Through two weeks of the NFL season, there is a reserved optimism for fans of both New York football teams.
The Giants, off to their first 2-0 start since 2009, spent lots of money to improve their defense and make a return to the playoffs. They also hired Ben McAdoo as their head coach after Tom Coughlin’s 12-year tenure with the team.
Meanwhile, the Jets sit at 1-1, after a close loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals in week one and a resounding victory over the Buffalo Bills in week two.
The 493 yards the team gained against the Bills is the fifth-most since 1970. Wide outs Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall both accounted for over 100 receiving yards, and running back Matt Forte gained 100 yards on the ground and rushed for three touchdowns in the game for the second time in his career.
Evidently, re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick was the right move for the organization. Their schedule still features tough opponents the next few weeks in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, but with the New England Patriots currently down to their third-string quarterback, a division lead for the Jets heading into week five is a real possibility.
“The Jets are a playoff team; they just have to get by other playoff teams to prove that,” said Ramapo senior George Hunkele. “They controlled their own destiny heading into Week 17 last year, and they look better this year. It’s just the schedule that’s stopping them – otherwise, this team can do a lot of damage.”
The New York Giants have been noticeably less spectacular on offense, scoring a total of 36 points and squeaking by the Dak Prescott-led Dallas Cowboys and the suddenly unimpressive New Orleans Saints. The two wins have come in large part due to the play of the big three the Giants brought in.
Damon Harrison is a boulder in the middle of the defense. He clogs running lanes and frees up the less than stellar linebackers to make plays. Olivier Vernon, paired with the newly-gloved Jason Pierre-Paul, have put consistent pressure on quarterbacks through two weeks.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins not only led the team with eight tackles against the Saints, including a tackle for a loss on a third down, but he also scored the lone touchdown for the Giants on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.
“The Giants are a new team,” said senior Brandon Kurtzman. “Last year, the team was Eli [Manning] and Odell [Beckham]. This year, Sterling Shepard looks great so far, [Victor] Cruz looks solid which is great, running game is solid, and the defense doesn’t even compare to last year’s.”
Undoubtedly, the Giants are happy to be at 2-0, even with Beckham dropping touchdown passes and right tackle Marshall Newhouse helping to shorten Eli Manning’s career.
If each can maintain the momentum from important early season wins, both may find themselves in the post season for the first time since Mark Sanchez was the Jets’ starting quarterback.