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We’ve enlisted experts to answer an essential question as a weekly service to readers: Are the Jets and Giants good yet?
This week, Devin Gordon, the author of “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets, the Best Worst Team in Sports,” offered his observations.
The Giants (4-12) stretched their losing streak to five games after being routed, 29-3, by the Chicago Bears (6-10). Quarterback Mike Glennon was sacked four times Sunday, once by Bears linebacker Robert Quinn, who set the Chicago franchise’s single-season record (18).
Things are bleak in Chicago. The Bears are one of the N.F.L.’s worst teams. Coach Matt Nagy, along with pretty much everyone else in the organization, is likely to be fired. The rookie quarterback Justin Fields remains sidelined with an ankle injury, so rather than ringing in the new year with their 22-year-old franchise cornerstone on Sunday afternoon, the fans at Soldier Field had to settle for the right arm and red hair of his 34-year-old backup, Andy Dalton.
Those Bears, and Dalton, tore the Giants in half, and it was over less than halfway through the first quarter. That’s when Mike Glennon — the Giants’ right-armed, red-haired backup (the poor man’s Dalton) — committed his second turnover of the game’s opening seven minutes. Dalton and the Bears immediately scored to go up, 14-0.
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Chicago led, 22-3, at halftime, then 29-3, then darkness.
Glennon has now lost 10 straight starts dating back to September 2017, which is nearly five years. Things are bleak in Chicago? Glennon might start again for the Giants next week. If he does, the Giants will end the season as the N.F.L.’s most unwatchable team. Mazel tov!
‘Tis the season of perverse incentives, though, which always come right after Christmas in the N.F.L. In theory, winning football games is nice and arguably the whole point of the enterprise. In practice, the Giants and the Bears are jockeying for position in next spring’s draft, so the loser here was actually the big winner. Mazel tov again, Giants fans!
Would this defeat have been easier to savor without the sight of Bears coaches and players yukking it up on the sidelines as they killed the clock with trick plays they’ve been waiting months to try? Sure. But stay focused: Draft position is all that matters now. Glennon’s work is almost finished. Let the man do his job.
Verdict: The Giants’ hard work will pay off in April.
The Jets (4-12) scored first, led by two scores as late as the third quarter, and still fell, 28-24, to Tampa Bay (12-4), in a game that was overshadowed by the unusual departure of Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown.
Given where the game stood in the third quarter, with the Jets leading Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers by two touchdowns, one might interpret the game’s ending as especially painful for Jets fans. A lost fumble on the game-sealing play? A frantic Brady comeback? Another epic Jets collapse? Yes. Duh.
Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown’s odd departure late in the third quarter seemed to be what snapped order back into Sunday’s game. Prior, the Bucs behaved as is typical of the Jets, and the Jets behaved, tantalizingly, like the Bucs. What came next should have been an absurdist’s delight:
The Jets had come oh-so-close to a win, playing well enough to put a scare into Brady and so frustrate the Buccaneers’ offense that one of its top contributors was driven to mutiny. Then they blew their lead just in time to preserve a top-five 2022 N.F.L. Draft position. Why ruin a perfect early January afternoon at MetLife Stadium with a victory?
For a Jets team that just dropped its 12th game of the season, the vibes are paradoxically positive. They’re playing hard. They’re getting better. Their rookie quarterback isn’t actively sabotaging things. And as readers of this space may recall, they’ve got the Seattle Seahawks’ first-round draft pick awaiting them in April, thanks to the Jamal Adams trade — a rare bit of front office savvy that’s about to pay off huge.
For weeks now, Jets fans have been riding just as hard for whoever’s playing Seattle, and today that effort required rooting for the Detroit Lions (not going so well). Next week it’ll require rooting for the Arizona Cardinals (a bit more fun!).
Verdict: Only one more week to go. Only one more week to go. Only one more week to go …