Giants coach Brian Daboll and Jets coach Robert Saleh.

Giants coach Brian Daboll and Jets coach Robert Saleh. Credit: James Escher; Patrick E. McCarthy

It may not have seemed like it, based on all the commotion that has taken place the last few days pitting quarterbacks against late night television hosts and head coaches against defensive coordinators, but this is about as quiet as it gets in New York football for this time of the year.

In fact, it’s been about a decade since we’ve witnessed this kind of silent equilibrium in our neighborhood. To find the last time the Giants and the Jets both ended their regular seasons without making the playoffs and also without firing a head coach, you have to go all the way back to January 2014, when Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan were still clinging to their final years on the job.

In fact, there are only seven teams in the NFL that find themselves in the strange cove between limbo and stability — limbility? — that the Giants and Jets are in, having not made this postseason while sticking with a head coach who is not coming off his first season with the organization. The Bengals, Jaguars, Vikings, Bears and Saints are the others. There are more franchises that already have committed to coaching changes (eight, with the potential for more depending on how this wild card weekend plays out) than there are ones that are home watching the postseason while also having a head coach getting ready for at least his third season.

Enjoy the tranquility while it lasts. One way or another, it surely won’t be here next year.

Both organizations seem headed toward a 2024 season that will end either with that rare postseason berth or more sweeping changes.

It certainly feels as if the Jets have less wiggle room in this regard. After a season in which they put everything into Aaron Rodgers and came away with almost nothing to show for it, they’re going to try again. If it manages to succeed? Great. If it leads to another ghastly result? The entire framework of the team — general manager, coach, quarterback — could pay the price.

“Obviously, we’re all going to be on the quote-unquote hot seat next year,” Rodgers said the day after the season ended. “It’s going to be an important year for all of us.”

General manager Joe Douglas clearly feels that same pressure.

“We need to win,” he said this past week. “My record is not good enough and I know that and everything we do moving forward is to win and that is it, that is all that matters.”

The Giants could be in a slightly different place. They were a playoff team a year ago and Brian Daboll was named Coach of the Year, so there is more recent success to point to than the Jets have had.

The happenings of the next few months could alter perceptions as well. If the Giants draft a quarterback in April and he becomes a starter for them while Daniel Jones is either recovering from his ACL tear or pushed to the side, it will reset that all-important clock that teams seem to have counting down the days and weeks of their patience.

Even with a new quarterback, though, Daboll already has put a good deal of the weight of 2024 on his own shoulders by forcing the public divorce with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and others on the staff. He’ll be the one who hires those replacements and the one who figures to be more hands-on next year.

Giants general manager Joe Schoen did give Daboll a vote of confidence as he wrapped up this season, especially for the way he navigated a mostly desperate second half of the season after starting 2-8.

“If you’ve been in the league long enough, you’ve seen some teams quit and you’ve seen some players mail it in at the end of the season,” Schoen said. “I just think part of the reflection of the job that [Daboll] did was that we went through adversity . . .  The guys continue to come in and put in the work, compete, and we were in those [late] games.”

Schoen admitted that the gloss of the playoffs last season may have blinded the organization to some of its weaknesses.

“We started fast, had a playoff win, and maybe you didn’t see where all the issues were, whether it was in the building, on the team, in the coaching staff, wherever it may have been,” he said. “Going through [2023], I think it [stunk],  but it also opened our eyes to some things that maybe need to change or we need to get better at or we need to change the process.”

That fool’s gold certainly won’t be a problem for them this offseason. Nor will it be for the Jets. There is nothing shiny or deceiving about what they accomplished.

All of the weaknesses that led them to this point  have been bared and acknowledged. Now the coaches get one last chance to fix them.

If they can, they should be busy game-planning for an opponent at this point a year from now.

If they can’t, the search will be on for someone who can.

Either way, next January should be a busy one in these parts.

Bill on the move

Most of the previous openings as Giants head coach  have come with phases in which there is at least a chance that Bill Belichick returns home to coach the team for which he helped win two Super Bowls as a young defensive coordinator. It obviously never happened. What timing, then, that Belichick  finally is free to coach anywhere and the Giants lack a vacancy with which to lure him.

But that doesn’t mean the greatest coach in NFL history won’t have links to the Giants. In fact, there is a chance he winds up in the same division.

While the Commanders are going through a coaching change after firing Ron Rivera and hiring former Patriots scout Adam Peters as their general manager, there is plenty of speculation that a quick exit from the playoffs could lead to the dismissal of Mike McCarthy with the Cowboys. There is even a chance that an Eagles flameout would lead to huge changes in Philadelphia. Belichick could be a fit for any of those NFC East teams, which would pit him against the Giants twice a season for the next however many years he decides to stay in coaching.

There are other options for Belichick, though, with hype starting to surround him landing in Atlanta, a team many see as being a quarterback away from contending. The Chargers are an appealing team, too, given that they seem set at quarterback with Justin Herbert. Carolina doesn’t have the best roster, but it has the owner with the deepest pockets, if that is something that attracts Belichick.

If all else fails, maybe Belichick will wind up back with the Giants anyway. They are committed to Daboll as their head coach, but they do have an opening at defensive coordinator.

They ain't Lion

A lot is being made of Detroit’s first home playoff game in 30 years this weekend, but the combined dearth of postseason action at MetLife Stadium is nearly as long. It’s been 14 full seasons since the Giants hosted the one and only playoff game there, which means the two tenants of the building have  gone a combined 28 NFL seasons without hosting one. Yikes. But at least one local player understands that if the Lions can do it, so can these teams.

Jets tight end Tyler Conklin, a Michigan native, said he didn’t grow up a Lions fan but was surrounded by them. “Everybody has sat there and went through the same thing drinking the Kool-Aid from the Lions every year,” he said this past week. “This year they figured it out a little bit.”

Might the Jets, who own the longest postseason drought in North American pro sports, figure it out next season?

“I do think [we’re] really close, but I also know everybody is also sick of hearing how close you are,” Conklin said. “At the end of the day, you have to go out and do it, and obviously we haven’t the last two years . . .  These fans deserve a playoff team, a team that can compete for a championship. They’ve deserved it for a long time.”

Yep. Way too long.


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