This past Sunday, I woke up like I do each and every day and took my morning walk to Starbucks. It’s usually where I get my best thinking done.
There was a chill in the air, and to me that only means one thing on a September morning. It means that football season is here.
I love that the Sunday before Labor Day is the last Sunday without NFL Football until the middle of February.
The traditions, the fantasy lineups, the parlays and the nonstop action is on the horizon.
For the New York football franchises, the bar could not be set any lower. Since the start of the 2012 season, only one New York team has made the postseason.
The Jets have had one winning season in that span, while the Giants have had two. It’s been a whole lot of bad football since Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning hoisted that second Lombardi Trophy.
The Giants have loftier expectations than the Jets. Last season, the Giants rallied back from a rotten start and put themselves in playoff contention in what was a very mediocre division.
The Giants played hard for first-year coach Joe Judge, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
This year, the Giants should be more dynamic on offense. Saquon Barkley is back and Kenny Golloday should add a terrific dynamic to the passing game.
The two make-or-break questions for the season are pretty simple. Can Daniel Jones make the necessary leap to the top half of NFL quarterbacks in his third season and can the Giants offensive line protect him?
The much-maligned offensive line will be tested very early. The Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team feature two of the best pass rushes in the sport.
If the Giants can get answers at quarterback and on the offensive line, they can be a playoff team. If not, I expect major changes in the front office and at the quarterback position in the offseason.
For the Jets, it’s another year with a first-year coach and first-year quarterback.
Robert Saleh will coach his first game, and Zach Wilson will start his first game, Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Call me a sucker, but there seems to be a much different feel around the New York Jets this year.
It’s pretty obvious that Zach Wilson is in a far better position to succeed than his predecessor Sam Darnold. The Jets added offensive talent, the offensive line looks competent, and it seems like this coaching staff has a clue.
This season is a feeling-out process for Jets fans. You’ll see how Robert Saleh handles a team, a young quarterback and adversity.
You’ll get a sense of the rookie quarterback and his mental toughness, because he will inevitably ride the rookie roller coaster.
There will be highs and lows, but in many ways it’s a free season for the Jets. If you come away feeling good about your coach and your quarterback, the season is a success.
Expectations may differ, but the butterflies will remain the same. I know this, I’ll have a hard time sleeping Saturday night.
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