The particularly cruel gut punch was delivered to the New York Giants — and possibly their entire season — not by the stunning 61-yard field goal that gave the Philadelphia Eagles the victory Sunday, but by the realization that the G-Men may have found their offense, even as their own lack of discipline might have already made it too late.
The Giants lost 27-24 on Sunday, dropping into an 0-3 hole that no team since 1998 has crawled out of to make the playoffs. For the silver-lining crowd — and in that, you have to include an unlikely adherent, receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who said this loss was not that frustrating — the 24 points scored will provide a kind of balm. The Giants hadn’t broken 20 in eight straight games going back to last season, and so the fruits of Ben McAdoo’s decision to retain play-calling responsibilities but go up-tempo might at least be an indication that New York has taken a turn for the better.
Unless the Jets want to bail on a second-round pick or carry three quarterbacks on the roster again, Hackenberg will be immediately behind Josh McCown, a quarterback who was injured in each of the last two seasons.
While the evidence (and competition level) are still limited, Hackenberg completed 72 percent of his passes for 127 yards and no interceptions in New York’s preseason opener. Given the (extremely) mixed reviews coming out early in camp, this seems like a step in the right direction. If all sides are agreeing that Hackenberg is a rookie again, then all sides must agree that there is a lot of work to do before the regular season begins.
The decision marks an interesting cooling of relations between Revis and the franchise he’s most synonymous with. Revis had notorious battles with the Jets during both his Hard Knocks contract phase and before he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was informed of his release ahead of the league year opening this year and is now being paid $6 million from the franchise if he doesn’t play a down this season.
It was always going to be fascinating to see where a player who was not afraid to combat management ended up in franchise lore. Revis will be a Hall of Famer at some point in his post-career life, having one of the most brilliant runs at the position between 2009-2015 that we’ve seen in the modern NFL. Apparently, he’ll also be up in the Ring of Honor someday, too.
Poor Smith. At this point, if the coaches are still making him “earn it” after he carried everyone through minicamp while they openly pined for Fitzpatrick during the holdout, he might be better off pulling a successful version of Sam Bradford’s Philadelphia escape plan. For what it’s worth, reporters on the scene Sunday had him taking more reps than Petty, and perhaps this is just an overreaction to a vague comment from a busy coach. Wherever Smith goes, he probably won’t be guaranteed a backup job. He’s a quarterback with a lifetime completion percentage below 60 and a negative touchdown-to-interception ratio (27-35). But maybe he goes to a place where someone has his back.
We’re not blaming Bowles or the Jets for this. Bowles and replica nfl jerseys and general manager Mike Maccagnan did not draft Smith and loaded the depth chart with drafted quarterbacks they believe adequately fit the system. But in the NFL, we hear coaches and GMs talk about doing things in the best interest of the team and the player. If Smith isn’t going to back up Fitzpatrick, keeping him on the roster is in neither party’s interest.
One week after giving up 271 rushing yards to the Bengals, the Browns saw a 10-0 lead evaporate with Bilal Powell’s athletic 35-yard touchdown gallop through Cleveland’s defense. Powell and Forte were held in check for much of the first half, but the young Browns defense hasn’t learned how to play for four quarters, giving up a whopping 171 yards on the ground at 4.9 yards per clip.
Do you believe in the Jets? They have plenty of issues, but still have a playoff shot in the dangerously average AFC. With Miami and Los Angeles up next, New York has a shot to reach 5-5 before meeting the Patriots in Week 12 after their bye.
You need to appreciate the timing here to really put things in perspective. Fitzpatrick was benched on Oct. 17. He signed his new contract — a one-year, $12 million deal — on July 27. The man got a 300 percent raise at the end of July and didn’t make it to Halloween! This was a stunning fall from grace.
These are the times where you have to give the Jets credit. Basic quarterback ineptitude isn’t that hard, really. The current iteration of the Cleveland Browns have been blowing first-round picks with vigor since Jar Jar Binks was a pop culture touchstone. But the Jets’ self-sabotage at the position shows a level of ingenuity other teams lack. They’re like The Beatles recording “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in this respect. They’re just on a different level than their peers.