Jets and Giants Lose, but Jets May Be Starting to ‘Lose Close’

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Time is a flat circle, but we want to help you break it. To that end, we’ve enlisted two experts — one familiar with the ins and outs of New York’s professional football teams, the other a nationally focused football analyst — to answer an essential question as a weekly service to readers: Are the Jets and Giants good yet?

Devin Gordon, the author of “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets, the Best Worst Team in Sports,” observed the teams from a locally focused perspective.

Diante Lee, an N.F.L. analyst at Pro Football Focus, offered a national view.

Deploying some exciting plays, the Jets (3-11) lost, 31-24, to their A.F.C. rivals, the Miami Dolphins (7-7), on Sunday afternoon in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins have won six straight.

Let’s come up with things for Jets fans to be thankful for. This won’t take long. Braxton Berrios, a speedy, scrappy receiver in the grand tradition of — sound the angel horns — Wayne Chrebet, has been fun to watch.

With one significant exception, the baby Jets are the best Jets: Running back Michael Carter and wide receiver Elijah Moore look like promising playmakers, and the pass-rusher Quinnen Williams might be named to his first Pro Bowl. The upside of another season of double-digit losses is another top-five pick in the next draft. It is a draft rich in defense, too, perfect for a team whose defense is not. And while we’re being thankful, thank the Seattle Seahawks, who sent the Jets their 2022 first-round pick in the trade for Jamal Adams. And be extra thankful that the Seahawks aren’t good.

Now the hard part. Be thankful, Jets fans, that Zach Wilson is only 11 games into his N.F.L. career. Let’s acknowledge, as we watch the Dolphins celebrate their sixth straight win, that Tua Tagovailoa once stunk, too, until midway through Year 2.

Verdict: Stop rooting for the Jets and start rooting against the Seahawks. It’s way more fulfilling.

“First, you lose big. Then you lose close.”

The words of the former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden ring true all the way up the East Coast. The result of this game is likely to sting the Jets coaching staff more than the fan base, but both sides will draw their emotional responses from the same events.

You can tell the Jets wanted a win badly by the way the offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur called plays: a reverse pass attempt to Zach Wilson in the red zone; a hook-and-ladder in the first half; a double pass that looked like a disaster until the point of completion.

If nothing else, this should buy Coach Robert Saleh some good will. He was willing to empty the barrel in an inconsequential divisional game to keep his players engaged. Also, he gave the green light on the aggression, because, well, the Dolphins.

Wilson got back over the 50 percent completion mark, and this was the most encouraging loss of the season, something that should not feel as good to type as it did. If the energy from this one carries over, the Jets may reach the other half of Bowden’s wisdom:

“Then you win close. Finally, you win big.”

Verdict: We’re this far along now. Might as well see it through!

The Dallas Cowboys (10-4) beat the Giants, 21-6, on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants (4-10) used Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm at quarterback in place of the injured Daniel Jones.

The Giants played a football game on Sunday, but never mind that. The Cowboys won. They’re going to win the N.F.C. East again. Good for them. This is a lost season, so rather than summarize three hours of meaningless football, let’s focus on a 2-yard reception by Saquon Barkley with 2 minutes 49 seconds left in the first quarter.

To catch a terrible dump-off from the Giants’ second-string quarterback, Mike Glennon, who was making yet another start for Daniel Jones, whose neck injury has put his season in jeopardy, Barkley was forced to reach back across his body and snatch the ball out of the air. For the first time this season, I gasped. At various points, we’ve gotten glimpses of Saquon Superstar — the guy the Giants drafted second overall — but was he really back? Could he still hit warp speed? Could he still make guys miss in open space? How would we know? There was no space. This grab, though. It was proof. Barkley is back. The return is real.

Unfortunately, everything else about the franchise stinks. Unlike Jets fans, who can remind themselves they’re early in a promising rebuild — with the picks and the cap room to show for it — the Giants haven’t even started their teardown. The ugliest is yet to come. Pray for Barkley.

Verdict: That big box under the tree is another week of Mike Glennon at quarterback.

The verdict on watchability goes at the end of this column. But we don’t have to beat around the bush. You know, as I do, that this Giants team is not putting out anyone’s idea of an enjoyable product. New York is not known to have an apathetic viewing audience, but Joe Judge & Co. are driving fans to a dangerous level of boredom.

One cause is the piece of flesh pro football extracts from participants. Nearly every interesting player in blue is wrapped in ice and bandages, sleeping with a neck pillow or having a swab put in his nose and Vicks rubbed on his chest. The injury report has been like three episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” for over a month.

Against this skeleton crew, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and his offense did not need to push past third gear. Jake Fromm made an appearance for the Giants at quarterback and was even allowed to throw the ball (6 for 12 for 82 yards), which should paint a picture of this franchise’s state of affairs.

Verdict: College football’s bowl season is here. Go watch people who look happy to be here.

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