New York Jets home games ranked by prime time probability

New York Jets fans are set to be welcomed back to MetLife Stadium this fall. Can they expect any primetime games? ESM investigates…

The New York Jets learned of a major offseason acquisition late Monday morning.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on WFAN’s Moose and Maggie program that MetLife Stadium would welcome fans at a 15 percent capacity rate starting March 1. Social distancing will likely be enacted, but Murphy hinted that the percentage could rise as football season approaches.

Jets fans will doubt relish their first opportunity to spell out the team’s name, especially with new head coach Robert Saleh in tow, as well as some potential new faces through both surplus cap space and draft picks.

In celebration of the spectators’ upcoming return, ESM looks ahead on the eight teams set to visit East Rutherford’s green setting this season and ponders their potential primetime posting…

1. Buffalo Bills

The annual Bills-Jets pair used to be Thursday night fodder, a matchup to fill primetime quota for each team. But with the Bills capturing the hearts of many in the Empire State, a rivalry could be brewing for the Jets to keep their territory. Last season, Buffalo earned their first sweep in the series since 2015…a year best known for the time they ended the Jets’ last realistic shot at the postseason.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Just when the Jets thought the Tom Brady problem was over, the arguable GOAT returns to a green MetLife Stadium in 2021. The rivalry between Brady and the Jets, who inadvertently gave life to his NFL journey in 2001, has often resembled that of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, with Brady owning a 30-8 record against Gang Green. The quadrennial meeting between Tampa and New York has produced some thrillers in the past. Wayne Chrebet and Curtis Martin silenced Keyshawn Johnson with some game-winning trickery in 2000, while Nick Folk booted a late 48-yarder to win the last MetLife meeting in 2013 (Geno Smith’s first NFL start).

3. New England Patriots

National networks have, for whatever reason, taken a liking to the Jets-Patriots rivalry. Even with the allure of Brady gone, last season’s get-together at MetLife earned the Monday night treatment for the second straight season. The networks could be willing to revisit this matchup with each team chasing Buffalo and potentially featuring a new quarterback matchup.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last season, such a meeting between New York and Jacksonville could’ve served as the de facto play-in game for the top spot in this spring’s NFL Draft. But a meeting between the top two picks, potentially a Sugar Bowl rematch between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, could draw the attention of the league’s national TV partners. Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield notably did battle on a Thursday night during their rookie year in 2018 (though Mayfield did not start the game).

5. Miami Dolphins

Miami proved last season that it wasn’t quite ready for primetime, though networks tend to flirt with divisional matchups. An extra layer of intrigue could be added if one of these rivals convinces the stubborn Texans to trade Deshaun Watson.

6. Cincinnati Bengals

If Joe Burrow is ready to go, networks could be attracted to 2020’s top overall draft pick engaging in a battle with 2021’s number two, especially if it’s also a quarterback.

7. Tennessee Titans

There could be some attraction to this matchup due to the Titans’ status as defending AFC South champions could draw some viewers, but without much history between these squads, there’s little national appeal.

8. New Orleans Saints

The same problems that befall the Tennesse tilt could apply with this matchup, and the interconference setting certainly doesn’t help matters.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

MetLife Stadium set to welcome back limited fans on March 1

Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that fans will be welcomed back to football games and concerts at MetLife Stadium starting March 1.

With the NFL’s free agency period set to get underway soon, the New York Jets and New York Giants may have earned some big pickups before the players start to move.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that relaxed COVID-19 restrictions will allow MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford to welcome in fans at 15 percent of its capacity starting March 1. With a listed capacity of 82,500, this would bring in 12,375 fans to the stadium.

Murphy made the announcement on WFAN’s “Moose and Maggie” program, also announcing that indoor venues could welcome fans at a 10 percent capacity, which would open Newark’s Prudential Center to just 2,000 fans of the New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates men’s basketball team.

Though social distancing and face coverings would still be required, pre-admission COVID screenings would not, in contrast to a similar order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to reopen his state’s venues.

The Giants and Jets released a joint statement with the stadium to acknowledge Murphy’s comments…

As the months go on, we are hopeful that the data will continue to be positive and the number of people allowed into MetLife Stadium will steadily increase. The health and safety of our fans, players, staff, and those in our communities remain our top priority and we will continue to follow the guidance of Governor Murphy and state health officials.”

“We missed seeing our loyal fans at stadium events this past year and are excited to welcome them back in 2021.”

MetLife Stadium’s next scheduled event is slated for August 5, a Guns N’ Roses concert rescheduled from last July. Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball is set to visit two weeks later, as is Kenny Chesney and his Chillaxification Tour two nights later.

The last sporting event held at the stadium came last February when the New York Guardians hosted the Los Angeles Wildcats for an XFL tilt. NFL schedules for 2021 have yet to be released, but the Jets’ home slate will feature a visit from the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Giants fans will no doubt await the Philadelphia Eagles’ annual visit after their Week 17 passiveness played a role in costing Big Blue a playoff spot.

As for the indoor venues, the first Devils game that would welcome fans would be a March 2 visit from the New York Islanders. Seton Hall has only one March home game on its schedule and that March 3 matchup against Connecticut would mark the team’s Senior Day festivities. Meanwhile, in Piscataway, Rutgers women’s basketball has a March home game schedule for March 5 or 6 against Ohio State, but the school has shown no signs of deviating from current Big Ten policies that allow a maximum of four family members to attend games in person.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Report: There’s Nothing Wrong With MetLife Playing Surface

The playing surface at MetLife Stadium has come under fire this week after five San Francisco 49er starters suffered severe leg injuries in their 31-13 victory over the New York Jets last week.

Defensive lineman Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas both tore their ACL in the game and will miss the remainder of the 2020 season as a result. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sustained an ankle injury that will likely keep him out of this week’s game against the Giants, which is also to be played at MetLife.

In addition, the Niners’ top two running backs – Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman – left last week’s games with sprained knees and will likely be out several weeks.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan had no recourse but to question the integrity of the playing surface at MetLife after the game. The complaints were that the turf, Act Global Speed S5 through 2019 Fieldturf which was installed this year, was ‘sticky’ and difficult to navigate. It didn’t stop San Francisco from routing the Jets, however.

The NFL took a second look into the matter on Wednesday and once again, revealed the surface is up to code.

“Yesterday, representatives from the NFL, NFLPA, MetLife Stadium, the Giants and Jets, Field Turf and the independent field inspector conducted an additional review of the field surface at MetLife Stadium. The group again verified that the field meets all applicable standards and protocols for NFL field surfaces.”

The Niners play of their home games on grass and perhaps were either wearing the wrong footwear or simply weren’t used to playing on the new turf. Jets players had no issues with the turf. Neither did the Giants or the Pittsburgh Steelers who faced each other at MetLife in Week 1.

49ers criticize MetLife Stadium turf after win over New York Jets

Following an injury-laden win over the New York Jets, members of the San Francisco 49ers took issue with East Rutherford’s playing surface.

Despite earning a one-sided win over the New York Jets, the San Francisco 49ers endured some tough losses in their Sunday visit to MetLife Stadium.

Four San Francisco starters left the 31-13 triumph over the Jets due to injury. Defensive stars Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas may have torn ACLs on back-to-back plays, each carted off the field in the first quarter. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed the second half with a high ankle sprain, as did running back Raheem Mostert.

While the missing starters didn’t seem to affect the Niners (1-1) on Sunday, long-term ailments could severely hinder their quest to return to the Super Bowl.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan suspected the artificial turf at MetLife Stadium as the culprit behind the injuries.

“I know our players talked about it the entire game,” Shanahan remarked, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “Just how sticky the turf was. That was the first time people played on it, I think. It was something our guys were concerned about right away. And the results definitely made that a lot stronger.”

Shanahan wasn’t the only San Francisco representative displeased with the playing surface. Defensive end Arik Armstead’s postgame tweet implored the NFL to investigate the situation.

The host Jets (0-2) were not spared from the medical carnage. Top receiver Breshad Perriman left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

“I don’t exactly know why (the injuries) happened,” Shanahan added, per Mehta. “But as far as the feeling that was on the sidelines, I know that’s as many knee injuries and ankle stuff and people getting caught on a turf as I’ve ever been a part of. From what I saw, the other team did too.”

The issue is particularly troubling for the 49ers, who will face the New York Giants at the same site next Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox). ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that 49ers players “are both afraid and anxious” about making the return trip.

MetLife Stadium has used FieldTurf Synthetic Turf since 2016. Other stadiums that employ the surface include the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Niners are set visit the former on November 15.

The Jets hit the road to battle the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). Their next game in East Rutherford will be a Thursday night contest against Denver on October 1.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

#StayAtHome; The New York Jets’ 10 best moments at MetLife Stadium (so far)

Good things happen when you stay at home. Just ask the New York Jets, who are set to open their second decade at MetLife Stadium this fall.

Our (temporary) new reality has denied us the glory and love of sports. The concept has, rightfully, taken a backseat as we look out for each other and work towards a new common good of overcoming the grim isolation that the coronavirus has brought upon us.

Of course, there is a light at the end of our proverbial tunnel. We, as a nation, have overcome disasters of epic proportions before. With teamwork and unity, there’s little doubt we can do it again.

The fact of the matter is, it’s best for all of us if we stay at home at this point. The sooner we adhere to the guidelines posted by medical experts (which include staying indoors and social distancing, save for necessities like grocery shopping and attending to loved ones), the sooner we’ll be back to enjoying the sports and events we love, living and dying with our teams.

Good things happen when you stay at home. Just ask the New York Jets, who are about to enter their second decade within the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. As encouragement, ESM takes a look at the ten best Jets moments to go down at the stadium so far…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMOJWtbC2BE

9/19/10: Give ’em Kell

Victories over the mighty New England Patriots have been relatively rare in the decade of MetLife. Tom Brady and Company did at least receive a rude welcome as victims of the first Jets victory at the stadium.

The Jets dropped their Monday night Metlife debut to Baltimore, but went on to shock the Patriots to the tune of a 28-14 triumph less than a week later. Tight end Dustin Keller took center stage with a career-best 115 yards in victory. 2008’s first-round selection also caught the last of Mark Sanchez’s three touchdown passes to help put the game away (Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery caught the others). Defensively, Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Pool each victimized Brady for an interception. Jason Taylor put the tastiest cherry on top by ending New England’s final possession with a sack and forced fumble, recovered by Bryan Thomas.

10/11/10: Viking Conquest

The Jets’ kooky Brett Favre summited at an 8-3 ledger in November that had some Jets fans thinking Super Bowl. But a 1-4 finale had the Jets searching elsewhere for a quarterback (leading to the drafting of Mark Sanchez) and Favre destined for his umpteenth retirement. By late August, the Vikings made an offer he couldn’t refuse and he wound up taking them to the NFC title game.

When Favre returned to East Rutherford two seasons later, the Jets thanked the gunslinger for his services by having their defense constantly wrap Favre up in hugs…those under pressure, that is. Favre was sacked four times, but, true to form, managed to keep Minnesota in the game with three touchdown passes. One of those scores was of the 37-yard variety to Randy Moss, partaking in his first game in a Viking uniform since 2004.

MetLife braced for the worst when Minnesota forced a Jets punt immediately after the final two-minute warning and the home team struggling to hold a 22-20 lead. One year after Favre led the league in interceptions with the Jets, he threw one more in New Jersey. This one, however, brought Jets fans to their feet in the form of an interception returned for a touchdown by Dwight Lowery. The first touchdown of Lowery’s career put the game out of reach in the form of a 29-20 final.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erB1akQcrFg

11/21/10: Everything’s Bigger Against the Texans

The 2010 New York Jets were an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everyone in football thought their 2009-10 trip to the AFC title game was a fluke, but they got rid of those notions with a 9-2 start to the season.

The penultimate win of that slate was a thrilling last-minute win over the Houston Texans, mere days before they demolished the Cincinnati Bengals in a Thanksgiving tilt. New York dealt with a challenge from the pesky Texans, who turned a 23-7 Jets lead into a 27-23 advantage, one they held with 55 seconds to go in the game. The detractors were certain that this would be the end of the Jets, the final blow to yet another magical season. But Sanchez worked some late-game magic, one that sent East Rutherford into hysterics. Things seemed dire with the Jets situated 48 yards away from the end zone with 24 seconds to go, but a 42-yard catch-and-run for Edwards allowed Sanchez to put the finishing touches on the victory.

In almost a reverse angle of his Super Bowl-winning catch for the Steelers, Santonio Holmes caught a six-yard Sanchez toss in the corner of the end zone with 16 seconds remaining to allow the Jets a 30-27 escape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuxHBexnoxE

9/11/11: Showdown at the MetLife Corral

The 2011 NFL season’s first Sunday landed on the most solemn of occasions: the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001’s tragic events. After a day full of patriotic displays and tributes to the lives lost, the proceedings wrapped up at MetLife Stadium…just over 11 miles from where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. Moments of remembrance, attended to by former United States President George W. Bush and many first responders, were followed by a highly anticipated tilt between the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas led 24-10 at the onset of the fourth quarter, but the Jets soon began an unforgettable rally. Plaxico Burress got things started with a 26-yard touchdown catch from Mark Sanchez. The teams would then exchange fumbles before Isaiah Trufan took a punt blocked by Joe McKnight back for a touchdown. Dallas’ would-be game-winning was stifled by none other than Darelle Revis, who intercepted a Tony Romo pass intended for Dez Bryant and took it into opposing territory. Former Cowboy Nick Folk dealt the final blow to his former mates, booting a 50-yard field in the final minute to secure the 27-24 win.

11/27/11: J-E-T-S Spells Revenge

The Jets’ divisional rivalry with the Buffalo Bills hasn’t gotten drastically ugly in the new century, but an exception was made in their post-Thanksgiving showdown in East Rutherford.

With Burress still on the 2011 edition, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson celebrated a first-half touchdown by pretending to be shot, referencing the receivers nightclub incident in 2008. The dated, classless jab immediately backfired on Johnson when the Bills flubbed a surprise onside kick and immediately let up a 14-yard score to Burress himself.

Burress had actually saved his best for last. With the Bills up 24-21, Burress’ one-handed catch on a third down with 11 to go kept the Jets’ victorious final drive alive. Two plays after the catch, Holmes caught a pass on a Sanchez rollout to give the Jets a 28-24 win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvQwIuvEPZc

12/6/15: JetLife Stadium

The saga of the 2015 Jets is a lot like watching Avengers: Infinity War: it was incredibly fun to watch, there are countless moments that make you stand up and cheer…it’s rewatch value, on the other hand, is completely ruined by its harrowing ending. If the Jets’ season-ending, playoff-costing loss to the Buffalo Bills served as Thanos’ infamous snap, their win over MetLife roommates was the closest thing they’ll get to an equivalent of Thor arriving with a new weapon via the Bifrost in Wakanda.

East Rutherford civil wars are routine in the preseason but are staged only once every four years. The 2015 edition featured both the Jets and New York Giants in the thick of their respective playoff races. New Jersey was set to be a blue state after the Giants put up 20 points in the second quarter. That haul seemed to be sustainable, so much so that the first interception of Rontez Miles’ career seemed with eight minutes left in regulation seemed like little reason to celebrate. The fact that the ensuing drive ended with a short Randy Bullock field goal wasn’t exactly inspiring either.

But optimism squeaked through after the Jets forced a punt down 20-13 in the final minutes. With just over a minute to go, Ryan Fitzpatrick channeled his inner Randall Cunningham, earning nine more yards than he needed to on a fateful fourth down with six to go. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick would send the game to overtime with a nine-yard scoring pass to Brandon Marshall.

In the extra session, Bullock booted a 31-yard field to give the Jets the lead. The defense then forced Josh Brown and the Giants into a deep 48-yard attempt, one that sailed wide left and gave the Jets the narrow win.

12/27/15: Boston OT Party

Knowing the terrors that awaited one week later in Buffalo, the penultimate game of the 2015-16 regular season may be the most bittersweet moment any team in NFL history has experienced. But, for one week, the turf of MetLife provided pure pigskin euphoria.

The Christmas season was no holiday for the Jets. They had exceeded expectations with a respectable record, but needed to top the Patriots in their home finale to keep a postseason dream alive. Their 9-5 ledger put them in a three-way tie for the AFC wild cards, but tiebreakers allotted the spots to Kansas City and Pittsburgh. New England had, predictably, wrapped the AFC East title, but was still battling Denver and Cincinnati for the AFC’s top playoff seed.

A pair of Ryan Fitzpatrick scoring hookups with Brandon Marshall built a 17-3 lead for the Jets. Typical Jets-Patriots antics of the new century ensued thereafter. New England narrowed things to one possession when Jamie Collins took a Fitzpatrick fumble back for a touchdown while the Jets only mustered a Bullock field goal to add to their lead. Brady made them pay with a nine-yard touchdown pass to James White that helped tie the score. The Jets nearly won in regulation, but a Fitzpatrick deep ball in the final minute sailed out of the reach of Quincy Enunwa.

New England opted for overtime after a Ryan Quigley punt. It was a rare decision that Bill Belichick would come to regret.

Winners of the overtime coin toss, the Jets wasted no time in the new life afforded to them. Fitzpatrick needed just five plays to go 80 yards for the victory. 48 of that tally came on a successful deep ball to Enunwa, while the final six were on Fitzpatrick’s game-winning toss to Eric Decker for the 26-20 victory. With that throw, Fitzpatrick tied Vinny Testaverde’s 1998 record for most touchdown passes in a single Jets season. Pittsburgh’s ensuing loss to Baltimore put the Jets in control of their playoff destiny moving forward

Nothing more needs to be written about the Jets’ eventual 22-17 loss to the Bills the week after. However, the memorable win at MetLife offered the Jets a quantum of solace weeks later. Thanks to their loss in East Rutherford, the Patriots lost control of the AFC’s top seed. That forced them to go to Mile High for the AFC title game, which the Broncos won in Denver en route to their Super Bowl 50 title.

10/1/17: A Special Victory

To say expectations were low for the 2017 New York Jets would be the understatement of the decade. The prognosticators that be at USA Today in fact pegged them for only a single win in their annual NFL preview.

The Jets immediately eclipsed that total in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars a team that would up reaching the AFC title game. 2017’s New York City Marathon was over a month away, but the Jets got things off to an early start with long scoring runs from Bilal Powell (75 yards) and Elijah McGuire (69 yards) to build a 20-10 lead. Jacksonville, however, reinserted themselves into the game with a 10-point fourth quarter rally. Myles Jack took a fumble back 81 yards for a score,  and future Jets Pro Bowler Jason Myers kicked a field goal in the final minute to send things into overtime.

It was an extra session that, frankly, could’ve been avoided. In the dying stages of the first half, Lac Edwards set the Jets up in prime position for a bigger on a 31-yard pass via fake punt to Marcus Williams. However, Chandler Catanzaro missed a 45-yard field goal.

Redemption took a while to manifest, but it eventually came in the final stanzas of overtime. A tie seemed to be in the cards, but a Jeremy Kerley punt return earned 15 extra yards after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from Paul Posluszny. Catanzaro then came on for a 41-yard field goal he successfully converted for the 23-20 win.

10/7/18: Run With the Horses

Two Jets records, one unconventional, were set in their 34-16 win over Denver.

The Jets have several renowned rushers pass through their ledgers. But it’s not Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil, Thomas Jones, or Emerson Boozer who hold the single-game rushing record. That honor instead goes to Isaiah Crowell, he of only 13 games in green. Crowell torched the Broncos for 219 yards, a majority of it coming on a 77-yard score that made up the Jets’ first points on the afternoon. Perhaps more shockingly, Crowell needed only 15 carries to do it. Sam Darnold completed only 10 passes, but three of them ended in touchdowns (two to Robby Anderson). That was enough to secure his first MetLife Stadium win.

With the outcome well in hand, Denver tried to make things respectable. On the final play, Case Keenum’s would-be touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton was intercepted by Marcus Maye. The safety ran it back 104 yards but he was stopped just short by Sutton, the one man to run longer than him. It was good for the longest return in Jets history, and the longest return in NFL history that didn’t end in a touchdown.

11/10/19: Back to the Future

The likenesses and jerseys of Darnold, Daniel Jones, Jamal Adams, and Saquon Barkley are expected to adorn the respective entrances and patrons of MetLife Stadium for years to come. Fans of both metropolitan sides got a glimpse of what this group of football stardom had to offer when they met last fall.

Darnold spotted the Jets an early 14-point lead through both the air and the ground, rushing for a two-yard score before finding Jamison Crowder for a 23-yard strike. While the Jets were able to hold Barkley to a single yard on 13 carries, but Jones showed what he could do in the form of four touchdown tosses. Even when Adams pried the ball away from him for a score, those passes allowed the Giants to take a slim lead into the fourth quarter.

But after a Giants three-and-out late in the third (capped off by a Nathan Shepard sack), the Jets took the lead for good on a one-yard run by Le’Veon Bell early in the fourth. Defenses mostly reigned from there on out, with the Jets earning a Sam Ficken field to provide insurance in what became a 34-27 win.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

XFL 2020: New York Guardians Season Evaluation

New York Guardians

The New York Guardians of the remastered XFL debuted on February 9, 2020, vs the Tampa Bay Vipers. They won their inaugural game 23-3. Ever since then they have been a mixed bag.

The next two weeks they lost horribly to the DC Defenders and the St. Louis Battlehawks by blowouts. Many fans started to feel like it was a tradition to lose in New York (New Jersey) football since the New York Giants and New York Jets have not had a winning season in a while.

Anyway, since Luis Perez had taken over for Matt McGloin as the starting quarterback, their record improved to 3-2. That was until the coronavirus outbreak spread and caused multiple sports leagues to suspend their seasons, including the XFL.  Here’s the Guardians’ 2020 season in review:

Offense

The offense at times looked great when it came to scoring points, but stale on the stat sheet. The first week the Guardians won against the Tampa Bay Vipers 23-3. What may have looked like a 20-pt deficit should have been a lot closer. That game Matt McGloin had an average game, only passing for one touchdown and completing just over 50% of his passes.

McGloin’s play dropped against the Defenders in a blowout 27-0 loss. He threw 2 interceptions as the running game did not get much accomplished. The total offense totaled 137 yards. McGloin during the game and after criticized the offensive gameplan.

The offense improved when it came to the yards vs the Battlehawks, but only 9 points showed up on the scoreboard. As Matt McGloin got injured, backups Luis Perez and Marquise Williams saw some playing time.

Perez replaced the injured McGloin the next week and the offense saw an improvement. Darius Victor rushed for a season-high 82 yards, as Perez completed 69% of his passes and threw a touchdown. The Guardians won a nailbiter 17-14.

The offense saw their best game vs the Renegades in Week 5, scoring 23 points (7 on the pick-six by Ryan Mueller) in a 30-12 win. Though intercepted once, Perez still guided the offense to a much-needed win on the road. The Guardians totaled 373 yards that game.

The offense was 7th in total offensive yards, 5th in average rush yards, 6th in average passing yards and last in points for and average points for.

Defense

The defense was best known for its playmaking abilities at certain times this season. The defense also was known for giving up a lot of yards.

Week 1 vs Tampa Bay was a prime example of that. The Guardians only gave up 3 points but gave up 394 yards.  Bryce Jones and Aaron Soh picking off Aaron Murray twice. Aaron Murray and backup Quinton Flowers combined to pass for 244 yards. The rush defense struggled mightly giving up 150 yards.

The defense gave up fewer total yards the following week but gave up more points in a 27-0 loss to the DC Defenders. Cardale Jones had a field day, as he passed for 264 yards. The running game did better and only surrendered 108 yards.

The pass defense limited Jordan Ta’amu to only 117 yards the next week vs the Battlehawks. The run defense took a hit and gave up 156 yards. The final result was a 29-9 loss.

The defense saw little improvement vs Josh Johnson the next week in a nailbiting 17-14 victory. Josh Johnson made the pass defense bleed by passing for 325 yards (the most given up by the Guardians in 2020). The run defense only allowed 108 yards on the ground between Johnson, Elijah Hood, Dujuan Harris, and Larry Rose.

Next week, they had their best game. The run defense allowed a season-low 56 rushing yards and the pass defense held Philip Nelson to 206 passing yards. Not to mention that defensive tackle Toby Johnson and linebacker Ryan Mueller picked him off.

The Guardians’ defense finished the season 6th in yards allowed per game, 2nd in sacks, 4th in takeaways, 2nd in points against and 2nd in average points against. Defensive tackle Cavon Walker led the XFL with 4.5 sacks.

Analysis

Going into next year, the New York Guardians will have to improve on both sides of the field.

The offense will have to work towards thriving more in the passing game and keep their current run production game going. With an offensive genius like Kevin Gilbride as the head coach, the offense definitely underperformed.

The defense will have to work on allowing fewer yards per game, whether the opposing run game or the passing game gets the bigger chunk of yards. They do create a lot of pressures, which turn into sacks, and force the opponent to turn over the football.

The Guardians’ players will have extra time to prepare for next season, so let’s see if they take advantage of it.