The Giants and Jets are the real surprises of the 2022 NFL Season

With a combined record of 11-3, the Giants and Jets are both winning close games off of their defensive play, the run game, their coaching scheme, and their rookies.


No one expected the NFC East and the AFC East to be the two toughest divisions in football coming into this season, as the Giants and Jets are both currently in the mix for a playoff berth as of Week 8.

On paper, for both teams, it doesn’t make sense with the amount of talent they have on their rosters compared to other teams. But so far, both New York teams have found a way to win these close games as the underdogs.

The Giants have a rookie head coach in Brian Daboll and many thought the roster didn’t have enough talent to compete this year.

Head Coach Brian Daboll and Robert Saleh
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll, left, and New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, right, meet on the field after a preseason NFL football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson) ((Julia Nikhinson / Associated Press))

With the firing of former head coach Joe Judge (who is now the offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach for New England) and the retirement of general manager Dave Gettleman in 2021, the team itself seemed like it would be a mess for a few years and many thought that a rebuild would be needed to turn the team around.

However, with new general manager Joe Schoen and Daboll, both coming over from the Buffalo Bills, they seemed to bring their winning ways to New York in their first year together as the new regime.

Daboll was the former offensive coordinator for the Bills and was heavily involved in the development of star quarterback Josh Allen.

Schoen was the assistant GM for Buffalo and he also brought in defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, to replace former Giants DC Patrick Graham, who was hired by the Las Vegas Raiders. Former Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Mike Kafka was also brought in this season to be the offensive coordinator, replacing former OC Jason Garrett.

The last time the Giants had a winning record was in 2016 and at 5-1, the Daboll-led Giants look to keep pace with the likes of the undefeated 6-0 Philadelphia Eagles and not fall behind the 5-2 Dallas Cowboys. The Jets have been through even more than the Giants, as the Jets haven’t had a winning record since 2015. At 5-2, they sit behind the 5-1 Bills but ahead of both the 4-3 Miami Dolphins and 3-4 Patriots.

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley (#26) of the New York Giants scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 16, 2022. (Sarah Stier | Credit: 2022 Getty Images)

The coaching staff turnover was desperately needed this past offseason, but achieving results this quickly with this roster and competing right away is essentially best case scenario for the Giants currently and for the future outlook of the franchise.

The same can be said with Robert Saleh and the Jets.

Now in his second year as the head coach of the Jets, Saleh, who came over from the Niners in 2021 as a defensive coordinator, looks to improve their win total this season (as they won only four games under his rookie tenure last year).

Saleh brought in Mike LaFleur last season, as he was the former passing game coordinator for San Francisco. Jeff Ulbrich was brought in with Saleh before the 2021 season to be the Jet’s new defensive coordinator, replacing former DC Gregg Williams. Ulbrich was mainly the Atlanta Falcons linebackers coach, as the Jets had and still have one of the younger defenses in the NFL.

Saleh already leading the Jets to the same win total in seven weeks so far compared to the number of wins they had all last season is a pretty big accomplishment for the young brass. And talent-wise, to a certain extent, one can argue that both the Jets and Giants are maximizing the players on the roster and their certain roles in the offensive or defensive schemes for each team.

But both Saleh and Daboll are winning games in a similar fashion, but with some slight differences. But in terms of what both teams are doing to win, there are many comparisons that each team is accomplishing.

New York Jets running back Breece Hall
Green Bay Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (59) chases New York Jets running back Breece Hall (20) during their football game on Sunday, October 16, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

These methods can be led to old fashion, hard-nosed football philosophies that are more traditional compared to the modern NFL, which leans more towards airing the football out.

However, so far in 2022, defenses have been able to stop the deep passes and big plays league-wide, so teams geared towards running the football, for the most part, are having success early this season.

Both the Giants and Jets are finding success so far due to a few different reasons. But it isn’t like they don’t have their own weaknesses that each team has to overcome.

The Giant’s wide receiver core could be seen as one of the worst, or the worst, in the NFL, and the Jet’s offensive line still isn’t that great even with some new additions. And both their defenses have rookie starters by necessity and due to where they were selected.

Whether it is due to injuries or just player personnel decisions, both teams are getting the most out of their talent in the scheme that they are in, for both offense and defense.

One of the reasons both teams are playing well is that they are both playing complementary football and are adopting the bend-but-don’t-break defensive philosophy to a tee, getting stops along with turnovers when they need it the most.

Jets Quarterback Zach Wilson and Giants Quarterback Daniel Jones
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (left), and Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (right). (Mark Konezny/Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks Daniel Jones, and to a lesser extent, Zach Wilson are essentially game managers right now but that is what their respective teams need in order to stack some of these wins together.

Both passers were turnover prone in the past but have shown some improvement this year in showing what their upside is, even though there is still room to grow in their respective offensive schemes.

But one of the bigger reasons why both teams keep winning is the run game and the early returns on the 2022 draft class.

Running back Saquon Barkley is back to his vintage form for the Giants, as he is 2nd in rushing yards in the NFL currently and is the focal point of their offense. So far, the former first-round pick from Penn State has 906 total yards on the ground and through the air as a pass catcher, scoring 4 times already as he is due for a new contract in the offseason.

Rookie running back Breece Hall is overtaking Michael Carter as the lead back for the Jets. That isn’t surprising, as he has the high draft capital to warrant the playing time.

But what is unexpected is that Hall was still a major contributor even early on as a role player. As the full-time starter, Hall led all rookies in scrimmage yards with 681 yards total last week and has also scored 4 times like Barkley. Unfortunately, the former second-round pick from Iowa State went down in Week 7 with a torn ACL and a meniscus injury that will sideline him for the rest of his rookie season.

Pass Rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux
Oct 16, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball against New York Giants safety Julian Love (20) and defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Hall was pushing for rookie of the year or at least offensive rookie of the year and due to his injury, the Jets quickly traded for James Robinson from the Jaguars. Jacksonville received a conditional sixth-round pick this year that can turn into a fifth-rounder if Robinson can rush for 300 more yards.

The Jets could have a potential defensive rookie of the year candidate in Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The former first-round pick from Cincinnati is already a top starting cornerback in the NFL and leads all rookie defenders with 12 pass deflections.

Sauce made his impact known this past Sunday against Green Bay in Week 6, as he picked off back-to-back league MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers for his first career interception in the NFL, leading the Jets got their 4th win over the 3-4 Packers.

The Giant also got production from their rookie defender as Kayvon Thibodeaux strip-sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson in their 5th win in Week 6 over the 4-3 Baltimore Ravens.

The former first-round pass rusher from Oregon got his first career sack this past Sunday and has looked great coming off the injury that set him back for a few weeks early in the season.

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner
New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner sports a cheesehead after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

So far, the former first-rounders on offense and defense from the 2022 draft class for the Giants and Jets have lived up to the hype as the pillars of their respective teams. And with their young head coaches in Daboll and Saleh leading the way, both teams should keep on winning with their relatively easy remaining schedules.

It is early in the season to be talking playoffs, but as the 2022 NFL season is about a week or two away from the mid-way point, it is clear that the Giants and Jets could be serious contenders if their hot win streak continues.

I would imagine that football at MetLife Stadium will be packed and rocking into January for the playoffs potentially for the first time in more than 5 years for both teams. As a Ravens fan living in the tri-state area, I don’t get to see that many games for Baltimore (the first and only Ravens game I went to was in 2016) but I got to see them in East Rutherford, NJ for Week 6. While it was rough watching my Ravens lose a close game against the Giants two weeks ago, it was great to see my Giants and Jets fans happy and I am glad their teams are seeing success.