New York Jets: Grading Week 3’s loss in Denver

jets, zach wilson

Already trapped in the depths of the NFL’s offensive landscape, the New York Jets somehow sank further on Sunday in Denver.

New York Jets 0 (0-3)

Top Offensive Performer: QB Zach Wilson (19-of-35, 160 yards, 2 INT)
Top Defensive Performer: DL Quinnen Williams (4 tackles, 1.5 sacks)
Top Specialist: P Thomas Morestead (6 punts, 46.7 average)
Up Next: Sunday vs. Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Denver Broncos 26 (3-0)

Top Offensive Performer: WR Tim Patrick (5 receptions, 98 yards)
Top Defensive Performer: LB Alexander Johnson (5 tackles, 2 sacks)
Top Specialist: K Brandon McManus (4-of-4 FG, long 47, 2-of-2 XP)
Up Next: Sunday vs. Baltimore (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS)

Offense: F

With the rise of big plays and penalties bestowed for merely looking at a quarterback or receiver the wrong way, it’s almost impossible to be blanked in the modern NFL. But the Jets have somehow earned…yes, earned…a scoreboard goose egg in each of the last three seasons, a dubious distinction that continued in Denver.

The best thing that can be said about Sunday’s offensive performance was that Zach Wilson mostly fulfilled head coach Robert Saleh’s requests to play boring football. He also took care of the ball until two final desperation drives that ended in interceptions. His final pass went through the hands of Braxton Berrios, capping off an afternoon where Wilson’s receivers failed to come through for him.

Corey Davis (5 receptions, 41 yards on 10 targets) had two drops (one would’ve put the Jets in the red zone) while Michael Carter had another with room to run. Carter was particularly disappointing after serving as a silver lining against New England, earning only 24 yards on nine carries. New York earned only one of its already abysmal 11 first downs via the ground and that was earned by Wilson on a two-yard rush in the third quarter. The blocking once again provided no assistance, a fact Wilson learned the hard way through five more sacks.

Defense: C-

It certainly wasn’t a shutdown effort by any means (allowing 344 yards, 22 first downs, and just over five yards a play), but the Jets’ defense mostly kept its cool when the offense kept setting them up in awkward situations. C.J. Mosley continued his comeback tour with a game-best 10 tackles, the most famous of which was a goal-line takedown of Melvin Gordon that briefly kept the game scoreless.

Quinnen Williams also managed to get back in the swing of things through his involvement in two sacks of Teddy Bridgewater, sharing one with Bryce Huff. Williams also had two further quarterback hits, one of only four hurries New York had on the afternoon (Huff and Sheldon Rankins had the others).

Saleh’s oft-spoken “All Gas, No Brake” philosophy has gone by the wayside in the early going but the defenders at least help partly personify it in the dying stages of a lost contest. As Denver embarked on another would-be scoring drive (set up by Wilson’s first interception), Quincy Williams forced a fumble from Javonte Williams (no relation) that ended up in Del’Shawn Phillips’ possession, leading to a 34-yard return.

The Jets’ red zone defense has been a bittersweet gift to the metropolitan area: they’re allowing four such possessions per game (only Kansas City, Jacksonville, Washington, and Seattle have let up more) but have let up touchdowns on only a third of them. That percentage is good for the best in the NFL, tied with New Orleans and Sunday’s adversaries at Mile High.

Special Teams: C-

The Jets’ special teams endeavors on Sunday ranged from average (Morestead placed the Broncos inside their 20 twice on six punts) to frustratingly distressing (a delay of game penalty on a 56-yard field goal erased what would’ve been the only green points of the afternoon), though a game desperate for silver linings did manage to find two.

Though not officially credited with a block, Phillips was able to carry over some momentum to his punt rushing duties, tipping a Sam Martin boot that went just 26 yards and situated the Jets at their own 41. Also, considering the team’s struggles with finding a consistent kicker, watching Matt Ammendola manageably boot a 56-yarder had to be satisfying, even if it didn’t count.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Three stars from Sunday’s loss at Denver

New York Jets

The New York Jets endured their third shutout defeat over the last three years, failing to tally any points in Sunday’s visit to Denver.

New quarterback, same painful result.

The New York Jets endured a shutout defeat for the third time over the last three seasons (and fourth over the last five) on Sunday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High, as they were the victims of a 26-0 shellacking at the hands of the undefeated Denver Broncos.

Denver (3-0) took advantage of a Jets offensive in turmoil, outgaining Gang Green 344-162 and forcing Zach Wilson into two late interceptions and five sacks. The final margin was created through rushing scores by Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon as well as a trio of kicks from Brandon McManus.

The Jets (0-3) will look for some traction next weekend at home against the Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS). First, ESM finds three individual bright spots from their disaster in Denver…

Honorable Mentions

  • LB Del’Shawn Phillips: 1 fumble recovery, 1 tipped punt
  • WR Corey Davis: 5 receptions, 41 yards

3rd Star: LB Quincy Williams

6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF

The poor early returns in the Saleh/Wilson era have caused some to question general manager Joe Douglas’ blueprint. But the in-season/post-training camp gems he has found on the waiver wire (Ty Johnson, John Franklin-Myers, Braxton Berrios) can’t be denied.

Williams, a post-camp cut from Jacksonville, might be the latest addition to that list. Through two appearances in relief of Jarrad Davis and Blake Cashman, Williams has laid some memorable hits down during his brief New York tenure. On Sunday, he helped salvage at least a sliver of the afternoon with a forced fumble out of Javonte Williams’ hands that was taken back by Phillips for 34 yards.

2nd Star: L.B. C.J. Mosley

10 tackles

Mosley is taking full advantage of his newfound health as he’s the Jets’ early leader in tackles. That trend continued when he led the team with 10 on Sunday in Denver.

One of the former Raven’s earliest hits went somewhat viral on a busy football Sunday. Mosley laid down a punishing hit on Gordon as the latter tried to score the first touchdown of the afternoon. His efforts, alas, only delayed the inevitable as Javonte Williams scored on the very next play. But Mosley’s brief moment of internet fame served as a solid reintroduction to the NFL and served as a strong example of perseverance, one the Jets desperately need.

1st Star: DL Quinnen Williams

4 tackles, 1.5 sacks

Our weekly tradition ends in brotherly bookends to salvage some sort of good feelings from Sunday.

After a relatively quiet first couple of weeks, Williams resembled his breakout form from last season, one that got involved in two Sunday sacks (sharing one with Bryce Hall). He wasn’t willing to talk about these positive developments but about the Jets’ modern fortunes. Williams, ready to embrace a larger leadership role, sees his performance as worthy of only a deeper personal reflection, one that he hopes leads to increased accountability.

“I look at the negative things I did wrong the game before and try to correct them the next week,” Williams said, per team reporter Randy Lange. “I feel like now the whole team has got to take that whole self-correct, constructive criticism, put it to their own life, and look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘I need to correct this, I need to not have this happen again, I need to make sure I’m on top of this.'”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets WR Denzel Mims inactive once again

The New York Jets will be missing two top receivers, Mims and Jamison Crowder, for the second consecutive week.

Denzel Mims will not dress for the New York Jets for the second consecutive weekend, joining fellow top target Jamison Crowder. Neither will dress for the Jets Sunday

Mims’ modern endeavors have a point of contention for the 0-2 Jets, as the second-round pick has partaken in only three snaps this season. All of them came on kickoff weekend against Carolina, though one produced a 40-yard reception that set up the Jets’ final score of the day.

New York management apparently still believes in Mims to the point where they are hanging up on trade offers for the second-year receiver, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. But Mims’ inability to contribute on special teams has buried him on the depth chart. The return of veteran acquisition Keelan Cole officially made Mims a healthy scratch. He missed half of his rookie season with hamstring issues after the Jets made him the 59th overall pick of the 2020 draft but managed to tally 357 yards on 23 receptions in nine games (eight starts).

The scratch of Mims comes after Robert Saleh labeled him a “game-time decision” on Friday. New York’s head coach was enthused about Mims’ progress, as he was “pumped” about the week of practice he had.

Also inactive for the Jets is Crowder, the team’s leading receiver over the last two seasons. The veteran slot option has been working his way back after dealing with a bout of COVID-19. Another top option on the depth chart, rusher Tevin Coleman, is out with a non-COVID illness, while La’mical Perine is out for the third straight game. Sixth-round pick Jonathan Marshall will likewise remain a healthy scratch.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets at Denver Broncos

After a painful home opener, the New York Jets head out west to battle the undefeated Denver Broncos at Mile High.

  • What: New York Jets (0-2) at Denver Broncos (2-0)
  • Where: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
  • When: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Magliocchetti

By conventional football wisdom, everything about the Jets’ visit to the Rocky Mountains screams “trap game” for their equine hosts.

They’re 2-0 after taking advantage of the collectively winless Giants and Jaguars. Brief Jet Teddy Bridgewater (120.7 passer rating) has been a godsend at quarterback after two years of Drew Lock limbo. Von Miller (three sacks) is back in action at the helm of a resurgent defense. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have united for 241 yards on the ground. Surely, the other shoe’s about to drop for the Broncos, partial owners of the second-longest playoff drought behind the Jets, no?

Alas for New York, there’s little to suggest that they’re ready to take advantage of such a situation. The Jets need to think about revisiting the end zone before they worry about getting back in the win column. There’s plenty to be inspired by in the early going: the makeshift defense has held its own and the run game gained traction through Michael Carter and Ty Johnson. But the lingering offensive issues…namely the sputtering protection and Zach Wilson’s rookie growing pains…mean that a win is a little too much to ask for at this point.

The Broncos’ upcoming schedule suggests we’ll soon find out whether they can be counted amongst the legitimate contenders: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and Cleveland loom large after the Jets’ visit. They’ve done a good job of capitalizing against opponents trying to find themselves. Expect that trend to continue on Sunday.

Broncos 24, Jets 13

C.J. Mosley, New York Jets
(Photo: USA Today)

Dylan Price

The Jets head to Mile High hoping they can benefit from some Mile High magic. This past week saw the Jets string together a great performance everywhere except on offense. The defense looked great, the secondary had itself a day, C.J. Mosley and John Franklin-Myers put on shows and overall proved they can hold their own.

But the offense was stagnant and Zach Wilson had a terrible performance. The unit needs to step up, and they have a hard task at hand: the Denver defense is legit, and they are going to be a tough test.

The fan in me hopes the Jets take a step forward and pull off a win, or, at the very least, perform better. But the analyst in me says the Jets have a tough task ahead. I think the Broncos win in a tight game, and Wilson performs better, but not good enough to get the win.

Broncos 17, Jets 14

Magliocchetti Price
Carolina @ Houston (Thu.) Panthers Panthers
Arizona @ Jacksonville Cardinals Cardinals
Atlanta @ NY Giants Giants Falcons
Baltimore @ Detroit Ravens Ravens
Chicago @ Cleveland Browns Browns
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers
Indianapolis @ Tennessee Titans Titans
LA Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs
New Orleans @ New England Patriots Patriots
Washington @ Buffalo Bills Bills
Miami @ Las Vegas Raiders Raiders
Seattle @ Minnesota Seahawks Seahawks
Tampa Bay @ LA Rams Buccaneers Buccaneers
Green Bay @ San Francisco 49ers Packers
Philadelphia @ Dallas (Mon.) Cowboys Cowboys
Last Week 13-3 10-6
Overall 20-12 16-16

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Giants disappoint in 27-13 loss to start the season

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants kicked off their season on Sunday with a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos beat the Giants with a final score of 27-13.

It was an embarrassing defeat for the Giants, a team that looked outcoached from the get-go. The Broncos dominated in time of possession, holding the ball for 35:08 while the Giants possessed the ball for only 24:52.

Key stats and takeaways

Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looked like a stud today, completing 28 of his 36 attempts for 264 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The Broncos’ offense was a well-oiled machine that totaled 420 total yards, 24 first downs, and only 1 turnover (fumble).

The Giants’ offense, on the other hand, looked stale and sluggish all game long. The unit averaged 17.5 points per game in 2020 and promised big improvements in 2021. Unfortunately, it looked like more of the same. New York totaled only 314 total yards and 19 first downs with 6 of their 13 points coming in garbage time.

Daniel Jones, entering his crucial third season, left fans unimpressed. He put together 267 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble, and one garbage-time rushing touchdown.

Saquon Barkley made his return to the field today and played more than most expected him to. Barkley took 10 handoffs for 26 yards.

The Giants enjoyed a couple of solid performances from their receivers. Sterling Shepard managed 113 yards and 1 touchdown on 7 receptions. Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton both totaled over 60 yards.

The New York Giants start the season off with an 0-1 record after having an exciting offseason that had fans looking forward to an improved 2021 season. The Giants now have a short week as they travel to Washington to play their first divisional opponent of the season on Thursday Night Football.

New York Giants: 3 keys to beating the Denver Broncos in Week 1

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are gearing up to take on the Denver Broncos in Week 1, and while virtually all of their offensive weapons are clawing their way back from injury, there’s optimism some will be available. With John Ross being placed on injured reserve this past week and Kenny Golladay still unsure if he will be available, QB Daniel Jones must prepare for the reality that his arsenal may be without a few weapons.

It’s entirely possible head coach Joe Judge is keeping the injury designation for their top players under the table, restricting Denver from gaining a competitive advantage. Forcing them to game-plan for multiple different players and combinations could cause issues with their defense. Judge will provide injury updates early this upcoming week, but they will likely avoid updates regarding Golladay, Saquon Barkley, and Kadarius Toney until the final moments.

Three keys for the New York Giants to beat Denver:

1.) Daniel Jones must avoid bad decisions

After witnessing an ugly red-zone interception in the Giants’ final pre-season game against the New England Patriots, it’s clear QB Daniel Jones is still prone to making poor decisions. Jones has 22 total interceptions and 29 fumbles over two professional seasons, and unless he can alleviate these turnovers, Jones will once again by battling himself on a weekly basis.

However, Jones did enjoy a three-game stretch last season before suffering a hamstring injury where he didn’t turn the ball over one, indicating he’s capable of playing safe and efficient football. Against a tantalizing Broncos defense, Jones must stay safe and live to see another down. If he can accomplish that, there’s no question Jones has the ability to be the catalyst for the Giants in Week 1.

2.) The offensive line must stand their ground

Everything boils down to the Giants’ offensive line, including Jones’s ball security and decision-making. With Shane Lemieux in limbo before Week 1 and a position battle still unsettled at right tackle, there’s no telling who will be starting the season in the trenches. We can make educated assumptions that Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, and Nick Gates will all be featuring, but the acquisition of Ben Bredeson and Billy Price have complicated things a bit.

The front office being forced to send draft picks for unestablished OL talent right before opening day is a bit problematic, and expecting this unit to hold their ground against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb is a tough sell. If they can give Jones just enough time to get the ball out of his hands, the offense should have some success but expect a heavy running attack against Denver.

3.) The defense must hold Denver to sub-20 points

The Giants will likely have to rely on their defense in Week 1 as the offense works out its kinks and figures out their offensive line woes. The defense was the pride and joy of Big Blue in 2020, holding opposing teams to just 22.3 points on average. With Denver electing to go with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, the Giants will have to send plenty of blitzers to disrupt his vision and ability to read the coverages. The return of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines should aid in that goal, but it ultimately boils down to winning the turnover battle and winning time of possession.

Since the Giants averaged less than 20 points per game last season, we are using that standard for the defense’s performance. If Denver stays under 20 points on the afternoon, the Giants will have a far better chance at victory.

New York Jets 2021 opponent report: Denver Broncos

Week 3 sees the New York Jets made a trip to the Rockies to battle the Denver Broncos, who are also facing a lengthy playoff drought.

The Opponent: Denver Broncos
The Dates: Week 3, September 26, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
The Series: Denver leads 21-16-1 (last meeting: 2020, 37-28 DEN)

Much like Elaine Benes’ heartbreaking revelation that she was turning into her incompetent friend George Costanza, the Denver Broncos may be coming to a similar epiphany of depression: they’re slowly transforming into the New York Jets.

Denver’s extended Super Bowl hangover…they haven’t reached the NFL postseason since their triumph over Carolina in Super Bowl 50…is only at five years compared to the Jets’ five-plus decades. That postseason drought, however, is tied for second-worst in the league (Arizona and Cincinnati are likewise shamed) behind only the Jets’ decade-long disappearance. What’s particularly troubling in Denver is the fact that their post-Super Bowl rut has stationed them at the bottom of the NFL’s standings. An active streak of four straight losing seasons is their longest such since a nine-year tally mostly accumulated during their AFL days. The 23 wins gained in that span best only four other teams.

The Broncos are a franchise in flux, cursed with both a quarterback controversy and a dominant thrower stationed in a divisional rival’s camp (Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City) with no end to his reign in sight. Head coach Vic Fangio is entering his third season, the proverbial make-or-break campaign, with only a dozen wins under his belt. A once-proud defense is struggling to regain its footing.

Their matchup against the Jets is the conclusion of an intriguing September slate. The Broncos have a prime opportunity to start 3-0 as a Week 2 matchup in Jacksonville is sandwiched by showdowns against the reeling New York franchises. Gang Green’s visit will serve as their 2021 home opener.

Denver and New York will square off for the second straight season. A Thursday night get-together, won by Denver in a 37-28 final, was overshadowed by late extracurriculars said to be exacerbated by ousted defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Skinny on the Broncos

Quarterbacks old and new have taken center stage in Denver’s endeavors of the new decade. Life after Peyton Manning proved to be too much for franchise legend John Elway, who stepped out of the general manager role over this offseason, passing the affair over to George Paton, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings’ front office.

Paton raised the heat on incumbent franchise thrower Drew Lock by acquiring brief Jet Teddy Bridgewater for a day three pick. Bridgewater is by far one of the most inspiring stories in recent NFL memory: last season saw him return to the brotherhood of NFL starting quarterbacks in Carolina after suffering a devastating non-contact injury in Vikings camp in 2016. Paton is very familiar with Bridgewater’s work, as he was the assistant general manager when Minnesota made him a first-round pick in 2014.

Lock is in a precarious position as he, like Fangio, enters his third season in the Rockies with a lot to prove. He tied for the league lead in interception with Carson Wentz (15) last season and is threatening to become the latest failed franchise project in the post-Manning era (joining washouts like Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, and Trevor Siemian). The Missouri alum ended the year on a strong note, posting a 92.1 passer rating over his last four games, but the upcoming preseason slate will be crucial for him to prove can still be a long-term solution for an NFL franchise.

The ultimate shame about Denver’s quarterback issues is that they have a strong, skilled arsenal to work with. Courtland Sutton missed all but two games in 2020 due to a torn ACL, but the Broncos enjoyed promising showings from Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, and tight end Noah Fant. Elsewhere in the backfield, the team lost Phillip Lindsay to Houston but is set to welcome back accomplished veteran Melvin Gordon.

Defensively, the team is set to welcome back franchise face Von Miller, who returns from a devastating peroneal tendon injury that kept him out of the 2020 season entirely.  Bradley Chubb rose to the occasion in Miller’s absence, earning his first Pro Bowl nomination and approval on his fifth-year option. The Jets felt Chubb’s wrath firsthand, as Sam Darnold was victimized for 2.5 sacks in the aforementioned Thursday night get-together.

New York Giants, Patrick Surtain
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What’s New in Denver?

The Broncos had an early draft pick to work with, choosing to use the ninth overall pick on Alabama defender Patrick Surtain II. His arrival was part of an expensive renovation project in the Denver secondary, as the Broncos bestowed over $65 million in guaranteed money to Justin Simmons, Kyle Fuller, Kareem Jackson, and Ronald Darby.

At $61 million over four seasons, Simmons (Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked safety in 2021 and earner of 16 interceptions since his 2016 entry) is now the highest-paid safety in football. Once Fuller was let go from Chicago, reuniting with Fangio, his former defensive coordinator with the Bears, was a de facto no-brainer. Fuller was added on a one-year deal worth nearly $10 million, it’s clear that Denver expects a lot of him in this prove-it year.

After Surtain’s selection, the Broncos also added Javonte Williams in the second round. The North Carolina alum shared the Tar Heels’ rushing duties with fellow rookie and current Jet Michael Carter. With Gordon in the latter part of his two-year deal, Denver could begin a transition plan that would make Williams their ground man of the future.

How to Beat Them

-Corral the QB

The Jets’ pass rush has a brilliant opportunity to show how far they’ve come from the depths of the 2020 season. That nationally televised loss against the Broncos let America know just how far the Jets had fallen. They failed to take down Denver third-stringer Brett Rypien at any point during the night, letting up a whopping 37 points and 359 yards of offense.

Listing pressure on the quarterback as a key to victory is a football cliche, perhaps the football equivalent of “pucks deep“. But when you’re facing a team that’s dealing with uncertainty in the most important role in football, dealing with a battle that could well extend into the regular season, the pressure becomes more important than ever. The Jets spent this offseason further bolstering a pass rush that was one of the rare silver linings of a 2020 season. If there’s any unit on their current depth chart that can be considered “elite”, that’s it.

Week 3 could also be a breakout for the New York pass rush because of Denver’s issues on the offensive line. Ja’Wuan James opted out of the 2020 season and was later released after suffering a torn Achilles in May. Another former Bear, Bobby Massie, is expected to take over. Division III standout Quinn Meinerz should also raise a little heat on incumbent center Lloyd Cushenberry. Granted an opportunity to build long-term momentum, the Jets must take advantage.

-Neutralize the Weaponry

Denver has stockpiled several offensive weapons that the quarterback, be it Bridgewater, Lock, or someone from the 2022 draft class, could work wonders with. The Jets found out about the group’s potential the hard way last fall: going up against Rypien, an undrafted second-year man making his first NFL start, Patrick tallied 113 yards on six clutch receptions, while Jeudy literally stole his first NFL touchdown from Pierre Desir.

The showdown against Denver will be one of the Jets’ biggest challenges in the early going, especially with Sutton’s potential return to the lineup. But with so many areas to improve after the horrors of 2020, it was almost a guarantee that one or more areas of the roster were going to be neglected. That turned out to be the secondary, which is set to see Bless Austin and Bryce Hall headlined at cornerback. Projected top strong safety Ashtyn Davis is already out for Week 1, while rookies and undrafted journeymen are expected to receive major snaps.

This visit against Denver presents a major opportunity for Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich to show their impact. Whether the Jets capitalize remains, as always, the question.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Evaluating week 1 opener against the Denver Broncos

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

With the 2021 regular season schedule being released on Wednesday evening, the New York Giants are set to play the Denver Broncos in week one. While the Giants would normally face off against the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles, this contest came out of left field. However, the Broncos are no pushover, despite having a quarterback controversy that involves Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Denver is unsure which QB will end up starting, as a position Battle will likely unfold throughout training camp.

Nonetheless, Lock understands the scheme more proficiently than Bridgewater, who was traded from the Carolina Panthers after they acquired Sam Darnold from the Jets.

Either way, the Giants will have a defensive advantage, despite Denver having a solid group of receivers, including Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, and Courtland Sutton. Big Blue bolstered their secondary this off-season, acquiring Adoree Jackson to man the CB2 spot. With the existing players of James Bradberry, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Jabrill Peppers, the Giants should feel confident going into a contest against a team that doesn’t have an established quarterback to get the ball to his receivers.

As for the running back position, the Broncos have Melvin Gordon as their primary option, while the Giants feature Saquon Barkley. The Giants, last season, allowed the 10th least yards per game on the ground with 111.4. Denver, on the other hand, ranked at the bottom of the pack, allowing 130 per game.

The strong point for the Broncos is in their secondary, where they have a fantastic unit out of DBs with Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, and the new addition of Patrick Surtain out of Alabama. That is not even including their safeties, Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons. The Giants will need to be clicking on all cylinders to beat a secondary as strong as Denver’s, but it will represent a fantastic challenge in week one after bolstering the unit this off-season.

The New York Giants need their young QB to show off his skills:

Ultimately, Daniel Jones will need to be on top of his game, making smooth reads and hitting his receivers in stride. He will have little room for error against a strong defensive back core. As for the Denver pass rush, they have Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, two of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. They will put significant pressure on the young offensive tackles the Giants plan to feature next season unless Nate Solder manages to beat Matt Peart for the starting job at right tackle.

Denver dealt with a significant number of injuries last season, including a significant knee injury to Sutton that forced him to miss nearly the entire season. With a healthy squad to start the year, the Giants will have a significant challenge ahead, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated because of their quarterback situation.

This game will come down to a few factors, including a heavy reliance on the offensive line, Daniel Jones accuracy, and the Giants’ ability to put pressure on whatever quarterback Denver plans to roll with. As stated before, the Giants must be clicking on all cylinders to dominate this game, otherwise, this could easily become a more interesting ordeal.

New York Jets: Breaking down 3 confirmed head coaching candidates (part 2)

In the first part of the New York Jets’ confirmed coaching target breakdowns, I highlighted some of the top offensive coordinators reportedly being targeted for the job. This time, here are the three rumored defensive coordinator candidates and what they bring to the table.

Matt Eberflus, Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator

Matt Eberflus is a rising coaching candidate in the league, and for good reason. The well-traveled coach began his coaching career as a student assistant at Toledo in 1992, he then spent eight years coaching at Toledo, holding the positions of graduate assistant, recruiting coordinator, outside linebackers coach, and defensive backs coach. Due to his success at Toledo, Eberflus was named defensive coordinator of Missouri in 2001, where he coached until 2008. He then signed on for two seasons as the linebackers coach of the Browns before he entered into the most crucial years in his coaching development. From 2011 to 2015, Eberflus coached under Rod Marinelli, super bowl champion coach. Marinelli taught Eberflus the Tampa 2 style defense, which has proved to be his staying power since then. Marinelli mentored Eberflus and developed him into a disciple, which led to him ultimately landing his current gig.

Eberflus was initially brought on to the Colts staff by the short-lived coach, Josh McDaniels. When he decided to return to New England and Frank Reich was hired, the team looked to Marinelli for his advisement on someone who could instill the Tampa 2 defense in Indy, and he let them know that guy was already on the staff. So, Eberflus kept his job, and in the time since, he has become an esteemed coach. The Indy defense has become a top one in all of football, but the way Eberflus has gotten the most out of his players is the true shining piece of his resume. Darius Leonard was not supposed to be a star in this league, he was out for most of his rookie camp, and he was a little known second-rounder. Now, Leonard is one of the best linebackers in football. The team also acquired Deforest Buckner this offseason, and he has had a monster season in the defense.

Eberflus’ only indictment is that he may not be that CEO type coach rumored to be the target. Eberflus does not have experience as a head coach, and just like most coordinators, there is no hardcore proof he could have success. Still, Eberflus is well connected in the league and could likely build a good staff and be a good leader. Eberflus is a true wildcard candidate; depending on his staff, he could be a solid hire.

Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Rams Defensive Coordinator

A year ago, Brandon Staley was a rather unknown coach, now, he has a shot to be a head coach rather quickly. Staley has bounced around the college ranks, starting in 2006 at Northern Illinois. From there, Staley went to various schools including, St. Thomas, Hutchinson Community, and Tennessee. Then, Staley got his shot as a D3 defensive coordinator at John Carrol University. From there, he went to James Madison and back to John Carrol. Then, he drew the eye of Vic Fangio and had been on his staff in both Chicago and Denver before getting his shot as a defensive coordinator this season in Los Angeles.

Brandon Staley succeeded esteemed defensive coordinator Wade Phillips after his retirement last season. He inherited a defense with two of the best players in the NFL, Jalen Ramsey, and Aaron Donald. Donald brings a ferocious ability to get into the backfield unmatched by anyone in the league. Ramsey is one of the best lockdown corners in the game and didn’t have a single game this season where he allowed more than 20 yards. Despite that, the talent they had was present in both Phillip’s time and Staley’s. So, in analyzing their defensive jump from the middle of the league to first, that makes what Staley was able to do all the more impressive.

Staley has earned quite a reputation quickly. He has drawn comparisons to the man that hired him, Sean McVay, and been labeled as the defensive carbon copy. Staley would be the younger, more flashier hire than Eberflus, but both are unproven. Staley has not been in the league long, meaning his staff hires could leave something to be desired. Staley is a bold choice, but the Jets have gone the successful defensive coordinator route once in the past 8 years, and it didn’t bode well, will they make the same choice again?

Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Robert Saleh is a football guy. The former college tight end began his coaching career in 2002 with Michigan State. He then coached at Central Michigan and Georgia before going to the pros. Then, in 2005, Saleh was hired as an intern with the Texans, and he climbed through the ranks to the position of assistant linebackers coach before heading to Seattle. In Seattle, Saleh got to learn under Pete Carroll and coach on a Super Bowl championship-winning staff. Saleh coached there until receiving a shot to coach the linebackers in Jacksonville, where they had a large amount of success in his time there. His success across the board drew enough attention from Kyle Shanahan to earn him the defensive coordinator job in 2017. Since then, Saleh has become a household name.

Last season, the San Francisco 49ers went to the Super Bowl behind one of the most talented defensive lines I have seen in the past decade. Their defense was ranked in the top tier of the league overall, and although they were unable to pull off a win in the big game, they still showed major growth in 2019. This set them up as one of the most heavily feared defenses heading into this season, but when Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, Javon Kinlaw, and Kwon Alexander are among the big names who missed multiple games, if not the entire season. The team was banged up but still managed to finish as a top defenses again, taking only a small step back.

Robert Saleh is that CEO type of coach Joe Douglas should target. Saleh is the middle ground of Staley and Eberflus. He has the connections of Eberflus and the youth of Staley. Saleh brings juice and energy to the defense. One rumored connection is with Mike McDaniel, a rising offensive mind in San Francisco, who some believe could follow him as an OC wherever he choses to go. He is so intense that he runs the stadium stairs in order to get mentally prepared before games. Saleh is a fantastic coach and near the top of my board for prospective coaches. Saleh is a hot commodity, though, and there is a hometown connection with the Lions that could prove to be too much for the Jets to overcome.

Four plays that decided the New York Jets’ Thursday fate vs. Denver

Conservative football stifled the New York Jets’ chances at a surprise victory in primetime, as they fell to Denver in an unusual thriller.

At certain points of Thursday night’s showdown with the Denver Broncos, the New York Jets resembled an NFL football team. But that wasn’t enough to steal a win in primetime.

A battle between two winless squads at MetLife Stadium somehow managed to be entertaining, but the Jets (0-4) fell short by a 37-28 final, the endgame of a topsy-turvy thriller that featured lead changes, mistakes, and hurt feelings.

ESM looks back on this latest defeat, highlighting a play from each quarter that doomed the Jets to their weeknight fate…

1st Quarter: Sam-I-Ran…46 yards 

We’ve outlined exactly why the Jets and Trevor Lawrence would create a union that benefitted no one. Sam Darnold made several plays of his own on Thursday to at least start dispelling the new notion that he may not be New York’s green franchise quarterback. 

Darnold gained all but two yards on the Jets’ opening 75-yard drive after the first kickoff. Remarkably, only 16 of those yards were gained through the air. He gained a pair of first downs with his legs before breaking loose for the longest run by any quarterback so far this season. It also allowed Darnold to set his career-best in rushing, demolishing a 35-yard output posted in December 2018 against Houston.

Adam Gase quarterbacks have never been known for their scrambling, mostly relegated to a prescience in the pocket. If the Jets can allow Darnold to move around more, through plays like the rollout that has played out well in goal-to-go situations, it can help him develop much-needed confidence.

2nd Quarter: Mekhi Pressure

The handling of Mekhi Becton was one of the most curious developments of Thursday’s game. After enduring a shoulder injury on Sunday, Becton was deemed healthy enough to dress, but not to start. Chuma Edoga’s injury in the opening quarter, however, forced Becton to enter. He didn’t last much longer either, as he sat after the early stages of the second frame.

His last play was a scary one, as it was also Darnold’s first play back in after enduring his own shoulder injury. The ailing Becton was beaten by Bradley Chubb, who sacked Darnold on third down. At that point, the Jets really should’ve questioned the true value of leaving both men in the game. Sure, the morbid gift of consequence-free football at least allows you the idea of playing loose, but it should never, ever lead you to risk a player’s health. Darnold at least appeared to look unbothered by the situation. But the question can still be asked over whether it was worth it.

3rd Quarter: Sore of Gore

Frank Gore definitely has a purpose in New York. He’s a veteran who has had experience in rebuilding programs (primarily his earliest days with the 49ers) and can still earn the short-yardage first down as a spell option. But Gore is no longer at a level where he can the primary offensive threat. His carries were down to a mere 13 after averaging 19 over the last two weeks, but the continued insistence on using Gore is stunting the development of projects like La’Mical Perine and Kalen Ballage.

The Jets had a strong opportunity to take the lead in the early stages of the third quarter after a 38-yard pass interference penalty. After two short Gore runs, Darnold tried to find him on a wheel on third-and-four 14 yards from the end zone. The incompletion forced the Jets to go for a mere Sam Ficken field goal that sliced the lead to 17-16. An argument could be made over whether kicking was the right decision (we’ll get to that in a minute), but it could’ve been avoided entirely.

4th Quarter: That Ficken Field Goal

Once again, the decision to kick was one that came back to haunt the Jets. Doing so down 24-3 during the San Francisco disaster was one thing. Pride was the only thing on the line and things got so pathetic that the Jets even denied themselves that. But this new instance might’ve played a role in this brutal defeat.

Down 27-25 and granted a generous spot on a crucial third-down at the edge of the Denver red zone…set up by Brian Poole’s interception…the Jets had an opportunity to think of a way to potentially earn the go-ahead score and force a struggling Denver offense to score a touchdown with relatively little time left on the clock while the Broncos threw the challenge flag.

Instead, cowardice might’ve cost the Jets the game. If the Jets opted to go for the necessary inches on fourth down with six minutes to go, they could’ve continued their trek to the end zone, forcing the struggling Rypien to go for a matching six-pointer. Even if you failed to convert the fourth down…how badly do you lose in the long run? The Jets played it safe and kicked…all the Broncos needed was for the reliable Brandon McManus to respond. Denver’s offense made it difficult on their own end, but they eventually secure the lead permanently. Everything else…the embarrassing Melvin Gordon clincher, the bad blood in the final seconds…could’ve been avoided if they had gone for it.

Ficken has proven reliable this season…he’s a perfect 8-for-8 on the season and he booted a 54-yarder on Thursday night…but alas, that doesn’t do the Jets any favors in the win column. A good kicker is vital on a team with a developing offense, but one could well argue if “developing” is the right way to describe the Jets at this point in time.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags