Welcome to Victory Monday times two …
The Jets saved their season. And quite possibly Robert Saleh’s career. The absolute worst-case scenario for the Jets entering this season was to become irrelevant before Zach Wilson returned from injury. And that would have more or less been accomplished with an 0-2 start. So they needed Sunday’s miraculous 31-30 win in Cleveland. Even if they lose to the desperate 0-2 Bengals this coming week, they will remain afloat whenever Wilson comes back, whether it is Week 4 against the Steelers or later. Which is what they would have signed up for the moment they confirmed Wilson’s knee injury would not cost him the entire year.
This win was also the biggest of Saleh’s tenure as coach. By far. He looked like a coach coming unglued earlier in the week. It was impossible to look at him in the wake of his ill-advised “receipts” comments and not see Adam Gase or Ben McAdoo or Joe Judge. The avalanche would have started rumbling down the hill had the Jets followed up his bravado with a loss. Especially the way this one was trending before the furious finish. Because if it ended at 30-17 or even 30-24, the story would have been the lack of discipline — the offensive line penalties, the pass interference call, Garrett Wilson’s back-breaking drop. Which would have reinforced the narrative the Jets lack maturity under Saleh and destabilized his standing further.
Instead, his hand-picked backup quarterback — Joe Flacco — turned back the clock for one glorious stretch of 1:22 of game time to get Saleh off the hook.
“No. We have to win a hell of a lot more than one game to cash in on those,” Saleh told reporters when asked if he was ready to start presenting his receipts. Which is true. But this one win gives him and his team renewed life — and some room to breathe.
The Giants should enjoy the good times while they last. I still don’t think this team will accomplish much when all is said and done, even if they do manage to start 4-0 (or even 3-1) with home games against the Cowboys and Bears on deck. The roster is still underwhelming. Daniel Jones is still Daniel Jones. Saquon Barkley is not going to be Barry Sanders every week. And the schedule is about to turn sooner rather than later. Playing the Packers in London, followed by the Ravens with no open week and then back-to-back road games in Jacksonville and Seattle will be grueling. That’s where the magic could likely run out. But for now, it hasn’t. And after years of misery, Giants fans should enjoy it all, and the 19-16 triumph over the Panthers was another great showing during the team’s new era.
Kenny Golladay shouldn’t be around much longer. Brian Daboll clearly has no use for him. Which is quite understandable; Golladay has been a colossal bust seemingly from the moment he signed the egregious contract former general manager Dave Gettleman gave him. And even if Golladay handled his demotion (just two snaps on Sunday) professionally, the Giants can’t expect to keep going to that well without some sort of backlash. They can’t cut Golladay, but they should be able to trade him somewhere if they will eat a large portion of his salary. Which is what they should angle to do. There is less of a sense of urgency to figure out the ongoing Kadarius Toney saga given he is still on a rookie deal. The stakes are much lower.
People are making too much of the Nick Chubb touchdown. Yes, the Browns almost assuredly win the game if he falls down instead of scoring a touchdown with 1:55 to go. Still, raise your hand if you though the Jets had any chance to rally from a two-score deficit and you don’t collect a paycheck from the team. That’s what I thought. These are coaches and players, not Madden characters. You have to expect to hold a two-score lead after the two-minute warning. Especially when the other team has no timeouts and safety rules have more or less made onside kicks impossible. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it’s very hard to ding Chubb or the Browns for taking the points.
Garrett Wilson. It certainly looks like Jets general manager Joe Douglas has found his No. 1 receiver. The drop aside, Wilson was tremendous with eight catches for 102 yards and two scores. He may already be the best receiver in the city.
Leonard Williams. Early indications are the Giants have optimism he will not be lost for long with a knee injury. But it’s a tough blow if he misses any time, especially with Kayvon Thibodeaux’s debut appearing imminent. Williams was one of Gettleman’s biggest miscues for myriad reasons, but unlike Golladay he is actually a competent, productive player. The Giants need him on the field if they want to keep this surprise surge going.