NFL set to remove two games from the preseason schedule (Report)

As the NFL continues to prepare for an uncertain 2020, the already-maligned preseason slate has seen two weeks erased from its ledger.

Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the National Football League is ready to do away with half of its preseason slate as it prepares to potentially navigate a season through the COVID-19 pandemic. The PFT report says that the first and final weeks of summer’s exhibition summer quartet are on the chopping block.

The league is set to make a formal announcement regarding the decision on Thursday, one week after the cancellation of the preseason-opening Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between Dallas and Pittsburgh in Canton, Ohio.

Trimming the preseason has long been discussed and appeared to be a certainty when the new collective bargaining agreement left open the possibility of a 17-game regular-season slate in 2021. The league’s squads have played four preseason games ever since 1978

If Weeks 1 and 4 are eliminated from the preseason picture, the annual meeting between the local New York Jets and New York Giants would be eliminated, having been scheduled for the opening week for the second consecutive season. Starters rarely play past the first quarter in the opener, and often sit out the finale entirely. The Jets and Giants have respectively played interconference rivals from Philadelphia and New England in the final week of summer games since the turn of the century. It’s possible these games could be rescheduled to cut down on travel. If the cancellations are kept, the Jets would have a visit to Detroit and an East Rutherford tilt with Pittsburgh (the former being nationally televised on ESPN). The Giants have a road game against Tennessee and a visit from Green Bay left on their docket.

Many teams are planning to open training camp on July 28 with the first games scheduled for the week of August 20-24.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Would a shortened preseason hurt the New York Jets?

Shortening the NFL preseason has been discussed, even before COVID-19, but an exhibition quartet might help the 2020 New York Jets.

As COVID-19 stubbornly refuses to depart, professional American sports are attempting to inch their way back in. The powers that be at Major League Baseball finally agreed to a 60-game season that might never happen, while the NBA, NHL, WNBA, and MLS are all set to attempt “bubble” settings to either resume to start their respective 2020 campaigns. NASCAR and the PGA Tour, among others, have been able to operate in reduced settings, if only for their natural ability to adhere to social distancing.

Then there’s the National Football League.

The NFL has acknowledged the ongoing health crisis, though one look at their calendar hints that they’re at least trying to operate with some sort of semblance of business as usual. Minicamp proceedings have been shut down, but the annual draft lived on in virtual settings and players have met on their own to work out. Quarterback Sam Darnold is among them, having joined rival quarterbacks in California and his New York Jets offensive teammates in Florida as the league’s constituents bide their time before team facilities can officially open for gridiron business.

Reality perhaps finally hit the NFL on Thursday morning. The league announced that August’s annual Pro Football Football Hall of Fame Game would not be played, canceling the season’s first unofficial game. Accompanying induction ceremonies have been postponed to 2021.

While some see the game’s cancellation as merely a precaution, ensuring that the game’s combatants from Dallas and Pittsburgh wouldn’t have to report to training camp any earlier than they had to. But other observers see it as the first football domino to fall to the hand of COVID-19, with the preseason schedule seen as next in line.

Even in the best of times, the NFL preseason is often seen as athletic drivel, a mere excuse for the league’s 32 teams to charge full ticket, parking, and concession prices for what basically amounts to future practice squad/XFL participants going at it. While it does serve a purpose…allowing new teammates to develop chemistry, help new coaches create a rhythm…trimming the current standard quartet has been discussed for several years. COVID-19 could finally make that a perhaps overdue reality, finishing what the 2018-19 Los Angeles Rams started. Back then, L.A. boss Sean McVay sat his starters for the summer before embarking on a run to the Super Bowl.

But would such a long-overdue idea come back to haunt the New York Jets?

The preseason was made for teams like the 2020 Jets. To put the New York turnover into perspective, the only listed receiver leftover from a roster as recent as 2018 (Darnold’s rookie season) is Quincy Enunwa…and he’ll more likely than not never play another down in a Jets uniform. If Brian Winters leaves before Week 1, then Darnold’s offensive line will have (rightfully so) completely turned over by the time his third year begins.

New York is in a spot where they have a quarterback on their roster that they envision to be their starter in 3-5 years. It sounds like a basic requirement of NFL membership, but that just goes to show how traumatic the last decade was for the Jets. As another famous young New Yorker once learned, however, with great power comes great responsibility. Work must be done to develop some chemistry within the group, and the preseason offers four consequence-free opportunities to do that against another NFL opponent.

Offensive chemistry isn’t the only area that could’ve used a tune-up quartet. Starters and depth options alike can use some work on defense, especially with a plethora of new talent auditioning on one-year deals. If Jamal Adams is gone, that could eliminate rep opportunities for, say, Ashtyn Davis. Those returning from injury, like linebacker C.J. Mosley would lose an opportunity to get back into the swing of things. Even on special teams, that Jets have competitions that need solving, particularly in discovering who their primary returner will be and who will win the Sam Ficken/Brett Maher boot battle.

Even in “normal” times, Jets head coach Adam Gase was against the idea of slicing the summer slate.

“I like the fact that it gives a chance to evaluate,” Gase remarked last summer, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “That fourth preseason game, all those guys that get to play, we get value out of that. We’re not trying to see if we can shorten the game up. We’ll probably try to throw it like 60 times.”

True to Gase’s word, the Jets indeed aired out in their yearly preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Darnold didn’t play, but Trevor Siemian, Luke Falk, and Davis Webb united for 46 throws in a 6-0 win. One year prior, in Gase’s final Miami adventure, Brock Osweiler and current Jets backup candidate David Fales threw 45 in the preseason closer in Atlanta.

Gase even outlined why a McVay-like approach to the preseason wouldn’t work in East Rutherford.

“Last year, I remember having a conversation with [McVay] about his starters not playing and they had an older team,” Gase remarked in Mehta’s report. “They had a lot of guys that had played a lot of football. That’s kind of how they went about it. We have a young team and this is our first year in the program, so we need to play a little bit.”

There are obviously merits to chopping down on the preseason slate, especially in a year where factors beyond football are making their prescience felt. An endless list of costly preseason injuries (Michael Vick in 2003, Osi Umenyiora in 2008, just to name two) is just yet another reason to move from the concept. The NFL themselves would probably love to see a preseason reduction if only because it be a solid stepping stone toward their long-sought-after goal of a regular-season beyond 16 games.

The time will come when the Jets are ready to outgrow the preseason, when they’re comfortable enough with themselves that they don’t have to rely on meaningless summer action to feel hopeful. But they’re not at that point yet, and those opportunities and chances to experiment and develop could be disappearing at the worst possible time, even if their absence comes for the most understandable reasons.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Fun Facts and Analysis of the New York Jets’ 2020 Schedule

New York Jets, New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Times and dates have been attached to the New York Jets’ 20 preseason and regular season matchups. ESM reveals what you need to know.

As if you didn’t need more of a reason to stay inside, the NFL just gave you 256 goals to work toward.

The league attached times and dates to its 2020 regular season matchups on Thursday, while preaching caution in the wake of the current health crisis. Nonetheless, the event gave fans a welcome reprieve as they continue to work their way through these trying times.

Here’s what you need to know about the Jets’ slate…

Preseason

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

TBD: NY Giants (TBD, WCBS)

The annual Snoopy Bowl stays in the Week 1 slot it found itself in last season, even though the Jets and Giants will not play each other during the regular season. Big Blue took last season’s matchup by a 31-22 final.

August 20: @ Detroit (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

The Jets will play a nationally televised preseason game for the second time in three years, the last matchup being a 2018 visit to Washington, which was also on ESPN.

TBD: Pittsburgh (TBD, WCBS)

Pittsburgh will return to the site where their playoff hopes more or less died, as a Marcus Maye deflection game the Jets a 16-10 win.

TBD: @ Philadelphia (TBD, WCBS)

Should it happen, 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Jets and Eagles meeting annually in the preseason. The Jets took last year’s meeting at MetLife by a 6-0 tally

Regular Season

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

September 13: @ Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

For the third time in four seasons, the Jets will open their regular season against the Bills. Buffalo has taken each of the first two openers in that span thus far, but Sam Darnold has yet to lose at New Era Field, having bested fellow 2019 first-round pick Josh Allen twice thus far. The Jets have dropped their Week 1 matchup in three of the last four seasons, the lone exception being 2018’s Monday night visit to Detroit.

September 20: San Francisco (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

The Jets’ will welcome the defending NFC champions for their first East Rutherford visit for AFC business since the 49ers administered a 34-0 shellacking in 2012 en route to that season’s Super Bowl. New York’s last home opener win came in 2017 against Miami, but they have likewise gone 1-3 over their past four tries in such a game.

September 27: @ Indianapolis (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets are 3-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium since it opened in 2008. Alas, the lone exception is the 2010 AFC Championship Game. New York’s previous visit was a 20-7 Monday night triumph in 2015. Overall, the Jets have taken four of the past five meetings with their former AFC East brethren since that postseason match.

October 1: Denver (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network)

A previous Thursday night meeting with the Broncos didn’t go so well, as Tim Tebow’s 20-yard touchdown run gave Denver a 17-13 win at Mile High. Their 34-16 win over Denver ended a three-game losing streak in the series. The Jets are 2-5 on Thursday night games since the NFL made them a full-time phenomenon in 2012.

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

October 11: Arizona (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

No matter what happens between the Jets and Cardinals, the quarterback matchup between Sam Darnold and Kyler Murray will definitely be more exciting than the last time they met at MetLife Stadium. Back in 2012, Greg McElroy relieved Mark Sanchez and guided the Jets to an ugly 7-6 victory. The Jets have won six of the last seven meetings, but fell in the last showdown in Glendale in 2016.

October 18: @ LA Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Depending on health progress, the Jets are set to make their first two trips to SoFi Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LV this season. The Jets’ last game against a team with a Los Angeles moniker came back in 1993, when they fell to the Raiders at the Coliseum. More recently, the Jets dropped a 14-7 decision to the Chargers in their last meeting at home on Christmas Eve 2017.

October 25: Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets will be looking to end a two-year losing streak at MetLife Stadium to the Bills, who are 4-2 at the relatively new establishment in East Rutherford after dropping their first four. This will mark the first time the Jets end their yearly pair with the Bills by the end of October since 2007, a Buffalo sweep.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

November 1: @ Kansas City (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Kansas City ended their five-decade plus Super Bowl drought. Are the Jets next? Time will only tell, but the first two AFL champions will meet at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since 2016. The Jets’ last Kansas City masterpiece came in 1998, when John Hall’s 32-yard field goal as time expired gave them a 20-17 victory.

November 9: New England (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

After two appearances last season, the Jets get one showing on Monday Night Football, thought the MetLife meeting with the Patriots gets such a treatment for the second straight season. The Jets will look to end an eight-game losing streak in the rivalry and also seek their first Monday night win since the aforementioned Week 1 tilt against the Lions in 2018.

November 15: @ Miami (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

With the expanded AFC playoff picture, could these matchups with Miami hold major implications? The schedulemaker certainly seems to think so, as this is the first time a Jets-Dolphins game starts beyond the 1:00 p.m. ET timeslot since December 2016, when a Miami squad led by Adam Gase beat the Jets 34-13 in a Saturday primetime game.

November 22: Bye Week

The Jets’ bye week comes in Week 11 for the second time in the last three seasons.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

November 29: Miami (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

In this de facto home-and-home series with the Dolphins, the Jets will look to win after their bye for the first time since 2015, when they followed up a London win over Miami with another triumph against Washington. The Jets’ last-second win Miami last December, courtesy of a Sam Ficken field goal, ended a four-game losing streak against the Dolphins.

December 6: Las Vegas (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets finished their stretch against the Oakland Raiders with a 9-11 mark, but they were able to end things on a dominant note with a 34-3 win at MetLife Stadium last season. Las Vegas’ new franchise has not won in East Rutherford since 1996 and is 0-3 at MetLife Stadium.

December 13: @ Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets haven’t beaten the Seahawks since 2004, and their last win in Seattle came at the since-demolished Kingdom in 1997. Their prior matchup a 27-17 defeat at MetLife Stadium.

December 19/20: @ LA Rams (TBD)

Over the last two weeks of the season, a dozen matchups have been nominated to potentially appear in a trio of Saturday games. The Jets’ penultimate two games are a pair of such choices, including the latter half of their SoFi split.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

December 26/27: Cleveland (TBD)

Thus far, Baker Mayfield has gotten the better of Sam Darnold in the two meetings between 2018’s first two quarterbacks. Darnold, however, was unable to take part in last year’s Monday nite tilt, as his illness forced Trevor Siemian and later Luke Falk to oversee a 23-3 defeat in East Rutherford.

January 3: @ New England (1:00 p.m., CBS)

The Jets are still looking for their first win at Gillette Stadium since their epic divisional playoff wince in 2011, but they were at least able to snap the touchdown hex in their last visit. New England and New York last ended their regular seasons against each other in 2018, a game that served as the end of the Todd Bowles era.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

 

 

 

 

New York Giants: The Three Things That Excite Me Most About The First Preseason Game

It’s here! It’s finally here! Football season is back! Well, sort of.

The New York Giants will play their first preseason game tonight against the New York Jets at 7 p.m. The Giants have had an interesting offseason filled with some highs and a few very low lows. Nonetheless, the past is final and the future is yet to be determined.

Tonight will be our first look at the New York Giants’ future. There will be a lot of new faces and situations to look out for tonight. Here are the three things that excite me most about tonight’s game:

Daniel Jones To Alonzo Russell

The New York Giants made the most controversial draft pick of the 2019 NFL Draft when they decided to take quarterback Daniel Jones sixth overall. Since then, the team and Jones himself have received ungodly sums of criticism.

But for Daniel Jones, this criticism has been unwarranted. Daniel has looked great in training camp as he is on a mission to prove his doubters wrong. Along with Daniel’s strong showing in camp came a new receiving threat.

Alonzo Russell and Daniel Jones have formed a strong connection on the football field in practice. They consistently connect for big plays every practice and have both caught the attention of the press.

Alonzo Russell has been a pleasant surprise during training camp. But he is still not a lock to make the 53 man roster since the Giants have some depth at wide receiver. But a strong showing in the preseason should lock him into the final roster.

Daniel Jones’s first game action as a member of the New York Giants is tonight. This highly-anticipated moment could not come against a more interesting opponent. Jones will face off against the Jets’ own young franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold (who many believed the Giants should have drafted last year).

Expect to see Daniel Jones and Alonzo Russell connect on multiple occasions tonight.

The New Secondary

The New York Giants‘ secondary has been one of the league’s worst over the past two years. In 2017, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.4 passing yards per game (ranked 31st in the NFL). In 2018, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.8 passing yards (ranked 23rd in the NFL), showing minimal to no improvement.

The Giants fixed this problem in the 2019 NFL Draft. New York drafted three defensive backs in the 2019 NFL Draft (four if counting Sam Beal). The secondary has been completely rebuilt.

So far in training camp, the Giants’ new secondary has lived up to the hype. The young cornerbacks have been making plays left and right. The Giants’ secondary might have more depth than any other position group on the roster.

DeAndre Baker was drafted at the end of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and he has been a shutdown cornerback so far in training camp. But one of the biggest surprises in camp has been another cornerback. Sixth round pick Corey Ballentine has been a serious playmaker in practice.

Check out this awesome interception by Corey Ballentine on a jump ball in the end zone:

With the new additions of Ballentine, Baker, and Julian Love, and Jabrill Peppers, there is a lot to look out for in the secondary during tonight’s game. The Giants’ defense has a lot of potential thanks to all the new young defensive backs they acquired this offseasons.

Dexter Lawrence

The Giants’ second first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft was interior defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson. He might have been a first-round draft pick, but Lawrence is possibly the most underrated player in the Giants’ 2019 draft class.

Many initially looked at Dexter Lawrence as a two down run-stuffing nose tackle. Dexter Lawrence is so much more than that. Yes, he is a giants human being weighing over 340 pounds. And yes, he is an excellent run defender.

But Dexter Lawrence is also an excellent pass-rusher from the interior. In 2018, Dexter Lawrence totaled an impressive 33 pressures (Pro Football Focus). Dexter was often in the face of opposing quarterbacks. He also added 10 sacks in three collegiate seasons.

In fact, he was in the backfield at one of the highest percentages of the 2019 NFL Draft class. Lawrence posted a pressure percentage of 13.8%. This was the third-highest percentage in the draft class, putting him behind only Quinnen Williams and Christian Wilkins.

It will be exciting to watch Dexter Lawrence disrupt the Jets’ offense in two ways tonight, even though he will only be playing a limited amount of time.

New York Jets: Jets vs Giants Preseason Week 1 Preview

New York Jets

The wait is over, New York Jets football is finally back. The Jets finally play their first opponent of the 2019 NFL season. Sure, it may just be preseason but it’s nice to see the Jets get on the field against people who are not wearing green and white. The New York Giants will be hosting the Jets in the annual “Snoopy Bowl” this year at MetLife Stadium this Thursday to see who will have bragging rights until week 10 when both teams meet again for round 2. Obviously, neither team will have their stars out, but it is a very good opportunity for players who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the roster a chance to shine. What better way for the New York Jets to start their new era of football by beating their bigger brother for a chance to finally reign supreme. Here are some things to look out for this Thursday night.

What to expect from Adam Gase?

Adam Gase got a second chance to be a head coach in this league and he doesn’t intend on messing it up. There are many reasons Gase wasn’t successful in Miami but probably the biggest reason was the fact he didn’t know how to call plays. Adam Gase has a history of doing very short yardage throws on second and long and third and long. This can’t happen here in New York. Adam Gase has gone on record before stating that he wants to be more aggressive in his play-calling, and what better way to experiment than in the preseason against a young, up and coming Giants secondary. If Adam Gase wants to avoid being a failure in New York, he must do the opposite of everything he did in Miami.

Position battles to look for

The preseason is the best way to test for players who are battling for a starting or backup role on the roster. The New York Jets certainly do not have a shortage of battles going on and these are some to keep an eye out for.

Tight end

The Jets are pretty set at tight end this year but with Chris Herndon missing the first four weeks due to suspension the Jets will have to see which one of their young tight ends can fill in and be a reliable target for Sam Darnold. The two main competitors are Daniel Brown and Trevon Wesco. Wesco seems to have the upper hand against Brown because he’s had a very good training camp with the team.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wesco listed as the starting tight end at the beginning of the year.

QB No. 3

The Jets have another QB battle going on this year, thankfully not for the starting spot. The Jets are looking for someone to groom into a backup for Sam Darnold the next couple of years. Luke Falk and Davis Webb are the two guys the Jets are looking at. Falk has had a history with Adam Gase being the third-string QB in Miami last year until he landed on the IR October 5th. Davis Webb, on the other hand, has no relation to Adam Gase but he does have a pedigree that Falk doesn’t. Webb was a third-round pick for the Giants back in 2017 and shows potential. Webb Hoists a howitzer for an arm but doesn’t have the accuracy to match up with it. It’ll be interesting to see which QB will edge out because as of right now there isn’t a clear front runner.

Kicker

The Jets currently have just one kicker on the roster, Chandler Catanzaro. So, who is Catanzaro competing with you might ask? The answer is Catanzaro is competing with himself. Catanzaro is having one of the worst camps this year missing a lot of kicks. The Jets have had a hole at kicker ever since Nick Folk left the team back in 2016. The Jets have lucked out with their kicker situation the past couple of years getting castoffs like Jason Meyers and Catanzaro to have good years, but this might be the end of that little streak. If Catanzaro continues to struggle don’t be surprised to see Joe Douglas seek another kicker when cuts are being made. A couple of names to watch are players like Mason Crosby and the training camp favorite from 2016 and 2017 Ross Martin.

Potential diamonds in the rough

The Jets have had their fair share of training camp standouts this year and they’ll finally get to show off what they can really do against the actual competition. This is where you find players like Robby Anderson who a couple of years ago was in the same position as many of the young players grinding for a spot on the 53. A couple of names to watch are players like Tim White, Kyron Brown, Blake Cashman and Derrick Jones.

 

 

New York Knicks preseason schedule

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks preseason schedule has dropped.  The Knicks will have 4 tune-up games before the season kicks off.

The Knicks preseason schedule is has follows:

October 7th at Wizards

October 11th vs. Wizards

October 16th vs. Hawks

October 18th vs. Pelicans

The Knicks will play the teams it seems like they have played every preseason.  However, similar to the Vegas summer league, all eyes will be on the Knicks & Pelicans for the finale of the preseason.

RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson will get another go at each other before they officially begin their NBA careers.  Williamson got the better of RJ in their first meeting, but Barrett got better each game.  The two should have a better, fun and longer showing this time around.

The Knicks will be looking to show their fans a better team effort and togetherness after a poor summer league showing.  They were the favorites to win the summer league and fell way short.  However, they did not have a lot of time to play with each other and get comfortable.

Expect the Knicks to look completely different in the preseason and have a better, more positive outlook for the 2019-2020 season.