New York Football Fans Have Waited 16 Years For This…
The annual preseason battle between the New York Giants and the New York Jets takes place on Saturday at their shared home, MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, of course. These two teams have faced off prior to the regular season every year since 1969 (with the exception of 2020). However, this season has some different expectations surrounding both squads.
New York football fans (and the media) are hoping for something that hasn't happened since 2006. That is the Giants and the Jets making the playoffs in the same season. In fact, both franchises qualifying for the post-season has only happened 5 times in their history, 1981, 1985, 1986, 2002 and 2006.
Giants fans are holding their breath that their $40 million quarterback, Daniel Jones, can do his best Eli Manning impersonation and lead Big Blue back to the playoffs in 2023. Jones has enjoyed a productive training camp, especially connecting with his new weapon, tight end Darren Waller. There is concern that the Giants got lucky last season, winning seven games by one score or less in 2022.
However, Giants' general manager Joe Schoen did a terrific job making the Big Blue roster deeper in 2023. Schoen's first three draft picks should contribute immediately. Free agent pick up, linebacker Bobby Okereke, has had a monster training camp and should add to an already productive defense. Offensive lineman Evan Neal will be looking to rebound from a below average rookie season and Saquon Barkley will be out to prove that NFL teams should be paying their running backs more money. All good signs that will help the playoff run. Now the question is: will the Jets hold up their end of the bargain?
Let's take this slowly. For perspective, the New York Jets have the longest playoff draught in the NFL, 12 years and counting. Chad Pennington was the Gang Green quarterback the last time the Jets and Giants were in the playoffs during the same year in 2006. Pennington was the QB when New York won their last AFC East title in 2002, with a dismal 9-7 record. That was 21 years ago. Will this season be different for Jets fans?
The answer to that question will solely depend on the health of their 39-year old quarterback. If Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy, the Jets will break their playoff draught and have the potential-talent to move on from there. They have surrounded the four-time MVP with an arsenal of offensive weapons, to go along with their top-tier defense. That's all on-paper (see the New York Mets for examples of why "on-paper" doesn't work out sometimes). If Rodgers gets hurt, Zach Wilson will take over at quarterback. We saw how that worked out last year. From the looks of the preseason, it will be more of the same from Zach. Then, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas will be fired and this will be another crash-and-burn season for Jets fans. Saleh and Douglas should not play Aaron Rodgers on Saturday, period.