Sometimes after a four-win season, it’s easy to focus on the negatives — especially if you’re the only team in town.
Fortunately for the 2021 New York Jets, they had the New York Giants to steal the spotlight of dysfunction this time around. In a strange turn of events, Gang Green has even become the more optimistic franchise. If you don’t believe me, take a look at a recent Twitter poll from ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
According to the six thousand-plus voters who participated in this poll, 82% of Jets fans are either optimistic about the future or at least have “some hope.” On the flip side, only 18% of fans are totally upset or don’t care anymore.
I’m guessing a Giants poll would be a little less certain at the moment.
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Marshall Backs Jets in Battle of NYC
On a segment of ESPN’s “This Just In with Max Kellerman,” former Jets and Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall was more confident in a Green & White turnaround.
“I lived right in this building right behind you for a couple of years [Brooklyn],” Marshall began. “I used to commute over that Brooklyn Bridge, go through the tunnel, and I would go to Florham Park for a couple of years. Then I went to the Giants, so I saw the best of both worlds. I disagree with you, the Jets aren’t that bad [right now], and I would say that the Jets are going to have more success than the Giants, quicker and faster.”
Even Kellerman agreed that the ex-NFL professional “might be right,” but mostly out of disgust for the Big Blue operation.
Marshall’s main critique was that John Mara and Giants’ ownership have shown an unwillingness to change and adapt to the modern-day NFL. “You have to evolve,” he added. “If they go out there and do the uncomfortable thing, they may have a better chance than the Jets.”
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Giants Choose Right
When I began this article, it appeared that Joe Judge would continue on as head coach of the cross-town rival, despite a change at general manager. This would have been a terrible decision from Mara but fortunately for fans, he thought this through more than Christopher Johnson when he saddled Joe Douglas with Adam Gase for a wasted season.
NFL insider Josina Anderson had the scoop, tweeting: “I’m told now that Joe Judge has been let go from the Giants.”
The New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy added: “Giants team source on Joe Judge firing: ‘The coaching staff walked on eggshells. Players didn’t believe in the system. Everyone liked him as a person, but when you hear the same repetitive stuff without changes it becomes a broken record.'”
This may not have been Mara’s initial plan — some even joked that social media “bullied” him into firing Judge after Brian Flores got canned — but it’s the correct one. A clean slate is always better than a shotgun marriage and now the organization has another chance to start from scratch.
Now, does that mean I’d take the Giants over the Jets at this moment? No, absolutely not.
Jets Still Further Along in the Process
Comparing the state of the two franchises right now, the Jets still have the lead for a number of reasons.
GM/HC Partnership Determined, Plan in Place
The general manager and head coach are the two most important pieces of a successful football program, even more so than the quarterback. For starters, they find the QB and then they are tasked with developing them — a challenge that countless coaching staffs fail at.
The Giants still have to find their GM/HC duo and there’s no guarantee they land Jim Harbaugh or Flores like fans want. They still would have to convince those flashy names to choose Big Blue, then pair them with the right general manager to become successful.
Gang Green has a smart team leading the way in Douglas and Robert Saleh, despite what some fans may think. They have a clear plan and most importantly, they are united in how they might go about accomplishing it.
The Giants QB is in that Sam Darnold type of purgatory where maybe he could succeed with the perfect coaching and the perfect system, or maybe it’s best to blow up the entire operation. Depending on who they hire, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Danny Dimes’ is sent packing just like Darnold was in 2021.
That would bring the Giants back to square one and if they choose to draft a new quarterback, this isn’t the best year to do it with a lackluster class declaring. If Jones does stay in New York, he’d have to learn another new playbook in 2022.
Assets, Cap Space
Now, both the Jets and the Giants have really solid draft assets in 2022 so that’s basically a wash. NYJ has the highest selection at No. 4, but NYG has the two middle picks of the group at No. 5 and 7 while the Jets’ second first is at 10.
Cap space is a bit of a different story. The Jets currently rank sixth in projected space according to Over the Cap while the G-Men rank 28th. Even more stark is the number difference. Douglas has $54.365 million in projected cap room, the Giants are in the hole $367,578.
When a new regime takes over in the NFL, we often see them tear the old one down. That might include a Jones trade as we mentioned earlier but it also could involve a scheme change and a new roster and culture that replaces the old way.
Most times, that doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s usually pretty messy. It took Douglas three years to clean up the disaster that ex-Jets GM Mike Maccagnan left him and this Giants situation isn’t pretty either. Firing Judge was the correct move but there’s still a long road ahead, even if Mara lands a whale like Harbaugh.
The Jets already have an impressive core of youth in place, hand-selected by Douglas and Saleh to play in their system.
This is one area New York can band together. Cimini tweeted that “four of the last five HCs hired by [the] Giants and Jets have lasted [two] years or less,” listing Judge, Pat Shurmur, Ben McAdoo and Gase.
Things can only go up from here for New York City football, right?