By Lenn Robbins
Dear Outrageous, Obnoxious, Outlandish Raiders fans.
Thank for you coming to MetLife Stadium Sunday and attempting to turn it into the Black Hole East. You were maddeningly, mind-bogglingly, maniacally antagonistic.
When the Jets took their home field, they felt like the visitors.
Those wearing the Black and Silver booed, hooted and hollered their heads off. And the guys in Green and White heard it. They heard it, went back into the home locker room and got heated.
“I’m not going to lie to you, when we came on to the field, we felt disrespected,” safety Jamal Adams said. “We got booed in our own home stadium by the Oakland fans. We came back into this locker room and it was a hell of a talk.”
Adams should know. He gave the talk and it contained a lot of words not suitable for white collar criminals.
Even the calm, cool, California kid, quarterback Sam Darnold, was jacked. He bullied his way for a four-yard touchdown run that gave the Jets a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. The Jets didn’t look back as they posted their most impressive win of the season, a 34-3 demolishing of the Raiders.
“I had someone in my way at the goal line,” Darnold said, “and I just did what I could to get into the end zone.”
This win, the Jets third straight, felt different than the previous two. The Jets beat the hapless Giants and pathetic Redskins in moving to 3-7. The Raiders, however came in with a 6-4 record, breathing down the necks of the Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC West.
They left licking their bruised egos on what surely will be a long flight back to the West Coast.
“We got our butts kicked,” said veteran quarterback Derek Carr, who was benched. “There’s no other way around that. They got after us from start to finish. Hopefully, it’s an eye opener.”
The quarterback that opened a lot of eyes was Darnold. It was a little more than a month ago that Darnold was haunted by the New England Patriots in a 33-0 loss. His rating that day was 1.5.
The Raiders saw a very different player. Darnold completed 20-of-29 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns passing, one rushing and no interceptions. His rating was 127.8, or 126.3 better than it was against New England.
This is new territory for Darnold and the Jets (4-7). This is Gang Green’s first three-game win streak in more than two years. Darnold, who missed time early with mononucleosis, is looking more and more like the franchise quarterback the Jets thought they were drafting last season with the No.3 pick.
Darnold also is sounding like a franchise quarterback. He’s tossed out the playoff word lately. Darnold is smart enough to know that almost certainly won’t happen this season. But isn’t it uplifting to hear a Jets QB talking about postseason?
“It’s in the back of my head,” Darnold said, “but I think where we’re at right now, we just gotta keep taking it one week at a time, and if we do that, I think we’ll be all right.”
By Lenn Robbins
It has been almost exactly one month since Sam Darnold saw ghosts. One month since the New England Pats, known cheaters, seemingly had 12 men on the field on defense for every play in a 33-0 bashing of the Jets.
Every time Darnold thought he had an open window, it was slammed shut. Every time he thought he had a receiver break free, he was covered. Darnold completed just 11-of-32 passes for 86 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.
When the mic-up Darnold was overheard saying he was seeing ghosts, Jets Nation went apoplectic. Their second-year quarterback, the third player picked in the 2018 NFL Draft, was a bust, his psyche snapped, they fretted.
Over the last two games, however, Darnold has completed 38-of-60 passes for 523 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. Not a spirit in sight in wins over the Giants, 34-27, and Redskins, 34-17.
Yet the Jets are not much closer to knowing if Darnold will be their franchise quarterback than they were after the Patriots’ game. The Redskins have the 21st worst defense in the NFL. The Giants are even worse. They’re 31st.
“Towards the end of the game, I was talking more about the interception to the coaches and the other players, so maybe that,” Darnold told reporters about his dialogue Sunday. “But I think for us as an offense, as a whole, it’s just another steppingstone in the right direction, so that’s how we’re going to look at it.”
The one thing we’ve learned, and this might turn out to be paramount, is that Darnold didn’t crack, his psyche wasn’t snapped, his confidence hadn’t been confiscated by the Pats.
In fairness to Darnold, the Patriots defense is great. It made Carson Wentz look pedestrian Sunday night in a 17-10 New England win. Maybe every quarterback, save Lamar Jacks on, sees ghosts when playing the Pats.
Maybe, just maybe, Darnold is on his way to being a franchise QB.
“He knows what he likes; he knows what he doesn’t like,” Jets coach Adam Gase said of Darnold. “He’s not afraid to say it.”
Good to know. The question is, can Darnold, who’s not exactly surrounded by the talent Troy Aikman had with the Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, win a game against a top-tier NFL defense?
Darnold did complete passes to seven different receivers, which suggests he’s seeing more of the field. But we won’t for another month if Darnold has exorcised his demons and is closer to being a franchise QB than he is today.
The Jets play at Baltimore on Dec. 12. The Ravens made Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson look like a scarecrow on Sunday. If Darnold can play as he has these last two weeks, well, that will speak well of his progress.
If not, well, Jets fans are accustomed to seeing all kinds of bizarre occurrences from butt fumbles to Bill Belichick becoming coach for a day. Seeing ghosts is nothing new.
By Lenn Robbins
The worst place to go for an NFL game is MetLife Stadium.
The two teams that call this steel and concrete monstrosity home have a combined record of 4-15. Amazingly, they played a somewhat entertaining game Sunday with the Jets beating the Giants 34-27.
The Jets share the bottom of the AFC East with a 2-7 mark. The 2-8 Giants have a one-half game lead over the truly pathetic Washington Redskins for last place in the NFC East.
Apparently, the Jets offense is quite competent, as long as its playing against the Giants defense. Gang Green averaged 223.5 yards (dead last in football) and 11 points (tied for last) going into the game. They racked up 294 yards and 34 points against the Giants.
And the Giants offense is competent when playing against the Jets defense. Big Blue averaged 326.8 yards and 19.6 points going into the game. They racked up 287 yards and 27 points against the Jets.
Yep, it was that bad.
The sobering questioning is this: If you were to draft a team of Jets and Giants, would it be good enough to make the playoffs. Remember, the NFL rewards mediocrity, so we’re not counting on 10-6, 8-8 gets you in, 7-9 might.
So, we put together our All-NY NFL team. Perhaps you should sit.
QB: Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones – They each get a half. Cop out, I know: Still evaluating. Might be the case for the next five years. Ouch.
RB – Saquon Barkley, Giants – despite yesterday’s performance, second best all-around back in football (Christian McCaffrey).
RB – Le’Veon Bell, Jets – despite this season, once one of the best all-around backs in football.
TE – Evan Engram – Legit. Would start on most teams.
OT – Kelvin Beachum, Jets – consummate pro.
OG – Brian Winters, Jets – had the temerity to get in Darnold’s face after last week’s botched snap count.
C – Jon Halapio, Giants – did not have to be lured out of retirement, like Jets center.
OG – Will Hernandez, Giants – emerged as a nasty, borderline dirty player last week. We like it.
OT – Mike Remmers, Giants – see Beachum.
WR – Sterling Shepherd, Giants – Should not play again this season, if ever. No joke.
WR – Jamison Crowder, Jets – Solid slot receiver.
PK – Aldrick Rosas – He started the season on the roster, unlike the Jets, who didn’t have an NFL-caliber kicker on its roster.
DT – Kyle Phillips, Jets – Each team gets one player with potential
DL – Quinnen Williams, Jets – Slow start, coming on.
DT – Dalvin Tomlinson, Giants – Each team gets one player with potential.
DL – Dexter Lawrence, Giants – Looking like a terrific pick at No. 17.
OLB – Markus Golden, Giants – A delightful surprise. Serious.
ILB – Alec Ogletree, Giants – A little on reputation.
ILB – CJ Mosley, Jets – Amazing one-game season.
OLB – Jordan Jenkins, Jets – Out of options here.
CB – Janoris Jenkins, Giants – Depends of which Jackrabbit shows up.
CB – Darryl Roberts, Jets/DeAndre Baker, Giants – Each gets one half to avoid third-degree burns.
SS – Jamal Adams, Jets – He’s the best, just ask him.
FS – Marcus Maye, Jets – He’s very good, but not as good as Adams. Just ask Adams.
P – Uh, who cares?
Coach – To Be Determined, Jets, Adam Gase/Giants, Pat Shurmur – If they’re both back for 2021 season, season ticket holders deserve refunds. Wait, did I say 2021? Meant 2020. Sorry for the panic attack.
Does this team make the playoffs? Feel free to write.
By Lenn Robbins
This might not be fair to Daniel Jones. It surely isn’t fair to Sam Darnold.
But this is one of many burdens that come with playing in a media market that hoists the Empire State Building on one shoulder and the Chrysler Building on the other.
Jones, the sixth player taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, has started a mere six games in this, his rookie season. Some already are wondering if he has a better chance of developing into a franchise quarterback than Darnold.
Darnold, the third player picked in last year’s draft, made the 17th start of his career in Sunday’s 29-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s 22 years old, which means there’s a lot of progressing still to come, hopefully positive.
Unless, of course he’s not broken before he can reach his potential, which is the bigger concern than which quarterback is playing better now.
Darnold posted a three-interception game for the second straight week. This time there was no talk of supernatural sightings as was the case in last week’s 33-0 loss to the Patriots.
Darnold, who missed time with mono, has thrown eight picks in four games, equal to the number of picks Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have combined to throw in 31 games.
Darnold’s numbers for the season are about as bad as bad can be. His rating is 33.7. Mitch Trubisky, who just barely avoided a benching, is 35.8.
Darnold hasn’t been good. But he’s been accountable and unflappable. He also seems to be flying this Jets team solo. Ted Stryker had a better co-pilot.
The passing attack has been pathetic because, really, who does Darnold have as targets? The offense, overall, is impotent because defenses are sitting on Le’Veon Bell. And the coaching has been, at best baffling and at worst, incompetent.
The Jets go for two when they should take the point after. Clock management is as baffling as Daylight Savings time before smartphones did the change automatically for us.
Jones threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Giants’ 31-26 loss to the Lions. His QB rating is 55.2 and he’s thrown more touchdowns (10) than interceptions (7). But it’s not that black and white.
Jones has an elite running back and an upper tier tight end and the Giants might have plan. On Monday, they acquired defensive tackle Leonard Williams from the Jets for a 3rd round pick in 2020 and a 5th round pick in 2021 that could become a fourth rounder if the former No. 6 overall pick in 2015 signs an extension with Big Blue.
That’s another top Jets pick that didn’t pan out but what’s to be expected with the turnover in management and coaches that occurs so frequently and illogically. They always seem to be going one-step forward, three steps back.
The Giants haven’t been much better. The Nate Solder hasn’t been nearly the player he was in New England. The defense is toothless. Williams already is penciled in as a starter before going through a practice.
Jets coach Adam Gase told reporters on Monday that in one 13-pass sequence on Sunday, Darnold was sacked, hit or touched on nine attempts.
Jones faces a similar challenge. He’s been sacked 21 times in seven games. Darnold’s been sacked 15 times in four games.
The question isn’t who will become the better quarterback. The question is will both quarterbacks be broken down wrecks abandoned on the side of a county road by the time their teams have a winning roster.
NEST EGG: Lamar Jackson is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. No running back with at least 100 carries is averaging more than 5.5 (Nick Chubb). The Baltimore quarterback has rushed 83 times. The closest comparison is San Fran’s Matt Breida who is averaging 5.3 yards on 84 carries.
By Lenn Robbins
What a sad time it is for professional sports in New York. So sad.
The Jets put a rotten cherry on a spoiled sundae Monday night with an utterly inept performance against the New England Patriots. Sam Darnold, hailed a week ago when he returned from mono, needed noise canceling headphones to dull the stereo boos that rained down on him in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a 33-0 embarrassing loss at MetLife Stadium.
That non-effort followed Daniel Jones getting sacked eight times in a 27-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, which followed the Yankees getting eliminated from the ALCS in the most gut-retching fashion, which followed the Red Bulls quick exit from the MLS playoffs.
The NHL season is young but the Rangers are in last place in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Devils by two points at the start of the night. The vagabond Islanders have won four straight to erase a 1-3 start.
The NBA season is about to start, much to the chagrin of Knicks’ fans. The Brooklyn Nets can be a playoff team but can’t make a deep run without Kevin Durant.
What’s next? The New York Marathon gets snowed out? The ball doesn’t drop on New Year’s Eve. Hey, it’s a ball.
Darnold had his best day as a pro last week, throwing for 338 yards on 23-of-31 passing with two touchdowns, one interception and a 113.8 QB rating in a sunning 24-22 upset of the Cowboys.
He looked as lost as a rookie a week later.His QB rating, suggest you sit, was 3.7. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. He completed just 11-of-32 passes for 96 yards. The Jets had 154 yards of total offense.
The ultimate indignity for the Jets was the chant of “Brady! Brady!” reverberating through MetLife in the fourth quarter, when the Jets fans had given over their house to New England faithful.
There were other humiliations. Former Pats receiver Demaryious Thomas dropped everything he could get his hands off. Former Pats return man Braxton Berrios muffed a punt late in the fourth.
Brady watched the final few minutes from the sideline after completing 31-of-45 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception. When’s the last time you read this:
If the Patriots offense can catch up to its defense, this team will be unbeatable in the playoffs.
Here’s the worst part of this latest Jets debacle. Adam Gase, quarterback whisperer and hot young coach (41), didn’t have the Jets ready to play a preseason game, no less the marquee Monday Night Football matchup.
How sad is that? How sad is the state of professional sports in metropolitan area? So sad.