Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets at Denver Broncos

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

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

Geoff Magliocchetti

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

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

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

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

Broncos 24, Jets 13

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

Dylan Price

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

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

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

Broncos 17, Jets 14

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

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets 2021 opponent report: Denver Broncos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Skinny on the Broncos

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New in Denver?

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

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

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

How to Beat Them

-Corral the QB

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

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

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

-Neutralize the Weaponry

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

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

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

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

What Should The New York Giants Do At Quarterback In 2019?

Eli Manning may have just pulled off his 36th career game-winning drive in San Francisco on Monday night, but there are a few undeniable truths that the Giants fan-base and organization need to recognize and consider:

  1. Manning is 37 years old and will be 38 at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
  2. Manning’s quality of play has declined over the past few seasons.
  3. The Giants are 5-20 over the past two seasons.
  4. Cutting Eli Manning this offseason will save the Giants $17 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap.
  5. The Giants do not have an heir apparent at the quarterback position.

With that being said, what options do the Giants have?

Current New York Giants Quarterbacks:

Eli Manning: Despite his declining and consistently lackluster play over the past two seasons, there are a few reasons why the Giants might want to keep Eli Manning in 2019. For one, he is a Giants legend and they may fear facing fan-base backlash from cutting him, similar to the back lash they faced when benching him last season. Letting him play an extra year gives him the chance to retire and go out with a season long send-off.

Furthermore, if they do decide to draft a quarterback this year, they could sit him behind Manning for a year and let him learn from the veteran, similar to what Kansas City did with Patrick Mahomes. In addition to this, it can be argued that Manning is not playing as bad as the media says he is.

Manning’s completion percentage this season is the highest it has ever been at 67.6 percent, he is ninth in the league in passing yards so far this season, and he has been sacked a league high 32 times. These statistics can draw a few key conclusions.

First off, the Giants have an awful offensive line and it would be difficult for any quarterback to play behind it. Secondly, Manning has shown that he is capable of playing well when given time in the pocket. Finally, Eli’s 11 touchdowns in 9 games but 2,565 yards demonstrates that he and the Giants offense are good until they get into the red zone. This can be attributed to player execution and even coach Shurmur’s play calling.

Kyle Lauletta: Giants fans are eager to see what the team has in the 4th round rookie out of Richmond, but he has yet to even be activated for a regular season game. Coach Shurmur should definitely look to see what the team has in Lauletta sometime this season with some regular season playing time. However, his recent arrest and Eli’s magical win against the 49ers might delay the Kyle Lauletta show.

If he gets to play this season, the team can assess him and plan ahead accordingly. Best case scenario: they hit big-time on a 4th round quarterback and found their heir apparent. Worst case scenario: Lauletta has a maximum potential that most would expect out of a 4th round quarterback and he ends up being a backup for the future. The only way for the Giants to know the answer is to give Lauletta a chance in the 2018 season.

Current NFL, Non-Giants Quarterbacks:

Teddy Bridgewater: The 2014 first round pick out of Louisville for the Minnesota Vikings has had a rocky career. In his rookie season, Bridgewater showed great potential and won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore season, Bridgewater progressed further and was selected to his first pro bowl. At this point, it looked like there was a promising career ahead for the young quarterback, until he suffered a devastating knee injury that would sideline him all of 2016.

In 2017, Bridgewater still was not healthy enough to be a starter again, but he managed to remain on the roster. In the 2018 offseason, Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets, played well in the preseason (one might even say well enough to start for another franchise with a 73.7% completion percentage and 104.7 QBR), but was then traded to the New Orleans Saints to backup Drew Brees.

Teddy Bridgewater will be a free agent again this offseason, and he is expected to draw interest from around the league if he is not retained by New Orleans. Being that he is a former Minnesota quarterback, Bridgewater has a connection with Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, former offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Shurmur is familiar with Bridgewater and knows his potential.

If the Giants are willing to cut ties with Manning, Bridgewater could be a great developmental option for the Giants if they feel like they can maximize his potential. Additionally, signing Bridgewater does not mean that he needs to be the future of the Giants. Theoretically, they could sign him the same way that the Jets did, if he agrees to it. The Giants could try to get Bridgewater on a one-year deal and draft a quarterback, just like the Jets did.

Derek Carr: Raiders coach Jon Gruden began a fire sale in Oakland during the 2018 season, trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. According to Oakland’s general manager, Reggie McKenzie, no one is untouchable. That would seemingly include Carr. Derek Carr has been selected to a pro bowl each of the last three seasons and he lead his team to a 12-3 season before breaking his leg in 2016, a season in which he was an MVP candidate.

However, this season Carr has looked like somewhat of a shell of his former self. The former gunslinger now settles for countless check downs, as documented by NFL Next Gen Stats’s passing charts, and has a 10 to 8 touchdown to interception ratio through nine games.

This begs the question: what happened to Derek Carr in 2018? These issues could be attributed to his putrid offensive line, a lack of weapons, a fear of reinjuring himself, or the new coaching staff. These issues could potentially all be solved with a change of scenery for Carr, and that could just bring him back to his 2016 playing level.

If the Raiders end up with the first pick and decide to move on from Carr, they could select Herbert and put Carr on the trading block. If that happens, the Giants would need to consider trading for Carr, since Herbert would no longer be an option. The trade would be costly (potentially one first, one second, or maybe even two first round draft picks) but if the Giants are confident they could get Carr back to playing to his full potential, they should make the move and acquire the three time pro-bowler.

College Quarterbacks

2019 Draft Class: Last year’s draft class was considerably loaded. This upcoming year’s class? Not so much. The consensus for the top signal-caller of the 2019 class is Oregon’s Justin Herbert (and there are rumors that he might not even declare this year).

It is also well-documented that the Giants are heavily interested in Herbert. They have attended six of his ten games so far this season. He’s a big body, strong arm quarterback with a good personality. He’s had a good, but inconsistent junior year, thus far. He has games with a completion percentage as high as 78% and as low as 47%, so there is still much work to be done with consistency if he wants to be a star in this league. His 25 touchdowns and 2,621 passing yards in ten games are impressive, however, his accuracy can be inconsistent (as displayed in the Oregon vs. Arizona game in October).

Even with his high ceiling, when compared to the 2018 class, it would be hard to rank Herbert inside the top three prospects. Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen would likely all rank higher than Herbert if they were a part of the same draft class. That being said, he could be a franchise quarterback with some development, but he’s not as close to a “sure-thing” as anyone in the 2018 draft class.

Other notable quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class include Will Grier (West Virginia), Drew Lock (Missouri), Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), and Daniel Jones (Duke). All of these players have potential to be first and second round quarterbacks and, with the right development, maybe even starting quarterbacks in the NFL. However, none of these guys are considered to have the same potential as the 2018 draft class by sources such as Pro Football Focus and Bleacher Report.

2020 Draft Class:

A lot of fans believe that Monday night’s win has ruined New York’s chances at the top pick in 2019 and, subsequently, their chances at drafting Justin Herbert. If that is the case and the Giants are unable to secure the Oregon quarterback, they might look to trade back, accumulate more picks, and draft someone from the 2020 draft class. 2019 Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa has been lighting it up in his sophomore year for Alabama, drawing comparisons to Russel Wilson. He will be every quarterback-needy team’s dream choice in 2020 and, with an accumulation of picks from trading down in 2019, the Giants could possibly have the first pick, or enough draft capital to move up to the first pick and select Tua Tagovailoa.

The Giants have tons of options for their future at quarterback. Being that they have so many options, it is too soon to say that passing on a quarterback for Saquon Barkley in 2018 was a mistake. After all, Saquon Barkley truly has hall of fame potential. Could this have been New York’s plan all along? Draft Barkley and secure a quarterback the following season? Possibly. Time will only tell. The New York Giants need to make the right decision this offseason in order to avoid what general manager Dave Gettleman would consider to be “quarterback hell.”

Should The New York Giants Pursue QB Teddy Bridgewater?

Some might think trading for New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would be a good idea for the New York Giants, but for most, it would be a terrible mistake. The former Vikings and Pat Shurmur product is returning from a devastating knee injury that ended his 2017 season before it even began. This was after signs of true progression from the young signal caller, and he’s showing what he’s capable of with the Jets.

Being that Gang Green recently drafted Sam Darnold in the first-round, Bridgewater is expendable – he might even make a good trading piece. The problem for the Jets is that he’s only signed for one season, so waiting it out would be in the best interest of Teddy.

But, the question I propose is: Should the Giants consider signing him in 2019 to replace Eli Manning?

This question relies solely on the confidence Shurmur has in Davis Webb, and even Kyle Lauletta to a certain degree. If he believes Webb is capable of leading the offense to success, he will not blink an eye in Bridgewater’s direction, but if he has any doubts, we could see a massive shakeup at the quarterback position for the Giants.

Let’s do a little breakdown:

In this play, you can see Bridgewater step back in the pocket, feel the pressure, avoid it, and hit a receiver without taking any time to scan the field. This play alone displays high-end vision, mobility, and pocket presence. One of the more observational aspects of Teddy is that he’s become more of a pocket passer. While he was never one to take off on the run at any moment, he seems more comfortable hanging back in the pocket and using his mobility to remain an active thrower and not a runner.

His ability to throw first and not rely on his instincts to run will allow him to prolong his life as a quarterback in the NFL, and ultimately make him more attractive for teams wanting to take a flier on him.

For the Giants, he would fit perfectly within Shurmur’s scheme, as he’s accustomed to his style and learned a great deal from the new head coach for Big Blue. If the stars were to align between the two, it would most certainly put Webb on the back-burner, and in the end, it could be for the best. Another factor to be considered would be his salary-cap hit.

Bridgewater might draw serious interest next season for QB needy teams, and his stock could rise to the point of a $12-15 million per-year contract.

What are your thoughts?

New York Giants: Pat Shurmur “very happy” for Jets QB Bridgewater

The city of New York is a tale of two quarterback battles right now. For the Giants, Eli Manning enters this season as the starter while Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta battle to prove that they can be his successor.

With the Jets, however, the competition for the starting job is between the rookie Sam Darnold and the 25-year-old Teddy Bridgewater, the latter joining the Jets on a one year deal after the Vikings signed veteran Kirk Cousins. While some may consider the Jets and the Giants to be rivals, the two quarterback competitions are linked right now by one man: Giants head coach Pat Shurmur.

Some fans have suggested a trade for Teddy Bridgewater, and the idea gets more interesting when you look at Shurmur’s past jobs. He was the interim offensive coordinator for the Vikings in 2016 and took over the job full-time in 2017, meaning he already has experience working with Bridgewater.

It’s something that Shurmur mentioned after Sunday’s practice. “I was standing just a few feet from him when he had his injury and it was a very tough deal. It went from worrying about whether he was going to be able to walk again to now he’s out there playing. I’m certainly very happy for Teddy.”

Of course, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a coach to be happy about one of his former players making a successful return from injury. But the fan theories about trade talks will likely heat up after Shurmur praised Bridgewater some more, showing that he does indeed have a high view of the Jets quarterback.

“Teddy is an outstanding, competitive guy and he’s got a unique charisma… I’m thrilled for whatever success he’s having. I did peek at their game and it appears to me like he’s playing pretty well,” he said. “The only thing I would say is don’t sleep on Teddy, because I think he’s got it in him.”

With Davis Webb struggling, and Eli Manning’s inevitable retirement looming in the future, a trade for Bridgewater looks like a real possibility. However, since Bridgewater is on a one year deal, it could easily backfire and turn out to be a one year rental that doesn’t help the team at all.

It’s a matter of how much the Giants are willing to risk to find their potential quarterback of the future, assuming that they don’t consider Kyle Lauletta to fill that role just yet. If the trade does happen, however, the link between Bridgewater and  Shurmur should be a factor.