The Two Weekend Losses Still Brings Hope for the Knicks

Welp, it was a rough weekend for our New York Knicks.  After a fantastic opening night last Wednesday, the Knicks lost back-to-back games by a combined 4 points. Even though they lost, both of the games were close and had playoff feel to them.  When was the last time we were this excited for the first couple games of the season?  Probably 5 seasons or more?  However, the Knicks lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, 107-105, then to the Boston Celtics, 103-101, Saturday night.

The one thing that the Knicks couldn’t do was come out flat Friday night in Brooklyn and that’s exactly what they did.  It was basically another home game for the Knicks, with all their fans in attendance, but that didn’t matter, the Nets shooting stole the show.  The Nets couldn’t miss, literally.  They shot 49% from the field, but it felt like 90%.  The Knicks were also out-rebounded 60 to 41.

The Knicks played down for basically the entire game, having to scratch and claw their way back until the second half were it became a tug-of-war.  The Knicks interior defense was non-existent and the Nets took advantage.  Easy buckets in the paint leading to outscoring the Knicks 48-40.

The Nets were lead by Caris LeVert’s 28 points and big go-ahead easy bucket with Tim Hardaway Jr. defending him.  Then, the Knicks came out ofthe timeout with an terrible play calling with Hardaway chucking a bomb and praying, but the pray wasn’t answered.  Despite Kanter’s 29 points and taking over with game in the second half, the Knicks feel short in the Battle of the Boroughs.  But, Kevin Knox also found his shot which made all Knicks fans all happy inside.  Knox was feeling it from the floor, calling for the ball and making some clutch shots.

Following a disappointing loss to the Nets, the Knicks returned to the Garden to host the Celtics.  The Knicks came out flat again and it also didn’t help that no shots were falling for them.  It almost felt like we were watching the Brooklyn game all over again.  The Celtics jumped out to a quick 13-point lead in the first quarter until the Knicks ramped it up in the second quarter.  That’s was when the Fizdale fight, grit and spirit took over.

Allonzo Trier was the man that provider that offensive spark in the second quarter bringing the Knicks back into the game.  From that point on, it was another tug-of-war.  The teams would match buckets until the 4th quarter where both teams would go on a runs.  First the Celtics then the Knicks went on a run, fighting their way back.  Despite begin the youngest team in the NBA, the Knicks have a lot of fight in them, which is a excellent sign for the future of this team.

Jayson Tatum ultimately took over the game with monster buckets down the stretch for the Celtics.  However, all of his big buckets will over-shadow his poor decision making when contesting Trey Burke on a deep 3-pointer, leading to a shooing foul which gave Burke 3 free-throws to tie the game.  Burke ended up missing the first free-three taking all the air out of the Garden.  The worst part about that loss was Knox going down with a ankle injury.  Knox looks to be out 2-4 weeks.  Not a good sign after Knox started to become comfortable.

In both losses, the Knicks showed that they are a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  This is exactly what fans envisioned when Fizdale took over.  Granted, we’re only 3 games into the season, but the Knicks have shown their young ability to fight and stay in games.  This is a great sign for the future.

It is also very impressive that they have been able to put up points, averaging 111.3 points a game as a team.  We thought they would be hurting for points, but that hasn’t been the case thus far.  The Knicks look to be on the right track, all we can hope for is that the Knicks keep up the competitiveness until our unicorn returns.  The Knicks have another tough test tonight as they travel to Milwaukee to take on the Greek Freak.

Giants’ Damon Harrison Traded To Lions For 5th Rounder

The fire sale is officially on.  Yesterday, the Giants shipped a ‘cancerous’ Eli Apple off to the New Orleans Saints.

This morning, Dave Gettleman and company sent Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison to the Detroit Lions for a 5th round pick, via Ian Rapoport.

The Giants are moving away from the 30-year-old nose tackle and one of the best run stuffers in the league who is making 8 million this year.  This move comes as a shock to Giants fans, but the move clears cap space for next season.  Also, Snacks hasn’t been playing much this season anyway.  Against the Falcons, Snacks only appeared on the field for 33 snaps, which was less than 50%.

The move also complies move drafts picks for the Giants in next years draft.  Fans have already voiced their disgust with this trade on Twitter early this morning, fans wondering why the Giants did not get more for Snacks?  The Giants were able to get a 4th round pick for Apple, and that’s because Apple is younger and has a more cap friendly contract.

Dalvin Tomlinson will now be the guy that takes over at nose tackle.  Tomlinson, 2nd year man out of Alabama, better bring some sweet mouthpieces as he will have some big shoes to fill.  However, the Giants have faith in Tomlinson considering this season is a bust, the Giants have moved from ‘win now’ (lol) to a full rebuild.

New York Giants Rebuild Begins With Trade Of Eli Apple

Despite players, coaches, and management claiming otherwise, the New York Giants are throwing in the towel. Eli Apple is one of their starting cornerbacks, and a former top ten draft pick, and he’s being traded away to the New Orleans Saints. There’s no other way to explain it. The Giants are now a rebuilding team, and they’re signalling that to everyone else in the league by getting rid of Apple in the middle of the season.

Let’s take a look back at Apple’s career up until this point. Coming out of Ohio State, Apple was a starter on a national championship team and looked like a pick that would shore up the Giants’ secondary after he was selected at number ten overall in the 2015 draft.

An alright rookie season would give the fanbase some confidence in Apple, but things would go downhill in 2017, which was when the decline started for the rest of the team after a playoff appearance in 2016. This was the year when Apple gained the reputation of a player who had trouble with his teammates, and those troubles culminated with the cornerback being called a cancer by defensive captain Landon Collins. Additionally, Apple was suspended by the team for the last game of the year.

At that low point, most assumed that Apple would be traded. It seemed like the point of no return had been reached, but a new regime would give the player another chance. After all, the big changes in the coaching department meant that there was still a chance to get some value out of the first round pick.

Apple did bounce back from the disaster that was 2017, and no more teammate problems seemed to happen outside of one scuffle in training camp. He would keep his starting status and, while Apple was never the best corner on the team, he did his job to an okay level in a secondary that isn’t exactly deep at corner. His play, though, wasn’t good enough to keep him off the trading block following the team’s 1-6 start.

The Giants will receive two draft picks after Apple was sent to the Saints. It’s not the immediate help that the team needs, but there’s some value in the 2019 fourth round pick that they’ll get, and a 2020 seventh round pick was also thrown in. The return is perhaps disappointing for a starting corner that was drafted in the top ten fairly recently, but with Apple’s share of problems, it’s somewhat expected that the trade doesn’t match where he was picked.

One Quarterback The New York Giants Should Target In 2019

Ideally, the New York Giants would finish the year in a spot to grab the best quarterback available in the 2019 NFL Draft, and if everything falls into place, that will be Oregon’s Justin Herbert. The mobile and deadly accurate passer would immediately change the dynamic of the offense for Big Blue, as defenses would have to honor Herbert’s ability to move out of the pocket, which is something Eli Manning struggles with.

Currently, defenses play a simple cover 2 and keep everything in front of them in an attempt to give their defensive line enough time to get to Manning. This method has worked seamlessly for just about every opponent this year. Unfortunately, changing the quarterback won’t fix every problem on the offense immediately. It’s important to recognize the inability on the offensive line which presents the most pressing issue on the team.

The Giants might not have a chance at Herbert:

One of the more troublesome rumors swirling right now is that Herbert might opt to stay in college and play one more year with the Ducks. This would make the 2020 QB class a monster one, and it would ultimately hurt Herbert monetarily if he chooses to go that route.

Planning for his possible absence would put GM Dave Gettleman in a peculiar spot, and I personally believe going after Teddy Bridgewater would make the most sense. The former Viking and current Saint is very familiar with head coach Pat Shurmur, as he helped mold the passer, and the Giants will desperately need a quarterback after witnessing Manning’s’ obvious inability to find open targets.

The last time Bridgewater started in a regular season game was in 2015, but he showed immense potential this past pre-season with the Jets. So much so, the Saints gave up a third-round pick for him. In 2015, his stats weren’t amazing, but we must realize it was just his sophomore season and his stats already looked better than Manning’s. For the sake of the argument, we will compare Teddy’s 2015 stats to Eli’s 2017.

Bridgewater:

GP CMP ATT CMP% YDS AVG TD LNG INT FUM QBR
16 292 447 65.3 3,231 7.23 14 52 9 5 57.5

Rushing stats:

192 4.4 19 3 17 3 1

Manning:

GP CMP ATT CMP% YDS AVG TD LNG INT FUM QBR
15 352 571 61.6 3,468 6.07 19 77 13 10 45.4

Notice how I didn’t even bother throwing Manning’s rushing stats in there…for obvious reasons.

Now, after taking a look at these numbers, you can clearly see that Bridgewater was playing at a higher level in his second year in the league that Manning played at last year, and this year doesn’t seem to be any better. With an offensive line that’s at least two years from being good, it’s a necessity for the Giants’ next QB to have some sort of mobility.

I would expect that the fifth-year passer will draw a lot of interest next offseason, but his cap-hit wouldn’t be anything out of reach, I would anticipate in the $5-7 million range.

Throw in the fact that he’s currently soaking in the wisdom of Drew Brees and he immediately becomes a highly touted option.

Giants’ Dave Gettleman Preparing To Take Franchise In Different Direction

After Eli Apple got in the face of Odell Beckham Jr. during Monday night’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Giants brass found it best to send the cornerback packing. Tuesday morning he received a call that he would be traded to the New Orleans Saints. The Giants received a fourth round pick in 2019 and a seventh rounder in 2020 for his services.

Apple has proved to be a cancer to the team during his stint with the Giants, and despite showing more promise this season, his worth clearly wasn’t valued to GM Dave Gettleman and co. But, the most interesting aspect of this trade is that it opens the door for others to part ways with the franchise and according to some sources, they might not be done just yet.

As of Tuesday morning, the Giants have also sent Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions for a 5th round pick. Harrison has been known to be one of the leagues best defensive tackles for quite some time, dominating in the run game. Personally, I feel as though he’s worth more than a 5th rounder but his contract and age clearly played a part.

Similar to the Oakland Raiders, the Giants seem to be keen on adding draft picks to their arsenal, as Gettleman struggled to find the right pieces in free agency but had a stellar draft that features several current starters.

Moving forward, it might be best to stock pile draft picks and build the team through means of rising college talent and not veteran players that seem to be un-adaptable. Several high-contracts have put Big Blue in a hole moving into the latter part of the season as weaknesses become ever-more apparent.

A rebuild is commencing for the Giants:

When Gettleman made the promise that the Giants were competing to win now, we all figured he was being a bit optimistic. In fact, it was fair to say that he was being foolish, since the offensive line surely couldn’t be pieced together in one offseason, and both sides of the ball were going through massive systematic changes. Add in the fact that half the team was cut right before the start of the regular season, and you can come to the conclusion that this team was bound for failure, again.

Head coach Pat Shurmur has managed to keep the lid on his team so far, but it’s only a matter of time before the negativity rears it ugly face. The best thing to do would be to unload a few high-priced players that are nearing the ends of their contract to add picks and value. The adoption of a youth agenda seems to be a high priority on the list for the Giants right now.

Knicks Overwhelmed By Giannis After Second Half Surge In Loss

While the final score was 124-113 in favor of Milwaukee, don’t let that make you believe that this was a classic New York Knicks blowout loss.

What started off as a somewhat competitive game, the Knicks hung around during the 1st quarter on the road. After down 12 early, the bench came in and kept the game from getting out of hand led by Vonleh, Hezonja and Trier.

When the 2nd quarter hit, the story has change. Bucks star Khris Middleton caught fire and hit back to back to back 3-pointers and quickly turned a small 6 point lead into  a 15 point deficit. Middleton finished 7-8 from 3 on the night and 11-14 from the field  pouring in a highly efficient 30 points. New York went into the half down 19 and David Fizdale had to make adjustments.

Unlike what we’ve seen in the past, Fiz had his Knicks come out for the 3rd quarter ready to play. Trey Burke was cooking. Mid range, taking it to the basket, finishing against the long and athletic Buck defenders and brought this team back. Burke finished with 19 points on 9-18 shooting, chipping in with 4 assists. The Knicks went into the 4th quarter only down by 1.

The 4th quarter hit and they simply had no answer for the Greek Freak and Khris Middleton. Giannis, who finished with 31/15/4, was too dominant. Scoring ans assisting until Middleton iced the game with a few 3 pointers at the end. Hardaway, who again shot poorly, 10-23 with 24 points, seemed to not get teammates involved.

Defensively, Coach Fiz’ young kids couldn’t keep up with the rotations on the 3 ball and that ultimately burned them. 2nd year guard/forward Frank Ntilikina led the team with 35 minutes but again, didn’t have much of an impact offensively. Kanter finished with his automatic double double (14/13) but it was not enough.

The sighting of Damyean Dotson was a welcome surprise. He plan strong and hard and shot 50% from 3 on 8 attempts and could lead to more minutes in the future, especially with rookie Kevin Knox out.

Next up, the Knicks take their talents to South Beach and take on the 1-2 Miami Heat. Can they maybe build off of that 3rd quarter momentum? Let’s see what the Fiz Kids have in store.

New York Giants: The Offense Blew It On Monday Night Football

New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning.

Do not let the final score confuse you. A three point loss doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, but the fact of the matter is that one of the New York Giants touchdowns only came in garbage time. Barring a miracle onside kick recovery, getting a win was already impossible by the time the touchdown happened. And when you look at the scoring that happened when the Giants still had a chance to win, they really should only have finished the game with 12 points.

Before the game, many assumed that the Atlanta Falcons and their multi-faceted offense would be the problem for New York. In reality, it was the defense that held the Falcons to a reasonable 23 points, and the offense that blew it and couldn’t take the win on Monday Night Football.

Now, this one isn’t on Eli Manning. Some will try to make this into a quarterback issue, but that’s not the case. Just look at the numbers, if Manning is who you want to blame. The quarterback threw for 399 yards and while his only touchdown came at the end, when victory was nearly impossible and it could be considered garbage time, his quarterback rating was only a few points lower than Matt Ryan’s and he was sacked four times.

Those sacks disrupted the Giants offense on multiple occasions and the sacks number doesn’t include other times when pressure from the Falcons defensive line hurt the passing or the running game. One of the most notable times was when the Giants were driving, stringing together good plays, and then Grady Jarrett easily slipped around Will Hernandez to land a hit on Manning and effectively end the drive because of the loss of yards.

That’s not to say that all of the blame is on Will Hernandez. He’s a rookie, after all, and it’s hard to expect a rookie to compete with one of the better rushers in the league. But Nate Solder is no rookie, and he still hasn’t figured it out. Will Solder figure it out eventually?

Maybe, maybe not. His previous success, which convinced the Giants to give him such a large contract, came with New England. A team known for having great schemes that turn mediocre players into stars. Those same stars then flop and are unable to replicate their success when moved to other systems. On the other hand, Solder hasn’t had a full season to get used to playing under this system, and playing as an offensive lineman is much more complicated than it looks on TV.

Even so, Solder isn’t playing like a very highly paid tackle right now, regardless of whether or not there’s improvement later. Saquon Barkley only had 43 yards on 14 carries, and that comes to an average of 3.1 yards per rush. By now, we’ve all seen what he can do when the blocking is even semi-good, so the fact that Barkley couldn’t make 50 yards this game should say something about where the current problems with this team are.

When your most dynamic player is shut down because you can’t support him properly with blocking, which could be seen clearly when Barkley failed to punch the ball into the end zone on third down when the Giants were very close to scoring, it makes it clear what needs to change.

Unfortunately, those changes won’t come until the draft and free agency. The offensive line was already rebuilt once this year. And as it turns out, that rebuild wasn’t as good as we thought it was.

New York Giants: Monday Night Football Game Will Test Defense

The New York Giants should not be playing on Monday Night Football. At the start of the season, Giants vs Falcons looked like it would be a good matchup, but that’s not really the case right now. Both teams have a similar record, the Giants at 1-5 and the Falcons with two wins. But the game was set before things went south for both teams, and now, the Giants risk embarrassment on national TV yet again.

Neither team is where they want to be with the talent that they have right now. But at the same time, the Falcons are in a better position than the Giants are, even if they’re only separated by one win. Unlike the Giants, the Falcons can actually score. New York is the 28th best offense in the NFL according to total points scored. Atlanta, on the other hand? They’re in the top ten, at number eight.

Even in their earlier losses to the Saints and the Bengals, they put up 37 and 36 points respectively. When they picked up their first win last week, they scored 34. Both teams came into the season with the raw potential to be offensive juggernauts, but so far, the Falcons have capitalized on their talent and the Giants haven’t. They’ve better used their selection of weapons, and you just have to take one look at their win over Tampa to see it.

They have not one but two weapons in the backfield, with rookie running back Ito Smith scoring the second touchdown against the Buccaneers despite Tevin Coleman having a larger share of the team’s overall rushing yards. Smith scored on a 14 yard run off the left guard, which would seem like a miracle for the Giants with the current level of blocking.  On their next drive, tight end Austin Hooper was able to get wide open near the end zone for a 9 yard passing touchdown. Before either of those plays happened, Atlanta had taken the initial lead with a 32 yard pass to Mohamed Sanu.

You could make an argument that the Falcons are like the Giants if their offense actually panned out. Julio Jones has a similar talent level to Odell Beckham Jr., and on paper, the Giants running game shouldn’t have been that much worse than the Falcons entering the season. But not many predicted Austin Hooper being more productive than Evan Engram, both because of on the field struggles and injury, and Jonathan Stewart turning out to be a bust of a signing was also a surprise.

Both teams have talent. Only one team has utilized it properly this year. Only one team has executed.

If the New York Giants are going to show up on defense, this is the game where they need to do it. The offense that they face is the most well-rounded one they’ve seen this season, except for the New Orleans Saints. And in that game, the defense allowed 33 points. Those mistakes can’t be repeated against the Falcons if the game is going to be winnable for the Giants. There’s just too many weapons on the other side for them to have a poor game.

This could be a turning point for the Giants, a game where the defense shows up and proves itself against one of the better offenses in the league. A game that shows that, even if the offense isn’t so great, things are going okay on at least one side of the ball. Or it could be a national embarrassment, again. We won’t know which one it is until tonight.

Giants’ Saquon Barkley Quickly Becoming Face Of The Franchise

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

As quarterback Eli Manning quickly fades out of the spotlight and Odell Beckham Jr. creates negative media attention, one New York Giants player has used the distractions to prove his worth as a leader and as a play-maker.

First-round rookie Saquon Barkley has been silent. His words resonate throughout the media but are blinded by the media attention that Beckham has produced. If the Giants’ star receiver was hoping to maintain his iconic stance in the NFL, he’s quickly being outmatched by the humble running back.

One of my major concerns with Beckham is his folding in the face of adversity. Given, he’s lost his fair share of games in the past few years, but creating negative attention and throwing everybody under the bus surely doesn’t help his cause. Barkley, despite carrying the offense, has assured that he must improve and that he will do whatever to takes to help his team succeed. Now, that’s what a leader is supposed to do.

How has Saquon Barkley looked so far this season for the New York Giants?

Barkley is averaging an astounding 5.2 yards per carry against one of the league’s worst offensive lines, including 811 all-purpose yards with six total touchdowns. He has been the Giants’ most lethal weapon, and his insane athletic abilities have been the silver lining this season. In fact, most are simply watching the Giants just to see the dynamic rusher.

There’s no question he will continue to grow as a player and make Sports Center worthy plays every week, but his intangible  skills as a leader will be influential for years to come, and that’s the underlying story that most are overlooking amid the madness.

 

How Did Aaron Judge Impact The New York Yankees in 2018?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Before breaking down New York Yankees‘ outfielder Aaron Judge’s stats, we must take a look at his 2017 numbers and recognize the fact that he missed several weeks due to a wrist injury.

Judge finished ’17 with 155 games played, 678 plate appearances, 128 runs, 154 hits, 52 home runs, and 208 strikeouts. If you take a look at his strikeout margin, you can see that he records an out in that regard every 3.2 plate appearance. If we assume that most players record four attempts per game, that’s more than one strikeout per game.

The narrative is that Judge can continue to strikeout at a high rate if he continues to hit a massive amount of home runs. That idea changed a bit in 2018, as his HR total dropped while his strikeouts remained high. Last season, he struck out every 3.2 at bats, but only recorded 27 home runs. Of course this is without an additional 180 at bats due to his fractured wrist.

His RBI’s were cut in half from 2017-2018 (114-67). The only uptick in his batting was his ability to record doubles. With 180 less at bats last season, he recorded 22 doubles when in ’17 he amassed 24. This would suggest that his launch angle was lowered, which may have affected his ability to hit home-runs, rather keeping the ball inside of the park.

Just how much did Judge influence the Yankees in 2018?

Now, you might look at the stats in notice that Judge fell off a bit in several sub-categories, but it’s essential to recognize his impact on the team.

Despite the fact that Judge missed one third of the season, the Yankees felt the loss when it came to their run totals per game. When the big bat was in the lineup, the Yankees went 73-39 and averaged 5.42 runs per game. With him out, they were just 27-22 and scored 4.86 runs per game. That’s a noticeable difference, and that’s not even considering his defensive abilities.

So, to wrap up, we can say that Judge struggled in some categories, but his abilities as a player are unparalleled. He influences the game in more than just offensive production, as his defense is just as important. He will only continue to progress as a player in the future, especially at just 26 years old.