New York Giants: Sam Darnold Warns Daniel Jones About Making Headlines

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

The New York Giants have a rookie quarterback on that roster, and whether or not Daniel Jones actually plays this season, it’s been causing a lot of talk and a lot of speculation recently. It makes sense, considering the Giants spent the number six overall pick on Jones in a move that surprised just about everyone, but it doesn’t make things easier on Jones himself as a player trying to make the jump from a small football school such as Duke all the way to one of the harshest media markets in the NFL.

But Jones isn’t the only high profile quarterback to make the jump from college to a New York NFL team. Sam Darnold was projected by many to end up with the New York Giants, but instead ending up playing for the other team in New York, the Jets.

The Giants went with Saquon Barkley in a move that many will consider a major success now that Barkley is widely considered to be one of the best two or three running backs in the league, but meanwhile, the Jets might have done something the Giants couldn’t do – eliminated questions about their quarterback position for the forseeable future, at least if there’s no sophomore or junior slump for the successful Darnold down the line.

After going through the college to NFL transition in New York, Sam Darnold knows a thing or two about the subject, and offered some advice to Daniel Jones about the matter while speaking to the New York Post in an interview.

If I were to say anything to Daniel, I’d just say, “Keep your head down and work, and be yourself, because if you do that, no one’s gonna say anything about you, and if you don’t make headlines, you’ll be all right.”

Jones has done something of a good job not making headlines so far, even if he has been the center of a number of articles and headlines simply because of his status as the newest quarterback on the block for the New York Giants. That’s in contrast with Kyle Lauletta, last year’s rookie who ended up making headlines around the league for dangerous driving before even playing in a regular season game.

We’ll see if that continues. Fortunately for Jones, it looks like he’ll have to spend a season sitting based on statements from coaches and even other players claiming Eli Manning is the team’s starter, which should reduce some of the rookie pressure and make it easier to avoid making headlines for the wrong reasons.

New York Mets: Zack Wheeler to Return on Friday

Will the New York Yankees land Zack Wheeler in free agency?

The New York Mets top trade piece, Zack Wheeler, will start on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wheeler had been sidelined since July 7 because of a shoulder impingement. He threw a bullpen session Friday and live batting practice Tuesday without any issues.

Wheeler will only have one start to prove his trade worth, due to the unfortunate timing of his injury. He drew interest from multiple teams before he landed on the injured list. Throughout the year Wheeler had plenty of life on his pitches, but struggled to find any consistency. This led to a 4.69 ERA and a higher home run rate than he had in 2018.

Wheeler’s Deceiving Numbers

The interesting part about Wheeler’s season is his ERA makes it look worse than it actually is. FIP is “Fielding independent Pitching” and it only takes into account pitcher’s three true outcomes (HR/BB/K). Wheeler’s FIP in 2018 and 2019 are 3.25 and 3.67, not too much of a difference. He has allowed multiple bloop hits this year and the Mets poor defense does not turn those bloop hits into outs.

Should Wheeler put together a good start Friday, there should still be a large amount of teams lining up to acquire him. If he struggles, teams might have interest, but their offers will be significantly lower. If he puts together a strong August, the Mets could put him on waivers and deal him before the August 31 deadline. Justin Verlander was a waiver trade and it worked out perfectly for the Houston Astros.

Can Wheeler Regain His Form?

Wheeler found success in the second half of 2018, in which he actually pitched to a lower ERA than Jacob deGrom. After receiving extra rest due to the All-Star break and recovery from his injury, he should expect to return to elite form.

The Mets can extend a qualifying offer to Wheeler during the offseason if they do not trade him. Wheeler was at his peak value last offseason, but the Mets kept him in hopes of winning this season. He has never made a postseason start and his start Friday could determine if he makes his first, this year.

Could the New York Knicks start Bobby Portis over Mitchell Robinson?

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

The New York Knicks seem to be over the developmental stage of their youth players and are keen on featuring the best lineup possible on game days. However, that poses a potential problem for some of the second-year players — Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson to name a few.

In regards to the rising center, the Knicks could elect to start Bobby Portis, a capable starter in the league that is better than Robinson at the current moment. If head coach David Fizdale’s assignment is to floor the best lineup every day, Portis could be in the starting unit, rotating the two frequently.

The new acquisition is in a good position to help the team, and he’s confident the Knicks can make the playoffs, he stated in an interview with HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy.

“The naysayers, the haters, the people who are doubting us will say that we’re crazy as hell for saying that (the playoffs are a realistic goal),” Portis said. “We have a lot of pieces who can play. I think we’re loaded at every position; there are two-to-three players who could start at every position. When you have that much talent, that rises the competitiveness and improves the team as a whole.”

Portis, however, is a primary power forward rather than a center, but he’s capable. Portis is a center because although he has three-point range, he cannot guard quicker opponents on the perimeter. His defensive limitations hold him to a rim protector, but that’s the secondary problem, he’s also terrible at protecting the rim. In the modern NBA, a big man who can’t guard anyone around the arch is inevitably a center.

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If Fizdale was smart, he would start Mitchell Robinson and never look back. Stunting his growth with a lack of playing time is the exact opposite of what he should be doing. It’s imperative he focuses his efforts around building upon the younger players who have shown potential, like Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr. We can even throw Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson and Knox in there for good measure.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Already Deserves A Captain’s Patch

Training camp is officially starting this week for the New York Giants. 2019 will bring along numerous important positional battles in training camp and showcase key rookies, such as first-round quarterback Daniel Jones.

Along with training camp also comes an important moment for the players outside of their on-field performance. Training camp allows players to establish themselves as true leaders an earn themselves a captain’s patch.

Teams are allowed to select six total team captains. The Giants typically select two on offense, two on defense, and two on special teams. Usually these patches are given to longstanding veterans, but occasionally, young players can prove themselves worthy and earn their patch very on in their careers.

Saquon Barkley is a young player who has already proven himself worthy and deserves a captain’s patch.

Saquon Leads By Example

Saquon Barkley began leading by example as early as last year’s rookie minicamp. In his first post-practice interview, Barkley discussed his leadership. His quotes were very telling of the high-character player and person that he is.

“You have to start off by leading by example,” Barkley said. “When you have to be vocal … whether it is a break down or you are learning something a lot faster than someone else and you try and help them in that area or someone is learning faster than you and you ask them. Those are the ways I will try and grow and to lead.” – Saquon Barkley via NY Daily News

All the things that Saquon discussed and mentioned during 2018’s rookie mincamp were on display during the 2018 NFL season. One specific moment during the Giants’ blowout win versus Washington stands out.

Saquon Barkley could sense that the Giants were close to pulling off a big play. All he had to do was get his teammates on the same page. So between possessions, Barkley went over to his offensive line, coached them up on the sideline, then delivered with a 78-yard touchdown run.

This moment clearly refelcts how well Saquon leads by example and how mature he was as just a rookie. Saquon Barkley lead his team on multiple occasions during his rookie season. But Saquon has not just been a leader on the field. He has been a tremendous leader and teammate off the field, too.

Saquon Is A Leader In The Media

Saquon Barkley is as mature as can be for a second-year superstar in the NFL. Barkley has shown public support for his teammates under scruutiny under multiple occasions already. Saquon has come to the defense of both of his quarterbacks this offseason.

Daniel Jones was a highly controversial pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jones has plenty of doubters and haters, but Barkley is not one of them. The superstar running back made it clear that he fully supports and believes in the Giants’ heir apparent.

When Saquon was asked about Daniel Jones, he reminded reporters how great of a situation Daniel Jones gets to come into. Barkley stated: “You get to come to New York. You get to learn behind Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, a quarterback who does everything right, and is a leader and captain. When his opportunity comes, he just has to be ready for it.”

In this one quote, Saquon shows support and admiration for his team’s current signal-caller, too. Eli Manning is heading into his sixteenth season and has received a large portion of the team’s criticisms over the past couple of years.

But Saquon Barkley has been extremely supportive of him all offseason. Saquon explained that it “bothers him” to see and hear all of the criticism that Manning gets because “it’s not his fault,” Barkley says “He’s not the reason why [we’ve struggled]. We love to put the blame on one person, but it takes 11 men, a team and an organization all together to win.”

Saquon Barkley’s advanced leadership on and off the field demonstrate an impeccable amount of maturity for a superstar player at his age. Whether it is leading by example on the field, helping out his teammates on the sideline, or displaying undying support for his teammates in the media, Saquon Barkley does it all. Barkley’s leadership makes him deserving of a captian’s patch as early as his sophomore season in 2019.

New York Yankees: What’s going on with Troy Tulowitzki?

Yes, Troy Tulowitzki is still a New York Yankee. He has been on the injured list for majority of the season and quite frankly, most people haven’t even noticed. April 3rd is when he injured his calf, and his rehabbing has been flaky.

Tulowitzki began on the 10-day injured list back in April where after a few days he was beginning baseball activities again. There was speculation that he could return at the end of April. From there he was assigned rehab games in Tampa where he played and then was removed from a game again due to tightness in the same calf. He was shut down for another week and then transferred to the 60-day injured list.

The same bad luck seems to keep repeating for the veteran shortstop. He was primarily signed to take Didi Gregorius’ role while he was recovering from his Tommy John surgery, but instead has only appeared in five games this season.

Tulowitzki’s future with the Yankees

In early June, manager Aaron Boone sent Tulowitzki home for a few days to give him time off his rehab. The latest news after that was Tulo was exploring his options with the club. With Gregorius back in his full-time role, it is unlikely Tulowitzki will have a starting spot or even a bench role when he becomes healthy.

The veteran infielder is 34 years old and has a couple of options. He can request to be released to find a new opportunity, be traded away, or retire. I believe it is extremely unlikely that Tulowitzki’s future is with the Yankees. The club has too much depth in the infield, and I do believe Gregorius will resign after this season.

New York Mets: The Disappointing Series in San Francisco

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets flew into San Francisco high confidence after winning four straight games. They had their two aces lined up to pitch the first two games of the series and their bullpen seemed to figure things out. This was a real opportunity for them to get back in the NL Wild Card race.

Bumgarner Flashbacks

The Mets got a taste of a postseason game one as Madison Bumgarner was untouchable in game one of the series. The Giants won in 16 as the Mets ran out of arms and blew their 16th inning lead.

They managed to sandwich a blowout win in between two more disappointing losses. Somehow, the Mets outscored the Giants in the series but lost three of the four games. The biggest highlight for the Mets was watching Pete Alonso break a bat like a toothpick.

Miserable Mets

It fit the theme of the Mets season. They could have easily left with a four game sweep and put themselves right back in contention, but they failed miserably and lost ground.

After all of that, the Mets actually had a 5-4 road trip. It felt like they actually lost all nine games.

The best the Mets record can be at the trade deadline is two games under the .500 mark. If the Mets are not selling now, a series loss to either the Pittsburg Pirates or San Diego Padres will seal their fate as sellers.

The Mets are hanging on to their season by the smallest thread. Currently seven games out of the second Wild Card spot, they cannot afford to lose more ground.

Knowing how this season has gone, I think we are due for one final bitter heart break to put the final nail in the coffin of a third straight disappointing season.

New York Mets: Jeff McNeil Has Become an Elite Utility Player

In what has been a horrible season for the New York Mets, Jeff McNeil has been a bright spot. An under the radar prospect has come out of nowhere to currently lead the MLB in batting average, play multiple positions well and become an All-Star.

McNeil was once involved in trade talks during the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade with the Seattle Mariners. Brodie’s best move was the one he did not make in keeping McNeil.

McNeil virtually came out of nowhere to become a key contributor for the Mets from his debut in 2018. He has become one of the best hitters in baseball after playing with a very unique approach to hitting.

The Mets have asked him to play multiple positions this season and he has excelled. There were questions with his glove in the minors, but he proved to be capable no matter where he is placed.

McNeil is a rare gem in today’s game. McNeil could careless about his exit velo and launch angle. He uses all sides of the field and is not afraid to sacrifice power to get an easy hit.

No matter where the Mets will have McNeil in their plans for the future. He is everything you want out of a player. He plays with the heart of Gary Carter and hustles like Pete Rose.

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The Mets have struggled to find a potent leadoff hitter since Jose Reyes left for Miami, but now they finally have their guy. At age-27, it may have taken McNeil a while to get to the big leagues, but he is making the most of it now.

New York Jets: Le’Veon Bell’s story is not a comeback

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

New York Jets offseason acquisition Le’Veon Bell is not far off from a time where he was renowned as one of the best offensive players in football.

His versatile and dynamic skill set made him a 2-time All-Pro and a 3-time pro bowler. He set the league on fire from the start having seasons with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage like in 2014 or even in 2017 having another near 2,000-yard season with 11 scores.

Le’Veon provided the Steelers a patient runner but also a receiving threat. In his opinion, he is a number 1 RB and a number 2/3 WR. Thus, he felt he should be compensated as such or traded. Yeah, well the Steelers didn’t answer that request and after a year off from the game, now Bell joins the Jets and becomes one of the most anticipated Jets players maybe ever.

Bell has been given lofty expectations by the bulk of the sports media world but what are reasonable expectations for a guy who took a year off from the game in his prime?

What should the New York Jets expect from the versatile running back?

Well first things first, Bell was receiving anywhere from 113-321 carries in a season and anywhere from 26-106 carries in a season. Bell saw the ball as much as 427 times as most recently as 2017. Under Mike Tomlin, Bell saw a TON of snaps with the ball in his hands.

Adam Gase is not typically like that and in fact, Kenyan Drake disappointed mightily in his offense last season and only saw 194 times with the ball whether it was catching it out of the backfield or running it. Jay Ajayi is closer to the talent level of Bell and he even only received 295 targets or carries in his only season as the lead back.

The fact is, Gase is going to feed Bell but not as much as Tomlin, especially if you factor in the fear of rust from a year off. That leads me to believe that Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell will play big parts as rotational backs this season. Both men are strong backups for Bell and can help limit wear and tear and take some reps to ease Bell back in. 

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So, although it would be awesome to see Bell getting the kind of volume he saw in Pittsburgh, that kind of volume isn’t typical of an Adam Gase run offense. Bell will see the field and no doubt be a difference-maker but if there is rust he can still take the pressure off Sam Darnold (a big reason the Jets wanted him) and be the lead back in an explosive offense.

Bell will have a lot of pressure this season coming off a year away from the game but there is no doubt if Bell is even a fragment of what he was in 2017 he will make a significant difference on Gang Green. 

New York Knicks: Is Dennis Smith Jr. about to break out in 2019?

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

All signs point towards New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. having a dominant 2019 season. Why? Because his offseason training has been extensive and progressive.

The one thing Smith Jr. was missing from his game was an affective perimeter shot, an essential attribute for any premier point guard. Kemba Walker has it, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry…but it could be Smith’s time to finally take the jump.

Knicks assistant coach Keith Smart has been working Dennis to exhaustion the past six weeks, putting up thousands of shots and tweaking his technique to help refine one of his most visible weaknesses. Making that part of his game a strength essentially makes him a well-rounded player.

The young offensive-minded point guard not only has elite athleticism but has the mental motivation to elevate his game. After being selected No. 9 in the 2017 NBA Draft, Smith Jr. has posted a mediocre .407 shooting percentage, .316 from 3. The one thing Smart hit on in regards to his shooting motion was finding “balance on his jump shot.”

According to the New York Post, Smart noticed hiccups in Dennis’ game upon his arrival:

“When we traded for Dennis, you have look at every player how can we help them get better shooting the basketball or passing,” Smart stated. “We got together in the gym in February to get a feel, look at his shot, what I can help him with. I got a picture of it.”

The refinement of shooting technique is no easy feat — it involved breaking bad habits and forcefully learning new ones. It’s a tedious process which Smart mentions in his interview, but necessary for a player looking to take his game to the next level.

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Ultimately, if there’s any single person who can help Smith reach his potential in that facet, it’s “The Shot Doctor.” Helping create the ‘balance’ and fundamental technique will help exponentially, but it’s a step-by-step process. Starting from sitting in a chair and shooting to the full motion, understanding your mechanics and how to properly follow through and engage in a jump shot is difficult.

The movement must be swift and natural, which is how Smart will help develop Smith’s deficiency.

Breaking down the New York Giants rookies for training camp

New York Giants rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones during voluntary OTAs.

The New York Giants have wrapped up their summer vacation, and we know what that means — football is nearly back!

With two weeks remaining until preseason and seven until the first regular-season game, it’s officially football season. It has been one long and boring offseason without the constant Odell Beckham Jr. drama to keep us occupied. That was about the only good thing that came from his media coverage.

Nonetheless–

Here are your New York Giants 2019 rookies:

(QB) Daniel Jones — The reality for Jones is simple. He’s expected to sit quietly behind Eli Manning and soak up as much knowledge as possible about preparation and the offensive scheme before eventually taking over. He could succeed Manning as soon as this year, or it could be in 2021, nobody really knows. The preseason, however, will give us our first look into his capabilities and what he’s learned so far this offseason. Our opinions will start to take form in just a couple of weeks.

(CB) DeAndre Baker — The Giants traded back up into the top of the first round to select Baker, a player whos tenacity at the cornerback position will make him a solid sidekick to Janoris Jenkins. He will hit some rookie speedbumps, but thus far, he’s looked fantastic on non-contact coverage drills. He has the ability to be the Giants’ best corner with some experience and likely take over for Jenkins in the future.

(DL) Dexter Lawrence — One of the more interesting picks by the Giants this year, Clemson standout Dexter Lawrence is a massive presence in the middle of the defense. Not only is he expected to help the run game, but he’s also capable of being a capable pass rusher. At his size, opposing offensive lineman will have their hands full, and if he can develop a pass rush, GM Dave Gettleman will look like a genius.

(OLB/DE) Oshane Ximines — The Giants’ third-round selection is expected to sign his rookie deal upon the start of camp, and it’s going to be an important one for him. The Giants think highly of him and his surprisingly developed pass-rush moves despite coming from a small school (Old Dominion). Ximines could very well earn starting time, but he’s a player that will need a few months to adapt to the speed and strength of the NFL. He’s worth keeping an eye on this training camp period.

(CB) Julian Love — When Love was still on the board in the fourth round, Gettleman made sure to select this feisty corner. Projected as a slot option who will compete with Grant Haley, Love is an exciting draft pick that has the quality to start on an every game basis. His position battle with Haley will be one of the better ones.

(ILB) Ryan Connelly — A four-year player at Wisconsin, Connelly is an interesting prospect. While his physical traits don’t stand out, he’s incredibly quick and instinctive. His confidence shows in his ability to shoot the gap with amazing speed and accuracy. He will need to work on his tackling at the next level, but he could find a way into the defense in specific packages. Expect him to be a special teams player for the time being.

(WR) Darius Slayton — Emerging as one of just two players to earn first-team reps during mini-camp, Slayton improved significantly over the course of the offseason. To start, he couldn’t hold onto a single ball, but it’s how you finish at the NFL level that matters. He’s quickly proving he can be an influential player for the Giants, but adapting to live-action will be the ultimate test for Darius.

(CB) Corey Ballentine — A player with elite athleticism, Ballentine has arms that dangle like ivy at the corner position. He’s fast, quick, and physical. The reality is, his physical traits stand out the most, but he’s still raw with his technique. Another solid draft pick with backup potential in 2019, I see him acting as a solid gunner on the punt unit for now.

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(OT) George Asafo-Adjei — Becoming a reliable backup tackle for the Giants should be “Big George’s” ultimate goal for now. He’s a raw prospect but earned good reps against Josh Allen while at Kentucky, a top 10 pick in the draft. With Chad Wheeler still in the mix, he will have to fight with everything he’s got to earn playing time this season.

(IDL) Chris Slayton — The Syracuse product is a good interior defender, but will have to beat out several others to earn playing time. R.J. McIntosh presents the biggest threat after missing 2018 with a thyroid issue. Slayton has been knocked for his effort at times. That’s something he will need to overcome at the NFL level.