New York Jets: The next 14 games could well decide Sam Darnold’s future

After a dismal start to the 2020 season, Sam Darnold and the New York Jets have 14 opportunities to get this era back on track.

Two weeks into the 2020 season, the New York Jets are more or less removed from playoff contention.

It’s certainly foolhardy to eliminate a team from the NFL postseason in September, especially when playoff real estate increased by a spot in each conference. But the Jets (0-2) have done nothing to suggest they belong among the league’s contenders. The latest disaster, a 31-13 loss at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, didn’t even have the added luxury of a somewhat respectable final score like the 27-17 defeat in Buffalo provided on opening weekend.

“We haven’t shown progress,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “It’s been rinse and repeat for the last two games. It’s either we’re going to keep getting embarrassed or we’re going to respond.”

Perhaps most disappointing in the Jets’ process has been the lack of progress on offense. Even with the expanded playoff capital, it was a tall task to put the Jets in the preseason brackets. Thus, it felt like a decent year for Sam Darnold to develop into the franchise quarterback and consistent contributor the Jets envisioned when they chose him third overall in 2018.

The offensive arsenal went through a considerable downgrade over the offseason, letting Robby Anderson walk and cutting the injured Quincy Enunwa loose. Upon their departures, Darnold was left with no receivers from his rookie season depth chart. Medium-risk, high-reward receiver options were brought in via Breshad Perriman (granted a one-year deal with $6 million in guaranteed after a strong December in Tampa Bay) and second-round pick Denzel Mims.

So while question marks lined up in his receiver spots, assurances of a revamped offensive line (headlined by first-round choice Mekhi Becton) gave Darnold some reassurance. Despite little help around him, particularly on the offensive line, Darnold still managed to produce occasional flashes of brilliance. The end of his rookie season saw him earn a come-from-behind win in Buffalo and go blow-for-blow with Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers. His first game back from illness was a 338-yard, two-touchdown masterpiece in a win over Dallas last season.

2020 was on pace to be full of games like that. It served as a chance for Darnold to become a leader. It was set to be a chance to develop chemistry with new teammates that earn long-term rights in a trying campaign. It was a year where the Jets could officially become Darnold’s team, especially with Jamal Adams napalming his New York bridges on his way to Seattle.

But, so far, 2020 has only been a year of regression.

For as much as head coach Adam Gase has felt the temperature rise on his proverbial seat, a good portion of the Jets’ fanbase must learn that it’s indeed possible to hold both he and Darnold accountable for their respective flaws. In year three, Darnold is simply making plays that a third-year franchise quarterback can’t be making.

An interception against Buffalo in Week 1 saw him throw across his body. He ran out of bounds for a loss to escape the Bills pass rush. Things were a little better against the 49ers…particularly on Darnold rollouts…but that didn’t change the final result.

“No one’s yelling at each other. We understand we have to stay together,” Darnold said after the loss, per team writer Randy Lange. “It’s only our second game of the season. Obviously we didn’t envision these two games going like this. But we’ve just got to keep our heads down (and) go to work.”

Darnold’s rough pair of 2020 outings have not only had premature mock drafts pencil the Jets in at the top of the order but also attached Clemson star quarterback and consensus top choice Trevor Lawrence’s name to the hypothetical selection. Opportunities await Darnold in the coming weeks to change the minds of fans, analysts, and New York decision-makers.

Casting Darnold’s struggles in a brighter light is the fact his rookie contract is set to expire after next season. For perhaps the first time, there could doubt lingers over whether Darnold will be granted a long-term deal. Back-to-back tough showings is slowly turning a year of risks and consequence-free football into a make-or-break campaign…a theme that’s becoming all too prevalent under Gase. Ryan Tannehill escaped the nearly annual viewings under the microscope to become a solid contributor in Tennessee. If the Jets aren’t careful, Darnold could undergo a similar NFL journey.

At the same time, the Jets have to what they can to help Darnold, a quarterback who has managed to produce some memorable moments in New York green despite the ineffectiveness around him. So far, the would-be solutions of Perriman and Mims have yielded only injuries. Chris Herndon has yet to recapture the form of his rookie season. The top solution among the amatuer general managers amongst the Jets’ fanbase has been to can the current coaching staff.

But is that fair to do to Darnold? Is a third round of new coaching in what would be his fourth season something he wants?

Even Sunday’s disaster featured ever-so-brief glimpses of Darnold brilliance, primarily a would-be sack that he turned into a touchdown pass. But the sheer number of mistakes and miscalculations that have been made in his brief time in New York would take its toll on anyone. It’s fair enough to criticize Darnold’s role in the Jets’ fall, but it’s time to analyze who shoulders more of the blame. If it’s Darnold, especially with the fifth-year option conversation looming, then it’s time for he and the offense to hunker down and overcome the numerous obstacles facing them. If it’s on Gase and the coaching staff, then they have to do something, anything, to justify team CEO Christopher Johnson’s label of “brilliant”. Gase and company may have to do it sooner rather than later; coaches have been shown to be far more expendable than franchise quarterbacks.

Even at a mere 0-2, the Jets are likely too far gone from the AFC playoff picture. But these next 14 games may mean everything the team’s offensive outlook.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets enjoy one silver lining in awful week 2 loss

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

When New York Jets‘ Quinnen Williams was selected with the third overall pick just a year ago, he was touted as the next superstar defensive lineman. The supposed “can’t miss talent” from Alabama (a defensive line factory) struggled in his rookie year.

With just over two sacks and only a few solid plays in his rookie season, he spent the offseason training and turning into a well-tuned machine. With his own personal lofty expectations of becoming a game wrecker, Quinnen was rather quiet in Buffalo. Until he turned it up today.

The New York Jets saw the potential of their stud interior defender: 

Quinnen took advantage of a big opportunity against a weakened 49ers offense. Since Jimmy Garoppalo lacked weaponry with star tight end and wide receivers George Kittle and DeeBoo Samuel out of Sunday’s game. When Brandon Aiyuk, Bourne, and Reed struggled to create separation, that created opportunity.

Williams took advantage of the lack of separation and bull-rushed through that offensive line multiple times. His first sack was a complete domination of LG Laken Tomlinson. His second was a bullrush through the heart of the line that forced a fumble on backup quarterback Nick Mullens.

Williams also nabbed a TFL and a few tackles. In just one game, Williams nearly replicated his 1st season sack total. Williams still needs to continue this success throughout the season, but for a guy being labeled a bust by some, his success must feel great. He’s no Aaron Donald, but the New York Jets had a dreary day, and Williams stood as a refreshing, bright spot.

3 keys for a New York Jets win against San Francisco in week 2

New York Jets, Jimmy G

The New York Jets were utterly embarrassed this Sunday in Buffalo. The team looked poorly coached, poorly prepared, and not ready to face even the worst teams in this league. Heading into today’s game, there are there key factors that will decide whether or not the team starts the season at 1-1 or 0-2.

Take Advantage of Injuries

Today’s game will be a tough one for San Francisco. With George Kittle out for the game, the 49ers will revert to Jordan Reed as their starting tight end. For those that don’t remember, when he wasn’t battling concussions, Reed was a productive tight end in Washington. Still, he is no Greg Kittle. The Jets need to take advantage of the lack of weaponry that Jimmy G has and let them rely on the run. The Bills rushing attack, outside of Josh Allen, could not get going against the Jets front 7. Quite frankly, if the Jets can keep that offense at bay, this could be a close game.

As for the other side of the football, Richard Sherman is out, and that could also be a huge help. Without Sherman, the Jets will have an opportunity to face the 49ers backup corners, which ended well for Atlanta last year. Granted, the Jets have no Julio Jones, but they can have success like the Falcons had when Julio put up over 100 yards. The Jets receivers need to create space and make Darnold’s life a little easier in order to win today.

Run Gore To The Ground

I hate to say it, but in the few reps Gore had last week, he looked like the best running back on the field. The 37-year-old back is a workhorse, and I think him complimenting a healthy LaMical Perine could be a nice rushing attack until Lev Bell is back. The issue is, this is one of the best defensive lines in the game. Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas make up that talented group, and all four can be game wreckers. If Gore can continue the momentum he had in camp today, the Jets could pick up some yards on the ground against this tough defensive line; if not, it will be a long day. 

TACKLE

The Jets’ biggest issue has fallen somewhat under the radar. The Jets could not tackle last Sunday. Consistently, the Jets were creating pressure in the backfield. Yet, they would get back there and fail to wrap up the receiver, quarterback, or rusher. This led to a long day of exploiting that poor play. The Jets need to come out with much better tackling today, or else the 49ers will run wild on this Jets team.

New York Jets: Quinnen Williams ready for unique Sunday challenge

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

New York Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams has a little extra motivation to play well against San Francisco on Sunday.

Week 1’s no-show in Buffalo and the return to MetLife Stadium should be enough motivation for every member of the New York Jets going into this Sunday’s tilt against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox). But defensive lineman Quinnen Williams has an extra personal layer of incentive, one to show just exactly what San Francisco’s missing.

Two of the top three picks from the 2019 NFL Draft will square off on Sunday. Williams went third to the Jets during the selection proceedings in Nashville, minutes after Nick Bosa was chosen by the 49ers. The instant gratification nature of the draft, accompanied by its obsession with the question of what might’ve been, ensured that Williams and Bosa would be forever connected for the rest of their careers, even if matchups between the Jets and Niners only come as often as the Summer Olympics.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch strongly hinted that the decision at No. 2 came down to one of the defensive linemen. The final decision of Bosa didn’t stop Lynch from singing Williams’ praises prior to the fateful day.

“The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen,” Lynch said, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area after Williams tallied 19.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks in his redshirt sophomore season at Alabama. “He was just dominant. What a season he had. He’s a spectacular player.”

By now, it’s clear that Bosa more than justified Lynch’s decision. He earned 13 sacks, including four in San Francisco’s run to Super Bowl LIV, en route to the Associated Press Rookie of the Year honors. Williams struggled in his debut season with the Jets (0-1), a year plagued with injuries and inconsistency. His final ledger consisted of 28 tackles, including 2.5 sacks.

2020 got off to a somewhat better start. He was arrested in March after attempting to bring a firearm on an airplane, but he made positive headlines in organizing charitable endeavors in both the metropolitan area and in his native Birmingham in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams knows that, on the field, his Jets career hasn’t exactly gone as envisioned yet. While he was one of the few Jets to earn praise from the 27-17 disaster in Buffalo…defensive coordinator Gregg Williams offered praise of collapsing Josh Allen’s pocket…the defender knows he’s capable of much more.

“I got to do much more. I have to go out there and give it my all, every single play, every single down,” Quinnen Williams said this week, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s what I expect from myself. My standards are super high for myself, so I feel like I haven’t (done) what I can do and I should be doing.”

Williams can certainly make a statement on Sunday, as the Jets seek their first win of the season against the defending NFC champions. A New York defense missing several key components through trades (Jamal Adams), opt-outs (C.J. Mosley), or injuries (Blake Cashman, possibly Avery Williamson) will need someone to step up to stop a San Franciso offense that ranked second in NFL offense last season.

The connection between Williams and San Francisco (0-1) wasn’t much of a talking point in Florham Park this week, but some Niners appear to be aware of the bond he and Bosa indirectly share.

“Obviously, hindsight is 20-20 but Nick at number two is a no-brainer. And Quinnen was a no brainer,” blocker Trent Williams said in a report from Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. “At that point, it was just kind of what you prefer as a team, as a coaching staff and as an organization. Obviously, I don’t think you could have gone wrong with either player. I do feel Nick has turned into one of the best at his position. Quinnen has that same ability. So we expect him to be disruptive on Sunday and we expect to try to contain him. Both of those guys are saturated with talent and I don’t think you could have went wrong either way.”

Bosa himself commented on the connection in the same report.

“I’m just really happy that I ended up (in San Francisco) and I’m glad they felt confident enough to pick me,” Bosa said. “I’m sure (Williams) is going to get the hang of it here pretty soon, because he’s super talented. He’s got everything he needs. I mean, (we’re) two good players, and I’m happy I got picked one above him.”

There’s still time for pick no. 3 to fulfill that potential and make the Jets equally satisfied. Williams’ next big opportunity comes against the team that passed on him, one that went with Bosa to anchor their defensive line.

While his stats and play may not meet anyone standards, not even his own, the most famous examples of a Jets-Crimson Tide crossover is a believer in his fellow former Tuscaloosa dweller.

“Quinnen is a great athlete, a terrific athlete,” Namath told Kristian Dyer of Sports Illustrated. “He’s going to be around. I like his personality, he’s a nice man but he’s still a hell of a defensive lineman – you don’t have to be one of those guys who is raging in the locker room.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets RB Frank Gore ready for one more San Francisco memory

Frank Gore’s first chance in an expanded role with the New York Jets comes against original employers from the Bay Area.

September has been a delightful throwback to the late 2000s/early 2010s for Miami sports fans. The Heat are taking on the Boston Celtics in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Marlins are aiming for their first winning season since 2009. On Sunday, Hurricanes legend Frank Gore will partake in an NFL football game involving the San Francisco 49ers.

Gore isn’t donning San Francisco’s red and gold this time around, rather the green and white of the New York Jets (1 p.m. ET, Fox). The Jets’ 2020 MetLife Stadium debut comes against the team that hosted Gore’s heyday. After three seasons in Coral Gables, the Magic City native Gore entered the league as the 65th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He has gone from third-round pick to third all-time in rushing in the ensuing 15 seasons, standing at 15,371 yards entering Sunday. Only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726) remain ahead of him.

The first 11,073 of Gore’s yards came with the 49ers, while the most recent 24 came with the Jets (0-1) in their Week 1 loss to Buffalo. New York is the fourth stop Gore has made on his football tour since departing San Francisco after the 2014 campaign. This will be the second time that Gore faces the team that gave him NFL life, earning 86 yards as a member of the Colts in an October 2017 win.

If these truly are the final NFL days for the 37-year-old Gore, his career may be coming full circle in an undesirable fashion. Gore was a rare silver lining of consistency during the 49ers’ mid-2000s rebuild kickstarted by the departures of Terrell Owens, Garrison Hearst, and Jeff Garcia after the 2003 campaign. A streak of eight consecutive non-winning seasons went by a little faster thanks to Gore’s prowess. One such occasion was a 214-yard single-game output in just his second season, earned during a 20-14 win over Seattle in 2006.

San Francisco eventually got it together in 2011, upon the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Three consecutive playoff trips followed, all of which ended no earlier than the NFC title game. Nowadays, Gore has eschewed ring chasing for latching on to budding football projects. He previously worked with the late rebuild projects in Miami and Buffalo, making a playoff appearance in the latter. Now he’s working with a Jets squad that’s eager to make a trying season of transition move a little more smoothly.

So far, it appears the transition is going well.

“Everything that comes out of his mouth is kind of like wisdom,” fellow Jets rusher Le’Veon Bell said in training camp report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “”The fact that he’s been playing so long is because of his training and the things he does in the offseason.” He tells me, ‘You have the same trainer I have and you’re doing the same things I am, so you can do it, Le’Veon.’ That’s why I feel like I’m going in the right direction, and I feel like I’m doing the right things correctly because I’m hearing it from guys who have done it already.”

Gore was likely added for depth and inspiration, but the San Francisco reunion coincides with Gore taking on increased duties in the Jets’ offense. With Bell on short-term injured reserve (hamstring) with other offensive weapons and depth relatively short behind him (Josh Adams, newcomer Kalen Ballege, injured rookie La’Mical Perine), Gore will be likely be heavily relied upon when the Jets welcome in the defending NFC champions. San Francisco (0-1) allowed 180 yards on the ground in their narrow opening weekend loss to Arizona.

True to form, it’s a challenge Gore is ready to take. He was familiarity with Adam Gase’s offense during the 2018 season with Miami’s other football squad, the Dolphins. Gase and Gore also collaborated in 2008, when the former was an offensive assistant in the Bay Area.

“I know that’s a big load, Le’Veon not playing this week and being out for a couple weeks,” Gore said to team reporter Randy Lange. “But even when Le’Veon was here, I was always preparing like I was the guy just because you never know what happens. That’s why every day I go out on the practice field and prepare like I do.”

“He looks the same as he did 12 years ago,” Gase said in Cimini’s report. “I can’t explain it. It’s unbelievable how, when I watch him, I flash back to 2008. He looks the same. I don’t know how. It doesn’t make sense, but Frank has been one who refuses to listen to what anybody else says. He goes out there and he’s an old-school football player. He looks good. His burst looks good. His vision is never going to change. It’s going to be like that when he’s 60. Frank is special. There’s a reason why he’s third all-time in rushing yards.”

Having never earned more than 1,000 yards with the Hurricanes, it might be a little shocking to some to see Gore rank among the most illustrious rushers in NFL history. But Gore knows to cherish every moment, every play he has left….because he knows how it nearly never happened.

Gore partook in Miami’s legendary championship trek as a true freshman in 2001, backing up fellow future NFL back Clinton Portis en route to their Rose Bowl blowout over Nebraska. But prior to his sophomore campaign, a torn ACL ended affairs before they ever truly began.

After watching Miami return to the national title game (their controversial Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State) and his successor Willis McGahee break Coral Gables records left and right, Gore returned to the backfield in 2003…ironically sharing duties with the late Walter Payton’s son Jarrett (who made a name for himself in NFL Europe). Gore began his season with three straight triple-digit games in yardage (including 127 yards and the finishing touchdown in a 23-point comeback win over Florida). But another torn ACL ended his year early, along with, some felt, his football career entirely.

Instead, Gore returned to play a full 12-game season, featuring a collegiate-career-best 191 yards in an upset win over Virginia. San Francisco took him in the third-round that spring.

“Me going through all the injuries, and then when I get to the league just hearing all the negative stuff, I set my goals and said I’ll never let a man judge me,” Gore said of his injuries to Jim Trotter of NFL.com back in May. “The only man I’ll let judge me is that man up above. But I was determined to be the best in my class.”

Irony continues to reign in the fact that Gore’s new duties coincide with the 49ers’ visit. His former stomping grounds of Candlestick Park having been torn down, time will tell if Gore is able to visit Levi’s Stadium as a player, where fans of the ovaled SF can pay give him a proper send-off.

If such a reunion doesn’t come to pass, Gore has nonetheless ensured his career will end where it began. The rusher confirmed to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area that he and the team have an agreement in place that will allow him to retire as a member of the 49ers. His No. 21, one he currently bears with the Jets, will likely be retired alongside the San Francisco greats like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Ronnie Lott. Despite the Niners’ illustrious history, no rusher has earned red and gold immortality since High McElhenny and Joe Perry were invited in 1971.

“That’s the team that gave me the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do when I was a kid, play NFL ball,” Gore said in Maiocco’s report. “I was there for 10 great years. Been on bad teams and been on great teams. I love it out there.”

For now, though, the 49ers are only a challenger in Gore’s path. He may not be ring chasing from a traditional standpoint, but that doesn’t mean he’s not looking to earn a few wins on his potential way out.

“”I want to win, especially coming off a loss last week,” Gore said, per Lange. “I want us to look a lot better as an offensive team, and that’s doing whatever it takes to win.

“It could be the 49ers, it could be Seattle, whoever. I just want to get a win.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Should the New York Giants try Evan Engram at WR?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

After his porous Week 1, New York Giants fans are already banging the drum for the team to cut ties with Evan Engram. While the criticism of the 26-year-old is expected and understandable given his play, the Giants would be silly to get rid of him after one very underwhelming performance in his first game back since Week 9 of last season.

However, if Engram’s play Monday night becomes a regular occurrence and more than just a matter of him needing to shake off some rust, it might make sense for the Giants to explore different ways they could utilize his services before they consider moving on from him.

What do I mean by that exactly? Moving him to wide receiver.

Now, before I make a case for the switch, I should make it known that I’m confident Engram will improve and find his footing as the season progresses. He’s too talented, and Jason Garrett’s offense is going to maximize his potential as a tight end. There are ways to scheme around his horrid blocking, and the mismatch he represents at his current position is extremely valuable.

According to reports, Engram generated a lot of hype during training camp and looked very explosive. He quickly caught the eye of head coach Joe Judge, and Judge has not been shy about praising what he’s seen from Engram. Here’s Judge practically gushing about Engram back in August:

“He’s very in-tune, he’s very intelligent, he’s very deliberate about how he works and what he’s focusing on within each period,” Judge said. “I turn his tape on and see him flying around. He’s a fun guy to watch play because he has a lot of ability, but he loves the game, too.”

It’s clear that Judge and the Giants are excited about Engram and the value he brings. They are looking to get him involved a lot, and I doubt one bad game is going to change that. But on the flip side, moving Engram to wide receiver could make sense for multiple reasons. For one, as I mentioned earlier, Engram has never been a good blocker, and that proved to be the case still Monday night.

He’s been trying, so you have to give him credit for that, and he has shown that he is not afraid to get his hands dirty, but throughout training camp, that has been a department where he’s struggled and has just continuously gotten beat my his man. It was no different against Pittsburgh, as there were multiple occurrences where Engram just whiffed completely. The defender lined up against him was able to get past him with ease, causing trouble for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. He was so bad that out of the 64 tight ends that Pro Football Focus graded from Week One, Engram was dead last, being last in run-blocking and second-to-last in pass-blocking.

While there’s always a chance he could improve as a blocker, the likelihood at this point is that he’ll probably always be below average in that area. The Giants can’t keep having him as a blocker, it’s only going to hurt them. Having Engram play most of his snaps on the outside will require him to block a lot less, and when he does, he’ll be facing corners or safeties who he should fare better against than the linebackers and edge rushers he mainly ends up having to block now.

The Giants also have another young tight end, Kaden Smith, who is a very good blocker, so having him replace Engram as the top tight end on the roster would allow Smith do most of the blocking, and that, in turn, would be a better situation for the offense. Levine Toilolo and Eric Tomlinson, the other tight ends on the roster, are also much more capable as blockers than Engram and would be better options as well.

In this scenario, Engram would be able to focus on catching passes, where he’s thrived over his career, and Smith would be able to not only bring a more consistent blocking presence at the line of scrimmage but become more of a focal point in the offense. With his increase in snaps, Smith can build upon the potential he showed as a pass-catcher himself last season.

Additionally, another reason for Engram to make the switch is his height. Standing at 6’3”, Engram has excellent size for the wide receiver position, and the Giants have been needing a big-bodied receiver. Engram has always been a glorified wide receiver, and although he might not get as many mismatches against linebackers as he does currently, he is a good enough route runner with great speed to be able to succeed and make plays on the outside.

Again, I want to reiterate that I only see this as a possible opportunity if Engram continues to struggle in the coming weeks. I still believe he’ll get his act together and improve, and the Giants will definitely still be looking to get him the ball as much as they can. However, this could pose an interesting compromise to trading him or letting him go.

What do you think, Giants fans?

New York Jets: Jamison Crowder OUT of Sunday’s game

Head coach Adam Gase confirmed that the scorer of the New York Jets’ first 2020 touchdown will not play against San Francisco.

It’s only Week 2, but losses are continuing to pile up for the New York Jets.

Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, head coach Adam Gase announced on Friday that receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring) will not play on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox). Crowder is the latest injury of New York medical absentees, joining offensive weapons Le’Veon Bell and Denzel Mims.

Crowder, 27, was the Jets’ top receiver during their opening week loss to Buffalo. He scored the team’s first touchdown of the season via a 69-yard aerial hook-up with Sam Darnold in the third quarter. Crowder’s 115 receiving yards on the afternoon were good for fifth-best amongst all Week 1 receivers. He’s in the midst of his second season with the Jets (0-1), leading the team with 833 yards on 78 receptions last year.

With Crowder out, Gase expects fellow slot receiver Braxton Berrios to take on expanded duties against the 49ers. Berrios is primarily used as a returner but earned 115 yards on six receptions last season.

“Crowder’s been probably our best player on offense the last two years,” Gase said in video from SNY. “Berrios, his skill set fits what we do. We always try to develop a role for him throughout the week. We’ve got to do it in a way that Crowder stays on the field, they both play the same spot (slot receiver). I’m just glad he’s here. I think it’s rare to have two starters in this league.”

San Francisco (0-1) may likewise be missing an important offensive weapon upon their Sunday visit. According to KNBR’s Brian Murphy, tight end George Kittle will be a game-time decision. The defending first-team All-Pro representative suffered a knee sprain in the 49ers’ Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

10 former New York Jets up for HOF nomination

Released earlier this week, the Modern Era ballot for Canton’s 2021 Hall of Fame class featured ten former New York Jets.

Earlier this week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame unveiled 130 names from the modern era (since 1970) that could potentially represent the Class of 2021. Notable first-time nominees include Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, and Charles Woodson.

Ten players of the group have connections, at some point or another, to the New York Jets. ESM tracks those aspirants below…

DE/LB John Abraham (2000-05)

Chosen 13th overall in the 2000 draft, Abraham’s name continues to be a constant prescience in the Jets’ history books. He compiled 53.5 sacks over six seasons with the Jets, good for third in team history. A franchise-best four alone (tied with Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau) came in a 2001 win in New Orleans. Abraham, who also represented Atlanta and Arizona, currently sits in 13th place on the NFL’s all-time sack list (133.5).

WR/KR Josh Cribbs (2013)

Best known for his special teams exploits in Cleveland, Cribbs partook in six games with the Jets during the 2013 season, earning 647 total yards.

G Alan Faneca (2008-09) 

Faneca will forever be better known as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but just because he looked out-of-place in a Jets uniform doesn’t mean he didn’t rise to the occasion. Jets rushers scored 41 touchdowns during his two seasons on the line, the latter of which ended in the AFC title game. Faneca was also invited to the Pro Bowl in each green campaign.

T D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2006-15) 

Jets fans were angsty over the arrival of Ferguson, an NYC native, Freeport High School alum and the fourth overall pick of the 2006 draft. He quickly made them forget all about the ensuing quarterback selections (Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler) by showing up for literally every game, starting every possible contest of his NFL career (160), missing only a single snap in that span.

CB James Hasty (1988-94)

A third-round arrival, Hasty earned 24 interceptions in green, tied for the fourth-best in Jets history. Upon transferring to Kansas City, Hasty went to two Pro Bowls (1997, 1999) and led the league in interceptions (7) during the latter all-star campaign.

K Nick Lowery (1994-96)

Lowery spent the final three seasons of an 18-year NFL career with the Jets. His most famous kick with the Jets was perhaps a 39-yard overtime boot that gave the Jets a win over Denver in September 1995.

WR Derrick Mason (2011)

The final year of Mason’s NFL career featured a brief, uncomfortable stint with the Jets, where he earned 13 receptions over five games that featured clashes with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

S Tim McDonald (2013-14)

McDonald, who partook in San Francisco’s victory in Super Bowl XXIX, never represented the Jets on the field but spent two seasons as the team’s defensive backs coach.

FB Lorenzo Neal (1997)

An accomplished fullback, Neal played a single full season with the Jets after leaving his original employers in New Orelans after four seasons. He helped Adrian Murrell run for 1,086 yards and his one receiving touchdown was a game-winner, coming in the fourth quarter in an October triumph over New England.

P Matt Turk (2002)

The Jets were one of five teams that hosted Turk during his 13-year NFL career. He averaged 41 yards per kick in his lone campaign and notably earned a first down on a 14-yard rush in a September loss to the Patriots.

For the full list of nominees, click here

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Pandemic, Anthem Protests Cut Into NFL TV Ratings in Week 1

The New York Giants’ 2020 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night seemed like an attractive television matchup but did not get the ratings the league, or ESPN, had hoped.

The game drew 10.8 million viewers on ESPN, but was down 21% from the early-game opener in Week 1 of last season. Viewers all but ignored the second game of the double-header, featuring the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos. That game drew 7.7 million viewers, down 38% from the late game last year.

There are several reasons for the drop in attendance. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted American life to the degree where there is a new normal, and television and sports are no longer priorities. Survival is. A lot of Americans are out of work, or working less, money is tight and sports isn’t really on their minds right now.

For the viewers who are operating at some sense of normalcy, many are turned off by the politicization of the National Anthem before games where players kneel in protest of the systemic mistreatment of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

Since the Anthem and the Flag mean different things to different people many have misconstrued the protest as anti-American, just like they did when they saw the raised, black-gloved fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics.

There is a large group of Americans who believe there is a time and a place for these type of actions and during the playing of the National Anthem is not one of them. What has gotten lost in this mess is that people have forgotten WHY players are protesting and just focus on THAT they are protesting.

I personally stand for the Anthem, but I have my reasons. I respect every American’s First Amendment rights and they are free to do whatever they feel they need to do to express themselves. But it when that expression infringes on the rights of others, that’s when things get sticky.

Hard core football fans and gamblers such as myself will always tune into the games. For me, it’s business, but I understand all sides of the argument. The NFL is already preparing to take a financial hit due to having no fans in the stands this year and were counting on television rating to buoy their revenues. So far, it doesn’t appear that will happen.

 

 

New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson supports “brilliant” Adam Gase

Despite the New York Jets’ opening week loss, team CEO Christopher Johnson extended a vote of confidence to his embattled head coach.

New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson offered reassurance and regret when making a public appearance on Wednesday.

Johnson offered a vote of confidence to embattled head coach Adam Gase, whose career record now stands at 30-35 after the Jets fell by a 27-17 final to the Buffalo Bills in Sunday afternoon’s 2020 opener. The Jets (0-1) began Gase’s debut campaign with a 1-7 mark before recovering to finish 7-9.

Despite the losing mark, Johnson still believes that Gase is the man for the New York job.

“I have full confidence in Adam,” Johnson per Rich Cimini of ESPN. “I think that he has a lot more in him as a head coach than some of our fans are giving him credit for…I understand they want to see success. I think that they will.”

Cimini’s report also indicated that Johnson would not issue a playoff mandate on Gase. The Jets haven’t been to the postseason since back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances under Rex Ryan in 2010 and 2011.

Johnson said that his belief stemmed from Gase’s prior work with quarterbacks.

“I think he can work with and develop quarterbacks,” Gase said per Cimini. “I do continue to think he’s a brilliant offensive mind especially. He has my every confidence.”

Despite Johnson’s belief in Gase, the CEO did admit that the opening loss against Buffalo was “a mess”. Yet, he cited Gase’s rapport with the team as well as their ability to recover from a slow start last season.

“He took a team that did so poorly the first half of the season and held them together,” Johnson said in a quote from Connor Hughes of The Athletic. “They finished well. I think he has a lot more in him as a head coach than some of our fans are giving him credit for.”

Johnson’s statements also featured regret, particularly in the timing of general manager Joe Douglas’ hire. New York brought Douglas in from Philadelphia’s front office during the summer of 2019 after they fired incumbent man Mike Maccagnan. The latter’s firing came four months after Gase’s hire and a month after Maccagnan’s helped with the 2019 NFL Draft process. Not counting his final class (which has already seen the departure of third-round pick Jachai Polite), only six Maccagnan picks remain on the Jets’ roster. Johnson admitted that Maccagnan’s dismissal may have been ill-timed.

“Do I wish I had made that change earlier? Absolutely,” Johnson said in Cimini’s report. “I’ve made mistakes, and that’s one of them.”

In terms of the future, Johnson maintained that he would maintain a strong front office role upon his brother Woody’s return. The Jets’ co-owner continues to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Donald Trump. Christopher also defended Woody from allegations of racist and sexist remarks.

“He’s denied it publicly. He’s denied it to me,” Christopher Johnson said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I’ve known him my whole life. We’ve spent so much time together. I’ve never heard him utter a racist or sexist word or perform an action that was racist or sexist. I believe him.”

The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon against the San Francisco 49ers for their home opener at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags