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

VIDEO: Sam Darnold’s electrifying TD run gives New York Jets first lead of 2020

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

The New York Jets quarterback unleashed the longest run from a thrower this season, his 46-yard rush giving Gang Green an early lead.

Vick. Jackson. Darnold?

Sam Darnold gave the New York Jets an early lead over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night through a showstopping 46-yard touchdown run. The score gave the Jets an early lead, New York’s first of the season, in their primetime tilt.

Darnold wound up accounting for all but two yards on the Jets’ opening scoring drive, one that took nine plays to go 75 yards after the opening kickoff. His legs were responsible for two previous conversions on third down. A three-yard punch in the opening minute kept the drive going, as did an eight-yard scramble on third-and-four just prior to midfield. Darnold’s previous career-best in rushing was a 35-yard output in December 2018 against Houston. The long touchdown is the longest run by any quarterback so far this season.

The Jets continue to lead Denver 7-3 in the latter stages of the first quarter.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Joe Flacco ACTIVE and set to serve as New York Jets’ backup

New York Jets, Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco’s first time in a New York Jets gameday uniform will come against one of his former teams on Thursday night.

While Thursday night’s primetime matchup between the New York Jets and Denver Broncos (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network) may lack that championship feeling, but Super Bowl flair will be on display on the home team’s sideline.

For the first time in his New York career, former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will dress for the Jets and serve as Sam Darnold’s backup. Flacco was sidelined by a neck injury for nearly a full year but was signed by the Jets in May.

A native of Audubon, NJ, Flacco is set to enter his 13th NFL season. Flacco is best known for his 11-year tenure with the Baltimore Ravens, where he sits atop nearly every statistical list in the team’s passing record book. He helped guide the Ravens to their second Super Bowl in 2013, capturing MVP honors in the team’s 34-31 win over San Francisco.

Making his Jets debut against Denver carries a hint of Flacco irony. After Baltimore made the switch to Lamar Jackson at quarterback, he was signed by the Broncos to serve as a placeholder quarterback to 2019 first-round choice Drew Lock. Flacco started eight games in orange, throwing for 1,822 yards and six touchdowns before sustaining the aforementioned neck injury in an October loss to Indianapolis. Denver released Flacco last March, sticking with Lock, Jeff Driskel, and Brett Rypien on their quarterback depth chart. Rypien is set to make his first NFL start on Thursday with Lock injured.

The Jets (0-3) will still be without top receiving option Breshard Perriman, who will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury. Others on the New York inactive list include Jordan Willis, Marqui Christian, Quincy Wilson, and Nathan Shepard, as well as rookies Ashtyn Davis and James Morgan.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

3 storylines to watch in Denver Broncos Vs New York Jets matchup

The New York Jets (0-3) will take on the Denver Broncos (0-3) in tonight’s game. The game was one I was eager to see prior to the season. I hoped the headlines would be all about Drew Lock vs Sam Darnold or about how the Jets improved defense would handle the Broncos young and talented offense. Instead, we have Brett Rypien at the helm of a banged-up Broncos team and the Jets fighting for any shred of respect they could salvage this season. Here are the things I am watching for in the battle of two of the worst AFC teams to this point.

Adam Gase’s Funeral?

After the Jets got embarrassed this past Sunday in Indianapolis, the heat beneath Adam Gase’s seat became flames. Rumors have swirled all week from Colin Cowherd, Chris Mortensen, and many other top insiders that this could be the end of the road for Gase if the team is blown out. The consensus is, the team needs to implode for Gase to be ousted. The Broncos would need to perform similarly to the 49ers in Week 2 for Gase to go. The odds are in Gase’s favor to still be the coach of this team come Friday morning, but the Jets are wearing all black tomorrow night, so maybe this could be Gase’s New York Jet funeral.

Brett Rypien’s First Career Start

Rypien starting tonight brings me back to the game the Jets played when Luke Falk stepped in on Thursday night last year. Rypien was a practice squad fixture until just a week ago, but after going 8/9 for 53 yards and a pick in the end zone, he will get a shot to run the offense, at least to start, tonight. Broncos coach Vic Fangio has said he will see a role where Jeff Driskel gets work as well. Last year the Jets preyed on weak QBs like Dwayne Haskins Jr., Matt Barkley, and Devlin Hodges. Although this Jets defense is a shell of what it was last year, Gregg Williams is still here, and he knows how to make young QBs uncomfortable. The Broncos have also allowed 13 sacks, which stands as the second-most in the league. The Jets could look to make this a really rough debut for the nephew of former NFL vet Mark Rypien.

Sam Darnold Needs To Rebound

The Jets offense floundered last weekend, but particularly so did Sam Darnold. With three interceptions, Sam Played one of his worst pro games. Tonight though, he gets a returning Jamison Crowder along with a budding connection with Braxton Berrios. Darnold needs to come out swinging tonight; Gase needs to let him run around and sling it. He needs to get rid of the receiver screens and take some shots downfield. They need to open up the playbook because win or loss, the most paramount issue is getting Darnold some momentum back.

New York Jets Game Preview Week 4: Denver Broncos

The New York Jets have an opportunity in primetime to earn their first win against the likewise-reeling Denver Broncos.

What: Denver Broncos @ New York Jets
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network

Thursday night will show just how badly the American public missed football, as two winless squads prepare to do battle in primetime.

The embattled New York Jets (0-3) return to MetLife Stadium on Thursday, seeking to end a streak of brutality against an equally woebegone Denver Broncos squad. New York and Denver (0-3) account for a quarter of the eight winless teams left in the NFL after three weeks.

Back at home, the Jets have been crushed by a combined 47-point margin over the last two weeks. The latest defeat was a 36-7 shellacking at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Their lone score was a 16-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold to Braxton Berrios in the first quarter, shortly before the Colts opened up a barrage on 29 unanswered points. Darnold threw three interceptions during the afternoon, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Denver has failed to live up to preseason expectations as an AFC darkhorse, partially due to injuries that have decimated the top of the depth chart. The Broncos likewise fell to 0-3 on the road last weekend, dropping a 28-10 decision in Tampa Bay. Missing franchise quarterback Drew Lock, the Broncos made a change at quarterback in the late stages of the defeat, sitting Jeff Driskel for Brett Rypien, the nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark. Rypien is expected to make the first start of his NFL career on Thursday night.

Thursday’s game will serve as a reunion for former bearers of orange Connor McGovern and Joe Flacco. McGovern played his first four seasons with the Broncos after joining them as a fifth-round pick in 2016, while Flacco started eight games in Denver last season.

The Series

This will be the 38th meeting between the Jets and Broncos, a series that dates back to the days of the American Football League. Denver leads the get-togethers by a 20-16-1 tally, but the Jets won the last one 34-16, also at MetLife Stadium. Isaiah Crowell ran for a Jets single-game record 219 yards on a mere 15 carries, the biggest chunk of that coming from a 77-yard touchdown sprint that opened New York scoring. Denver had won the prior three meetings, including a 31-17 win in East Rutherford in 2014.

History Happens: 1999

Ironically, the Jets and Broncos have squared off with matching 0-3 records before. Seven months after their meeting in the AFC Championship Game (a 23-10 Denver win), the loss of starting quarterbacks from that showdown brought about hard times in each locale. John Elway retired after riding off into the victorious sunset in Super Bowl XXXIII, while the Jets lost Vinny Testaverde in a Week 1 loss to New England at Giants Stadium. The rematch at Mile High Stadium matched Rick Mirer and Brian Griese.

Girdiron ugliness ensued, with Mirer, Griese, and another Denver thrower, Bubby Brister, uniting for seven interceptions. Victor Green and Marcus Coleman had two each for the Jets, who erased a 13-7 deficit in the fourth quarter on a two-yard scoring rush by Curtis Martin. Mirer provided insurance on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Dedric Ward, while Coleman’s turnovers against Brister, each coming within the final four minutes, sealed the deal in a 21-13 Jets victory.

They Said It

“It’s wasted energy for me. It’s not going to help me at all. All I can do is make sure I get our guys in the right headspace to go out there on Thursday and play well.”Jets head coach Adam Gase on rumors his job could be in jeopardy, per the Associated Press

“I think no matter who we’re playing right now, we definitely need a win…that’s the main focus. The focus for me is just to try to get better these next two days. We’re not going to get a lot of reps full speed with the guys. It’s about the mental reps and making sure I’m dialed in on protections and things like that.”Broncos QB Brett Rypien on Thursday’s game, per Field Level Media

Matchup To Watch

Brett Rypien vs. Gregg Williams’ Defense

On paper, going up against Rypien, an undrafted college hero from Boise State making his first career NFL start seems simple enough. But, as they probably should’ve figured out by now, the Jets are in no position to take any opponent lightly, no matter his experience and resume.

The pass rush is coming off a tough weekend in Indianapolis, struggling to attack Phillip Rivers while dealing with the Colts’ experienced blocking unit. Facing the far younger, far more agile Rypien will be a change of pace, one the Jets must make as uncomfortable as possible for the debuting thrower.

However, this challenge could yet present a positive opportunity. Over the past couple of dreary defeats, it’s clear that the defense is also part of the Jets’ endless list of issues. Opening weekend’s lapses were understandable…the unit spent over 40 minutes in the field during Week 1 against Buffalo…but no one has been immune from football shortcomings in New York.

There have been plenty of individual silver linings. Marcus Maye had a strong debut as the leader of the secondary against the Bills. Quinnen Williams had his first multi-sack showing in the first game at MetLife. But it’s time to build some consistency. Going up against an inexperienced offensive leader…one who won’t have weapons like Courtland Sutton at his disposal…would be a strong way to do so. Williams can do his part in making Rypien miss his days as a collegiate Bronco by turning up the blitz.

The Jets Will Win If…

They take advantage of a team in more dire straights than they are.

Unlike the Jets, Denver had preseason accolades thrust upon them, energized by a strong conclusion to 2019 (7-5 after an 0-4 start, including a 4-1 stretch to end it). Injuries to several crucial starters (Lock, Sutton, Von Miller, A.J. Bouye, Jurrell Casey) and general inconsistencies have give way to a brutal start.

The playoffs are an afterthought, even after only three games, but the early de facto elimination grants them a macabre gift: the ability to play with little consequence and generally little to lose. They have to play like that, though. Barring a long to-go situation, there’s probably no reason to punt once the Jets get past their 40. Kicking field goals down 24-3 isn’t the way to do it either. There’s a rare opportunity here through the most morbid of must-wins, one that could potentially save the job of Adam Gase or several others. It’s a dire situation, but the Jets can feel a little bit better about the way things of gone if they take advantage.

The Broncos Will Win If…

They treat the Jets as they would any other opponent.

Each of the NFL’s 31 other teams can probably look at their situation and, no matter how dire it is, remark “at least we’re not the Jets”. But Denver is winless as well and are in no position to underestimate or disregard any opponents. It’s easy, perhaps, to let your guard down when one watches the New York film and sees lost efforts against San Francisco’s de facto second unit and a Colts team whose ceiling likely looms on wild card weekend.

One way to do that is not rely entirely on Rypien to win the game. Their matchup against Tampa Bay saw he and Driskel unite for 39 passes while Melvin Gordon received only eight carries. If Gordon is joined by Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos can rely on veteran rushing to help them get through a difficult primetime situation.

Prediction

Thursday’s game is perhaps the perfect storm for many in the Jets organization. While things are disappointing from a statistical standpoint in Denver, the Jets are in a position where a loss could lead to a sweeping change, one only exacerbated by the facts that they’re facing an equally desperate squad, haven’t played with anything resembling competitiveness over the first trio, and have ten days to prepare under a potential interim boss.

Desperation will be the name of the game on Thursday night, which will likely see strong ratings if only through nihilistic curiosity and internet meme potential (comparisons have already been drawn to the erratic presidential debate seen on Tuesday). At this moment, the Jets fit the description better. Denver, even with a plethora of medical woes, can still hang their helmets on the fact they’re relatively satisfied with their core. Time will tell how that desperation fuels New York in the future, but it well could be the key to temporary solace on Thursday.

Any given Sunday comes three days early. The Jets may be in dire straight, but dooming them to 0-16 is just a little too harsh.

Jets 17, Broncos 13

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Denver Broncos Dalton Risner is Rising to the Occasion

The New York Giants could draft Dalton Risner in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft.

Denver BroncosDalton Risner uses his platform to lift the spirits of others. When the pandemic hit, Risner saw fit to host a benefit via radio to raise money for charities that assist in the fight against the Coronavirus.  Funds raised supported local food banks in Colorado, whose efforts aim to eradicate hunger for those in need.

Risner has dedicated his life to helping others through his Risner Up Foundation, run by his amazing family who serves as inspiration for his giving nature.  The Risners dedicate their lives to enacting change in the lives of others and the world.  They have raised their sons to be gentlemen and use their voice to be champions for those that need it most and it most certainly shows!

The work of this foundation does is truly remarkable.  Whether it be visiting patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado and giving them his inspirational book and a stuffed animal from Build-A-Bear, serving food to those less fortunate, taking kids and their loved ones from the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Special Olympics to a special movie screening, speaking to students to teach them what it means to be a good person and so much more,  no matter what he does, he does it to be a beacon of light in the lives of others.

A cause near and dear to his heart is the Special Olympics.  As an ambassador for this wonderful organization, Risner works effortlessly to make sure that members of the Special Olympics are treated fairly and equally and recognized for their tremendous work.  His book children’s book “Rise Up” aims at teaching young students the importance of inclusiveness and acceptance of others.  It shows kids that love and kindness always wins and trumps all, something Risner perfectly embodies.

Risner is a true hero and a real advocate for those who need a voice.  He is a role model to every generation and his work speaks volumes about the kind, giving, classy person he is!  #RisnerUp

5 NFL Teams that Could Surprise Fans This Season

New York Giants, Darius Slayton, Saquon Barkley

The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Superbowl in 50 years this past February. The team was lead to victory by their former MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes led the Chiefs to overcome a 10 point deficit in the fourth quarter of the game. While the Chiefs are expected to make another strong run for a championship title, there are a few teams that have had their potential flying quietly under the radar. Here are five teams that could surprise people with a strong season this fall. 

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons had a worrisome start to their 2019 season. Through their first eight games before their bye week, the team had only won one game. Atlanta had appeared to be heading for a top pick in the draft. Some fans had lost hope on the remainder of the season. However, after the bye week, the team came back with a new identity. The Falcons won six of their last eight games including wins against playoff-caliber teams such as the Saints and the 49ers. Atlanta finished their year on an impressive four-game winning streak, leaving their fans with high hopes for the next season. The team followed up their strong end of season performance by adding running back Todd Gurley in the offseason and drafting one of the classes best corners in A.J. Terrell out of Clemson. The Falcons improved on both sides of the ball and are definitely a team to look out for in 2020. 

Denver Broncos

Late last season the Broncos handed over their offense to their rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Denver drafted Lock in the second round last year and knew he would eventually take over as the teams starting QB. It wasn’t until Week 13 when Lock finally got his chance as the starter. Lock definitely didn’t disappoint as he performed very well and helped the team win four of their final five games since he took over. Denver continued to support Lock this offseason by adding more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The team signed running back Melvin Gordon to play alongside running back Phillip Lindsay. The Broncos also added two more weapons on the outside. Denver drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the first two rounds. Not only did the team add two fantastic receivers in the draft, but they already have Courtland Sutton who had a breakout season last fall. The team has set Drew Lock up for success after surrounding him with tons of talent. The ceiling is high for the Denver offense in 2020 as they’ll look to compete with the best of the best this year. 

New York Giants

The Giants made plenty of big moves this offseason, including major changes to their coaching staff. New York hired former Patriots special teams and wide receivers coach, Joe Judge to be the next head coach of the team. Judge has since come in and made significant changes to the teams coaching staff. He brought in former head coaches such as Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens to coach alongside him. Despite the team having a poor performance last season, there were some bright spots that displayed their potential. Last offseason the team drafted quarterback Daniel Jones sixth overall and the pick came with lots of controversies. Jones took over as the starter in the third week of the season replacing the franchise’s great Eli Manning. Jones performed well despite having trouble with turnovers. He displayed flashes of qualities of a franchise leading quarterback. The Giants added some key players in free agency such as cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. New York continued their offseason by drafting one of the top offensive tackles in the draft in April. With a revamped defense and offensive line, the Giants will look to surprise people this season. 

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals made one of the biggest moves this offseason by trading for superstar wide our DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona fans were provided with much hope after watching their number one overall pick last April be named the NFL offensive rookie of the year. Kyler Murray provided a spark to the Cardinals offense that turned him into one of the most electric players in the league. However, the team did not stop after trading for a superstar. They followed it up with a fantastic draft. The team selected do-it-all player Isaiah Simmons from Clemson. Simmons was considered by many the most talented player in the entire draft. Arizona had been lucky enough for Simmons to still be on the board by the eighth overall pick and there was so chance the Cardinals would let him getaway. The team also took another top offensive tackle in Josh Jones in the third round of the draft. The Cardinals could quite possibly become a must-watch team this upcoming season. 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins struggled badly at the start of last season. It seemed for sure that the team would end up with the first overall pick and likely not win a game all season. However, head coach Brian Flores kept his team fighting as they put on impressive performances against competitive teams late in the year. Despite having such a young and inexperienced roster, Miami was able to win a couple of games including beating their rival Patriots on the road in December. Miami landed arguably the top free agent corner in Byron Jones, giving them possibly the best cornerback duo in the entire league. The Dolphins also drafted what they consider to be their future franchise quarterback in this April’s draft with the fifth overall pick. Dolphins fans are extremely excited about their future as they believe their rebuild has been executed perfectly so far. The Dolphins will definitely be a sleeper team to watch this fall.

Former Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur Headed to Denver as OC

New York Giants, Pat Shurmur

It didn’t take former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur very long to land on his feet. Just two weeks after being dismissed by the Giants, Shurmur appears to be headed to Denver to become the Broncos’ new offensive coordinator.

Shurmur will join Vic Fangio’s staff in Denver where Drew Lock is the quarterback. Before last year’s draft, Shurmur did not attend Lock’s pro day at Missouri last spring, sending offensive coordinator Mike Shula instead while he attended West Virginia QB Will Grier’s pro day.

Lock met with Shurmur the next week in New Jersey at the Giants’ facility but the Giants would pass on Lock – and every other quarterback on the board in favor of Daniel Jones, who they drafted with the sixth overall pick.

Shurmur is responsible for developing several quarterbacks in his long career as an assistant – Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Jones to name a few.