New York Giants: DC James Bettcher Talks About Young Defense

New York Giants, James Bettcher

With the second mandatory minicamp practice in the books, we can see slightly more about the current state of the New York Giants. The team’s defense is young this year following the departure of a number of veteran players including Landon Collins, Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison, but so far through the first two days, it’s been getting praise. That’s not just from head coach Pat Shurmur but from James Bettcher, the team’s defensive coordinator.

“They are working extremely hard and doing everything they are asked to do. Very aware of things they need to improve on,” Bettcher said about the team’s young players up front. “I think I said it before, we are really big on writing prescriptions for our players. The thing they individually need to improve on, we include our players in those conversations as well.”

Bettcher also claims that some of the more inexperienced players from last season are moving into a different role after picking up that experience. “When you talk about two or three of those guys that are young but not young anymore, they are veteran players. B.J. is a veteran player now. He played a full season and he started games, he is a veteran player now. Those guys are really aware.”

“When you see him rush, a year ago he was trying to get off the ball as quick as he could and use his hands when he could. Now, you see a guy that is aware of how he wants to rush, aware of techniques that he wants to rush with,” Bettcher also said on the subject of outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter. “The second thing, he is practicing as hard as anyone on the field right now. He is running around and has been a great example that we have been able to show defensively of just straining and effort, finish.”

Lorenzo Carter is expected to have a larger role this season with the departure of Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns. With Vernon having a disappointing season last year, the expectations are on Carter to give the Giants better performances from the position.

Training camp will begin near the end of July after minicamp is over, which means there’s still time for players to learn and grow this offseason. However, it’s mostly been smooth sailing so far.

New York Giants need Alec Ogletree to elevate his game in 2019

New York Giants, Alec Ogletree

Recording 93 combined tackles and five interceptions in 2018 certainly makes New York Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree look like an elite defender. Previous to last season, Ogletree was never known as a ball-hawk but managed to secure two touchdowns on INT returns, proving his worth after a speculative trade.

General manager Dave Gettleman brought Alec in to help bolster the middle of the defense, putting a true leader and aggressor in the MIC position. Last season was the first of his four-year career that he didn’t record 10 passes defended or more, but he compensated with the turnovers he forced.

Has Alec Ogletree helped the New York Giants defense improve?

Ultimately, Ogletree had a ‘decent’ year in his first with Big Blue. The Giants, however, need him to take his game to the next level in 2019 to justify his $11.75 million cap hit.

Other than his efficiency in coverage, the Giants’ defense as a whole ranked 24th in the league allowing 371.4 yards per game. While this can’t be attributed to Ogletree alone, it shows the ineffectiveness of the unit as a whole and what the Giants need to do to compensate. It starts with the linebackers and ensuring they have the talent necessary to not only call defensive plays but make them as well.

Big Blue was equally poor against the run as they were against the pass — allowing 252.8 passing yards per game (23rd in the league) and 118.6 rushing yards per game (20th in the league).

The bottom line, Ogletree needs to improve in 2019 despite his INT totals. According to Pro Football Focus, Alec Ogletree still ended up with the eighth-worst coverage grade of any starter in the league.

Here’s an example of his inability in coverage:

Ogletree struggled mightily with running backs in the flat, something defensive coordinator James Bettcher will look to solve this season. Expect to see a lot more of Tae Davis in coverage rather than Ogletree, who will likely feature closer to the line of scrimmage and rush the passer more frequently.

In addition to Alec’s inadequacy in the clip above, his tackling can be a problem at times. He missed 20 tackles in 2017 and a similar number in 2018. He must increase his efficiency in that category if he wished to reach his potential.

New York Knicks: Hypothetical & Rumor Central

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks rumors and scenarios for this off-season are in full-force.  The Knicks will have plenty of big decisions to make this summer.  Over the course of this summer, the landscape of the Knicks may look very different.

Rumors

In recent days, the NBA rumors have been buzzin’.  It begins with the Pelicans starting to listen to offers for superstar Anthony Davis.  Davis listed a group of teams that we would sing with long-term.  The teams were the Lakers, Knicks, Bucks and Clippers, via Shams Charania.

Another one from Charania, the Knicks expressed interest in Celtic’s Marcus Morris.  He would be the perfect Knick.  Morris is a bruiser and would jump into the enforcer role for the Knicks.

On the Kyrie Irving front, apparently, Irving has expressed that the Brooklyn Nets are his top choice in free agency, via Stephen A. Smith.  When it comes to Irving, no one knows what to believe.

Reports of where free agents want to go will change daily.

As for Kemba Walker, apparently, Walker and the Hornets are both each other’s top priority this off-season.

Hypothetical

If the Knicks were to miss out on Irving and Walker, they should take a hard look at free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell.

Russell really excelled this season, turning himself into, almost, an elite point guard.  He is young, 23, and just entering his prime.  Coming off the best season of his career, 21.1 ppg & 7 ast, Russell could be poised for a big pay day.

Russell knows the media and how to handle New York.  It would be worthy making a push considering his youth and ability thus far.

As for now, rumors are simply rumors.  A little over 3 weeks July 1st and rumors are just starting to heat up.

The New York Giants Offense Will Benefit Greatly From Daniel Jones’s Running Ability

The New York Giants drafted

The New York Giants began their 2019 mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. The offense and defense both had solid performances on day one. Of course, all eyes are on the Giants’ 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Daniel Jones.

Daniel Jones is the next franchise quarterback for New York. He will succeed Eli Manning. Jones has been compared to Manning for his personality and passing ability. However, there is one facet of Daniel’s game that differs significantly from Eli’s: his running ability.

Daniel Jones Stats And Highlights As A Runner:

Daniel Jones turned heads at Tuesday’s practice with a long run off of the read-option. This is a play that the Giants’ offensive playbook has been limited from for years. The read-option is a relatively new play in the NFL, and it has been quite effective for many teams and elite quarterbacks (such as Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson).

However, being that Eli Manning is a 38-year-old quarterback with only 311 total rushing yards in his 16-year career, the Giants have been unable to add this play to their playbooks. This is changing for the Giants with the addition of Daniel Jones.

Jones is known as a pocket-passing quarterback who surveys the field and makes the right reads and passes. However, he is much more than just a pocket passer. Daniel Jones is an athletic quarterback with the ability to make plays with his legs as he did at Tuesday’s practice:

This play was welcomed by a huge reaction from Jones’s teammates and the audience. Seeing a New York Giants quarterback rip off a big run is a breath of fresh air for Giants Nation. This play should come as no surprise for those familiar with Daniel Jones’s play in college.

Jones was an excellent runner during his time at Duke. The quarterback totaled 17 rushing touchdowns in three years, along with 1,323 rushing yards.

Daniel is a threat to pick up yardage on the ground on every play. He averaged a respectable 3.3 yards per carry and scored off of several long rushing touchdowns in his collegiate career, such as this 61-yarder versus North Carolina:

Daniel Jones is an athletic quarterback who will completely change the Giants’ offense. He ran an unofficial 4.67 40-yard-dash time at his Pro Day. This type of speed at the quarterback position will open up Big Blue’s offense in ways we have never seen with Eli Manning at the helm.

New York Giants: Eli Manning proves he’s nervous about the 2019 season

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Daniel Jones

Any normal human being would be nervous if their employer brought in a younger version of the employee in question to eventually take their job. This is currently the case with New York Giants veteran passer Eli Manning. Drafting Daniel Jones might not have rattled Eli visually, but behind closed doors, he is certainly nervous.

Receiver Sterling Shepard gave away Manning’s hand on Tuesday afternoon after the first session of minicamp concluded. The two teammates had worked together this offseason as usual, but this time Eli has amped up his workouts and conditioning program.

The New York Giants seem to have gotten the message across to Manning:

In other words, Manning seems to be practicing like his job is on the line, and to be quite frank, it is. This could be the two-time Super Bowl-winning passer’s last season if he fails to operate at a high level behind a revamped offensive line. There are no more excuses on the table for Eli, as providing him with more time is the supposed missing ingredient to his success.

My question is – is it too late for Eli?

Suffering from inadequate offensive line play for years created a type of muscle memory for Eli, one that forces him to worry at the sight of pressure and drop his eyes and lose track of his progressions. This is a very real mental part of any quarterback’s game that heavily impacts their efficiency.

For Manning, it’s detrimental he overcomes this obstacle. General manager Dave Gettleman has done everything in his power to provide him with protection and talent – Saqoun Barkley is generally all he needs to succeed.

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However, the current team seems to have shifted their focus from Odell Beckham Jr. to team chemistry and camaraderie. This is a positive sign for the organization as a whole and Manning, who will benefit from less distraction and more positivity.

Between Barkley, Shepard, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram, the Giants have plenty of weaponry to assist in Manning’s success in 2019, and he must take advantage of it or he will go missing faster than Tom Hanks in “Castaway.”

New York Yankees: Does Didi Gregorius Need More Rehab Time?

The other day, the New York Yankees announced that their all-star caliber shortstop Didi Gregorius will be returning from rehab and will play against the Cleveland Indians this weekend. However, Didi has struggled a bit in his rehab, so could it be beneficial to extend his rehab a bit, especially with the way that the Yankees are playing.

Just one hit

Through Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Bison, Didi has just one hit in 21 at-bats with the SWB Railriders. In his seven at-bats with high-A Tampa, he went 2-for-7 with a home run.

Because Didi is having so much trouble hitting the ball, it may be worth keeping him in AAA for another week or so until the three week rehabilitation period has ended before calling him up. By doing that, he can keep getting more at-bats without it hurting the Yankees as much. The guys in the majors are winning, so there is no reason to rush Didi back.

Who goes?

Once Didi comes back, one player will be forced to leave the team, and I believe that it will be Kendrys Morales.

If you do that, DJ LeMahieu moves into a utility position, lining him up to back-up Luke Voit, or even start LeMahieu more than Voit at first and shift Voit to the DH slot. By Didi coming back, it shifts Gleyber Torres back to second, pushing out DJ from every-day second base.

Kendrys Morales just hasn’t been producing for the Yankees. He’s batting under .200 with just one home run. Don’t get me wrong though, the one home run was an absolute shot, making it up to the front row of the 400 level in right.

Because Didi is struggling a bit in his rehab, there is no reason to rush him since the Yankees are winning. It’s more important to get him locked in and symptom free before making his MLB season debut.

New York Knicks: Kevin Durant would be perfect mentor for RJ Barrett

New York Knicks, Kevin Durant

If the New York Knicks can lure superstar forward Kevin Durant to the Big Apple, they could find themselves in a position to realistically contend for the playoffs after having the worst record in the NBA in 2018.

Drafting RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick seems like the most obvious move, especially if they are able to grab a point guard in free agency as well. With options like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker available, there’s no question the Knicks will do their due diligence on the elite players.

The New York Knicks could complete a rebuild in one offseason:

Adding Barrett, Durant, and either Irving or Walker would turn over the roster completely. The most exciting aspect of this trio would be the effect Durant has on Barrett and his development.

The Duke star is coming off a stellar season where he averaged 22.6 points per game, 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 0.9 steals. Impressive production for a player featuring behind Zion Williamson, who will undoubtedly be the No. 1 pick to the New Orleans Pelicans.

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Both Durant and Barrett play similar positions and are keen on driving to the basket. The Warriors star is a far better shooter, but that’s part of his game that can translate over to RJ with a bit of exposure. Comparing their field goal percentage (Durant 52.1%) to (Barrett 45.4%), there’s plenty of room for improvement.

My ultimate question is – will Durant be open to helping Barrett and embrace the leadership role required of him if signed? Kevin has shown in the past that he can be egotistic in ways, and taking on a mentor role could be one of them, especially after featuring on such a dominant team like Golden State.

However, Barrett’s godfather is Steve Nash, one of Durant’s close friends. This could indicate a blossoming relationship between the two, but nothing is set in stone. There’s little evidence that shows the Knicks taking another player other than RJ, and unless Ja Morant falls, it should be an easy choice.

 

New York Giants developing utility player to play multiple positions

The New York Giants have signed undrafted free agent, Eric Dungey.

The New York Giants drafted quarterback Daniel Jones with the 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to ensure they addressed the most important position on the field for the future. As Eli Manning’s illustrious career comes to a potential end, Jones will wait in the wings and soak in as much information as possible.

However, drafting Jones didn’t stop the Giants from bringing in another quarterback – Syracuse passer, Eric Dungey, was signed as an undrafted free agent, but he will play a different role for Big Blue.

Dungey could be utilized in a similar fashion to New Orleans’ Taysom Hill. The utility player for the Saints has played quarterback, tight end, and running back so far in his young career, and the Giants could be looking to mimic his usage.

Who is Eric Dungey and what does he bring to the New York Giants?

The Syracuse star was an underrated player entering the NFL. A solid foundation of abilities helped him set 25 school records, including career passing yards, total offense and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. His offensive production was stellar with the Orange, a team that relied on him to operate at a high level.

The Giants view him more as an athlete than a quarterback, which attests to their idea of moving him around the field, similar to a baseball player featuring at different spots, showing diversity.

Dungey commented on the movement, via North Jersey:

“Obviously it’s a little bit of a learning curve for me, coming from having played quarterback all my life,” said Dungey, 22. “But I’ve played sports my whole life, and I love to compete, so whatever I have to do, I’ll do it.”

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At 6-3, 220-pounds, Dungey isn’t the biggest player on the field by any means but can churn out yards after contact, that’s his most enticing attribute other than his arm. I anticipate the Giants using his running ability and agility in space to extract the most value. His injury history is something to keep an eye on, given his aggressive style of play.

Hopefully, they can help him find a role that will provide the team with an effective playmaker in specific situations.

 

New York Knicks: Darius Garland’s High School Coach Knows He Should Go in Top 3

Could the New York Knicks look into Vanderbilt star, Darius Garland?

One of our New York Knicks writers, Aidan Kunst, was able to interview NBA prospect, Darius Garland’s high school coach.

Vanderbilt basketball was a mess this year. 9-23 overall, 0-18 in the SEC. The entire coaching staff fired.

This wouldn’t have seemed possible just a year ago. They had five-star recruits Darius Garland and Simi Shittu were leading a rebirth of Commodore basketball. The Commodore’s were expected to be contending for an SEC title. Just two minutes into the fifth game of Vandy’s season, though, that all changed. Garland tore his meniscus, thereby finishing his (and Vanderbilt’s) season.

“I think they’d have won twenty games [at Vandy].  I think they’d have been a top 25 team because [Garland] made everyone around him better,” Hubie Smith, Garland’s high school coach at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, told me.

Garland sat on the sidelines while players like Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s RJ Barrett established themselves as the consensus second and third best players in the 2019 NBA draft class. Barrett is the player everyone wants the Knicks to select with the third pick. I would argue that Garland should be the pick on June 20th.

“He has no weaknesses,” Smith said.

“He can score at any position, he can score out to thirty feet, he has great midrange, he’s great with his right and left, floaters, around the goal, he’s a great passer. He’s a great shooter, he can play at any spot, and do really well.” While that might be a stretch, it’s true that Garland profiles as an electric scorer at the next level.

In five (he played just two minutes in the fifth) games at Vanderbilt, he averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, on .537/.478/.750 shooting. That 48 percent mark from behind the arc. This is why I think Garland can be the next great scoring guard, and conversely why he will be a great fit alongside potential superstars. Whereas an RJ Barrett has to be the focal point of an offense to be successful.

I asked Coach Smith about that as well. If the Knicks were to sign a guy like, say, Kyrie Irving, would a Garland-Irving pairing work? “[Garland] is best with the ball in his hands. Kyrie is best with the ball in his hands, too, but the thing is, Darius is such a good shooter. When Kyrie kicks it, Darius will make it. So I’m not saying that that is the perfect matchup in the backcourt with Kyrie, but I think he’ll do very well.”

Garland may not have the notoriety of an RJ Barrett, but in today’s NBA, I would rather have someone who can shoot and space the floor at a high-level than an isolation scorer with tunnel vision. Another key separator between the two? The end of games. “[Garland] doesn’t miss free throws at the end of games,” Coach Smith told me. “Ja [Morant] isn’t a great free throw shooter. And RJ [Barrett] is terrible. He’s in the sixties. And Darius is going to end up being around ninety. At the end of the game, that’s very important.”

Garland, while not the passer nor rebounder Barrett is, can shoot the lights out, and has one of the tightest handles of anyone in the class. That ability to be effective at the end of games is critical, and when a team doesn’t have to worry about missed free throws down the stretch, it is a huge benefit.

When I talked to Smith, I really wanted to find out more about Garland’s intangibles; his drive, his will to win, and his character. How would he respond to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden? Smith was confident.

“I think he would respond great. All I can tell you is the bigger and the brighter the lights, the better he played, every year,” Smith said. “His senior year, we went to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. I was worried to death about him trying to do too much, pressure being on him, how he would respond going back [to Springfield, Missouri, where Garland’s father played]. And he was by far the best player in that tournament. I had at least two people tell me they voted him for MVP even though we didn’t get to the championship game. The brighter the lights, the better he play. Always has.”

While I’m not disputing Barrett’s ability to excel in high-pressure situations, it was clear that Garland had the same skill, and that he had been doing it since high school. Of course, I also had to ask Smith about my biggest issue with Garland: his defense.

When I raised those concerns, Smith seemed unperturbed. “I actually think he’s a very good defender,” Smith said. “The big thing is, when you get to that level, you’re guarding six-four, six-five players. But he is always one step ahead. He’s ahead of what you’re doing, he anticipates well…So, you know, he’s a terrific defender and he’ll do well wherever they put him.”

Before I ended the interview, I really wanted that story about Garland, the parable that all the great ones have that seems ridiculous on the surface, but illustrates their greatness. Smith did not disappoint. Smith told me about summer practices at Brentwood, when Garland had been playing for weeks straight at various events across the country. He would ask Coach Smith to let him shoot instead of practice because he was so tired, and Smith obliged.

“[Garland]would come in, and it wouldn’t be 15 minutes into practice, and I’d look up and he’d be in the middle of the drill. I asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said ‘I couldn’t stand it.’ It would be  a four on four drill where he could score, and he would just jump in because he couldn’t stand it. And even though I’d give him permission to sit out practice, he’d jump in, he’d never sit out.”

Garland’s work ethic and drive set him apart in high school, and continue to make him stand out, even amongst players like Barrett, Morant, Jarrett Culver, and Coby White. He’s already a fantastic shooter, a wizard with the ball in his hands, and a basketball genius. Now, he’ll get to work on any perceived weaknesses – and make sure they become strengths.

“That’s probably why we won four state championships with him, because he bought into everything we said, wouldn’t let us lose, worked his rear end off, was our hardest worker every year,” Smith told me. “He’s a gym rat, he loves it, he’s a great teammate, every kid that plays with him loved playing with him.”

In Smith’s mind, and in mine, Darius Garland should be the pick at number three on June 20th.

New York Giants: Top News 6/5 – Daniel Jones shows off his wheels

New York Giants

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The Giants began minicamp on Tuesday morning, and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones stole the show with an impressive read-option that sent him flying up the sidelines towards the endzone.

Check out Jones’ highlights of the day – some stellar throws included:

The third throw in the clip is an absolute dime to Reggie White Jr. along the sidelines, dropping it in the bread basket. Perfect touch on a pass with two defenders close by in coverage. That’s the type of arm talent we need to see more of from Jones. He’s had rocky performances but has also been stellar at times, all a part of the process. Working out the kinks in his game and learning the system will be the priority in 2019.

The Giants competed in 11-on-11 red-zone drills, here’s how Eli faired against Jones:

Eli Manning: 0-for-3 with an INT

Daniel Jones: 2-3 with a TD to Cody Latimer

A good indication of growth for the young passer who was playing with the 2s. Despite his efforts, it was Alex Tanney who separated himself from the group and had the most productive day, an unlikely victor that is fighting for his life to maintain his status as the second string quarterback.

Nonetheless–

Your top news of the day!

Dan Salomone (Giants.com) – Who stood out on Day 1 of Giants minicamp?

John Fennelly (Giants Wire) – Giants’ Sterling Shepard: Eli Manning is getting after it

Ethan Sears (New York Post) – Giants’ Dexter Lawrence is angered by his run-stuffing reputation

Chris Pflum (Big Blue View) – The Giants are looking to make use of Jabrill Peppers’ versatility

Alexander Wilson (Empire Sports Media) – New York Giants: Janoris Jenkins and DeAndre Baker duo could be elite

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