles) and regularly gifts points to the opponent. Losing receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion protocol) and tight end Evan Engram (foot) cuts in half the feared targets the Giants can put on the field.
The Jets are petrified about Saquon Barkley getting isolated on one of their many suspect linebackers. The cornerback situation has gone from bad to worse, with Trumaine Johnson on injured reserve and now a calf issue shelving Darryl Roberts, who played 99 percent of the snaps (not all of them very well, but still). That leaves Brian Poole to move outside from the slot, and Arthur Maulet, Nate Hairston and Maurice Canady (claimed off waivers from the Ravens on Wednesday) in reserve against Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Barkley.
Giants run offense vs. Jets run defense
Here is a place where the Jets actually do quality work. They are sixth in the league in stopping the run, allowing just 89.3 yards per game. Of course, one of their best run-stoppers, Leonard Williams, now plays for the Giants. It remains to be seen how the injury-related changes on the Giants’ offensive line (Spencer Pulley at center, rookie Nick Gates with zero NFL experience at right tackle) help or hurt the blocking. Barkley does not look the same since returning from a high ankle sprain and last week was completely stuffed (14 carries for 28 yards) by the Cowboys. Giants coach Pat Shurmur might have to think about mixing Wayne Gallman in from time to time. The Jets took Quinnen Williams so high in the draft to be a difference-maker, and there are signs he can be. The Giants need to get Barkley to the second level of the Jets defense, where they are most vulnerable, and keep Barkley away from excellent safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.
Jets pass offense vs. Giants pass defense
Of all the sad-sack matchups in this game, this one is the sad-sackiest. The Jets can’t throw it much (dead last in the league), and the Giants can’t stop it much (25th in the league). Sam Darnold did not look terrible at Miami, but his penchant for making a ghastly mistake or two is alarming, especially in Year No. 2. Protecting Darnold is a major issue, as the offensive line in truly offensive, with three backups forced to start. The good news is left tackle Kelvin Beachum returns to help stabilize an unstable group. The Giants (hello Markus Golden) figure to be able to exploit rookie right tackle Chuma Edoga, who has struggled. Robbie Anderson figures to get deep at least once on a Giants secondary that has a hideous busted coverage once or twice a game. Jamison Crowder could do damage against rookie Corey Ballentine in the slot, and Ryan Griffin (three touchdowns) and maybe Chris Herndon in his season debut can be a threats, as the Giants cover tight ends as if they are covered in WD-40.
Jets run offense vs. Giants run defense
Le’Veon Bell, where art thou? There is no doubt Bell is a quality two-way back, but he’s been ensnared in a web of dysfunction. He is averaging just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt and, though he has 40 receptions, this has not been the impact area the Jets envisioned. Blame it on the line and the lack of a passing game to take the heat off Bell in the box. He also is dealing with a cranky knee that limited him in practice this past week. The Giants allow nearly 128 yards per game on the ground, and Ezekiel Elliott just said the 139 yards he put on the Giants were the easiest of his career. The arrival of Leonard Williams is supposed to help here. As a rookie, Dexter Lawrence has yet to establish himself as a force. Dalvin Tomlinson is better here. There are no sideline-to-sideline linebackers capable of chasing down backs on the perimeter. The Jets are 30th in run offense, the Giants are 25th in run defense. Bell could be the difference.
The rock of stability for the Giants that was place-kicker Aldrick Rosas has shown cracks in the foundation. Rosas missed extra points in each of the past two games and has already missed more field goal this season (two) than he did all of last season. Riley Dixon has put in quality work at punter, and Cody Latimer had kickoff returns of 50 and 41 yards last week. Next time, Lachlan Edwards needs to strike a deal with the Jets to get paid by the punt (he has 50 of them this season). Sam Ficken is 5-of-7 on field goals, and Vyncint Smith had a 78-yard kickoff return last week vs. the Dolphins.
Hello Mr. Beleaguered, meet Mr. Embattled. Which is which with Pat Shurmur and Adam Gase? Does it really matter? Shurmur keeps things contained and quiet around his team and the Giants have been mostly controversy-free losers. There is noise and tumult around the Jets, and Gase’s fingerprints are all over that mess. Shurmur is 0-2 against the Cowboys this season and Gase is 1-0, for what that’s worth. Shurmur is 2-5 against everyone else and Gase is 0-7, so there. It sure feels as if Shurmur’s rope is longer than the unraveling hold Gase has on his job. A sense of stability and Shurmur’s handling of Daniel Jones, as opposed to the way DSam arnold has regressed under Gase, gives the nod to the Giants here, slightly.
Well, it is a Jets home game, so you would expect more green-clad Jets season-ticket holders in the seats. Unless they sold the tickets to Giants fans. Unless the Giants fans sold their tickets to Cowboys fans. Oh, wait, that was last week. Both teams are banged up, the Jets more so on defense. Seeing (and hearing) Saquon Barkley collide with Jamal Adams will be worth the price of admission. Sort of.
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