The 2018 NFL season is three weeks old. After an offseason of anticipation and excitement, both the New York Jets and New York Giants find themselves (1-2). In April the Giants and Jets drafted second and third overall respectively. The Giants selected the best talent in the draft Saquon Barkley. The Jets took the (arguably) best quarterback in the draft. Fans across the tri-state area have been arguing back and forth between the picks.
The Giants taking Barkley was seen with heavy backlash. Fans wanted the Giants to look toward the future and draft a play caller to succeed Eli Manning. Instead they took an all world talent for running back. The Giants had glaring holes that wouldn’t be fixed with one pick. The offensive line has been abysmal since their last Super Bowl win, Eli Manning shows his age with each passing game (pun intended), and the team hasn’t had a true number one running back in recent memory. Essentially there wasn’t a player the Giants could pick that would fix all their problems. Whether taking a quarterback, a generational talent at running back or any other prospect, the Giants can build on their future.
The Jets on the other hand knew what they wanted. Trading four picks to Indianapolis Colts in order to move up three spots. Come draft day the Jets knew they would have their pick between (Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen). Darnold was seen as the most ‘NFL ready’ quarterback in the draft. There may have never been an easier decision than when the Jets found themselves on the clock and Darnold on the board. Honestly, the Jets may not have even been ‘on the clock’ as this was the biggest no brainer of all time. Fast forward to Week 1. Detroit, Michigan Monday Night Football, Jets vs Lions. September 10, 2018, Sam Darnold’s first snap as a professional. Play action, Darnold fakes the hand-off, rolls to the right, steps up in the pocket and throws on the run across the field...Intercepted. A pick six is how the prodigy’s career started. Jets fans were experiencing Deja Vu as their franchise savior starts his career the worst way possible. Fast forward to nights end, Darnold led the Jets to a 48-17 win.
Hindsight being 20/20 both teams and players will deal with questions about their picks. Was Darnold rushed to start the season? Was Barkley the right pick? The future will tell the story.
Making a rookie the starter to begin the season speaks on two trains of thought. First, Darnold’s talent shined through, beating Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater out for the starting job. Second, the Jets are putting their faith in Darnold. It’s a sink or swim business and Darnold was given the task of swimming in rocky water. In the past those ask to carry this burden have sunk like a rock. Darnold on the other seems fit for the task.
Personally, Barkley was the right choice at two. The Giants had too many holes to fill and a talent like Saquon only comes around once. Allowing Eli Manning to have at least a threat in the run game helps him immensely. Not to mention Barkley is the only running back to have 100+ yards from scrimmage in every game this season. The Giants once took a player who ‘filled a need’ in Ereck Flowers. Taking Flowers meant missing out on Todd Gurley (decent player). Point here is, sometimes filling a void to fill a void, backfires.
Both teams have the same record. Barkley has looked strong and Darnold has looked like the franchise quarterback the team has been missing. Should the Giants have taken Darnold (another quarterback)? Will Darnold continue to grow and make the Giants regret passing on him?
Is The NFL Getting Soft?
After yet another roughing the passer penalty, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews expressed some frustration with the NFL. Matthews said, "Unfortunately this league's going in a direction I think a lot of people don't like. I think they're getting soft,". It’s no question that the league has cracked down on player safety and taking out unnecessary hits. Have the hits by Matthews been egregious? Or is it the penalties called on him? Is the NFL getting “soft”?