Between the New York Jets, the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills, a power shift is certainly taking place right before our eyes. Although all three teams missed the playoffs last season, that doesn’t seem to be the case this season—at least not for all of them.
Let’s start with the Bills, the only team that’s truly in the state of New York. These guys went 9-7 last year with an elite defense and, oh yeah, Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback. However, this year there may be a change of plans in Bills nation. First off, they have a new head coach in town named Rex Ryan, a very defense-minded coach. Early this offseason, the team traded LB Kiko Alonso (coming off an ACL tear) for all-pro running back, LeSean McCoy. A great acquisition if you ask me. In addition, they acquired WR Percy Harvin from the Jets and kept DE Jerry Hughes.
When you look at their defense, opponents can’t help but be worried. With arguably the best defensive line in the league that consists of Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Marcell Dareus and a very underappreciated Kyle Williams, that in and of itself will wreak havoc. Along with defensive backs Stephon Gilmore and Corey Graham, this defense is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
On the offensive side, although the line is shaky, they do have Shady McCoy back there along with Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. They also have Percy Harvin on the outside.
The one thing keeping the Bills from a deep playoff run is a true legitimate quarterback. E.J. Manuel has shown spurts of legitimacy, however he is far too inaccurate and needs to show significant improvement. If the Bills shore up their offensive line and get a legitimate quarterback, the AFC will need to be on high alert.
Now we move to the New York Jets. For once they’re moving in the right direction. Woody Johnson’s ineptness in finding a good coach and coordinator has been resolved as Todd Bowles and a new general manager Mike Maccagnan look to turn things around this season. As Jets fans were tortured with John Idzik’s unwillingness to spend money, it seems these new guys will spend money where it matters. With the trade for wideout Brandon Marshall and the signings of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, and safety Marcus Gilchrist, the Jets have definitely done some necessary fine-tuning. (And let’s not forget Calvin Pryor is still back there as well.) This defense has the potential to be lethal with a much improved secondary. With a beastly defensive line of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Coples, and solid linebackers David Harris and Calvin Pace, these Jets have a defense to strike fear as they did a few years back when they had Rex Ryan (now with the Bills) as a coach.
As for the offense, there are still holes. Yes, Brandon Marshall and Erik Decker are a legit 1-2 punch at receiver, but is Bilal Powell the answer at running back and is Ryan Fitzpatrick the answer at quarterback? I think not. But, the Jets do have a formidable offensive line and with a legitimate quarterback, they can go far.
The Jets and Bills are similar in that they each have a great defense but a questionable quarterback. The good news is that both teams are young, and that can seriously help them moving forward.
Now, to the biggest disaster of them all: The New York Giants. Yes, just a few years ago they held up the Lombardi Trophy. But it has been downhill ever since. They have a top tier experienced quarterback in Eli Manning, a legitimate running game in newly signed Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings, as well as a receiving tandem of offensive rookie of the year Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz (although Cruz is coming off a serious knee injury). Larry Donnell surprised fans with his work last season. The team also has young offensive linemen in Justin Pugh, Geoff Schwartz, and Weston Richburg.
So, what seems to be the issue? Well, the Giants lack something the Bills and Jets have: a defense. Yes, they have Jason “JPP” Pierre-Paul. But can you name anyone else besides JPP, Prince Amukamara, Jon Beason and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (“DRC”)? Fans fall into the trap of believing a few good defenders make up for the bad ones. If that were true, the Giants wouldn’t have gone 6-10 in 2014. The inept general manager Jerry Reese refuses to care about defense, which is why it has so many holes. The Giants have a fine offense, but the defense is absolutely atrocious, and if this continues, they will be lucky to go 6-10 next season. They need a starting safety, a linebacker, a defensive tackle, and another defensive end. All the guys “starting” in the depth chart as of now are backups. If the Giants don’t get it together defensively, they aren’t going anywhere next season. Their corners are fine, however every other position needs to be filled. So far, they have signed two backup linebackers and that is simply nothing compared to the number of defensive players we need.
When the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011, it was because of their lethal defense. The New England Patriots with a top two quarterback won the Super Bowl because of an interception—defense! With free agent defenders such as Brandon Spikes, Dashon Goldston, Lance Briggs, Rahim Moore, Terrance Knighton, Michael Johnson, Greg Hardy, and even Vince Wilfork, the Giants should at least make an effort to strengthen their needs before draft night comes around.
The Bills and Jets are moving in the right direction, but each needs a quarterback to become a contender. As for the Giants, they need everything but that, especially on the defensive side. Maybe they should trade Eli Manning for a few defenders on the Jets or the Bills. But if they did that, they would be in the same predicament as the other two New York football teams. None of these teams will contend unless they fill their hole(s). And like I said before, if the Jets or Bills get a legitimate QB, they can make some noise in the AFC.
What do you think each team should do?
About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).