Ava’s Angle: Is New York Football legit this season?

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The Giants, Jets, and Bills, New York’s three football teams, have kicked off the 2022 season with a 11-4 combined record–the best such mark in recent history.  

Unlike the ‘main’ New York sports market teams, the Buffalo Bills have had success in the past few years and are known as one of the favorites for this year’s Super Bowl. With a strong offense led by quarterback Josh Allen and a powerful defense, the Bills will continue to be dominant for years to come. Despite that, the Giants and the Jets are the main conversation here, as they have been a shock to the NFL in the first five weeks of the season as teams initially expected to reside in the bottom portion of the league. 

In the preseason, most professional analysts listed the New York Giants towards the bottom of the NFL team rankings. ESPN ranked the Giants at No. 28. So far, they’ve beaten the odds and you have to give credit where it’s due. Head coach Brian Daboll and his crew are off to a 4-1 start. Compared to last season’s opposite start of 1-4, that’s a major improvement. 

Prior to this past Sunday’s game against the Packers, the Giants’ opponents have been lower ranked teams like the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, and Tennessee Titans. This gave people the idea that the Giants just had a weak start to their schedule and that things would even out once the competition improved. However, this narrative shifted when the Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in week five. With this win, New York matched their 2021 season wins total when they went 4-13. New York has not had a winning record since 2016. 

Upsetting the 3-1 Packers in London was a statement win for the Giants. Making a 14-point comeback after being down 20-10 at the half brought attention to New York and the capabilities that the Giants could have this season.  

Obviously, a healthy Saquon Barkley is considered as one of the most feared running backs in the NFL. Barkley has been a huge piece of what has given the Giants one of their best season starts in years. He is back to his old self with stellar offensive performances that have earned the Giants big wins. After their game against the Packers, Barkley leads the league with 463 rushing yards. With this being his last season before he hits free agency, he is contributing to the team in the best way and at the perfect time.  

Yes, the injuries have been a recurring problem for New York, especially with Sterling Shepard sidelined once again. Regardless, the Giants offense has been producing and is putting them in the position to contend for a playoff spot.  

Another key player for New York is offensive tackle Andrew Thomas who has developed into a known player and gives the Giants flexibility in their run game because of his asserted dominance. He has rounded out into a more professional player and is capable of uplifting the team.  

Seventh overall pick of this past spring’s draft, Evan Neal has potential to be a solid offensive tackle for the team. In his short time in the pros, his performances have started to make an impact. Additionally, against the Packers, nose tackle Dexter Lawrence had another strong outing for New York finishing with five tackles and a sack.  

Rookie linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux’s pass rushing and athletic ability has added dimensions to the Giants defense that they haven’t had for a while. The rookie shined, tipping Aaron Rodgers’ pass to force fourth down in a key situation, helping New York to secure the win. The Giants current record through five games is the best they’ve performed since 2009. It was also the first time that they beat the Packers since 2013. All of these components are what could help the Giants to contend this year.  

An undeniable factor that has changed the quality of the Giants’ organization is the new and improved coaching staff. Led by Brian Daboll, the staff has developed a better game plan to help the Giants succeed. Most importantly, they have put starting quarterback Daniel Jones in the position to win and to use his talents in an effective way. Jones has started to evolve into a franchise QB as he’s played tougher as a fearless leader. The new coaching has changed the mindset of the organization and has them prepared to win long term.  

On the other side of town, the New York Jets are filled with young talent and have started the season with a 3-2 record. They’re another team that was ranked at the bottom of all preseason lists. ESPN ranked them lower than the Giants, at No. 30. 

In their week five game against the Miami Dolphins, the Jets showed that they can play with a lead from start to finish. They have also proved that they can come from behind and still come away with the win like they did against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. Coach Robert Saleh knows the importance of defeating division foes and has done so effectively. 

The past few drafts have been significant for the Jets as they are now filled with immense amounts of young talent. According to NFL.com, four players from the Jets rookie class have been ranked in the top 20 rookies of the 2022 season (No. 1 CB Sauce Gardner, No. 5 WR Garrett Wilson, No. 8 RB Breece Hall, No. 18 DE Jermaine Johnson II). The stellar one-two punch in Breece Hall and Michael Carter can help them reach the playoffs. Hall could be known as one of the best draft picks the Jets have had in a while as he became the first such rookie in history with 100 receiving yards and a rushing TD in the same game. 

Staying on offense, wide receivers Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore have been solid too. On the defensive end, outside cornerbacks D.J. Reed and Sauce Garder have shined. Behind both sides, Zach Wilson is starting to develop into the quarterback that the Jets need. Wilson’s powerful arm, quick release and quality mobility are strengths that are beginning to help the young QB’s performance click. On top of that, the continuing addition of defensive players would take the Jets to a higher level and set them up for a bright future. Time will be a huge factor for Wilson and the Jets but they are certainly moving forward.  

The infusion of youth has helped bring the Jets strong performances that are now leading to higher expectations. Wilson and the rest of the team’s young core has lit a fire under the organization. They are on the path to start moving the team in a positive direction.  

For the first time since 2015, the Giants and the Jets both have winning records. Although the playoffs still seem far away, both teams should definitely be in the contention conversations. All in all, New York sports have been thriving this fall, and it’s just the beginning of long lines of success for the football teams in the city.  

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