Start spreading the boos: At a combined 0-8, the Jets, Giants display football futility

ByRich Cimini and Jordan Raanan ESPN logo
Saturday, October 10, 2020

New York is the city that doesn't sleep, like the Frank Sinatra song says, but its NFL teams snoozed through the first quarter of the season.

The New York Jets and New York Giants are 0-4 for the first time since 1976, conjuring up bad memories from the darkest decade in their respective histories. The Giants were coached by Bill Arnsparger, who was replaced at midseason by John McVay, who is now known as Los Angeles Rams coach Sean's grandfather.

Lou Holtz was one-and-done as the Jets' coach in 1976. Actually, it was less than one season, as he bailed out with one game remaining to accept the job as the University of Arkansas' head football coach.

Both teams finished 3-11 that year, and they seem to be in the midst of a retro season. So break out your old bell bottoms and crank up the disco music, because we're reminiscing about 1976 but still have the Polaroid camera focused on the 2020 Giants and Jets.

Here's a closer look at areas that stand out for both teams:

0-4 records

Giants: This is the second time in four seasons the Giants have started with four losses. At least in 2018 and '19 they were able to win in Week 3. Not this time. The Giants have managed to score fewer than 20 points in each of their first four games this season, and they haven't scored a touchdown in their past two losses. That's hardly a recipe for winning. Their 47 points scored are the fewest in their first four games since 1996.

Jets: The Jets are 0-4 for the second straight season under coach Adam Gase, which makes the Giants' recent struggles look like a run of prosperity. Under Gase, they're 1-10 in the months of September and October, a lower winning percentage than their 1995-96 seasons under Rich Kotite (3-15). Nothing is more demoralizing to a team than being relegated to also-ran status before Halloween. This year's schedule has been difficult, magnifying the many flaws in their roster, but they blew a chance last week against the previously winless Denver Broncos.

Minus-115 combined point differential

Jets: Can you say "non-competitive"? The Jets' point differential is minus-66, easily the worst in the league. That is rather alarming, especially when you consider the Jets faced backup quarterbacks in six of 16 quarters -- San Francisco 49ers' Nick Mullens (two quarters) and Broncos third-stringer Brett Rypien (four quarters). The Jets' problem -- well, one of the many problems -- is they fall behind quickly. They trailed almost immediately in three of the four losses, thanks to calamitous plays -- a pick-six and an 80-yard touchdown run. When they finally got a lead (see: Denver), they blew it. Twice.

Giants: The Giants have been outscored by 49 points in four weeks and have a minus-eight touchdown differential. That's not good. It's a little skewed by getting blown out 36-9 by the Niners in Week 3. Then again, the Giants got blown out by the 49ers with Mullens at quarterback. Mullens was benched the following week in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

1,112 total yards (tied)

Jets: Perhaps it's fitting the two New York teams are tied for last in total offense with the same exact total. How bad are the Jets? They have five touchdowns, three of them coming on broken plays that happened because of quarterback Sam Darnold's improvisational ability -- a 46-yard scramble and two spectacular throws outside the pocket. Another came on an audible by Darnold. Here's another way to look at it: Of the 249 plays called by Gase, only one worked like it was drawn up and resulted in a touchdown.

Giants: What this shows is the two New York teams have been equally inept offensively. The Giants' excuse -- and it's a big one -- is no Saquon Barkley. They built their offense around the running back and he's out for the season with a knee injury. Still, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett should be able to do better than this with quarterbackDaniel Jones, wide receivers Darius Slayton and Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram on the field. There is no way around it: The Giants' offense has been a disappointment.

Giants, Jets projected No. 1, No. 2 picks in 2021 draft

Giants: Right now, the Giants are projected to finish No. 1. Hooray, I guess? If they continue at this pace and Jones doesn't make noticeable progress, Trevor Lawrence will be the pick. Many NFL evaluators think he's the best quarterback prospect since formerIndianapolis Coltsquarterback Andrew Luck. Can't pass on that. Or doubling up on offensive tackles in back-to-back years with Penei Sewell doesn't seem like a bad way to go, either. A playmaker such as LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase would also make a lot of sense if the Giants end up picking later in the top five or top 10.

Jets: Unless Darnold morphs into Buffalo's Josh Allen (ouch, that hurts), the Jets won't be able to pass up Lawrence if they're in position to draft him. It would mean restarting the clock with a rookie quarterback (and a new coach, no doubt), but general manager Joe Douglas is taking a methodical approach with his rebuilding plan and could add years to his financial flexibility because Lawrence would be on his rookie contract through 2024. If not Lawrence, they could go for Chase or Penn State pass-rusher Micah Parsons.

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