New York Giants: Shurmur Gives Neutral Answers, Speaks On Secondary

New York Giants, Pat Shurmur, James Bettcher

Pat Shurmur is under more pressure than anyone else in the New York Giants organization going into week ten’s game with the New York Jets, and Shurmur’s interactions with the media may just be one of the deciding factors in whether or not the team makes an uncharacteristic move and removes Shurmur in the middle of the season – it wouldn’t be an unprecedented move, however, as Ben McAdoo had similar results to Shurmur and met a similar fate before Shurmur was hired.

Shurmur recently spoke to the team’s website in a question and answer session during the buildup to the Jets game, and his answers may or may not inspire confidence in fans going into week ten’s matchup, depending on your perspective.

One of the most notable facts is that despite the dire straits the Giants are in, Shurmur claims the team isn’t looking at the game with a newfound sense of urgency.

“We’ve had the urgency, and the sense of purpose has been high all year. We’ve practiced hard. We just need to take what we do in practice and put it on the field. We’ve had stretches of really good play. We’ve just fallen victim to game-changing plays that have hurt us in close games,” Shurmur said.

But if the Giants have been urgent all season, they sure haven’t been urgent enough – the team only has two wins at this point, with one of them requiring luck down to the end as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed a field goal that would have given them a victory.

The Giants didn’t seem like a team playing urgently against Dallas, at least not beyond the early part of the game when they had the lead. And the blown lead at the end of the first half was more than just one game-changing play.

Saying that the Giants’ performances over the past weeks during their losing streak is just because of game-changing plays hurting them in close games is a massive oversimplification, and if this is how the Giants staff is looking at the matter, they may not put in the required effort to improve and turn things around.

After all, it’s hard to fix a problem while understating how big of a problem something is in the first place.

But we’ll be seeing some different things from the team on Sunday at least, with at least one of those changes being the addition of Sam Beal to the lineup of defensive backs – after missing his first season entirely with injury and ending up on the injured reserve list this year until only days ago, Beal is set to make his debut against the Jets and provide competition for struggling rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker.

“We’re going to get him out there, get him going. We’ve seen him practice. He’s a very talented young man that has been held back by injury. We’ll get him in the game and see where he can have an impact,” Shurmur said about Beal.

It also looks like Corey Ballentine will hold down the slot corner position long term, as Ballentine has received praise from Shurmur on his qualities at the position.

“There’s more happening when you’re on the inside. You have to have good instincts. He had been held back by injuries, so we haven’t been able to practice him as much as we would have liked to in there. But we feel like he’s one of our better corners, and so when you go to nickel, we’re going to put him on the field.”

The Giants will definitely need changes not just in the secondary but in multiple areas if they want to come out of the Jets game with a win – and after the team showed with McAdoo that they aren’t afraid to fire a coach in the middle of the season, there’s a very real chance that this is Pat Shurmur’s last game as the head coach if those improvements don’t happen.

Somehow, though, it feels like that point has reached everyone but Shurmur.

Ranking The New York Giants’ 2019 Draft Class So Far

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

The New York Giants are one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season. They sit at 2-7 heading into a winnable matchup against the New York Jets this Sunday. The Giants are a rebuilding team, though. They have young players starting all over the roster.

The Giants’ 2019 draft class has seen a ton of playing time so far. Dave Gettleman was criticized highly over a few picks after the draft, particularly a couple in the first round. But most of Gettleman’s picks have been solid performers so far this season.

The Giants have started seven of their ten draft picks at some point this season. Some have played better than others, but some have come as a complete shock and played well above expectations. Let’s take a look at how each rookie has played so far this season and rank them based on their performance so far:

1. Dexter Lawrence II

The Giants’ second pick in the 2019 NFL Draft has been their best performer so far. New York selected Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick and received much criticism for taking a defensive tackle with that pick. But so far, Lawrence has been one of the best rookies in the NFL this season.

Dexter has posted 24 combined tackles, 3 sacks, and 5 quarterback hits through nine games. He has been making his presence felt in both the run and pass game. In fact, Pro Football Focus has raved about Dexter’s work in run-defense.

Dexter Lawrence has earned an 86.9 run-defense from PFF grade, ranking seventh at his position. PFF also points out that Lawrence has missed a tackle on just 4% of his tackling attempts. Dexter Lawrence is grading out as one of the top players in the entire NFL at his position. The rookie has been the Giants’ most impressive draft pick so far this season.

2. Daniel Jones

The 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft was one of the most controversial draft selections in the last decade. The Giants decided to take Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and absolutely stunned the world. Dave Gettleman received a lot of criticism for this move, but so far, he has seemed like a mad genius.

Daniel Jones has silenced most of his haters this season. He took over as the starter in week three and instantly elevated the Giants’ offense. So far, Jones has thrown for 1,676 yards and 11 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. The turnovers (especially the 10 fumbles) are a problem, but Jones has made enough positive plays to outweigh the negatives and flash potential as a franchise quarterback.

3. Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants’ fifth-round draft pick, Ryan Connelly, looked to be a draft-day steal earlier this season. Unfortunately, in week four, Connelly went down with a knee injury. It was later revealed that Connelly had torn his ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.

But Connelly was playing at a high level before his injury. He had a combined total of 20 tackles in three and a half games. He also added 2 interceptions and 3 passes defended in that span. Ryan Connelly will need to be healthy for the Giants next season and take over as the team’s starting inside linebacker.

4. Darius Slayton

The Giants have received a solid amount of production out of their fifth-round receiver Darius Slayton. The speedster out of Auburn has developed a strong connection with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones this season.

Slayton has played in 7 games this season and caught 17 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. Slayton has been running routes vertical and downfield. He could be the Giants’ next big-play receiver. Darius showed his high potential in the Giants’ week eight game against Detroit where he caught two contested touchdown receptions and totaled 50 yards on the day.

5. Oshane Ximines

Oshane Ximines was the first player ever to be drafted out of Old Dominion. The Giants selected Oshane at the end of the third round and they have already seen the rookie make an impact as a rotational pass-rusher. Ximines has 16 combined tackles so far this season with 2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 3 tackles for loss.

It is encouraging to see a mid-round edge rusher having productivity this early in his career. The Giants should be able to use Oshane Ximines as a rotational pass-rusher for a while, but maybe he could even develop into a full-time starter.

6. Corey Ballentine

The Giants drafted Corey Ballentine out of Washburn in the sixth round of the draft. He was impressive during the preseason but has not seen a lot of playing time on defense in the regular season. However, Ballentine has been serving as the Giants’ kick returner this season.

In the first six games of the season, Corey Ballentine served as the Giants’ primary kick returner. Ballentine returned nine kickoffs for 237 yards, an average of 26.3 yards per return, including an impressive season-long return of 52 yards.

While the starting kick returner position is not the most valuable, Ballentine is still being productive and has the chance to take a step forward in the future with some promising potential at cornerback.

7. DeAndre Baker

DeAndre Baker has definitely been the most disappointing rookie for the Giants this season. New York traded up to draft the cornerback at the end of the first round. It was considered a great pick on draft night, but so far, Baker has not come close to living up to that first-round price tag.

Through nine weeks, DeAndre Baker has earned an atrocious 37.3 overall Pro Football Focus grade. This ranks 114th out of 115 cornerbacks. Baker has allowed 100 yards in coverage four times this season and has also given up 7 touchdowns. It has been a really tough start to the rookie’s career, but hopefully, Baker can bounce back and develop into a capable starting cornerback by the end of the season or next.

New York Mets: Jeff McNeil Year in Review

Jeff McNeil carried over his successful 2018 season into 2019 for the New York Mets. The sophomore slump was non-existent for McNeil as he proved himself as one of the best all around hitters in baseball and made his first All-Star team.

The Mets touted McNeil as a potential Ben Zobrist super utility player and he lives up to those expectations. He spent time playing both corner outfield positions and played second and third base. His best position was third, where he had 3 defensive runs saved.

Sweet Swinging

McNeil emerged as the Mets leadoff hitter after Brandon Nimmo struggled in the beginning of the season. McNeil hit .318 with 23 home runs, 75 RBIs and 38 doubles. His power was a surprise this season which elevated him to one of the elite hitters in baseball.

https://twitter.com/NimmoIsElite/status/1192581728323420161

Along with becoming an All-Star, McNeil showed his ability to spread the ball all over the field. He was the lead man for the batting title until he missed 10 days in August. Crazy to think the Mets almost shipped him away in the Robinson Cano trade.

One of McNeil’s most underrated characteristics was his hustle and drive to win. He never took any innings or plays off and could always be found playing at 110%. The only player with a higher batting average over the last two seasons (min. 800 PAs) is potential back to back MVP Christian Yelich.

McNeil puts the Mets future in a very good spot and will be a big contributor in 2020. With Todd Frazier out of the picture, it should open up an opportunity for McNeil to settle in third base or left field.

Grades:

Hitting for Average: A+, As good as any in baseball

Hitting for Power: A, No one expected 23 home runs from him

Defense: B-, Not a sparking defender, but good a third

Speed/Baserunning: C, Good baserunner, poor base stealer. Has solid speed though

Intangibles: A, Mets fans and teammates love him and his energy

Overall: A+, He would have a chance to be in the MVP category barring his injury and Pete Alonso’s season

New York Giants: What Happens To The Salary Cap If Sterling Shepard Retires?

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

When the New York Giants signed Sterling Shepard to a 4-year extension with $41 million in new money, many considered him to be the new primary receiver going forward.

His talent has never been an issue. As a rookie, he scored 8 touchdowns with over 600 receiving yards. In his second year, he improved his receiving yards per game by over 20 yards, going from 42 yards per game to 66 yards per game. In all 3 of his seasons leading up to 2019, Shepard has had at least 59 receptions.

Unfortunately, Sterling Shepard’s career could potentially come to an end even as one of the premier slot receivers in the game. Sterling suffered a concussion during the Week 1 matchup against the Cowboys, causing him to miss week 2 against the Bills. His second concussion has kept him sidelined since playing against the Vikings on October 6th. Overall he’s missed 5 of the 9 games due to his concussions.

Sterling’s health is undoubtedly the most important factor when visiting this topic. With that said, if he does decide to retire, it’s worth looking into the financial situation for the New York Giants and how it would change.

Salary Cap Implications If Sterling Shepard Retires

Much like whether a cut happens before or after June 1st, the same implications come with retirement as well. If Sterling Shepard were to retire before June 1st, all of his prorated bonuses after 2019 would be void.

We can’t be sure about the exact reimbursed amount for the team right now, but for a contract that’s worth $41 million in total, the true guarantees stand at a little over $21 million. Considering the team could get a portion of the signing bonus back as well, it sounds like the New York Giants could get nearly half of their total funds back from Shepard’s contract, maybe more.

Another noteworthy factor in retirement is the agreed-upon years of service. Contracts used to be based on actual years, but these days they’re based on accrued seasons. If Sterling Shepard were to retire and decide to return at a later date, his contract would be back into effect, and he would still be scheduled for another 4 seasons with the team.

The most important factor of Sterling Shepard right now is his health. Concussions are highly dangerous, and fans should hope he is going to be okay before anything else. With that said, the team could potentially recoup a large portion of their investment if they will be without his services.

Hopefully, Sterling Shepard is relieved of his symptoms with the ability to return to the field sometime in November. For now, the New York Giants will be without him this Sunday at 1 pm when they take on the New York Jets.

New York Giants: Could Sunday be Pat Shurmur’s Final Game?

New York Giants, Pat Shurmur

The New York Giants find themselves at 2-7 coming off of Monday night’s loss to the Cowboys. They have lost five straight games, all of them by at least five points. Dating back to 2017, the Giants have a miserable 10-31 record.

They have not been a good team for multiple years now. Head Coach Pat Shurmur was hired in 2018 to turn the franchise around. He is yet to do anything that shows he is capable of doing that. Since taking the reigns, he has posted a 7-18 record. He has failed to put together a consistent offense that boasts playmakers, including Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Daniel Jones. Not to mention, he had a generational talent last season in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Shurmur has shown no signs of being the guy moving forward. There is a chance Sunday will be his last game as the Coach of the Giants, and here’s why:

Why Sunday Could be Pat Shurmur’s Final Game for the New York Giants

The season-long struggles

The Giants have been one of football’s worst teams in 2019. Their two wins have come against teams with a combined record of 3-14. They have a negative 79 point differential, the sixth-worst of any team in the NFL. The offense has eclipsed 30 points just once the entire season. They have lost games this season by an average of more than 14 points per game. Simply put: they’ve been horrible.

While not everything can be put on Shurmur, a decent amount sure can. Shurmur is the play-caller for the team, as he has been since he became the head coach. The Giants have averaged a measly 21.76 points per game since the start of the 2018 season. For a team that is loaded with offensive weapons, Shurmur has failed to get the most out of his players. There is no reason the Giants shouldn’t be scoring 30 points every week. The play-calling and lack of creativity from Shurmur are to blame for the repeated struggles.

The lack of accountability

As most fans have observed, whenever the Giants lose, Shurmur always has the same response when asked why the team lost. His response, “We need to get better,” has grown agonizing. Never has Shurmur put any blame on himself for a loss. If you want to be a good head coach in the NFL, you need to be able to own up to your mistakes and failures. Shurmur still has not figured that part out.

What a loss to the Jets would do

There are five teams with worse records than the Giants this year. They get to play one of them this weekend, the crosstown rival New York Jets. The Jets are coming off of a loss to a one-win Dolphins team that has been trying to lose all season. It is safe to say the Jets are arguably the worst team in the NFL, especially after last Sunday’s debacle. If Big Blue were to lose to a Jets team that failed to beat a team that is doing all they can to lose and prep for the future, it could spell the end for Pat Shurmur in New York.

Former New York Giants fullback Hynoski Hired as Coach

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

New York Giants fans will remember Henry Hynoski as a powerful undrafted fullback who made great plays and came from a football background, but since retirement, Hynoski is so much more than his stats.

Hynoski finished playing football in 2015, after playing since 2011.  With the New York Giants, he went on to win Super Bowl XLVI.  Upon retiring from playing football, Hynoski became Head Coach for the school’s football team, the Shamokin Indians and Dean of Students at Shamokin Area High School, located in Coal Township, Pennsylvania.  He has done great work for the school since taking this job in 2018 and brings with them his experience from playing in the NFL since 2011.

Hynoski serves as a coach teaching student-athletes the skills and knowledge they need to master the game of football.  More importantly, Hynoski serves as a role model, a leader, and a mentor to the students arming them with the knowledge needed for high school and beyond.

He instills in his students the values and mindsets they need to be great players and people in general. Hynoski leads by example, as he was not only a talented player but also a role model.

Hynoski was always an asset to the New York Giants and supported his teammates.  He also jumped at any opportunity to give back such as attending the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund gala with his wife Laura and helping the cause to end cancer with the Tackle Kid’s Cancer.

Shamokin Area High School most certainly hired Hynoski for the positions because they know that their student’s academic and football careers will be in good hands!

Why the New York Yankees Have to Stick With Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez has become the most popular whipping boy amongst New York Yankees fans. His lackluster offensive capabilities in the 2019 postseason campaign brought newfound vigor to Yankees fans calling for his benching. What is utterly perplexing is Sanchez is currently on pace to match most of the career statistics Mike Piazza put up. And Piazza is a Hall of Fame catcher.

Let’s start with Sanchez’s biggest bugaboo, his defense.

Sanchez made vast improvements to his defense last year, something overlooked by many. After leading catchers the past two seasons in passed balls (16 and 18 for 2017 and 2018), Sanchez recorded a mere seven passed balls all of last season. That puts his career total for passed balls at 47. Mike Piazza, through his first four full seasons, had 45 passed balls. Sanchez has thrown out 33% of all base stealers so far. Piazza’s caught stealing percentage through his first four full seasons averaged out to 25.75%, and his CAREER caught stealing percentage is 23%. Pizza committed 39 errors in his first four full seasons, Sanchez has committed 35. At this point in Sanchez’s career, he’s a better defensive catcher than Mike Piazza ever was.

Can the New York Yankees expect Sanchez to improve offensively?

Offensively, I don’t think Sanchez will be able to match Piazza for batting average. Piazza has a career .308 batting average, averaging .320 his first four full seasons. Sanchez is sitting at .246. But Sanchez is on pace with Piazza’s career slugging, and two more seasons like 2019 to catch up to Piazza’s OPS and on-base percentage. Piazza has hit only 14 more home runs than Sanchez at this point in their careers, averaged the same amount of walks as Sanchez, and Piazza had a career war of 22.3 to Sanchez’s 11.3. Piazza’s career WAR is 59.6. So it’s not out of the question to see Sanchez catch up, if not, match Piazza by the end of his career.

Gary Sanchez is a future Hall of Famer both at bat and defensively. Comparing him to other Yankees catchers, he currently matches Yogi Berra in fielding percentage, is on pace to hit more home runs, and has a better slugging percentage and OPS for their ENTIRE careers. Sanchez has thrown out more base stealers than Jorge Posada, a better WAR than Jorge through their first four full seasons as catchers, better slugging and OPS, he can catch Jorge in career batting average, and is on pace to pass Jorge in home runs and RBI’s.

Why Yankees fans love to rip him, I’ll never know. But, mathematically speaking, Sanchez is currently on pace to match Yogi Berra and Thurmond Munson as one of the greatest Yankees catchers of all time.

The Yankees can go one of two ways at shortstop, does it involve Didi Gregorius?

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

After the rejection of Didi Gregorius’ qualifying offer of $17.8 million, the Yankees now have to make a decision on the shortstop position. They can go several ways this offseason.

Either they elect to move Gleyber Torres into a permanent role at short or look into potential free agents to fill the void. However, the idea of re-signing Gregorius isn’t a bad one by any means. Not only is he loved in the Yankees clubhouse, but he’s been efficient on offense and defense for the club over his tenure.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Didi finished the 2019 season with a .238 batting average, 16 homers, and 61 RBIs. His season was highlighted by his defensive quality and ability to pull balls over the short right porch at Yankees stadium. A Grand Slam in the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins attests to his value in clutch situations and overall production.

The 2019 season wasn’t Didi’s best, though, as coming off a significant injury undoubtedly played a part in his momentum. He seems to be 100% healthy and ready to return to a full-time role in 2020. The question for the Yankees is, do they bring him back on a multi-year deal or let him walk and move Torres into his natural position, where he struggled earlier in the year.

Torres’ progression makes the most sense, considering he’s the future at shortstop, but having DJ LeMahieu available for one more year makes that switch a bit less pressing. Ideally, LeMahieu would play his preferred second-base, and Gleyber would begin his tenure at short, but Gregorius offers a lot more than just production in the field — he’s an icon for the fan-base and leader on the team.

There isn’t much talent on the free-agent market for the Yankees:

The current shortstop market is stripped clean of any skill greater than or equal to Gregorius’. Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Iglesias, Jordy Mercer, or Chris Owings headline the top options behind the lefty hitter.

Ultimately, it boils down to a decision in the infield — is Torres ready to make the jump to short? If he is, there’s no need for Didi on the roster, but if Cashman prefers quality depth, the answer should be simple. Signing him to a one-year deal in the $13-14 million range could be the answer, as the Yankees likely believed he would accept the qualifying offer, which was too expensive for the value he brings to the team.

Snoopy Bowl: 70% of Wagers Being Placed on Giants to Beat Jets

new york giants, sam darnold, saquon barkley

The 1-7 New York Jets will be hosting the 2-7 New York Giants at MetLife Stadium this Sunday afternoon in a game that fans of both teams will likely be wearing paper bags over their heads. The winner will breathe a sigh of relief while the loser will get tossed into the media grinder with talk of coach firings and pleas from fans to sell the team.

The Giants appear to be the team that has less wrong with it at the moment if that even seems possible. They have lost five straight and have not looked good doing it. They are averaging a tad over 18 points per game on offense while giving up over 28.

The Jets are dysfunctional to the hilt after losing to the winless Miami Dolphins last week, a team that has practically made known their intention of tanking for the highest draft pick they can get. The Jets are averaging a league-low 12 points per game and allowing over 26.

Still, bettors will flock to this ‘rivarlry’ game between two teams that have won exactly one-third of their games since the beginning of the 2017 season.

Covers.com is reporting that 70% of bettors have wagered on the Giants to cover the 2.5-point spread in this game. The action on the over/under, currently at 44.5, is basically even though Friday morning.

This season, the Giants are 3-6 against the spread while the Jets are 2-6. Here are some other trends of note from Covers:

Giants are….

7-1 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.
5-1-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a double-digit loss at home.
9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games.
8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a ATS loss.
2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss
4-11 ATS in their last 15 games in Week 10.
1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game.
1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
1-4 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf.
1-6 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.

Jets are….

3-8 ATS in their last 11 games following a ATS loss.
2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up loss.
2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
6-21 ATS in their last 27 games in November.
2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games on fieldturf.
1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games after gaining less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 home games.
0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in Week 10.
0-4 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.

How the New York Knicks need to change their lineup

New York Knicks, Boston Celtic, Kevin Knox, Marcus Morris

Head coach David Fizdale has explored numerous lineups for the New York Knicks.  There hasn’t been anything substantial since he took over. He continues to try and find what players work best with each other, and it’s been difficult.

There has been a lot of incomplete lineups whose weaknesses ruin the flow of certain lineups and even games.  The most significant flow stopper was, still, in the Orlando Magic game.  Fizdale subbed in Morris for Knox, who had the hot hand, and it changes the whole rhythm for the Knicks, ultimately taking another loss.

With that being said, one lineup change that fans should hope for is starting Kevin Knox over Marcus Morris.  The Knicks need to be more focused on developing Knox.  He has shown signs of progression through this style of play and shooting thus far.  Knox shot the ball well in Detroit, 5-7 from the field with 2-3 beyond the arc.  His shot looks confident and should get him more minutes.  Knox is currently shooting 43.9% from the floor for this season.

The area of concern for taking Morris out of the starting lineup would be his attitude.  Morris is a fiery player that will command to play more, especially with his contract, 15 million for one season.  Fizdale could start him for 4-5 minutes then sub in Knox to get him more minutes since Morris isn’t in the Knicks future plans.

By switching out Knox for Morris, the Knicks can also tackle another team issue.  Ball hogging between Julius Randle and Morris.  The two can’t play with each other.  They both are ball-dominant players that command one-on-one situations.  That hurts the Knicks more as they aren’t used to playing with each other at this time.

Randle should play more at the center position.  That would help with the floor spacing and create more plays for the offense to run as compared to one-on-one.  Fizdale should find the happy medium with rotating Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Bobby Portis at center.

Fizdale knows how tough it is to figure out the starting lineup or lineups in general.  Finding what players work best with each other is the hardest part of his job, and with eight new players, it can’t be easy.  The Knicks and Fizdale need to figure out the lineup situation quick before the already restless fans get even more worried.