Mets Winning Streak Comes to an End in 3-2 Walk-off Loss to Rays

New York Mets, David Peterson

The New York Mets bullpen was the main reason for their success in the last seven wins, but the Tampa Bay Rays found a way to crack the code. Their rallies in the eighth and ninth inning culminated in a Brett Phillips walk-off single to give the Rays a 3-2 win and end the Mets winning streak.

David Peterson bounced back in a major way from his 1.2 inning outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Peterson made it through 7.1 innings, holding the Rays to two runs on four hits while striking out nine. His two-seam fastball has movement and velocity we have not seen this season, and it helped set up his secondary pitches. Peterson retired 17 in a row at one point but ran out of steam in the eighth inning.

Mike Zunino led off with a homer, Kevin Padlo followed with a double, and Peterson left the game after striking out Brett Phillips. Trevor May followed and did not look like his dominant self as he allowed a Manuel Margot double to tie the game at two. Margot lifted his career average against the Mets to .388 by finding another way to torture Mets pitching. May kept the game tied by striking out Austin Meadows to end the inning.

Miguel Castro hoped to get the Mets to extra innings, but the Rays rally continued in the ninth. Brandon Lowe’s walk and Willy Adames seeing-eye single set up a first and third, no-out situation. Castro pitching around Zunino to load the bases for Aaron Loup to enter the game. Loup recorded a big strikeout of Joey Wendle for the second out, but Phillips attacked the first pitch cutter to single and stole the game from the Mets.

On To The Next One

By no means did the Mets bullpen get hit around, but they were not at their elite level from a majority of the season. It was a night where they needed to be perfect, and they just happened to be average. Even the elite pitchers have off nights, and there was nothing concerning coming from any of the relievers who pitched.

Tyler Glasnow lived up to his numbers by putting together another dominant start. Glasnow’s start was a three-part story with a beginning, middle, and end. He began by returning the first 14 in order and looking like he was on his way to a perfect game. In the middle, he gave up four hits in a row, including Jonathan Villar‘s two-run home run. Glasnow ended by allowing just one hit in the final three innings he pitched. He finished the night with eight stellar innings, five hits, and two allowed with 10 strikeouts.

The Mets attempt to bounce back with a bullpen game tomorrow against Rays starter Shane McClanahan. It will be an earlier 1:10 p.m. ET start from Tropicana Field.

New York Yankees Recap: Judge homers twice and Urshela’s long ball wins it for the Yanks

New York Yankees, Giovanny Urshela

Tonight the New York Yankees started a 3 game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. They did this under the veil of the coronavirus that is affecting the team. All the players in the game were wearing camouflage caps in celebration of veterans weekend at Camden Yards.

LeMahieu led off by grounding out. Luke Voit ground out. Aaron Judge hit a homer to left field. Gary Sanchez popped out to second to end the half. Cedric Mullins at the bottom singled to left field. Mullins was caught stealing by Higashioka. Austin Hays homered to tie up the game. Trey Mancini ground out to second. Freddie Galvis ground softly to second to end the inning tied. New York Yankees 1, Orioles 1.

Clint Frazier led off the second by striking out. Brett Gardner popped out to Galvis. Miguel Andujar flew out to right as Kremer put down the Yankees in order. At the bottom, Ryan Mountcastle was called out on strikes. DJ Stewart walked. Maikel Franco flew out to Frazier in left. Pedro Severino flew out to Judge in right field to end the inning. Tie score at 1.

Kyle Higashioka started the third by flying out. Tyler Wade ground out to the first base. LeMahieu singled down the right-field line. Luke Voit, hitless since returning, chased a pitch out of the zone to end the half. Valaika led off the bottom by striking out. Mullins struck out, and Hays ground out to first. Tie score at 1.

Aaron Judge led off the fourth by hitting his second home run in as many at-bat appearances. Gary Sanchez ground out. Frazier singled to left field. Brett Gardner singled, but Frazier misjudged if the ball would be caught, returned to first, and was out. Andujar ground to short for the final out of the half. Mancini led off the bottom by flew out. Galvis struck out. Mountcastle struck out for eight in a row for Kluber. Tie score at 1.

Kyle Higashioka led off the fifth inning, and he struck out. Tyler Wade had a failed bunt to the infield for out number two. LeMahieu singled up the middle. Luke Voit flew out to the left-center for the final out. At the bottom, Stewart doubled on a bobbled ball by Wade. Franco ground out with Steward moving to third. Severino doubled in Stewart for the second tie of the game. Valaika singled up the middle scoring Severino for the Orioles lead. Mullins flew out to Gardner in center. Valaika stole second. Hays walked. Mancini flew out, but Valaika scored, and Hays was called out at the plate. Baltimore 4 Yankees 2.

Aaron Judge led off the sixth inning by walking. Gary Sanchez ground out into a double play, and Clint Frazier struck out to end the half. Galvis at the bottom flew out to Gardner. Mountcastle struck out. Stewart singled up the right middle. Franco ground out to Wade to end the inning. Baltimore 4 Yankees 2.

At the seven-inning, Brett Gardner led off against Sulser, and he stuck out. Manuel Andujar singled up the middle. Higashioka walked. Gio Urshela, in for Wade, had a pinch-hit home run to center field for the Yankees 5-4 lead. LeMahieu flew out to Mullins in center. Luke Voit struck out, but the New York Yankees picked up 3 runs. At the bottom, Severino faced Chad Green, and he flew out to Aaron Judge. Valaika popped out to LeMahieu. Mullins singled. A wild pitch allowed Mullins to go to second. Hays flew out to end the inning. Yankees 5 O’s 4.

Aaron Judge led off the top of the eighth inning by flying out to the warning track in center. Gary Sanchez went down on strikes swinging. Clint Frazier flew out to left. Mancini at the bottom struck out against Wandy Peralta. Galvis ground out to Urshela. Mountcastle ground out to Urshela, and Peralta has a 1-2-3 eighth. New York Yankees 5 O’s 4.

Brett Gardner led off the top of the ninth by striking out swinging. Andujar went down on strikes. Higashioka had a broken-bat ground out to end the half. With last licks for the O’s, Stewart led off the bottom of the ninth inning and singled to right. McKenna pinch ran for Stewart. Jonathan Loaisiga replaced Peralta facing Franco, who hit into a double play. Valaika flew out to end the game.

The final score was the New York Yankees 5 and the Baltimore Orioles 4. The winning pitcher was Corey Kluber, the loser was Travis Latkins and the save went to Jonathan Loaisiga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Stars from the New York Liberty’s win vs Indiana

sabrina ionescu, New York Liberty

Sabrina Ionescu kicked off the WNBA’s 25th season with a bang, hitting the game-winning in the New York Liberty’s 90-87 win over Indiana.

Sabrina Ionescu made a legendary Barclays Center debut, sinking a game-winning three-pointer with 0.4 seconds to go in a 90-87 triumph over the Indiana Fever. The Liberty (1-0) own a winning record for the first time since September 2017.

3rd Star: Michaela Onyenwere

18 points (6-12 FG), 5 rebounds

Onyenwere set a team rookie record by scoring 18 points in her first WNBA contest. She also didn’t hesitate to throw her body around in the paint, gaining five rebounds including one of only three on the offensive glass. Her first basket, a deep triple just over a minute in, opened scoring for the 2021 WNBA season as a whole, kickstarting her historic evening.

2nd Star: Betnijah Laney

30 points (11-18 FG, 4-5 3-pt. FG), 5 rebounds

If she keeps things going at this torrid pace, the Most Improved Player from the WNBA’s Floridian endeavor might change that I to a V. Laney, perhaps inspired by battling a Fever team that cut her shortly before the bubbled season began (though she mostly denied such a notion), got things going early with 16 first-half points, having apparently brought her newfound sharpshooting abilities back from Florida with her.

1st Star: Sabrina Ionescu

25 points (7-18 FG, 4-8 3-pt. FG), 11 assists, 6 rebounds

Sabrina Ionescu sinking the game-winning basket in the Liberty’s first game in Brooklyn while kicking off the WNBA’s 25th anniversary season? A Hollywood studio would kick you to the curb for the lack of subtlety and nuance. But Ionescu reintroduced herself to the basketball world in downright magical fashion, sinking the game-winning triple with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Ionescu got off to a slow start, being held scoreless in the first quarter and hit only one of her first six attempts. But she more than made up for it with a stellar second half, scoring 18 points including a triple that will go down as the early best moment of the Walt Hopkins era to date.

The Liberty return to action on Sunday afternoon, finishing off a home-and-home with Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (2 p.m. ET, CBSSN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Justin Fields not phased by expectations of being Chicago Bears QB

chicago bears, justin fields

`The Chicago Bears opened up day one of rookie minicamp at Halas Hall and naturally, all eyes were on rookie quarterback Justin Fields. As expected, Fields impressed on day one, showcasing poise and a calm demeanor all throughout the day. Few know what means being quarterback of the Chicago Bears is like. The pressure of playing quarterback in the NFL is hard enough but a quarterback’s every move in Chicago will be under the microscope.

“I kind of feel like I’m made for this. I’m built for this. It’s nothing new for me,” Fields said.

Playing at Ohio State for two seasons, Fields knows what it’s like to perform on the big stage. Starting for the Buckeyes between 2019 and 2020, Fields tossed 63 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. The 22 year old’s production was impressive but so was his performance in the college football playoffs, where he tossed six touchdowns against Clemson.

Coming to a big city like Chicago, Fields has continued to embrace the pressure that comes with being a rookie quarterback for the Bears. Fields predecessors have struggled. The pressure was an issue for Mitchell Trubisky, who was just a one-year starter at the University of North Carolina.

Don’t expect the Bears to reveal who the starting quarterback will be anytime soon. While head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace have insisted veteran Andy Dalton will be the starter, Fields has been vocal about winning the Bears’ starting job.

“Everybody on our team should be striving for a starting job and if you’re not, then there’s no reason for you to be here,” Fields said. “So, of course, I’m going to do everything that I can to get that starting job.”

It’s clear that Fields will continue to lead by example, work hard, and do everything that it takes to eventually become the Bears’ starting quarterback. Whatever comes his way, he’s fully willing to embrace being a starting quarterback in the NFL, especially in Chicago, the NFL’s third biggest market.

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman succeeded, found his “touchdown-makers” this offseason

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

Last month, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman sat down in a press conference to recap the Giants’ offseason moves. During his discussion with the press, Gettleman mentioned that the Giants wanted to add “touchdown-makers” and feels that they had accomplished that goal.

“Touchdown-makers” is a term Dave Gettleman has used before. Upon drafting Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Gettleman described Barkley as a “touchdown-maker” and a “threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball.”

Dave Gettleman claims to have found more “touchdown-makers” this offseason. And his claim is indeed accurate. The Giants had a successful offseason period that saw them acquire a plethora of talented playmakers on offense.

The New York Giants’ new “touchdown-makers”

The New York Giants’ offense was incompetent in 2020. The Giants’ offense was the 31st ranked unit in the NFL, averaging a putrid 17.5 points per game. Hence Dave Gettleman’s desire to add “touchdown-makers,” players that could put points on the board.

What better way to fix an incompetent offense than to sign the league leader in touchdown receptions from 2019? Kenny Golladay was that guy, hauling in an impressive 11 touchdown receptions in a breakout 2019 campaign. Golladay caught 65 passes that season for 1,190 receiving yards. He was still an alpha dog wide receiver in 2020, averaging 67.6 yards per game, prior to the season-ending injury that shut him down after just five games.

Similar to Saquon Barkley, 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney is a “threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball.” Toney had the highest missed tackle rate (35%) among 2021 NFL Draft WRs (PFF). The dynamic UF playmaker racked up 10 touchdowns in his final collegiate season.

The Giants also added reliable tight end Kyle Rudolph to the lineup this offseason. Rudolph is on a shortlist of players with 15+ receiving touchdowns in the red zone since 2016. According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone. The Giants added some big-play scorers with Toney and Golladay, but they were wise enough to add a short-range assassin in Rudolph as well.

And, of course, the Giants’ offense was without its original “touchdown-maker” for the majority of the 2020 season. Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week Two, spending the rest of the season on injured reserve. Now, fully healthy, Barkley will return to the lineup in 2021 and look to be that home-run threat the Giants’ offense grew accustomed to having. Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph, and Kenny Golladay will step into the Giants’ 2021 offense and make big plays.

New York Yankees: Baltimore Orioles series preview

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

The New York Yankees will start a three-game series tonight with the Baltimore Orioles at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. All this under the veil of the Covid 19 virus that presently surrounds the Yankees. The Yankees are coming off two series wins, two out of three against the Astros at Yankee Stadium and two out of three against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Although they won those two series, they haven’t scored many runs as the bottom of the lineup has been sorely deficient in its hitting. For the most part, stellar pitching has saved the Yankees.

Tonight’s game and the entire series will not have Gleyber Torres in the Yankee lineup as he is quarantined back in Tampa after testing positive for the coronavirus. He is on the Covid 19 IL, which requires he be away from the team for 10 days or until he tests negative for the virus three days in a row. Seven other Yankees have tested positive for the virus, including first base coach Reggie Willits, third base coach Phil Nevin, and pitching Coach Matt Blake. The other four are unnamed support staff. All are quarantined at the team hotel in Florida or their homes.

Friday, May 14th, 7:05:

The first game of the series at Camden Yards will have 2 times Cy Young winner Corey Kluber on the mound for the Yankees. The right-hander is 2-2 with an ERA of 3.06 across 7 games. After not pitching in almost two years, Kluber got off to a slow start this season but has improved greatly in his last three games, all of which the Yankees won. In his May 2nd start against the Tigers, he was brilliant, going 8 complete innings without allowing a run.  In his last three starts, he is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.33.

The Baltimore Orioles will start Dean Kremer. Kremer has already faced the New York Yankees twice, giving up 9 runs in 7 1/3 innings of work. He is 0-3 with an ERA of 6.23. Tonight he will be looking for revenge for his first two losses against the Yankees. The game tonight will be televised on MASN in the Baltimore area, WPIX and its affiliates in the New York area, and on MLBN.com out of market.

Saturday, May 15, 7:05:

Saturday’s evening game will feature Domingo German on the mound for the Yankees. German is 2-2 with an ERA of 4.02. He is another Yankee pitcher that didn’t pitch last season and got off to a bad start in his first game and was sent down to Scranton to figure it out. However, the Yankees have now won his last four starts as he has gone deeper into games. German, when he is on his game, can be lights out. He is the same pitcher that was 18-4 during the 2019 season.

German will face Orioles pitcher Jorge Lopez who is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.63. Like so many pitchers this season, Lopez got off to a slow start but is coming off of his best start of the season when he went 5 2/3 innings in his start against the Boston Red Sox. He only allowed 1 run and didn’t allow a walk for the first time since the 2019 season. The game on Saturday will be televised in the Baltimore area on MASN and New York on the YES Network.

Sunday, May 16th, 1:05 pm:

The New York Yankees will call on Jordan Montgomery to start the matinee on Sunday. Montgomery is 2-1 with an ERA of 3.96. Montgomery is coming off his longest start of the season when he went six innings in the Tampa Bay Rays game one. In the game, he got 9 strikeouts, a career-high. Montgomery has already faced the Orioles twice this season, going 11 innings with an ERA of 1.64.

The Yankees might be in trouble Sunday as they face John Means. The lefty is the Orioles’ best pitcher. He is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.21. With the Yankees’ ongoing hitting problems, they will have to be extra careful against Means; he is a strikeout machine. In his starts so far this season, he has 53 strikeouts. He is hot coming off a no-hitter and a 15 inning scoreless streak. Sunday’s game will be televised on the YES Network and in Baltimore on MASN.

 

UFC 262 Preview: Viviane Araujo – Katlyn Chookagian

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 262 we will see a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Top ten contenders will go head-to-head as Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) takes on the rising contender Viviane Araujo (10-2).

This is a massive opportunity for Viviane Araujo to jump right into title contention. Katlyn Chookagian is widely considered one of the very best and Viviane Araujo is widely considered to be one of the top rising UFC contenders at flyweight.

The Brazilian has won two straight since her decision loss to Jessica Eye at UFC 245. The last time we saw Araujo was back in January when she took on the tough and very durable Roxanne Modafferi.

To me, this was the best performance of Araujo’s career. She was poised and looked good against a fighter that makes it very difficult to look good. She’s looking to ride that momentum into UFC 262 and into title contention.

Katlyn Chookagian is without a doubt the third best flyweight in the UFC. Chookagian has been in the UFC since 2016 and she’s gone 8-4. However, her for losses were to two UFC champions and two former title challengers.

Since 2019, Chookagian has gone 4-2 with wins over JoJo Calderwood, Jennifer Maia, and Cynthia Calvillo. The Calvillo win came back at UFC 255 which was a nice bounce back win after she was stopped in the first round by Jessica Andrade.

UFC 262 Prediction

The intriguing thing about this UFC 262 matchup is the striking. I really love the striking game of Araujo and I loved what I saw in her last fight. However, can she keep up with the activity and the pressure of Katlyn Chookagian.

Chookagian might not throw everything into her shots, but she’s going to have nonstop movement and action. She is extremely tough to beat when fights go to the scorecards. In my opinion, if UFC 262 goes to a decision this fight is Chookagian’s to lose.

I will know a lot early on in the first round. If Araujo has the power to really sting Chookagian, it can definitely be a good night for her. However, Chookagian has been in there with the very best and there’s a reason why she’s only lost to the best. I think she gets the decision nod tomorrow night.

Prediction: Katlyn Chookagian by Unanimous Decision

Mets Game Preview: (5/14/21) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (20-19)

yankees, New York Mets, Luis Rojas

After a very successful homestand, the New York Mets take their show on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have two more wins than the Mets but find themselves in fourth place in the AL East while the 18 win Mets are in first place in the NL East. The first pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

The New York Mets turned the calendar to May and hit the ground running. They are 9-2 and in the middle of a seven-game winning streak which has finally seen their terrific pitching get support from their offense. Francisco Lindor is the straw that stirs the drink and has lived up to the hype during the winning streak. Lindor has played in six of the seven wins and is 8-for-20 (.400), with one home run, five walks, and just one strikeout.

Pitching is the key for the Rays, and their 3.62 ERA shows its strength. Outside of Tyler Glasnow, their best arms reside in their bullpen. Andrew Kittredge (1.65 ERA), former Met Hunter Strickland (1.69 ERA), and Diego Castillo (seven saves) lead the way for their dynamic bullpen. The offense has been a bit of a struggle as plenty of talented hitters are performing below expectations. Joey Wendle leads the team with a .270 batting average and is second with a .435 slugging.

Pitching Matchups

David Peterson gets the start and hopes to regain his control after a rough outing against the Diamondbacks. He lasted just 1.2 innings, hitting a batter and leaving a lot of threes on his line. Peterson allowed three hits, runs, walks, and struck out a trio D’Backs. Over 26 innings this season, he has a 5.54 ERA and 32 strikeouts.

The strikeouts master, Tyler Glasnow, takes the mound for the Rays and is an early AL Cy Young award candidate. Glasnow’s 75 strikeouts (3rd), .146 batting average against (4th), 49.1 innings pitched (9th) all rank amongst MLB’s best. Half of Glasnow’s starts have resulted in him finishing with double-digit strikeouts numbers.

Matchups To Lookout For

Tyler Glasnow vs. Jonathan Villar: 2-for-12 (.167), Walk, 4 Strikeouts

Tyler Glasnow vs. Kevin Pillar: 1-for-9 (.111), 4 Strikeouts

UFC 262 Preview: Shane Burgos – Edson Barboza

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 262, we are going to see a fun matchup in the featherweight division. Top fifteen contenders will battle it out as “Hurricane” Shane Burgos (13-2) takes on Edson Barboza (21-9).

This is the first fight in almost a year for Shane Burgos. The last time we saw him, he was on the losing end of a decision in his fight against Josh Emmett. Their war was one of the UFC‘s fights of the year in 2020.

That loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Burgos. Burgos made his UFC debut back in 2016 and since making his debut with the promotion he’s gone 6-2. His two losses have come against Emmett and Calvin Kattar.

Burgos has really good boxing and a solid overall skillset. However, he’s run into trouble the two times he’s faced some of the elite guys of the division. While his ranking might not suggest it, Edson Barboza is elite especially on the feet.

Barboza is making his third appearance in the UFC‘s featherweight division after spending his career at lightweight. So far, he’s 1-1 with a loss to Dan Ige although many believe that Barboza won that fight.

Barboza is just 3-5 in his last eight fights. However, the losses were to Dan Ige, Paul Felder, Justin Gaethje, Kevin Lee, and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Some of the best in the sport. During that stretch he also holds TKO victories over Beneil Dariush and Dan Hooker.

The last time we saw Barboza was on Fight Island against Makwan Amirkhani. He picked up the win and the UFC gave him a new contract after the fight was over. Barboza is looking for a big win tomorrow night.

UFC 262 Prediction

As mentioned, Shane Burgos has really good hands and he does have some power. We’ve seen Barboza get hurt on the feet before so Shane Burgos’ power is definitely something to watch out for at UFC 262.

When thinking about this fight, I keep going back to where Burgos has struggled. He’s struggled against guys who could beat him to the punch and guys who outstruck him. I would be shocked if Burgos completely outstruck Barboza at UFC 262.

I believe tomorrow night the kicks are going to play a huge factor in the fight. Barboza is one of the best kickers in the business and I think he shows off tomorrow. I’m expecting a signature featherweight win for Edson Barboza at UFC 262.

Prediction: Edson Barboza by TKO – Round 2

New York Jets schedule: Why Week 2 looms particularly large

National eyes have turned to the New York Jets’ opening matchup in Charlotte, but the home opener against New England will be a true test.

For all its flaws, the NFL status as a genius marketing behemoth cannot be denied.

Its draft is no longer two days in April expanding into a year-round process, a major tenet of which involves a lot of Indianapolis-based spandex and bench presses. Preseason games whose box scores are immediately scorched when the clock hits all zeroes get ratings are given national priority alongside late-season baseball games.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of the NFL’s stranglehold on the American imagination is the release of its annual schedule. The question of “who” yields no surprises…14 of a given team’s 17 opponents are predetermined years in advance and 17 are solidified by the end of final week action…but the question of “when”, the mere attachment of times and dates to these matchups, causes We the People to lose our collective minds. Playoff races in basketball and hockey are cast aside on national highlights show to debate whether the Chicago Bears deserved the Thanksgiving treatment.

Despite the relative lack of surprises, the New York Jets did learn some intriguing info. Though bereft of prime time games, save for a November Thursday night’s excursion to Indianapolis, the Jets will nonetheless study abroad in London, facing off with Atlanta in October. But the matchup everyone’s talking about comes in the Jets’ Week 1 visit to Charlotte to battle the Carolina Panthers.

By now, everyone knows what’s at stake at Bank of America Stadium come September 12: the hope of the Jets’ present and future meets the ghost of all-too-recent football past in the form of Sam Darnold (and Robby Anderson, among others). Despite the combatants carrying over a combined six wins from 2020, many have pegged the interconference showdown as one of the most anticipated get-togethers of opening weekend.

Opening with Carolina works from a Jets perspective in the sense that they can remove Darnold from their list of early “distractions” and carry on with the rest of what’s sure to be a developmental year. But, to that end, their home opener in Week 2 may loom even larger.

For their 2021 home opener, the Jets will welcome the New England Patriots into East Rutherford for the first of their yearly pair. What happens for those precious three hours at MetLife Stadium could well set a permanent tone for what the Jets’ leadership triumvirate of Joe Douglas, Woody Johnson, and Robert Saleh are trying to build.

Put aside the fact that three Presidents of the United States have held office and 11 Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been released since the Jets have emerged victorious from a showdown with the Patriots. Zach Wilson’s presumed home opener will mean everything to a Jets team that must do everything in its power to get started on the right note.

It might feel like an eternity since the Jets had a winning record, but one only has to flashback to September 2018. A 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football had the fanbase buzzing. The fact that Sam Darnold’s first NFL pass was a pick-six was offset by a strong defensive effort (five turnovers) and the run game run up 179 on the ground. Darnold even made up for his early gaffe with two touchdown tosses in the dominant effort.

However, things came to a crashing halt in the MetLife Stadium opener against Miami. Facing off against future boss Adam Gase, the Jets surrendered the first 20 points before making things somewhat respectable late in a 20-12 loss. It was a sloppy game whose final score was nowhere near indicative of just how one-sided it was.

Now, the Darnold/Gase era didn’t falter solely because they lost to the Dolphins in Week 2 of the former’s rookie campaign. But, in hindsight, it served as perfect foreshadowing of the struggles to come: they turned the ball over three times, saw their rushing protection fall to 41 yards on 17 attempts, and allowed Darnold to get sacked three times. Penalties were prevalent, with the Jets losing 50 yards on seven infractions. Three resulted in Miami’s first downs and a particularly embarrassing sequence

The Jets are still trying to pick up the pieces to this day. That loss signaled the beginning of the end of the Todd Bowles era, mustering a mere three wins after that before he was let go at the end of his third season at the helm. It placed the Jets on a collision course with the disastrous Gase era, a period whose strongest yield was probably the fact it led the hiring of a sound football mind like Saleh, whose arrival has garnered praise both domestically and abroad.

Miami was merely a microcosm of what was to come under Darnold, as it highlighted the issues that would plague his star-crossed New York career. Of the ten starting men that suited up for the Jets that afternoon, only one other (Chris Herndon) was on the team in 2020. The Dolphins were credited with only three sacks of Darnold, but he was nonetheless forced to run for his life, to the tune of five other quarterback takedowns.

Negligence on both the offensive line (featuring only one player chosen within the first day of the draft, the former Seattle Seahawk James Carpenter) and run game (Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell) was a hint of things to come. Current management has seen to counter these issues, using first-round choices (Mehki Becton/Alijah Vera-Tucker) to protect Wilson and bolstering the run game with a stopgap rusher who has been a vital cog in Super Bowl runs (Tevin Coleman).

This season’s home opener is also going to take on a special meaning. Improvements have been discussed ad nauseam but MetLife Stadium will be packed to the brim with fans for a Jets game for the first time since December 2019. We, the football-loving people, have been through a lot over the past year-plus. Fans of the Jets and 13 other NFL teams were denied the simple pleasure of spending Sunday in a parking lot, surrounded by 80,000 of their new best friends. With restrictions loosening across the country, it feels (knock on wood) like it’s only a matter of time before all 30 NFL facilities get the go-ahead to pack the house. No matter the result that day, the first spelling of Jets will be downright emotional.

A brilliant tone can be set for the team moving forward, or another distressing sign of things to come could emerge. What the Jets do in these early hours will mean the world.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags