By Jeff Moeller, the New York Extra/thenyextra.co
The Giants and the Jets have both taken the left side from the proverbial NFL fork-in-the-road, and they both appear to be a distance away from reversing course and heading in the right direction.
This Sunday will be a difference maker.
Will both 0-2 teams continue to trek down the wrong path toward an eventual abyss? Are this weekend’s contests a must game for both? Yep.
The Giants have looked more like a team with direction and determination, while the Jets have looked like a rudderless team with misdirection and apprehension.
Still, they both need their games, and both are in mostly favorable position to keep their seasons alive. If not, football season in New York will be rounding the final pole.
The Giants host the battered San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Met Life, the same team that was riddled with injuries in the second half against the Jets last week and made it look easy.
Ex-Falcon Devontae Freeman will be in the spotlight for injured Saquon Barkley and either underachieving Wayne Gallman or vet Dion Lewis need a big game.
But this stag should belong to Daniel Jones, who is in perfect positon to pick apart a decimated San Francisco secondary. Jones can’t afford to have turnovers via fumbles or interceptions.
Note to Jones: find Darius Slayton and Evan Engram often.
The Giants can’t afford to play down to the 49ers’ reduced level because San Francisco –despite injuries – tends to be one of the better executing offensive teams. It can be a big afternoon for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham if he can generate a consistent pass rush on backup quarterback Nick Mullins, who picked part the Jets last week.
Speaking of the Jets, they will take their injury-depleted team out to Indianapolis for a late Sunday afternoon tilt. It is a matchup that has plenty of history behind it with the 1969 Super Bowl, but one also can quickly forget mthe Jets acquired the third pick from the Colts in a 2018 trade to draft Sam Darnold.
The weekly length of the Jets’ injured list has reached the point of being laughable, and it looms as the likely escaped clause for the 2020 season. They will start the game with Chris Hogan and Josh Malone as the receivers.
The pair raised the total to 17 different wide receivers since Darnold became a Jet in 2018. One reason Darnold’s development has been slowed is because of consistent playmakers around him.
However, the team has yet to see any of the desired leadership from quarterback Sam Darnold, as he has been a game manager in head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains’ scheme. Like Jones, this is an opportunity for Darnold to step up and take charge.
Maybe touted rookie running back La’Mical Perrine can make an impact and form a tandem with touted tight end Chris Herndon. Frank Gore will give you a workmanlike effort.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams recently denied accusations by safety Bradley McDougald and linebacker Avery Williamson that their practices basically lacked intensity.
Based on their performances, the players appear correct.
The Jets’ defensive firepower — it shouldn’t be because of the loss of Jamal Adams – has been absent through the first two games and they must shutdown Colts’ quarterback Philip Rivers. Don’t let a 38-year-old seeking a second win beat you.
So, it’s Week Three and football in the Big Apple already is showing its age spots. The crossroad is here.
Giants’ head coach Joe Judge has had moral victories, but he needs a real one. Play hard like they have, and they swing it in the other direction.
Gase has to ignite this team or he will be on the spit. Compete and stay close until the end. Change the dynamic. You can see what’s going on.
If they both fail, it will be up to the Yankees to make it an interesting October.