New York State football fans have not been the happiest this past month, as the New York Jets, the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills have all struggled through the first four weeks of the NFL season, each holding 1-3 records, respectively.
With all three teams gaining a 2018 first-round draft pick this season, a boost of talent was expected from the start by fan bases throughout New York. Unfortunately, these team’s stars of tomorrow have struggled to start the 2018 campaign, not producing the numbers some may have hoped for. While a learning curve was anticipated, first-rounders are generally expected to contribute as soon as they step onto the field, especially with the media in New York.
The 1-3 records may not show it, but all three of these organizations have assets and talent that make up great football teams. It’s frustrating for fans to see players shadowed by the mistakes and weaknesses in other aspects of their team.
Let’s break down what the Jets, Giants and Bills have accomplished so far, and what they can do to turn around their 2018 campaigns.
New York Giants
The most talented of the bunch, the New York football Giants made some key moves this off-season, drafting Saquon Barkley from Penn State with the second-overall pick, and re-signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a five-year contract worth as much as $95 million, making him the highest-paid wide receiver in the league. Deciding not to take a quarterback in the draft with such a high pick, the Giants put their full trust in Eli Manning to be a strong NFL quarterback.
Unfortunately, in his last 36 games, Manning has not been able to put up more than 30 points. Although Manning is second in completion percentage amongst quarterbacks who have played all four games so far, he is 17th in total passing yards this year. And with only four touchdowns, it’s easy to see he simply isn’t getting the job done.
You might wonder, how could he have such a high completion percentage and prove he still has the ability to make quality throws, while not scoring for his team? That’s because the Giants offensive scheme is the most predictable in the league. Quick drop-backs, quick slants, quick dumps, and all together, sped up. The offensive line has been horrendous, and Manning has no time in the pocket to even let a play develop. And how can a young player like Barkley succeed when he’s expected to make the big plays happen himself? It all starts at the line, and until it’s fixed, the Giant’s struggles will continue.
A great defense, the best wide receiver in the league, and a 1-3 record. Giants fans will look for head coach Pat Shurmur to shake some things up in these upcoming weeks.
New York Jets
Going 5-11 in 2017, it was known by Jets fans that their rookie quarterback, Sam Darnold, would not be the complete answer to be successful in the 2018 campaign. In every rookie quarterback’s journey, growing pains are going to happen. But when Darnold went 16-for-21 and threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns against the Detroit Lions, on the first week of the season in a 48-17 rout on Monday Night Football, nonetheless, those expectations became larger than life.
Since then, the Jets have lost to the division rival Miami Dolphins 12-20, the previously winless Cleveland Browns 17-21 and a quality team in the Jacksonville Jaguars, 12-31. New York has a strong defense; they’re tied for 12th in the league in sacks and only give up 22.2 points a game. Darnold has simply not performed, and has no offensive weapons to turn to when in need.
A 57.5 completion rating, four touchdowns and five interceptions quarterback is not a recipe for success. Sure, Darnold will have his shining moments this season like he did in week one, but Jets fans can expect a long season filled with bloops and blunders.
Maybe next year?
Making the playoffs in 2017 for the first time since 1999, Buffalo fans have been ecstatic about their hometown team. However, the Bills made moves pointing to the future this past off-season. They traded their starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, and moved a very talented offensive tackle in Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals for a first-round draft pick. The Bills also let the league leader in tackles, linebacker Preston Brown, walk in free agency.
The Bills did gain two quality, first-round draft picks through their transactions. With them, they picked Josh Allen of Wyoming seventh overall as their quarterback of the future, while also gaining Virginia Tech product Tremaine Edmunds at 16th overall, a large, athletic and fast linebacker. They also swapped out their offensive coordinator, dropping the predictable Rick Dennison for 2017 National Champion with the University of Alabama, Brian Daboll.
All these moves have not equaled much for the Bills on the 2018 campaign. Star running back LeSean McCoy has struggled this season, after recent allegations of domestic abuse and injury issues. Starting Nathan Peterman week one proved to be costly, as Buffalo quickly substituted in their young rising star in the second half, resulting in a 3-47 disaster against Baltimore. Points have been scarce, as Buffalo was also shut-out last weekend, but one thing is for certain: Allen has a cannon.
The guy can sling it with great footwork, and proved that week three in Minnesota. Winning 27-6 against a strong opponent on the road, Allen threw for a 68.2 completion percentage, 196 yards, one throwing touchdown and two rushing scores.
While the offensive line and defense have struggled, Bills fans are hoping their offense can start mustering more points. There will be ups and downs, much like the Jets situation, but Allen will shine again.
Patience, Bills Mafia.
Check out our next New York NFL updates in the upcoming weeks!