Sports

The Jets and Giants Played. They Did Not Win.

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Time is a flat circle, but we want to help you break it. To that end, we’ve enlisted two experts — one familiar with the ins and outs of New York’s professional football teams, the other a nationally focused football analyst — to answer an essential question as a weekly service to readers: Are the Jets and the Giants good yet?

Devin Gordon, the author of “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets, the Best Worst Team in Sports,” observed the teams from a locally focused perspective.

Diante Lee, an N.F.L. analyst at Pro Football Focus, offered a national view.

Zach Wilson connected on 23 of his 38 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but the Jets (3-9) were stuffed in the second half as Gardner Minshew led the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) to a 33-18 win.

In the 1993 meeting between these teams, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham broke his leg after the Jets had stormed out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. He was replaced by Bubby Brister, a career backup, who led Philadelphia all the way back to within 2 points, 30-28. Then, with the Jets looking to seal the win late in the fourth quarter, Boomer Esiason threw a 94-yard pick-6 to instead ice it for the Eagles.

Before Sunday, that was the closest the Jets had come to beating the Eagles. In their 61-year history, the Jets had been 0-11 against Philadelphia, lending this otherwise meaningless game something akin to stakes. Would the Jets extend their 0-for-forever streak against this not-all-that-distinguished franchise? Or would the rookie quarterback Zach Wilson show the city of Philadelphia that nobody beats the Jets 12 times in a row?

For one half, at least, Wilson looked ready to make his mark on Jets history. He spearheaded three straight touchdown drives to open the game, including his first career touchdown connection — a 3-yard toss — with the rookie receiver Elijah Moore. Those three scores, though, netted the Jets a sublimely Jets-y 18 points, after two missed point-after attempts and a flubbed 2-point conversion.

By halftime, the Jets trailed the Eagles by 3 thanks to their N.F.L.-worst defense, which allowed another Eagles backup, Gardner Minshew, to score on all four of Philadelphia’s first-half drives (three touchdown drives and a field goal put the Eagles up, 24-18).

Jets Coach Robert Saleh arrived from San Francisco with a reputation as a defensive wizard, but his first Jets defense is surrendering more than 30 points a game — three more than the N.F.L.’s next-worst defense, the 31st-ranked Atlanta Falcons. This time the unit allowed 33.

Wilson and Moore, the first Jets player worth nabbing in fantasy football since receiver Brandon Marshall in 2015 during peak Fitzmagic, can’t score from the sideline. In the decisive third quarter, the Eagles’ offense held the ball for all but 70 seconds.

The streak has reached a dozen.

Verdict: Zach Wilson + Elijah Moore + a trash Jets defense = fun shootouts the rest of the way!

I have now been a Jets fan for [checks watch] three weeks, having semiretired my Eagles fandom, and today I’d like to pen a thank-you note to Gang Green for its tireless work to maintain its identity.

Philadelphia is familiar with winning at MetLife against hapless organizations, and Sunday’s game got appropriately weird, as the Eagles went on to a 33-18 victory. What game involving either of these franchises doesn’t?

The Jets found offense early, with such efficiency that gave the impression that Zach Wilson had finally solved the team’s problems with its aerial attack. Of course, after its third touchdown drive of the game, the Jets’ offense never again entered the red zone. At least the offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur, is figuring out his opening script.

There are several points of frustration on the Jets’ defense, with the inability to stop the run at or near the top of the list. Philadelphia has vastly improved its rushing attack over the last six weeks, but most of that involved using quarterback Jalen Hurts as a threat in the read-option.

On Sunday, Hurts sat with an ankle injury and the Eagles still managed to gain 185 rushing yards — the surest indication of the Jets’ lack of talent up front. The holes on this defense don’t end with the front seven, either. Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert likely hadn’t felt this unguardable since high school. He had 105 yards on six catches, with two receiving touchdowns, by either gliding uncovered up the seams or skying over defenders. Gardner Minshew probably earned himself another contract in the N.F.L. off this performance, and he can join me in giving his thanks to the Jets for their consistency.

Verdict: This is as watchable as they’ll be this year!

The Giants (4-8) were able to convert only three field goals and the Miami Dolphins (6-7) won easily at home, 20-9, to claim their fifth consecutive victory.

After last week’s snoozy win over the Eagles — arguably the dullest nail-biter of the season — the Giants topped themselves with an even more stultifying game against the Dolphins on the road, losing, 20-9.

The offense’s two-game total since firing the offensive coordinator Jason Garrett: one touchdown and five field goals (albeit without the starting quarterback Daniel Jones on Sunday). The backup Mike Glennon got the start, which meant Giants fans had plenty of quiet time to contemplate all of the many existential questions facing this franchise.

With their team mustering only 9 points against the middling Dolphins, Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman and his handpicked head coach, Joe Judge, are likely to survive only through the season’s end, so that’s two existential answers right there. Whoever fills those jobs will immediately confront existential question No. 3: whether to extend the contract of Daniel Jones or draft another quarterback in the spring — or both.

Existential question No. 4 (probably the toughest of all): What of Saquon Barkley? He had just 9 total yards in the first half against Miami and finished with 55 rushing yards on 11 carries. He hasn’t scored a touchdown in two months. He hasn’t looked like Saquon in two years.

Verdict: Don’t forget to put “head coach” and “general manager” on your holiday wish list!

The Dolphins and Giants played tug of war over who’d inspire the least amount of confidence in the event of a win, before Miami pulled away and brought a merciful end to Sunday’s 20-9 puntfest.

Football games are played on an infinitely microscopic level, with most of the 22 participants on a given play never touching the ball, but fighting crucial battles that determine whether it will advance or not. So much of the balletic play-by-play context gets lost if only evaluating the final score.

Sunday’s box score, though, paints a very clear picture of what happened in Miami. Mike Glennon, filling in for a banged up Daniel Jones, averaged just 4.3 yards for his 44 passing attempts. Somehow, his decision-making still felt more ambitious than the run-pass option-heavy approach of his Dolphins counterpart, Tua Tagovailoa. Between these two offenses, I think I’ve had my fill of slant routes and screens for the remainder of 2021.

The best news for the Giants was that Freddie Kitchens, Jason Garrett’s replacement at offensive coordinator, seemed committed to getting tight end Evan Engram involved downfield. In each of the last two games, he was targeted at least five times and averaged over 12 yards per reception, leading a team that has had instability at the receiver position all year.

Up next, the Giants hit the road to face the Los Angeles Chargers, a sure playoff team that has been as bad at stopping the rush as the Giants have been at running the ball. If Jones returns, there may be some passing fun ahead.

Verdict: No Daniel Jones, no chance.

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