New York Giants: PFF Projects Changes In Starting Lineup For 2020

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants aren’t going to look like the same team they were in 2019 – that fact is certain after the Giants brought in a new coaching staff and a number of new players from both free agency and the Draft. The secondary and the offensive line in specific were areas that received many complaints in 2019, and it looks like the organization has listened and attempted to bring in talent to address these problems.

Pro Football Focus has done its best to project the starting lineups for all of the teams in the NFL, and their predictions about who will start for the Giants are somewhat interesting.

Offense

QB: Daniel Jones

RB: Saquon Barkley

WR: Sterling Shepard

WR: Darius Slayton

Slot: Golden Tate

TE: Evan Engram

LT: Andrew Thomas

LG: Will Hernandez

C: Nick Gates

RG: Kevin Zeitler

RT: Nate Solder

One of the changes from 2019 that stands out on the offensive line is at tackle. Nate Solder didn’t pan out after joining the Giants on a large deal last year, but thanks to having to pay him, it wouldn’t be a good move for the Giants to move on entirely unless another team was willing to trade for Solder – which didn’t happen this offseason. These projections assume that Solder will be replaced at left tackle by Andrew Thomas despite the latter player being a rookie that the Giants just selected this year.

Based on the position the Giants drafted Thomas at, though, that isn’t surprising. When a player on the offensive line is drafted at number four overall over flashier players, the expectation is usually a quick return.

Darius Slayton is also listed with the top receivers, which seems likely enough. Slayton managed eight touchdowns as a rookie and helped the Giants significantly when other receivers were absent, and this season, has the advantage of experience and familiarity with the offense. This may be the first of many seasons with Slayton playing a role as a main weapon from the start.

Defense

DI: Leonard Williams

DI: Dalvin Tomlinson

DI: Dexter Lawrence

EDGE: Kyler Fackrell

EDGE: Oshane Ximines

LB: Blake Martinez

CB: James Bradberry

CB: DeAndre Baker

CB/S: Julian Love

S: Jabrill Peppers

S: Xavier McKinney

There’s more position battles on defense and these were represented in the projections. Interestingly enough, the predicted edge players are new addition Kyler Fackrell and second year Oshane Ximines, with Lorenzo Carter being a notable exclusion. Carter has been a player the Giants have put faith in for the past couple of years, but after not seeing enough returns, and only 4.5 sacks in 2019, it’s not out of the question for others to move into a larger role if Carter doesn’t show a step up.

In the secondary, James Bradberry is listed as the top corner, which is no surprise, but DeAndre Baker is listed as the number two. The accuracy of this prediction likely depends on the results of his ongoing legal case, and if that drags on further towards the season, it may just impact Baker’s chances with the team – especially if he isn’t able to attend training camp this summer because of it.

Also as expected, Xavier McKinney is seen as the other safety starting next to Jabrill Peppers, while Julian Love is listed as both cornerback and safety, as his role still remains to be seen.

Of course, a lot of these changes will depend on offseason and preseason performances, although with the way things have gone so far this year, it’s unknown just when we’ll get to see the players in pads at all again.

NASCAR shows the sports world that it can be done

On Sunday, NASCAR returned to the track and has run three races over the past five days across their top two series. There was a lot of speculation about how successful the races would be in terms of health, and so far, everything has been executed flawlessly. They are proving that sports can still safely operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Part of the NASCAR health plan included mandatory mask-wearing and health checks for anyone entering the track. Drivers would remain isolated in their motorhomes until race time with little to no contact with their team. Each team would have at least four fewer crew-members at the track than usual.

Some of the other major sports in the United States can pick up on some of the health principles used by NASCAR, like health checks and frequent mask-wearing. Teams could also try to limit the number of staff at games.

The issue in the health aspect of other sports is proximity to other athletes, whether they are on the same team or not. Because of that, frequent testing is an absolute necessity for sports like basketball, baseball, hockey, or football.

But I think that it can be done. Social Distance as much as possible, and try to wear masks when possible in close proximity to others when not in the game. State governors are beginning to encourage professional sports teams to return, and that’s a good sign in terms of general public health.

Hopefully, sports will see what NASCAR did to make a safe return and will use some similar health guidelines in their returns.

New York Giants’ Will Hernandez shows off strength by pushing car (VIDEO)

New York Giants, Will Hernandez

The coronavirus pandemic has forced NFL players to work out in interesting ways, and the New York Giants are no exception to that reality. Left guard for Big Blue, Will Hernandez, took to the streets to increase his strength and power. Hernandez posted an Instagram story of him pushing a car and blasting Katy Perry on the radio.

Hernandez was a second-round draft pick in 2018 in Dave Gettleman’s first year with the Giants. While he did regress a bit in 2019, primarily due to inadequate performance is on his left and right side, he still only allowed two sacks and four penalties, which both ranked 29th or better, according to PFF.

The drafting of Andrew Thomas out of Georgia should help Hernandez in pass protection and run blocking in 2020. With the expectation that a position battle will take place at center, Hernandez could have two new running mates beside him. Hopefully, that is a positive thing after Nate Solder had an atrocious 2019 campaign, allowing 11 sacks, ranking second-most in the league.

Some analysts believe Nick Gates will win the starting center position going forward, after portraying quality at both right tackle and right guard. While he’s never played on the interior, his frame could fit the position well, and being an undrafted free agent helps the Giants in their cap allocations towards the offensive line.

The new line, which consists of Andrew Thomas at left tackle, Will Hernandez at left guard, Nick Gates at center, Kevin Zeitler at right guard, and either Solder, Cam Fleming, or Matt Peart at right tackle, should see an improvement.

This would certainly represent a different unit for Daniel Jones in his second season in the NFL. However, the Giants hired Jason Garrett and former Dallas offensive line coach, Marc Colombo, who has the pedigree to install a dominant unit.

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Defends Himself against Twitter Troll

Brooklyn Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie

Twitter is an amazing place. Fans can interact with players and players can speak their minds to fans on a daily basis. Sometimes the interactions are pleasant and positive, other times players feel the need to defend themselves against the “haters.” The more a player tends to speak out and be active on social media, the more haters they seem to have. Spencer Dinwiddie, one of the most active Brooklyn Nets on Twitter, is a veteran when it comes to dealing with the “haters” on Twitter.

After a bizarre video of Mitchell Robinson putting on a dribbling clinic and drilling a jumper in a 2 on 2 scrimmage went viral, many Knicks fans were impressed with the young big man’s skills. Spencer Dinwiddie decided to address what many were thinking in a tweet responding to the video of Robinson.

As talented as Robinson is, Dinwiddie was 100% correct in his observation here. Unfortunately, @DaRealBootum chose this opportunity to take a shot at our “Tech Guy with a Jumper.”

Bootum even included a two-minute montage of Dinwiddie’s step-back misses illustrating his point. Very strange, specific area to attack Dinwiddie. I would assume most who attempt stepback jumpers don’t have high percentages. Dinwiddie perceived Bootum’s comment to be slight at his clutch gene and responded appropriately:

After reading Dinwiddie’s tweet, I decided to post a tweet of my own from the Fireside Nets account explaining just how spot on I thought Dinwiddie was in defending himself.

The perfect breakdown as to why Dinwiddie is CLUTCH and shouldn’t take trash from anybody trying to point out his misses. And clearly, Dinwiddie agreed with my explanation. Not only did he favorite the tweet, Dinwiddie responded to my tweet immediately afterward!

Just another day in the Twitter life of Spencer Dinwiddie. Now, let’s enjoy these videos of Dinwiddie hitting game-winners and laugh at those on Twitter that try to hate on him.

 

 

 

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Why The New York Giants’ Defensive Line Is The Strongest Position Group On The Roster

The New York Giants‘ defense is loaded with young talent. New York has invested a lot of draft capital over the past two years to improve its defense. They have found talent in the secondary and linebacker corps, but they have found more talent on the defensive line than anywhere else. The Giants have quickly turned their defensive line into the team’s strongest unit, thanks to some hefty investments that have loaded their roster with young, talented players.

Hefty Investments

Since 2018, Dave Gettleman has invested 2018 third-round pick, 2018 seventh-round pick, 2019 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2021 fifth-round pick, and $16.1 million franchise tag into the Giants’ defensive line. Additionally, former general manager Jerry Reese spent a second-round pick on the defensive line in 2017. All of these investments have allowed the Giants to build an excellent group of defensive linemen.

Loads Of Youthful Talent

The oldest player in the group is Dalvin Tomlinson, and calling him old is wildly inaccurate. Tomlinson will be only 26 years old when the season starts. The next oldest player is Leonard Williams, who will also be 26 years old when the season starts. Dexter Lawrence is entering his second season at 22 years old. All three of these players are 26 years old or younger and highly efficient at their positions.

Dalvin Tomlinson had a breakout season in 2019. He racked up a career-high 3.5 sacks to go along with 49 combined tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 13 pressures. Dalvin is primarily a run-stuffer but he showed great improvement as a pass-rusher last season.

Leonard Williams arrived and made a significant impact in 2019. Nearly every other player on the defensive line saw their efficiency increase due to Williams absorbing double teams. To read more about the improved play of the Giants’ defensive lineman after Williams arrived, click here.

Dexter Lawrence showed tons of promise as a rookie in 2019. The hog molly out of Clemson totaled 38 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks, and 15 pressures as a rookie. He was even the highest-graded rookie at his position according to Pro Football Focus.

Behind these top-three talents, the Giants have tons of depth on their defensive line. BJ Hill was a solid starter as a rookie in 2018, prior to Leonard Williams’s arrival. RJ McIntosh showed flashes and Chris Slayton was recently elevated off the practice squad. New York has no shortage of defensive line talent heading into the 2020 season.

New York Mets: Luis Rojas tells amazing story about how he motivated Dom Smith

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

Luis Rojas was appointed as the New York Mets’ manager after years of being a coach and skipper in several minor league stops. He knows the system like probably no other person in the organization, and his peculiar way of motivating his players likely played a role in his hiring.

SNY detailed a story that goes way back to the 2015 season, when Rojas was managing one of the New York Mets’ young core players of today’s roster: Dominic Smith. Smith was selected in the first round of the 2013 Draft.

Rojas managed Smith in several minor leagues affiliates, as the former made his way through the ranks as a skipper and the latter as a player. Rojas told how Smith had reported to the 2015 season a bit out of shape and wasn’t hustling the way the organization wanted.

“I think you hit one homer in Savannah, right? (in the 2014 season in Class-A, Smith had one homer in 518 plate appearances.) So I think it was in his head a little bit,” Rojas said. “I’m a left-handed hitter, first baseman, a strong kid. He wants to hit more homers. So the next year, he came a little bit bigger let’s call it, right?

“For the first month, Dom was a little out of shape and he struggled.”

The Mets wanted more out of Smith, and they got more

At that moment, Rojas asked more energy out of Smith, but he still needed some motivation. And then he came up with a plan.

“I didn’t know this, but they had an intern film me the whole time,” said Smith. “Just me, like me walking around the dugout, me walking on the field, me running out ground balls. And I kid you not, it was pretty embarrassing to see.

“I think that really opened my eyes because I never saw that from that perspective. I only played a certain type of way up until that point, so I never knew how bad it really looked, and then when I saw how bad it really looked, it just changed for me and I learned a lot. Luis helped me develop into the player I am today. I can’t thank him enough for that.”

“This guy was 19 years old and things were so easy for him,” Rojas explained. “We knew that we needed to challenge him and we needed to see things from a different perspective with how the game was going to get at some point. He responded absolutely great. He ended up being the MVP of that league that year.”

Smith hit 11 homers in 197 plate appearances in 2019, with an excellent 133 wRC+. His path to playing time is currently blocked, but he has the talent to break through any time now. The Mets couldn’t be happier.

Assessing the ceiling of Yankees’ shortstop Gleyber Torres: how much better can he get?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The Baby Bombers have been making headlines because of their play since 2016. Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino.. you name them. One of them, though, got very good at a very young age, and may still have room for improvement as he gets more MLB experience: Gleyber Torres is the present and the future of the New York Yankees.

Last season, he did very rare things for a 22-year-old. Now 23, the question remains: how much untapped potential does he have given that he hit 38 home runs and had a 125 wRC+ in 2019? The answer is short: a lot.

As that 125 wRC+ indicates, his offensive production was 25 percent better than his peers. However, if you consider that he ran wRC+ of 138 in Double-A in 2017, 145 in Triple-A in the same year, and even 151 in the same level a year later (all of them in relatively small sample sizes, though) we know he is capable of doing even more damage.

Yes, Gleyber hit 38 homers, knocked in 90 runs and scored 96 in 2019. But if you look closer, his .278/.337/.535 is still not elite territory, especially in the average and OBP departments. But don’t panic! He has done it before.

The Yankees would be ecstatic with some improvements in key areas

The Yankees’ shortstop has hit .290 or higher in several stops through the minors, but since there is some swing and miss to his game, it is more likely that he settles as a .280-.285 batter. He needs to hit the ball hard with more frequency, though: his average exit velocity (49th percentile) and hard-hit rate (33rd percentile) last season were rather pedestrian.

I think Torres will show his biggest improvement in the walks department. Last year, he had a 7.9 BB%, which limited his OBP to a rather ordinary .337.

If you look at his Fangraphs’ stats page here, you will see that Torres, in the minor leagues, routinely posted 10.0+ BB% in his career. Once he gets used to big league pitchers, his BB% will probably go up, which will increment his OBP, his OPS, and his overall production.

The Yankees should be ecstatic that a player that only hit 10 homers in one minor league season (11 in 2016) averaged 31 in his first two years in The Show. Last season he hit 38, but he did it in only 144 games.

Another area in which he can, and should, show significant improvement is his defense. His range doesn’t seem to be anything to write home about, but he can get the job done. He needs to limit errors (he committed 11 in 77 games at short and nine in 65 games at second last year).

For all his contributions in 2019, Torres finished with a 3.6 fWAR, away from the league leaders. If he wants to increase that numbers, he should add to his average and OBP while improving his defense. At 23 years old, the Yankees are betting he is more than capable of doing that.

Fellow ESPN analyst rips former Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez, the former New York Yankees‘ third baseman in the 2000s and 2010s, recently made the news after it was reported that he was interested in buying the New York Mets. After his attempt didn’t come to fruition, he made the headlines last weekend for another reason.

Over the weekend, he said that players should accept the MLB owners’ proposal currently on the table, which includes splitting revenues 50-50 for games played in empty stadiums. Both sides are still negotiating a return to action some time in the summer.

According to ESPN Radio host Dan Le Batard, quoted by the New York Post, players should be upset after hearing A-Rod’s comments. Rodriguez made approximately $450 million in a 22-year career, which included steroids use. He played several years with the New York Yankees.

“I’d be really mad at A-Rod,” Le Batard said this week on his show. “You made a whole lot of money not playing the game clean, and then at the end what you’re trying to do, while failing to buy the Mets with J-Lo, is you’re talking like ownership instead of labor.”

Le Batard says that he knows Rodriguez for a long time and he has a “better understanding” about how his mindset is. Both men work for the same chain these days: ESPN, where A-Rod is an analyst in “Sunday Night Baseball.”

“I can imagine players being furious hearing him”

“The reason it wasn’t surprising to me is — and I’ve known A-Rod since high school — I’ve never met an athlete of his kind of excellence who was more of a zealot about wanting to be liked, who craved being liked,” he said. “The irony of that is that most people found him to be insincere or some sort of antiseptic polished version of what you want your athletes to be, always trying to be something that you liked instead of whatever the authentic thing was inside of there. And it is so much easier to get the applause of people — fans — with that sentiment, even if it means alienating your peers. Even if it means alienating the union that got you all that money because it’s so strong and there’s no salary cap in your sport.”

“He was willing to discard whatever it is that the players might feel about him advocating for a pay cut, after having made all of his money,” Le Batard said of Rodriguez. “And so I wasn’t surprised that that’s the route that he went, but I can imagine players being all kinds of furious hearing him.”

The former 2009 World Series Champion with the Yankees said last week about the subject: “If there’s $100 in the pie, like the NBA, players take $50, owners take $50,” the 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner said. “And we give it to the fans. We thank the fans of baseball. It is the people’s comfort food and people are starving, I just don’t want to see this great game — people fighting, billionaires fighting with millionaires. This is actually when the owners and players are aligned, and we want the same thing. We want to save baseball. We want to play baseball.”

Le Batard wasn’t impressed.

“What he did,” he said, “was cupping a hand to his ear, and just waiting for the applause to roll in on social media because he decided to say: ‘Hey players, let’s go. We’ve made enough money. Get out there. America needs you.’”

Why are the New York Jets connected to free agent running back Devonta Freeman?

New York Giants, Devonta Freeman

The New York Jets have no need for another starting running back, but reports have indicated their interest in Devonta Freeman. He formally played for the Atlanta Falcons over the last six seasons. Freeman has had immense success with Atlanta in the past, but he fell off in 2018, playing in just two games due to injury.

The Jets’ interest in the veteran running back comes as a surprise, but Freeman is capable in some categories. In 2019, he posted an 84.3 catch rate, attesting to his success in the passing game. Aside from Le’Veon Bell, the Jets don’t have another elite pass-catching running back, and while Frank Gore could fit that role, his age will undoubtedly take its toll.

Why would the New York Jets even consider signing Devonta Freeman?

Signing a player like Freeman would indicate the Jets are all in on winning in 2020, and considering the amount of money they invested in their offensive line, it seems they are prepared to leave it all on the field. They have a solid defense, a new left tackle, a healthy quarterback, and a new possession wide receiver in Denzel Mims.

Nonetheless, despite Freeman’s adequacy in the passing game, he’s coming off one of his worst seasons as a bonafide starter. He averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and 46.9 yards per game in 14 appearances. He’s four years removed from his best season in the NFL and playing at a level worthy of top running back consideration. At 28 years old, he still has plenty of untapped potential, but it seems he might be out of his prime after injuries hurt him in 2018.

While I believe this is just due diligence by general manager Joe Douglas, it can’t hurt to explore all options, especially if Freeman is available on a cheaper deal. I fully expect Adam Gase to implement a multiple running back scheme that includes Gore consistently on specific plays.

I would like to see Perine get some live action at some point, but I anticipate Bell will be the workhorse and act as so. They might try to take some of the pressure off his shoulders, considering the beating he took last year behind a terrible protection scheme.

This Day in Yankees History: Babe Ruth has his first three home run game

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

May 21, 1930, would be another example as to why Babe Ruth was one of the greatest ballplayers to ever take the field. It was a Wednesday and the Yankees were up against the Philadelphia Athletics for the first game of a doubleheader. George Earnshaw was on the mound for the Athletics and he would not have a good outing facing the great Babe Ruth.

Batting third and holding a .365 batting average, Babe Ruth stepped to the plate and smacked a two-run home run that would give the Yankees an early lead. Even though Earnshaw would fan the next two batters following Ruth’s homer, his rough outing against Ruth was not done yet.

Ruth stepped to the plate for his second at-bat in the top of the third inning and would crush another home run that would knock in another three runs. A two-run home run for Babe Ruth wasn’t an uncommon thing as at that time, Ruth had 51 other two home run games.

Ruth’s next at-bat would be something no one has seen before in the game of baseball. As Ruth stepped to the plate for his third at-bat of the game in the top of the eighth inning, he smacked his third homer of the day.

This feat of utter dominance is something that only furthers Ruth’s legacy even more.

Lou Gehrig Copies Ruth

Despite the Yankees losing that game to the Philadelphia Athletics 15-7, Lou Gehrig would have himself a game the very next day when the team took on Athletics again. Gerhig pulled off the same feat that Ruth did the day prior, smacking himself a total of three home runs in one game. He hit a grand slam in the top of the first inning, a two-run home run in the top of the fourth, and another two-run shot in the top of the ninth.

For that day in baseball, these feats to occur in back-to-back days was unheard of. The Yankees would go on to win that game 20-13, and Gerhig was responsible for scoring eight of those runs. Babe Ruth would also have himself another home run that game.

It was just another day at the ballpark for two MLB legends.