New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Shows Why He Was Named Captain

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Some would say that the New York Giants aren’t in a good spot right now. The team is in a position to either go 1-1 or 0-2 this Sunday against the Bills, but the team is a small underdog even at home against their AFC East opponent, who managed to take down the Jets by one point in their own season opener. Those odds are, of course, impacted by a couple of things including Golden Tate’s suspension which won’t be over until week five, as well as injuries that the Giants picked up against the Cowboys or that carried over from the offseason.

What does Saquon Barkley think about the situation the Giants are in right now? Well, not long after being named one of the team’s offensive captains prior to the start of the season, Barkley has already exercised some leadership in attempting to calm the masses about where the team is right now. According to Barkley, it’s not the locker room that’s panicking over an 0-1 start but the voices outside of it.

“I don’t feel like that in the locker room, I feel it’s more like everyone outside of our locker room that’s panicking. When you break it down, there’s what, 32 teams in the NFL? Half of those teams lost last week — besides two of them, they tied — but half of those teams lost,” Barkley stated plainly. “Just because you won big don’t mean you’re gonna go 16-0, just because you lost bad don’t mean you’re gonna go 0-16.”

“Don’t panic. Just find a way to get better every single week, get one percent better every single day and when the games come, just try to execute at a high level,” Barkley added.

The loss on Sunday definitely wasn’t the fault of Barkley. Barkley had 120 rushing yards, but with the coaching staff under-using him and only giving him eleven rushes overall, which ended up being a point of controversy as the passing offense couldn’t carry the team and the Giants finished the game with only 17 points.

Will Barkley see more use in the next game? If the coaching staff listens to feedback, possibly – but if there’s one thing that’s certain about the current Giants coaching regime, it’s that no one quite knows what to expect, let alone can predict their actions.

 

New York Yankees: Happ And Encarnacion Returning To NY With Possible Injuries

New York Yankees, Edwin Encarnacion

News broke at the end of game one of the New York Yankees doubleheader against Detroit that Edwin Encarnacion and JA Happ will be returning to New York with injuries.

Edwin Encarnacion had an oblique issue that he felt early in the game but didn’t feel it in his swing. He must not of been kidding since he homered his first time up.

JA Happ started the first game and left after four and two thirds innings. He pitched fair, giving up two runs off seven hits. He has left biceps tendinitis, and it has bothered him for a few starts now. They decided that he was good to pitch on Thursday, and was removed from the game due to pitch count.

Both injuries don’t seem too serious and it’s the right time to get everything fixed up. Both players should be good to go once the playoffs roll around.

New York Knicks’ Center Mitchell Robinson Will Dominate on Defense For a Long Time

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

Scott Perry and the New York Knicks selected a gem with the 36th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. During Mitchell Robinson’s 2017-18 collegiate season, he withdrew his commitment to attend Western Kentucky. The Knicks center displayed his drive for greatness by dedicating the entire 2017-18 season towards self-training and development. No prospect has ever taken such a route to the NBA. The bold decision by Robinson speaks volumes. It shows that the kid is not afraid of hard work and his confidence in his craft is unwavering. What a fearless competitor.

Mitchell Robinson averaged 2.4-blocks in only 20.6-minutes per game last season. The shot-blocking rim terrorizer continued making his presence felt as last season progressed. He wasn’t getting much playing time when Kanter was on the team. However, Big Mitch got all the playing time he could handle after the Knicks released Enes. The raw prospect gained confidence every time he stepped on the court during a lost New York Knicks season. He also sparked the Knicks defense down-low with his shot-blocking near the rim and around the three-point line. Opponents began getting intimidated when driving the lane. This is now the beginning of a defensive dominating center in New York.

The 7’1″ tall defensive phenom is only getting better due to his motor and a constant chip on his shoulder. This guy is exactly who you’d want as your last line of defense. He’s also the guy you’d want to switch onto the opposing guard near the three-point line during a pick and roll. Foul trouble became less and less of a problem as Robinson continued learning the game on the fly throughout the season. NBA experience for the talented quick learning shot blocker has been crucial for his development. Defensive presence in the middle of the lane definitely won’t be an issue due to the future DPOY and future league-leading shot-blocker in Mitchell Robinson.

New York Giants: Eli Manning Needs To Take More Risks

The New York Giants desperately need the old Eli Manning to take over the imposter who wears #10 for the Giants. The quarterback who would frustrate fans by forcing balls down the field, but also energize his team by taking risks to generate big plays down the field. They need the quarterback who took risks, hung in the pocket and let his receivers make plays down the field. The organization needs that guy back for them to salvage this season.

Eli has become too conservative. He reads the field looking for the safe throw first before looking at his deep read. The defense is going to be poor all year, he has to take shots for the Giants to compete in 2019. Last season, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers all had a higher INT % than Eli Manning.

There has been a lot of scrutiny on the strength of Eli’s arm, but what good is it to have a healthy arm if you aren’t going to use it? On Sunday against the Cowboys, Eli attempted a deep pass (20+ yards down the field) on only 6.8% of his dropbacks, according to Profootballfocus metrics.

After rewatching every non-screen pass play called through the first three quarters, it became evident Eli left a lot of opportunities out there for the Giants. Let’s dive into the film.

Film Review

Q2 8:38 – 3rd and 12

The Giants struggled to convert third downs all game, converting only two out of eleven third-down opportunities. Midway through the second quarter, the Giants faced a third and 12 from their own 33. Dallas left the deep middle of the field exposed, if Eli holds the ball a half-second longer, he has the time to hit Russell Sheppard on a deep crossing route. Instead, he opts to check down to Ellison and the Giants punt.

Q2 1:13 – 1st and 10

The two-minute drill was unwatchable. The Giants gained 31 yards in the 1:04 they had the ball. The Cowboys played cover 3 on this play, which should have been advantageous to the Giants given they ran a flat curl combination to Eli’s left. The cornerback in the slot to Eli’s left should be Eli’s first read to dictate where he wants to go with the ball. As soon as the slot corner sprints to the flat, Eli knows he’ll have the curl route, which he did. Instead, the ball comes out quickly over the middle for a short gain.

Q2 0:54 – 2nd and 4

The Giants dial up the perfect play design against the Cowboys covers 2 defense. To Eli’s right, Engram sprints to the flat to occupy the corner, giving Sheppard room to make a play over top between the corner and the safety. This should have been Eli’s first read, but once again he gets rid of the ball too quickly and doesn’t take advantage of what the coverage is giving him.

Q2 0:30 – 1st and 10

This was one of Eli’s most egregious misses. He completes an accurate ball to Latimer on the sideline but misses a great opportunity to hit Engram up the seam matched against a linebacker. It’s possible he was spooked by the safety in the middle of the field, but given how much time was left in the half and where the Giants were on the field, this was a risk worth taking.

Q3 11:12 – 2nd and 9

On this play-action rollout to Eli’s right, it takes him too long to come off his first few reads along the sideline. If he had looked up, he would have seen a wide-open Rhett Ellison in the back of the end zone. These kind of misses are inexcusable.

Q3 8:39 – 2nd and 3

First, let’s give the Giants credit for actually sending Barkley on a wheel route and trying to free him up with a pick play. Eli has a fairly clean pocket to throw from, but seems to panic and get rid of the ball too early before Barkley was expecting it. If he tries to hit Barkley in stride further down the sideline, this is likely a touchdown.

Conclusion

The Giants desperately need Eli to elevate the offense. 2011 Eli wouldn’t have won Sunday against the Cowboys, but 2011 Eli can carry this team to a wild card birth. The offensive line looks strong, he finally has as running game and a few weapons among his receivers and tight ends. If Eli forces a pick downfield next Sunday you will hear a lot of groans from the fans in the stands, but that could also be a signal that Eli is back and ready to elevate this offense one last time.

One thing New York Knicks fans should want this season

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks have a completely re-vamped roster this season.  There are some expectations for them as well.  The expectations for the Knicks are to be better.  It is New York, and their teams are expected to win.

However, the Knicks are rebuilding, and so far they are doing it the right way.

Many fans would like to see the Knicks make the playoffs and make some noise in the Eastern Conference.  While having these optimistic thoughts for the Knicks is good, there really should only be one.

That one thing is for the New York Knicks to be competitive.

The Knicks won 17 games last season and had the worst record in the league.  They were anything from competitive.  Remember how the fans reacted when the Knicks on their 17th game?  You might have thought it was a playoff game.

Even if the Knicks are competitive, there will be a different vibe throughout the city.  Being competitive for the Knicks will be winning 30-35 games.  That does not get them into the playoffs, but it is a start.  It is the kind of start this team will need to turn all their misfortunes around.

Even when the Knicks won 17 games, fans were still coming back for more.  The Knicks being competitive gives the fans hope.  There is hope with the way the roster is currently constructed, but fans need to see the product on the floor.

These Knicks players are talking a big season.  They believe in each other and want to win, according to Julius Randle.  All Knicks fans want to win as well.  But, why don’t they start will simply being competitive and showing the fans that they are moving in the right direction.

New York Jets: What Can We Expect from Demaryius Thomas?

For the first time since 2000, the New York Jets and New England Patriots agreed to a trade, resulting in Demaryius Thomas suiting up for Gang Green. What type of impact can we expect from the 31-year-old veteran receiver?

Looks like Adam Gase was a man of his word after calling out the receiving corps following the New York Jets’ disappointing collapse against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. If Gase’s words rang loud and clear, then his actions surely followed it up. As a result of adding Antonio Brown, the New England Patriots followed by trading away Demaryius Thomas to the New York Jets.

After seven straight seasons with the Denver Broncos (four of which were Pro Bowl seasons), Thomas has now found himself on four different teams in the past two seasons. (ProFootballReference).

After being traded midway last year from the Broncos to the Houston Texans, Demaryius Thomas suffered a ruptured Achilles that ended his season. After being signed, released, then re-signed with the Patriots this preseason, Thomas now finds himself as a New York Jet.

What type of production and impact can the Jets’ expect from the veteran wideout?

Prime Years Are in the Past

Demaryius Thomas accounted for five straight seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards from 2012-2016. He also accounted for double-digit touchdowns in three of the aforementioned five seasons. No surprise here, the Jets aren’t expecting to turn back the clock and revive the Demaryius Thomas of NFL past. Thomas wasn’t brought in to be the de facto number one wideout.

Even when he was racking up yardage and finding the endzone, Demaryius Thomas didn’t carry the reputation of having the most reliable hands. He averaged nearly 11 drops per season from 2012-2017, and his average career catch percentage is a mere 61%. Safe to say, the Jets are getting a Demaryius Thomas that his a shade of his former self.

Help Open Opportunities for Others

So the general consensus is that Thomas wasn’t going to be relied upon to suddenly handle the receiving load and lead the wideouts. But you don’t trade for him to ride the bench either. With the recent news of Quincy Enunwa likely to miss the remainder of the season with a neck injury, it is clear Demaryius Thomas will be up for filling the void.

So while Thomas won’t command double teams from opposing defensive backs, that doesn’t mean he can’t open opportunities for others. If he can prove to be reliable across the middle and with passes underneath, he can help keep defenses honest, possibly opening up Robby Anderson over the top as a deep threat.

Better yet, if he can prove reliable on the outside, it should give prized free-agent acquisition, Jamison Crowder, even more, room to work in the slot. Crowder had a whopping 17 targets and hauled in 14 of them for 99 yards receiving. The caveat: not a single touchdown reception. If there’s any way for Thomas to contribute, its to prove to be a reliable option, keeping defensive backs honest and allowing the other offensive threats the chance to exploit coverages.

 

New York Mets: The Mets are Somehow Back in the Race

New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

With their 9-0 win against the Diamondbacks Wednesday night, the Mets have climbed within two games of the second wild card spot. Throughout, their up and down second half they now have a legitimate shot at a playoff spot. After some brutal losses over the last two weeks, it seemed like the Mets were buried.

How Are They Doing It?

Starting pitching has led the way during their burst back into contention. Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have all thrown stellar outings against the D’Backs. They squeezed out enough runs to win the first two games of the series, then exploded against Robbie Ray with five runs in the first inning.

The Mets have not gotten their way back in the race solely by themselves. They received some help from the San Diego Padres who took two straight from the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs and Brewers are now tied for the second wild card spot and the Mets are not far behind.

Managing Adjustments

Mickey Callaway has finally made the adjustment to keep Edwin Diaz out of the ninth inning. Seth Lugo got the six out save in game one and Justin Wilson got the four out save in game two. The blowout in game three, taxed the D’Backs bullpen, but rested the top two arms in the Mets pen. Even Brad Brach has emerged as a reliever the Mets can trust. Unless the Mets are in a pinch, do not expect to see Diaz anywhere near a big spot.

The Mets do not have it easy through the weekend as the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers come into town. Both teams are throwing their best as the pitching matchups line up as such:

Friday: Clayton Kershaw vs. Noah Syndergaard

Saturday: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Jacob deGrom

Sunday: Walker Buehler vs. Zack Wheeler

The could be a preview of the NLDS, should the Mets get that far. There are 14 combined All-Star appearances combined in those matchups. If the Mets can survive the series, they get 10 games against the Rockies, Reds and Marlins. The Brewers and Cubs have easy schedules as well, so the Mets still have a lot of work to do through the last two and a half weeks of the season.

 

New York Yankees: Luis Severino’s Next Start Might be in Pinstripes

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Luis Severino pitched what is expected to be his final rehab start Wednesday night and will most likely rejoin the New York Yankees soon. In 3.2 innings pitched for the Trenton Thunder, he looked sharp. Severino allowed one run on five hits while fanning four, finishing with 64 pitches (47 strikes).

Severino looked real good in his outing. His final line doesn’t promote how well he actually pitched, primarily because he had a minor league defense behind him. The best thing about Severino’s outing is his velocity was back. His fastball was up to 97-98 consistently, and his slider and changeup looked great.

https://twitter.com/MaxWildstein/status/1171929151160406016

Following the game, Severino said he expects to be back with the big club in 4-5 days. He also said he expects to return back to his starter role when he rejoins the team. The Yankees will most likely continue to build his innings and pitch count during the month of September. They’ve spoken that they intend to have Severino back either as a starter or a bullpen arm.

Severino was dealing with a right lat injury which has sidelined him all year long. He suffered this injury during spring training and his rehabbing had been inconsistent.

When completely healthy, Severino is one of the most dominant and feared pitchers in the major leagues. A 19-8 record last season, he’s credited to a career 3.51 ERA.

Other players expected to rejoin the Yankees off the injured list are Giancarlo Stanton and Dellin Betances. Stanton has dealt with several injuries this season which has kept him from only appearing in nine games this year. Betances was dealing with similar injuries that Severino experience which has caused him not to step on a major league mound all year.

 

New York Knicks: Why Dennis Smith Jr. could explode in 2019

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

The primary deficiency that’s holding New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. back from being an explosive player in the league is his shooting efficiency. Add in his lack of assists and ability to spread the ball around the floor, and you have a player that’s not acting as a true game manager.

With a .413 field goal percentage last season with the Knicks, Smith will need to improve upon that number to solidify the starting job in his third year in the NBA. Veteran free-agent signing Elfrid Payton statistically represents the better option at point guard for the Knicks, but I imagine they will stick with the younger option due to his overall potential and desire to develop him into the future at the position.

The New York Knicks need to extract the best out of Dennis Smith Jr.:

The lens of Dennis Smith Jr. ranges far and wide — is he an All-Star, simple starter, sixth man, or just athletically gifted? At first glance, he seems to have the physical traits to be an above-average player in the league, but he has failed to live up to that reality.

Barely shooting 40% from the field and 30% from three-point land, Smith’s numbers seem to be regressing over time. Having such impressive traits would indicate an agile development or at least a positive trend. The tangibles seem to be present, but his mental game has kept him from progressing to the point of real quality.

Bad shot selection, indigent defense, and behavioral issues in Dallas have plagued his career, but a fresh start in New York could provide him with the opportunity to push past his past struggles. Ultimately, Smith wants to lead the Knicks with his athleticism and playmaking ability, but I imagine he will be on a short leash considering Payton’s production in recent years.

Dennis will be starting point guard, but for how long? That’s entirely up to him. However, working this offseason tirelessly to refine his jump shot and improve his scoring efficiency will help him mature into the player he needs to be for the Knicks. He recently dropped 50 points in the Crossover League and has been working with Atlanta Hawks’ star, Trae Young.

With a fresh start in New York and the right pieces around him to elevate his game, Smith has the resources available to explode in 2019 finally.

New York Giants bringing in preseason hero to help out at wide receiver

T.J. Jones, New York Giants

With the New York Giants preparing to lose their top wide receiver in Sterling Shepard for the week two matchup against the Buffalo Bills, they have elected to re-sign preseason hero T.J. Jones to help fill the void.

With Shepard missing time and Golden Tate still three games away from being eligible to compete, the Giants will be thin in the wide receiver corps. Jones finished the preseason with 12 receptions for 146 total yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a Victor Cruz-esque grab in the endzone on an Alex Tanney pass.

He will immediately come in and have familiarity with the offensive playbook, as well as chemistry with quarterback, Eli Manning. Despite only being on the team for several weeks, his knowledge of the playbook and skillset will be put to use, especially in week two against the Bills.

What are the New York Giants getting with T.J. Jones?

In five season with the Detroit Lions, Jones caught 64 balls for 814 yards and four scores. He’s a seasoned veteran that was always fighting for reps against more talented pass-catchers. I imagine the Giants will utilize him all over the field if he can manage to secure ample minutes, but with the lack of talent at the position, he will be forced into a medium-volume role.

Against the Bills, Big Blue will likely trot out Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, and T.J. Jones in that order. Based on field position and scheme, head coach Pat Shurmur will likely rotate the receivers, using Fowler in the red-zone. Shepard is a deep-ball threat, while Jones is a solid post-route receiver. He can also contest balls along the boundary.

The biggest issue with losing Shepard is that they will have to compensate for the loss of their primary slot target. Jones could play out of the slot and act as a crossing route option/security blanket for Manning.

Nonetheless, Jones showed he is a capable receiver this preseason, and he will earn his opportunity for the Giants during the regular season in week two.