Category: football

The Darnold-Mayfield Showdown Gets Kissed Off

ROBBINS NEST

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold #14 leaves the field in dejection after the game today

By Lenn Robbins

Stars rise fast these days. Some handle it well. Some don’t.

Sam Darnold, 22, would have made the 15th start of his NFL career Monday night when Gang Green hosts the Cleveland Browns and their second-year quarterback, Baker Mistakefield, 24. It’s likely Darnold will miss more than just Monday’s game with mononucleosis.

Mayfield was the No.1 overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft. Darnell went No.3. You know ESPN is scrambling to replace all those Mayfield-Darnold comparisons.

It’s a shame that Darnold has been sacked by the kissing disease, as it’s referred to in KidsHealth.org. Because Mayfield is the kid in this tandem. Darnold is the adult.

Mayfield’s talent-laden Browns, considered the favorites to win the AFC Central, got pummeled by the Tennessee Titans, 43-13 last weekend. The ailment he’s suffering these days is a bruised ego.

Mayfield, who any minute now could declare himself the best young quarterback in the NFL, completed 25-of-38 passes for 285 yards with three interceptions, one touchdown and garnered a QB rating of 64.

Darnold wasn’t much better in his team’s season opener, a soul-sapping 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He completed 28-of-41 passes for a meager 175 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His QB rating was 84.9-percent.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold #14 throws in todays game

So, on paper, after one week, the Jets have the better quarterback.

Now, let’s put these silly analytics aside. Because really, QB rating is nonsense. If a quarterback gets his team in the end zone and wins games, the rest is window dressing.

John Elway’s QB rating? 79.9. Johnny Unitas? 78.2. End of story.

Here’s why we’re perfectly comfortable with Darnold being in New York and Baker Blabber being in Cleveland.

After the Jets blew the game against the Bills last week, this was what Darnold had to say:

“We never really got into rhythm and I put that on myself.”

file photo N.Y.Jets #14 Sam Darnold walks off the field after the Jets lost last Sunday Neil Miller /The New York Extra

After the Browns got pulverized by the Titans, this is what Baby Baker had to say.

“We don’t really give a damn what’s going on on the outside,” Mayfield said when asked how stunned the NFL world was by his team’s debacle.

Darnold said “I.” Mayfield said “We.”

Darnold has shown uncanny poise and has an understated presence. Guys like to be around him.

Mayfield has dissed former teammates (see: Duke Johnson) and coaches (see: Hugh Jackson) and opponents (see: Daniel Jones). He likes to be the light and the moth.

Mayfield can be seen on TV hocking Progressive Insurance, which in theory is fine. But it makes you wonder if some of the veterans on the Browns, that have never had a sponsorship deal, are a little irked.

Darnold hasn’t filmed a national television commercial but he did dress up as Santa Claus last Christmas and surprised kids at a New Jersey mall.

We won’t get to see Darnold-Mayfield Monday night, which is disappointing. Both seem to be remarkably gifted. Mayfield is more mobile. Darnold has an Elway-strong arm.

Here’s the shame: The QB that carries himself like a petulant child didn’t get the kid’s virus.

Jets’ Gase Put An Incomplete Team on the Field

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold #14 leaves the field in dejection after the game today

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 One of the many factors that contributed to Mike Maccagnan getting stabbed in the back by Adam Gase was the feeling that the former GM gave out overly generous contracts to Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets head coach Adam Gase during the 2nd half today

The two will earn a combined $33.5 million this season. The rest of the roster, starting with Gase, should earn nothing.

What other conclusion can one draw after the latest Jets debacle, this one epic even by Gang Green’s lowly standards?

The Jets forced four first-half turnovers, led 16-0 midway through the third quarter, and lost, 17-16, to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

 Gase, making his Jets head coaching debut, put an incomplete team on the MetLife Stadium field. The Jets were putrid in special teams, porous on the offensive line and unable to sustain defensive intensity for 60 minutes.

“When you take a loss like this, it kind of defines you,” Bell told reporters. “We’re going to see how guys respond. When you have that many turnovers and we still don’t win the game, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

The Jets built their lead largely because they had two NFL-proven stars in Bell and Mosley. And then they got exposed by a Buffalo team that had a solid plan and solid, if not spectacular, roster.

The Jets kicker, Kaare Vedvik, who was signed off waivers last week, missed a PAT and a 45-yard field goal attempt.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets kicker Kaare Vedvik #6 reacts fater missing a fg in todays game

“It sucks,’’ Vedvik told reporters. “Everybody wants to do their part in helping the team win. A close game like that, it’s bad.”

The offensive line, which was so suspect the Jets had to woo Ryan Kalil out of retirement in early August, gave up four sacks and never allowed Sam Darnold, who got hit nine other times, to feel comfortable.

“Whenever you have the lead going into the fourth quarter, that’s never the result you want,” Darnold, who was 28-of-41 passing for 175 yards and one touchdown, told reporters.

The defense looked competent until Mosely left the game midway through the third quarter with a groin injury.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets inside linebacker C.J. Mosley #57 runs in a interception for a touch down in the 1st half today

“When he went out, it was kind of a game changer as far as they didn’t have somebody that vocal in the middle of the field that was able to make all their calls and all their check,” Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen told reporters after the game.

Bell, who should have gotten the ball more than 23 times, finished with 92 yards from scrimmage, a touchdown reception, a leaping two-point conversion catch and showed that despite a year away from football, he remains a dominant back.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell #26 celebrates his catch for a 2 pt conversion in todays game
09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell #26 runs for a gain in the 1st half today

 Mosley scored the Jets other touchdown, their first of the season on a 17-yard interception return. Before leaving midway through the third with a groin injury and defense’s heart, he had five tackles, two passes defensed and the Pick Six.

Gase, allegedly a quarterback whisperer, couldn’t protect a 16-point lead at home by calling plays like a coach that was trying to protect a 16-point lead.

“I felt like our energy died, man, and we wasn’t playing team ball,” safety Jamal Adams told reporters. “So any time you do that, a team is going to take advantage of it.”

The way Gase’s team is constructed, don’t be surprised if the Jets get taken advantage of a lot this season.

Chiefs Can’t Wait: This is the Last Sunday With no NFL Until February

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

There have been many impassioned debates as to whether or not Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time.

Recently we wrote that Brady is the pick for the greatest quarterback of all time.

Now we have learned that there is another facet of Brady’s greatness that ends any debate Sorry, Montana. Apologies, Namath. Regrets, Unitas. Brady has indeed taken the quarterback position to a new level.

He is the Football Whisperer, the Freud of the Football. Not the game of football. The actual football.

Consider his recent remarks when asked to assess the play of free agent wide receiver Jacobi Meyers, who has impressed throughout training camp and the preseason.

“The football doesn’t care how old you are, whether you were drafted or not. The football doesn’t care how much experience you have. It just knows, when I let that ball go, it’s got to be in the hands of the guy who it’s intended for.’’

Wait, the football doesn’t care, as in the football has feelings?

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this discovery but we will try.

This is like finding life on Mars. Or fresh water in the ocean’s depths. Or a neurotransmitter in the deepest recesses of the brain that can be stimulated to guarantee lifelong virility. (Willing to volunteer for the trial).

Tom Brady, six-time Super Bowl champ, three-time Super Bowl MVP, husband to one of the highest-earning supermodels of all-time, might just win a Nobel Prize for science.

This is like Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar for his truly wonderful animated short film, “Dear Basketball.”

Brady, we know, has an intimate relationship with footballs. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for deflating balls in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.

We wonder: If he knew then what he knows now, would he have, um, deflated the balls? Maybe his

Football Whisperer skills were still being honed and he couldn’t yet communication with the oblong, leather, ball.

We’ll let the psychologists, therapists and linguists pursue this new avenue of study. We’ve got bigger issues to address. With this being the last Sunday we won’t have NFL football until February 9th, and all those priceless preseason games in the books, it’s time to make our picks.

AFC East: Pats – as long as the 42-year-old Brady doesn’t get injured or caught deflating footballs.

AFC North: Browns – Mayfield leads them to their first divisional title since 1989, despite monthly reports he’s not liked in the locker room.

AFC South: Texans – Without Luck, Texans have the best QB in the division – by far.

AFC West: Chiefs – Andy Reid is a Hall of Fame coach, right? Right?

Wildcards:  Steelers – Addition by subtraction; AB and his treasured helmet are gone. Chargers – Because I believe in the Ravens less, not exactly a ringing endorsement.

AFC Championship Game: Chiefs over Pats

NFC East: Cowboys – America’s soap opera team.

NFC North: Packers – Mr. Rodgers really likes the neighborhood now that the McCarthy house has been sold.

NFC South: Saints – Drew Brees is starting to slip. Really? Really?

NFC West: Rams – Todd Gurley’s knee is as shaky as my short game but that defense is as solid as my 19th hole storytelling.

Wildcards: Bears – Taking a healthy but unproven Mitch Trubisky over a proven but not necessarily healthy Carson Wentz. Seahawks – They just stole the best DE, in football, Jadaveon Clowney, and Texas didn’t even file a police report.

NFC Championship Game: Seahawks over Cowboys

Super Bowl – Chiefs over Seahawks.

Seeing is the NFL Believing in Oakley’s Prizm Visors

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Andrew Luck chose life over football.

He was done with the blood in his urine, the pain in his body, the cobwebs in his head. The 29-year-old Colts quarterback, with full life to be lived, did what any sane, mature, young man should do. He retired.

These are some of the responses Luck received:

credit twitter

Some television announcers quickly bemoaned their disappointment because they were going to pick Luck in their fantasy football draft.

Some Colts fans, who must be a quarter of a chromosome short of human, booed Luck as he tossed passes on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday when the news broke.

Many debated whether or not Luck should repay some of his contract.

How Luck’s retirement affects the Colts also made for a lot reading.

Luck’s short and long-term health was not a sexy story, so it got buried.

Now, consider these story lines:

Luck now probably has a good chance of watching the child he and longtime girlfriend Nicole Pechanec are expecting to grow up. He can push her on the swings, attend her school functions, maybe even toss a football around.

Luck now probably avoids being one of the former NFL players sitting at home that don’t know they’re sitting at home because their brains are irreparably damaged.

Luck now probably won’t be one of the former NFL players – such as Jim Otto, who literally is sitting at home –  because they’re cripples. Otto had his right leg amputated in 2007 after injury led to surgery and infection.

Luck no longer is one of the current NFL players that are considering the long-term health risks associated with their profession. Other players are actively managing their injury care.

“I think it takes an immense amount of courage, an immense amount of self-reflection and a lot of guts to do what he’s doing,’’ said Texas defensive end J.J. Watt.

Here’s one of the undisputed truths in life that none of us should ever forget: The only people that truly care about you are your family, close friends and pets.

Big business certainly doesn’t care. And the NFL, which finishes its preseason Thursday, is very big business.

It’s so big that three days after Luck announced his retirement, the NFL and Oakley announced a four-year deal in which the sports performance equipment company becomes the league’s official helmet visor provider.

It didn’t seem like a particularly interesting announcement until one recalls that tinted visors have been banned by the NFL since 1998. Visors only could be used if the player was granted medical exemption.

Tinted visors were banned for safety.

Medical personnel feared that a helmet with a tinted visor could make it more difficult to see a player’s eyes in evaluating possible concussion. And removing a helmet with a visor could be hazardous in the event of spinal cord injury.

Oakley claims, and the NFL nods in agreement, that its visors can be easily and safely removed without removing the helmet.

Oakley claims, and the NFL nods in agreement, that its subtle pink tint visors will not hinder medical personnel from looking into a player’s eyes.

Oakley claims its Prizm Clear visors feature Prizm technology which makes, “the colors on the field pop. The football against the green field and the white hashmarks and sidelines should all stand out more to the player.”

Sorry, just teared up for sec. Oakley better patent that statement because it sounds like a Hallmark card in the making.

Here’s the deal. We’d love to believe that these visors are safe and truly offer a scientific breakthrough in vision, but why in the world would any player take Oakley and the NFL’s claims at face value?

Read of the terrific and terrifying book, “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for the Truth,” by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, and any mature young man will question if their health is the league’s priority.

We don’t know how much Oakley is paying for this partnership. We do know that the Oakley logo will have a place on every NFL field. And that’s not cheap.

We do know that Oakley’s Sutro frames with Prizm-lense sunglasses go for $163 a pop, so yes, we hope colors will pop, pop, pop.

None of us know exactly what the last four years have been like for the oft-injured Luck. He should go on to live a happy and healthy life. He won’t end up like Otto or so many others.

You don’t need Prizm lenses to see that.

The Gettleman/Shurmur Ticket Has Had a Good August

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

8/01/19 New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur Neil Miller /nysportsextra

We are as far away from knowing if the Dave Gettleman/Pat Shurmur partnership is going to restore the Giants to where it once was – one of the NFL’s most respected, professional franchises – as we are to the first snowfall (Apologies).

But August has been a very good month for the Giants.

8/01/19

From the Mara Family, to George Young, to Bill Parcells, to Tom Coughlin, the Giants set a standard on and off the field that every Big Blue fan could proudly wear. Even in seasons when a championship wasn’t won, the Giants walked with the Steelers, the Packers, and the 49ers among others, franchises that would have the late Aretha Franklin bellowing out, ‘Respect.’

And then the worm turned. Jerry Reese. Bob McAdoo. The utterly galling benching of Eli Manning. The ridiculous antics of Odell Beckham Jr.

It was enough to wear that LT jersey inside out.

Until now.

Gettleman set the tone in late July at the start of training camp when the naysayers were in the midst of a blue-faced filibuster: Letting Landon Collins walk in free agency was ridiculous. Trading away Beckham was a travesty. The drafting of Daniel Jones was buffoonery.

Gettleman uttered these words:

“Give us some credit for the experience and our resumes…they’ve just gotta trust,” he implored fans.

Since then, it doesn’t seem so outlandish to trust this Gettleman/Shurmur ticket.

Jones, the player Gettleman has gambled his reputation on, has performed so efficiently and handled himself so admirably, it’s not folly to think he might develop into a QB for the ages. That’s the expectation when you a QB with the No.6 pick.

When Browns child quarterback Baker Mayfield called out Jones as being a loser at Duke in that GQ article, Jones responded like a man who just might find a home in the United Nations one day. (Assuming there is a United Nations).

“I wish we did win more games,” Jones told reporters. “I played a big part in that, so I take responsibility.’’

Take note: This is what accountability sounds like.

Jones then went out the next day and completed 9-of-11 passes for 141 yards in a 25-23 preseason win over the Bengals. Jones might not want these practice games to end. He’s completed 25-of-30 passes (83-percent) for 369 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Has he fumbled the ball a couple of times? Yep. Has he bounced back? You bet.

When your first-round QB draft choice plays this well, and your incumbent, Manning, is entering his 16th season, even a 14th street fortune teller can predict what’s coming: Who’s the starter?

Shurmur ended that folly immediately and unequivocally.

.

8/01/19 New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning #10 Neil Miller /nysportsextra

“I’ve said it all along: Eli is our starter, and we’re getting Daniel ready to play,” Shurmur told reporters. “I think he’s done a good job in the preseason. As I’ve mentioned all along, he’s getting better. And he’s going to continue to do that, so that at whatever time we need him to play, he’ll be ready.”

8/01/19 NY Giants #8 Daniel Jones Neil Miller / nysportsextra

You can offer that as coach’s Exhibit A in how to diffuse a rookie/veteran quarterback controversy.

Look, everyone knows Jones will be the starter one day. It likely will be at some point this season.

But Shurmur didn’t throw in a “for now,” as in “Eli is our starter for now.” He didn’t say, “We feel good about both guys.” And thank goodness he didn’t utter the dreaded, “We’ll play whoever gives us the best chance to win.”

This all sounds exactly the way a professional franchise should operate. Yes, the Gettleman/Shurmur ticket did well in August. The real campaign, of course, is soon to begin.

Giants Should Hope Jets Provide Mayfield Mayhem

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

credit twitter

What should be Baker Mayfield’s moniker?

Baker the (Insincere) Apology Mayker. Baker Mayday. Missed Maykers Mark. Baby Mayker. Baker Blabber.

No need to decide right now.

Based on Mayfield’s impressive immaturity rap sheet, if none of those nicknames suffice, the Cleveland Browns quarterback will provide many more opportunities for ridicule.

He’s a Mistake Mayker.

Mayfield’s most recent, how do we say this – lack of judgment; narcissistic rambling – occurred earlier this week. He threw shade at Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.

Make no mistake. Mayfield shows a skill set that could make him one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. And his fiery persona is cheered in Cleveland, although not necessarily in the Browns locker room. (We’ll get to that shortly.)

There’s no disputing that Johnson has the makeup of a franchise quarterback, if not the face of the franchise.

And there’s no disputing this either: One can’t make camp on the 50-yard line when it comes to the 24-year-old Texan.

Long, long-suffering Browns fans are naming their pets (and children) after Mayfield, never a good idea. Cleveland is swooning over their fiery QB.

But around the league, and especially here in New York, fans hope the petulant passer gets sandwiched by Quinnen Williams and Leonard Williams when Gang Green hosts the Browns in a few weeks at MetLife.

Maybe the Giants can pull a page out of Gregg Williams’ playbook and take out a bounty on Mayfield, payable to any Jets defender that hits the Browns’ QB with the force that an Arkansas police officer did in 2017. (We’ll get to that shortly, too).

After Mayfield was quoted in a GQ magazine article as saying, “I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones. It blows my mind.’’ He immediately turned to the time dishonored tradition of claiming he was quoted out of context.

Mayfield said he reached out to Jones to clear the air. It’s not certain if there was an apology but Mayfield’s mea culpas often are disingenuous. (We’ll get to that shortly, as well.)

Mayfield also shaded his former teammate Duke Johnson, who requested a trade after the Browns signed Kareem Hunt last season.

“Obviously, he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not — it’s moving,” Mayfield told reporters. “You can get out of the way or you can join us.”

That led to several Browns veterans explaining to Baker that this is not how business is conducted in the NFL. Cleveland native and former Browns WR Cecil Shorts III said Mayfield made a “young guy mistake.”

Mayfield reportedly listened to the Browns veterans, who know better, but stuck by his filleting of Johnson. Perhaps some of Mayfield’s teammates also might take a little pleasure in their QB getting tattooed in MetLife.

As a rookie, Mayfield decided he’s also an authority on the job machinations of the NFL. When coach Hue Jackson took a job with the rival Bengals after being fired by the Browns, Mayfield refused to shake hands after a 35-20 victory.

Former Jets lineman Damien Woody crushed Mayfield in a Tweet, saying the Browns QB needs to grow up. Needs to grow up. Young guy mistake. Not the first time.

Mayfield was stripped of his Oklahoma captaincy for the Senior Day game after turning to the Kansas bench and grabbing his crouch in a previous game.

He planted the Oklahoma flag in the Ohio Stadium field after leading the Sooners to a 31-16 win. Mayfield later apologized for his errant green thumb.

“They’re a great team and a great program,’’ Mayfield said two days later, reportedly after being admonished by Oklahoma officials. “I didn’t mean it to be disrespectful at all.”

Yet in the same GQ article in which Mayfield’s comments allegedly were taken out of context, he said the Ohio apology had no sincerity. “Zero,’’ the Insincere Apologist said. “Absolutely not.”

And then there was the time in February of 2017 when Mayfield was arrested in Arkansas for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. Man did that Arkansas officer sack Mayfield.

Mayfield later said of the incident it was a “rude awakening to responsibility and accountability.”

Apparently, there was no Maywakening. He continues to act and speak like a child.

“I think he’s a great player,’’ Jones told reporters in response to Mayfield’s remarks. “He can throw it and I enjoy watching him play.’’

Bet ya Jones wouldn’t mind seeing Gang Green work Mayfield over. Bet ya a lot of folks in the NFL feel that way.

Great News for Jets: Darnold Needs No Protecting

Robbins Nest

Sam Darnold sets up to pass Friday, August 24, 2018. (Photo by Dave Pokress)

By Lenn Robbins

We’re way past the point of wondering if the Jets were lucky or good in the 2018 NFL Draft.

New York football fans that still want to rip the Giants for not drafting Sam Darnold – or any other quarterback they believe could spell, ‘franchise’ – can’t be the slightest bit disappointed in Saquon Barkley – a back for the ages.

We will be ridiculously fortunate to watch Barkley, who has the most impressive thighs outside of those featured in the S.I. Swimsuit issue. He will stop and start, change direction, accelerate, decelerate, catch passes, break off 50-yard touchdown runs and, yes, block.

In just his second season, Barkley is the most complete back in the league.

neil miller /nysportsextra

But can he lead a team to the Super Bowl in this era of carnival passing offenses? Can any back?

Doubtful. In this era of Air Raid offense, the quarterback is the common denominator: Have a great one and there’s a chance to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Have a mediocre one and maybe you win a title with a great supporting cast.

(Side note: Still don’t know where Nick Foles lands in this conversation).

The last team to win it all with a pedestrian quarterback was the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. Joe Flacco, who now is with the Denver Broncos, played a marvelous Super Bowl but it was the Ravens angry-mob defense that carried that team.

The Jets have the makings of a very good, potentially great defense. Once again, we don’t know if they were good or lucky to have Quinnen Williams drop to them with the No.3 pick, but he was the best player in the 2019 Draft.

The Jets also might have that elite quarterback in Darnold.

Darnold, 22, could be the best quarterback to wear a Jets jersey since Joe Namath. He could lead the Jets to only their second Super Bowl win in 59 seasons. The Ravens, for comparison, have won two in 24 seasons.

When it comes to Jets futility there is no shortage of reasons. For this space, it comes down to one fact – they have only had that superstar quarterback once. Once.

Now here is Darnold telling us that he feels great heading into the year and he’s right where he wants to be. His coach, Adam Gase, has gushed that he didn’t appreciate Darnold’s arm strength after Gase saw him live twice last season as the coach of the Dolphins.

Darnold played like most rookie quarterbacks last season.

He threw almost as many interceptions (15) as touchdowns (17). His passer rating (77.6) would put him in the ‘Also Receiving Votes” category for worst rookie quarterbacks of all time.

 One of those on the list is Eli Manning who threw nine interceptions, six touchdowns and a had a passer rating of 55.4 as a rookie. Manning turned out quite well, leading the Giants to two Super Bowls and a one-way ticket to Canton one day.

Now here stands Darnold, about to enter Year 2. He doesn’t not have the greatest arsenal of weapons although running back Le’Veon Bell, who was Barkley before Barkley, can hurt teams in a lot of ways. Darnold has a quarterback friendly coach in Gase. But he has something extra.

Darnold, the former USC quarterback, has a swagger that is the perfect pitch of subtle meets confidence. At his introductory press conference last season, when he was just 20 years of age, he was thrown a tough ball: Was he aware of the Jets quarterback tradition (gag!)?

“I’m aware of it,’’ he deftly responded. “Not growing up a Jets fan, I don’t understand quite to that extent. But again, I’m going to come in here and do my job and be very confident in myself.”

Darnold has a California-sized confidence. How else could he not have crumbled when his first NFL pass attempt turned into a Pick 6? (BTW: Brett Favre also had his first pass picked and returned as well.) Hey, Jets fans will take any morsel of hope that can nibble on.

Darnold took the blame for a couple of losses last season but he was never more accountable than after a 21-17 loss to the Browns.

“It’s not acceptable the way I played,” Darnold told reporters after the loss. “I just made stupid mistakes in the fourth quarter and some missed opportunities throughout the whole game. I have to play better, and that’s on me.”

The Jets franchise now resides on Darnold’s shoulders. He says he is more comfortable and confident than he was as a rookie. But it’s what Gase said that really gives Jets fans hope that finally, the savior has arrived.

“He’s not the kind of quarterback you’re looking to protect,’’ said Gase.

No, the Jets are looking for much more. So is Darnold.

N.Y.Giants practice 08/01/19

The Cloud That Hangs Over the Giants: Ageism

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  You can’t blame this on Dave Gettleman, or Jerry Reese.

File photo Neil Miller Nysportsextra

 The Giants, a family affair, always looked within, always took care of their own. Reese learned at Ernie Accorsi’s knee and had a solid resume. He was promoted to GM when Accorsi retired.

  You can’t blame this on Pat Shurmur or Steve Spagnuolo or even Bob McAdoo.

 The latter got the head coaching job in 2016 for possessing many of the same characteristics as Reese: He had learned at Tom Coughlin’s knee, had a solid resume and was a good soldier. He replaced Coughlin when the then 69-year-old resigned.

“Twelve years is a long time to be a head coach in the NFL,” co-owner John Mara told reporters on Jan. 5, 2016. “It’s just time. It’s just time. I think he realized it more so than anybody else.”

  No, he didn’t.

“Hey, do I agree with the move? Of course not,’’ Coughlin told the media later that year. “It hurts. It hurts. ‘Former’ is not a good word. I don’t like the word, but that’s the way it is.”

  “It’s just time.” That’s a corporate speak for parting ways with an older employee, even one that’s won those two Vince Lombardi Trophies. It’s really called ageism, one of the most blatant and underpublicized forms of discrimination active in our country.

  This came to mind –after one Giants receiver after another was lost for part or all of the season – as I was trying to understand why the Giants have this dark cloud over the team’s Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford.

Apparently, the Football Gods have been woke.

All those images of an exasperated Coughlin on the sidelines, his arms on his hips, head cocked, looking utterly exasperated after a bad play were creating an ugly narrative. Suddenly Coughlin was too old school.

He was a disciplinarian. He wasn’t a player’s coach. It was time, said Mara.

The World Health Organization said ageism presents a prevalent and insidious problem in America.

Media outlets are much more salaciously interested in reporting on the 25-year-old that claims she was discriminated against because of her cup size than the 65-year-old that claims he overheard an interviewer say he was a great candidate but ‘too old.’’ Both deserve to be heard equally.

There wasn’t much criticism of the Giants when they made it clear Coughlin’s time was up. A majority of Giants fans probably agreed because fans want to win. Now. Everywhere.

Yet isn’t it an odd coincidence that since Coughlin ‘resigned,’ the Giants have spiraled into embarrassment? The team he joined as executive vice president, the Jacksonville Jaguars, have assembled one of the league’s most talented rosters.

Do you know how desperately the Jaguars, Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings or any other NFL franchise that has never experienced the euphoria of getting fitted for Super Bowl rings desires just one title? Just one!

The Giants seem further away from a title than they have since the cloud of the 70’s. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Browns, which will be remembered as one of the worst deals in sports history if Daniel Jones doesn’t emerge as an elite quarterback.

 Sterling Shepard broke his thumb on the first day of camp. Corey Coleman tore is ACL. Rookie Darius Slayton tweaked his hamstring on Day 2. Brittan Golden suffered a groin injury. And Golden Tate, the big offseason acquisition signed to compensate for the loss of Beckham, was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug rules.

“It feels like there is a dark cloud over our room right now,” Slayton told reporters.

Wonder why.

Summer of Stun: Where do Giants and Jets Stand?

#10 Eli Manning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

The only thing more unpredictable and featured more bloodletting than the final season of Game of Thrones was the New York Giants offseason.

Three-time Pro-Bowl safety Landon Collins was allowed to walk in free agency.

Odell Beckham Jr., king of fire-breathing wide receivers, was traded to Cleveland. That netted the Giants the No. 17 pick in the first round, the 95th pick in the third round and defender Jabrill Peppers. They also acquired the 30th pick from Seahawks.

Odell Beckham Neil Miller /nysportsexta copyright 2019

New York thus had the Nos. 6, 17 and 30 picks and the potential to jump start the roster. They needed immediate help on the offensive and defensive lines, a porous secondary and a potential replacement for quarterback Eli Manning.

Eli Manning Neil Miller nysportsextra Neil Miller copyright 2019

What came next might be remembered as Big Blue’s version of the night of the White Walkers. They took Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, who was expected to be available later in the first round, with the No 6 pick. Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, taken at 17, gives the Giants formidable run stopper. And Georgia’s Deondre Baker is an athletic corner.

Not exactly time to pop that vintage bottle of bubbly. So, what are three keys for the 2019 Giants?

1. Who’s the quarterback? It’s only the most important position in the football. Eli Manning is nearing the end of a terrific career. But teams usually don’t use the 6th pick on a quarterback and sit him an entire season.

2. Lawrence, at 6-4, 342 pounds, can be a beast in the middle but he’s not going to be much of a pass-rusher. Who brings the heat for Big Blue, especially when they face Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott? Lorenzo Carter anyone? Candidates welcome.

3. Manning should get a courage award when inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s been sacked 406 times, including a personal season-high 47 times last year.

The Giants addressed the left side of the line last season, signing New England free agent Nate Solder and drafting guard Will Hernandez. They acquired standout right guard Kevin Zeitler in a trade for Olivier Vernon (there goes the pass rush) and signed tackle Mike Remmers.

Will Hernadez Neil Miller nysportsextra copyright 2019

With an aging QB in Manning and a rookie in Jones, the line will have to give the QB an extra second. The good news? If this line comes together, Saquon Barkley could solidify his place as the best all-around back in the NFL. Or is that Le’Veon Bell with the Jets?

Memo to Giants fans: If Jones develops into a star franchise quarterback, GM Dave Gettelman is the smartest guy in the room. If not…

Speaking of the Jets, they must be gluttons for punishment, these Jets fans. It’s tough enough to make it in this city without your favorite football team’s front office make the White House seem like a finely tuned machine.

Just when it seemed as if the Jets were at least formulating a plan, they suffered another dysfunctional meltdown. The new coach conspired to have the general manager, who hired him, fired. Then he basically hand-picked his own GM.

J-E-T-S; Mess, Mess, Mess.

But Jets fans have a way of finding something to be hopeful about. What choice do they have? They have a star running back in Bell. They have the makings of a great defensive front with Leonard Williams, first-round draft choice Quinnen Williams and high-motor man, Henry Anderson.

They have a franchise quarterback – maybe.

#14 Sam Darnold David Pokress /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Here are the three make or break issues facing the Jets going into 2019.

1. Let’s start with that franchise quarterback. The unflappable Sam Darnold survived his rookie season without his confidence (and body) shattered.

Darnold had a predictably inconsistent rookie season throwing 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and completing 57.7 percent of his throws. For comparison, Hall of Famer Troy Aikman threw nine touchdowns and 18 interceptions and completed 55.7-percent of his passes as a rookie.

Darnold, who just turned 22, seemingly has all the tools. But if he doesn’t take the next step in his second season, the New York pressure cooker will make life very uncomfortable.

above images #14 Sam Darnold David Pokress nysportsextra copyright 2019

2. Mike Mccagnan hired coach Adam Gase, handed out $121 million in guaranteed free agent money, oversaw the draft, and THEN was fired. Gase, who often has insects thinking, “Man, that guy is bugged eyed!” lobbied for Joe Douglas as GM.

Douglas comes from Philadelphia, where he was the vice president of player personnel. He’s part of a team that did a great job of roster building. The Eagles have the most complete roster in the NFL East. The question is: Is he in charge? Is Gase in charge? The Jets need a front-office leader and stability more than anything.

3. Coaches and GMs love to stress that special teams are just as important as the offense and defense. So why did the Jets let two All-Pro special teamers leave? Kicker Jason Myers signed with the Seahawks. Returner Andre Roberts left for AFC East rival Buffalo.

The Jets brought back kicker Chandler Catanzaro who missed five PATs (30-of-35) and was 16-of-20 on field goal attempts last season. At least he’s familiar with MetLife’s vortex winds.
Roberts averaged 29.4 yards per kickoff return (one touchdown) and 14.1 on punt returns (one touchdown). They signed Jamison Crowder but do you want to risk playing their $28.5 million slot receiver on special teams?

Memo to Jets fans: There will likely be more head scratching before there’s a playoff berth.