You could feel the change in the air. The humid sticky days of summer are being replaced by cool nights and that’s a sign of football in the air.
Fall is rapidly approaching and so is the NFL. It will turn our weekends of country fairs into a whirlwind of weekend tailgating and screaming at the TV with shouts of touchdown, it’s good and other sometimes-unidentifiable murmurings as the foam begins to collect at the edge of our mouths.
Yes, football brings out the best and the worst in the most avid fan, and around these parts we get set for the season-long debate on whether the Giants, Jets or Patriots are the king of the heap.
I’m well aware of all the Patriot haters out there, but nothing will ever top the most incredible comeback in all of sports that occurred in last season’s Super Bowl, and what an ending it was.
Trailing the Falcons 28-3 with just a couple of minutes left in the third quarter the Patriots staged the greatest comeback in the Super Bowl with a 34-28 overtime win. Love the Patriots or hate them, you can’t take away the fact that no other team in NFL history ever came back from that kind of deficit to win on the game’s largest stage.
The first word out of the Pats’ training camp had the haters salivating at the thought that there was dissention among the ranks. Julian Edelman and Stephen Gillmore got into it when the wide receiver and the cornerback were banished to the locker room and order off the field by coach Bill Belichick. But make no mistake about it, this team is in it for the long haul and they are already in midseason form as far as showing their competitiveness.
Belichick, never one to leave things to chance, responded to losing LeGarrette Blount to free agency by bringing in a host of new names like Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and LeShun Daniels to beef up a running game, which returns Super Bowl hero James White.
While the Patriots’ running game will never be their number one weapon as long as Tom Brady is in the pocket, the addition of receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwane Allen and four untested rookies assures that the team will not be one dimensional.
At 11-5, the Giants reached the playoffs for the first time in five years last year under first-year head coach Ben McAdoo. Will New York take a step forward or backward this season with the Giants’ all-time leading passer, 36-year-old Eli Manning, at the helm?
Making the playoffs is one thing. The Giants were in that Wild Card game at Green Bay. Then their weaknesses as a team rose to the surface, and rather quickly.
The defense gave up a Hail Mary on the final play of the half. The Giants trailed 14-13 late in the third quarter, but the offensive line couldn’t open up enough holes for the running game and New York was forced to throw on every down. The aging defense fell apart and the rest is history.
Questions coming into this season include does running back Paul Perkins have what it takes to take over the ground game.
Odell Beckham Jr. has proved he is one of the top receivers in the game. Will the addition of Brandon Marshall give the Giants the kind of offense that will lead them back to the playoffs?
The Giants have three first-round draft picks on the line of scrimmage in Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but they have all struggled at times and have not played to their potential.
The Jets haven’t left the runway since 2010 when Mark Sanchez led New York to the AFC title game for the second year in a row. Oddly enough the Jets severed ties with Sanchez following the 2012 season and have gone 27-37 ever since.
The Jets have tried to rejuvenate a running game that hasn’t gained any traction since Joe Namath was handing off to Emerson Boozer. Former 1,000-yard runners have gone to New York to ride off into the sunset like Ladainian Tomlinson and Chris Johnson.
Matt Forte, the 1,000-yard runner from the Bears, wound up on the tarmac last season as the Jets finished 5-11.
How far have the Jets fallen behind the rest of the pack was evident recently when they picked up a player off waivers and then announced the signing by showing a photo of the wrong player on their web page.
If the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, then how is the left leg and the right leg going to know which direction to run?
When your starting quarterback, Josh McCown, is a 12-year veteran who lost his job in Cleveland, a team that has gone 4-28 in the last two seasons, it’s safe to say the Jets are in serious trouble.
Mo’s take on the season: Patriots finish 14-2 and are back in the Super Bowl. Giants slip to 10-6, make the playoffs and actually advance before disappointing their fans in the second round. Jets could replace the Browns as the new cellar dweller in the AFC.