Identity Crisis: Giants and Jets Have Traded Places - NBC New York

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Identity Crisis: Giants and Jets Have Traded Places

The Giants/Jets of 2010 look a lot like the Jets/Giants of 2009



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    During the late 1980's there was a brief period when films about kids trading places with adults were all the rage.

    "Big" was the best of these movies, but "Vice Versa", "18 Again" and "Like Father, Like Son" also filled theatres with varying amounts of laughs and lessons during those heady times.

    There doesn't seem to be an revival in the offing, unless someone writes a screenplay about a vampire kid switching places with a wolfman adult, but we're still thinking about those movies. The current state of affairs on the gridiron in New York seems like it was ripped from a screening of those old pictures.

    That doesn't mean Tom Coughlin is suddenly going to be a fresh-faced 16-year-old remembering what it was like to fall in love, fail algebra and realize his parents want what's best for him even if they don't always know how to show it. For that we can all be thankful, even if there's probably an entertaining montage of high school scenes lost to the world somewhere in there.

    No, the reason why we're thinking about those films is because we're almost at the end of the 2010 season, yet it feels like 2009 all over again. The Giants and Jets seem to have both grabbed some kind of ancient artifact at the same moment because they each have wound up looking like the other side did at this time last year.

    Coming into this season, everyone thought the Jets were going to be the team that pushed around its opponents by running the ball and swarming on defense while trying to avoid letting their blundering quarterback sink them by making mistakes. Thirteen weeks later, it is the Giants who have a twin-barrelled ground game and smothering defense to go with Eli Manning doing his best to make Mark Sanchez seem like a reasonable choice as a starting NFL quarterback. 

    The Jets, on the other hand, seem to have found a bizarre level of inspiration in the way the Giants folded up their tents and collapsed last season. They have played 120 straight minutes of dispassionate, lifeless football filled with the kind of errors that make you wonder if any member of the team has actually played football before.

    Most disturbingly, the same leadership vacuum that consumed the Giants of 2009 has swallowed up this year's Jets. It exists on the field -- perhaps Jim Leonhard's injury is their twist on Antonio Pierce's departure -- but it is most glaring on the sideline. When the Giants were sinking last season, Coughlin refused to admit there was a problem with the team until it was much too late to make any meaningful change.

    This year, Rex Ryan is doing the same thing. He's consistently chosen blind optimism over contstructive alterations to a team that was hinting at problems long before they were eviscerated by the Patriots and Dolphins. He always talks about blunt force trauma being his team's identity, but we haven't seen it in ages and there doesn't appear to be much reason to believe that it is simply waiting in a drawer for them to pull out and deploy at this point in time.

    The good news for the Jets is that there's still three weeks to provide a twist ending to this version of the trading places storyline. The bad news is that those films were never really known for their unpredictability.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for You can follow him on Twitter.

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