New York Giants Earn Alabama Comparison From Xavier McKinney

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants have a new regime with new expectations this year. Joe Judge is coming in as the head coach, and one of the main advantages of this selection is his past experience. Judge has experience with both the New England Patriots and the Alabama Crimson Tide – some of the most successful programs in football, just on different levels.

Even though Judge was on special teams duties with both of those teams rather than coaching the offense or defense, he picked up some things along the way. According to new safety Xavier McKinney, the jump from Alabama to the Giants is an easy one because of that.

McKinney calls the Giants a mirror version of Alabama

Alabama is one of the top teams in the college football ranks. The team has been in the title conversation every year in recent memory. During a lot of those years, the team has come away with silverware either in the conference or nationally. If the Giants learn something from Alabama, that’s probably a good thing for them. Even if the two teams are at completely different levels.

And if Xavier McKinney is to be believed, the Giants have already brought over some of the Alabama philosophy thanks to their new head coach.

“It’s very similar. When I kind of figured [it] out and when he discussed some of his rules and how he wanted things to be handled and how we wanted us to be as a team, it was almost like a mirror version of how it was at ‘Bama for me. As far as that, it was an easy adjustment for me. I have already been in this type of system. It wasn’t that hard of a transition,” McKinney said to reporters on Thursday.

McKinney had also spoken on how the team is fan of Judge’s discipline so far.

It takes a good organization to start turning around a bad team, and hopefully, Judge can be that for the Giants going forward. In fact, that experience in other good organizations is probably the main reason the Giants hired him over other promising candidates. Based on the early comparisons, though, we can say it looks like the Giants are off to a good start in the Judge era.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge should be ready next time the team plays

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

New York Yankees skipper Aaron Boone told the media in a virtual press conference that Aaron Judge should be ready to play the next time the team takes the field. Judge went on the IL on August 14th with a minor calf strain. Judge said that he only needed a few days, but the team put him on IL for precautionary reasons.

The team was scheduled to play the Mets this weekend in a three game set in Queens. However, the series was canceled as the Mets have two positive coronavirus tests.

Instead, the Yankees will workout all weekend at home. The team will have some time to refresh and recoup as the squad has undergone some major roster changes due to injuries. In addition to Judge, Zack Britton, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton, and DJ LeMahieu are all on the injured list.

Since all the injuries have began to compound, the team slipped into second place in the AL East. They let the Rays sweep them at home in a three-game set this past week.

The team has a scheduled off-day on Monday, so the next time that the Yankees will play is on Tuesday against the Braves. After two with the Braves, the team is scheduled to host the Mets in a three game set. That could be a time where a few postponed games in the first Mets series could be made up.

It’s good news for the Yankees that Aaron Judge will be back soon, but that’s just one small piece of the puzzle. The team still has an absurd number of injuries, and they are all to players who significantly produce.

New York Jets: Yannick Ngakoue is a risk worth taking

New York Giants, Yannick Ngakoue

Jacksonville will want something hefty in return for Yannick Ngakoue, but the reward greatly outweighs the risk for the New York Jets.

With football attempting to creep back into our lives, one could get some clicks compiling a list of locker room availability cliches we’ll potentially miss as social distancing carries on into 2020’s latter stages.

The NHL’s Canadian enclosures brought about the return of “pucks deep“, for example. The NFL is making its return in more confined settings, but you’re still hearing the training camp defaults like “he’s in the best shape of his life” or “everyone has to earn their spot on the depth chart”. Once we get to the season, preparation will undoubtedly be marked by declarations of “making the quarterback uncomfortable” on the road to victory.

That cliche, however, is like the jump scare in horror movies: if you pull it off right, it will pay off big dividends.

The truism’s magnum opus is perhaps Super Bowl XLII, as the New York Giants’ relentless pressure on Tom Brady put the undefeated New England Patriots into straight-up panic mode. It takes a lot to throw Aaron Rodgers off his game, but his Green Bay Packers are 5-18 when he’s sacked at least five times.

Its effectiveness could perhaps be a lesson for the New York Jets. The days of the “New York Sack Exchange” being mere MetLife Stadium tailgate memories, the Jets have had major problems invading opposing backfields. Since 2016, the Jets have earned 129 sacks, bettering only three other teams in the rest of the NFL. AFC overlords new (Kansas City) and old (New England) are in the middle of the pack at 14th and 15th. The perennial contenders from Pittsburgh top the list with 200. They haven’t had a losing record since 2003, and the 696 sacks they’ve tallied during that streak might have something to with it.

The Jets’ defense is going into a year of uncertainty brought upon transition. Jamal Adams, the face of the franchise, forced his way to the Pacific Northwest and C.J. Mosley chose (understandably) to opt-out of the 2020 proceedings. Making the playoffs is going to be a tall task, even with the expanded capital, but this is going to be a year where plenty of free agents-to-be and one-year additions and re-ups that will get to audition for the good times ahead.

All that’s missing is Yannick Ngakoue. The disgruntled defender is currently at odds with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has been on his own quest for a transfer. He is 12th in the NFL in sacks (37.5) over the last four seasons and has been regarded for his backfield pressure. Depending on who you ask, the Jets may be closing on a deal to paint the 2017 Pro Bowler’s equipment green and bring him aboard for 2020.

Ordinarily, adding Ngakoue’s name, talent, and salary (the 2021 free agent is set to make over $17 million next season) is the type of move a team makes when they’re the proverbial “one move away” from a Super Bowl, and the Jets are much more than one move away from a return trip over five decades in the making. But his New York arrival would be beneficial on all sides.

A New Face

The Jaguars’ shocking, most recent run to the AFC Championship Game feels like an eternity ago, but we’re somehow only two years removed from that endeavor that nearly (and, according to some, should’ve) ended in the Super Bowl. Even if that game’s officiating can be questioned, it’s still one of the more puzzling mysteries in recent NFL history that a defense that featured the services Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, and Jalen Ramsey, among others, never went back to the postseason. Most of that group has bolted from Jacksonville, with Jack and Ngakoue being the lone leftovers.

A turn to the Jets could give Ngakoue a chance to truly flash his potential, a chance to be the defensive face of one of the NFL’s most important markets. The Jets are a team that is in desperate need of a big-name defender with Mosley out for 2020 and Adams napalming any bridges he had left with the organization. There are plenty of young names that can potentially move forward…it’s a big year for Marcus Maye and Quinnen Williams for example…but this could be a great opportunity for both Ngakoue and the Jets to hit the reset button on their respective timelines. Ngakoue, as someone who’s had his fair share of proven success on the NFL level, can have control and leadership of a defense, while the Jets can work out with a potential new defensive face. Plenty of New Yorkers are in make or break situations, but, as a team, the Jets are in a relatively consequence-free year. This opens things up to spend a good portion of the remaining summer budget on a Ngakoue audition.

Pressure Cooker

As mentioned above, we can laugh all we want about teams preaching about the importance of making a quarterback uncomfortable, but the fact remains that it works. Silencing the antics of a mobile threat makes it all the more crucial. The Jets might have to face three in their division alone.

Recent NFL Top 100 Players nominee Josh Allen is part of the reason why many have the Buffalo Bills pegged as the team best in position to usurp the Patriots’ seemingly eternal hold on the AFC East throne. New England is attempting to counter by bringing in former MVP Cam Newton, while the Miami Dolphins enter a new era with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Both have well regarded for their ability to change the game with not only their arms but their legs as well.

Thus, a strong pass rush is more important than ever. Allen, for example, has earned a 5-2 record when he tallies at least 50 rushing yards, but those numbers drop to 6-8 when he’s held under 30 or less. Save for the combined 14.5 sacks Adams and team leader Jordan Jenkins tallied, no Jets defender had more than three quarterback takedowns. It’s time to change that, and Ngakoue can be a great way to change that narrative.

Open the Vault

Training camp is open, but the Jets’ roster is anything but complete. Pass rush is one of several areas the team can improve on as Week 1 looms. The team is experimenting with help in the receiver room, as Field Yates reported that they welcomed in former top ten pick Kevin White for a workout.

According to the Over the Cap, the Jets have just over $30 million in cap space to spend. It’s not under the greatest circumstances (Mosley’s opt-out contributed $10 million to that tally), but that’s a decent amount to have at your disposal at this point in the offseason. Hence, the Jets have a rare opportunity to splurge if/when a trade presents itself through some excess space and, perhaps more importantly draft capital.

Jacksonville is reportedly seeking at least a second-round pick in potential Ngakoue negotiations. General manager Joe Douglas somehow collaborated Seattle in an “everybody wins”-type deal, getting back two first-round picks for a player that did everything short of tie the Jets’ Lombardi Trophy from Super Bowl III to the back of his car and drag it around the parking lot at One Jets Drive. Parting with them is likely out of the question…especially if Ngakoue’s potential for being merely a 2020 rental…but with armed with two first-rounders in each of the next two years, the Jets certainly have some flexibility with their seconds.

The Jets are, again, equipped with little to lose as a team unit next season, so they’d be wise to take advantage. Trading for Ngakoue would be a great start to taking advantage of that role.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Rookie DB Darnay Holmes Standing Out At Practice

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants had their first intra-squad scrimmage today. This was the first opportunity for the Giants’ offense to matchup against the team’s defense. There were a few highlight plays as the New Jersey beat writers live-tweeted the practice game.

The reporters tweeted after the scrimmage had ended any stats or highlights they recorded during the game. One name that kept popping up: Darnay Holmes. In fact, this rookie’s name has popped up a number of times since training camp started.

Darnay Holmes Practice Highlights

Darnay Holmes turned heads today at practice. The fourth-round rookie out of UCLA put together an impressive performance during the Giants’ first scrimmage of training camp. And this was not the first impressive day that Holmes has had during training camp.

Holmes was seen making an impressive pass breakup just a few days ago:

In today’s scrimmage, Darnay Holmes made a spectacular interception down the sideline in coverage against Golden Tate. Holmes stuck with Tate step for step, then lunged to make a full-extension interception. Check it out:

This was also not Darnay’s first interception of training camp, according to reports. Holmes has been balling out in every practice. He was listed as a standout player in each of the first three practice reports on Giants.com.

The Giants’ secondary had some major question marks heading into training camp. The absence of DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal was worrying. The Giants did not appear to have a capable outside cornerback to play opposite of James Bradberry.

Many fans were too quick to pen Darnay Holmes down as a pure slot cornerback. Darnay has been cross-training with the Giants at both inside and outside cornerback. The interception he made today was from the outside position. Darnay played outside cornerback throughout his entire collegiate career. He played slot cornerback at the Senior Bowl this year and was very impressive, which is why many expected him to make the transition to slot in the NFL. So far, though, it seems like Darnay will be able to make an impact from either cornerback position. If he continues to play like this, Darnay Holmes could see himself starting on the outside opposite of James Bradberry in the regular season.

UFC: Darren Till and Jack Hermansson to headline Fight Night

UFC news is coming quick on this Friday afternoon. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto is reporting that the promotion is finalizing a middleweight contest between Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jack Hermansson (21-5) for a Fight Night on December 5th.

Darren Till took to Instagram to confirm the news that he would be headlining the December 5th UFC card against Hermansson.

Two top six UFC middleweights go to war

Darren Till is coming off of a razor close decision loss to Robert Whittaker back at UFC Fight Island 3. The fight was back and forth with Till tearing his MCL in the fight. Till came up just short against the former champion.

It was just the second fight for Till in the UFC‘s middleweight division after he had spent his career at welterweight. Till fought and defeated Kevlin Gastelum by split decision back at UFC 244 in his divisional debut.

Speaking of Kelvin Gastelum, he was just defeated by the man who will take on Till on December. Jack Hermansson just ran through Gastelum at UFC Fight Island 2. The Joker caught Gastelum in a heel hook less than 90 seconds into the fight.

In the last two years, Hermansson is 5-1 with his only loss coming to Jared Cannonier back at UFC Fight Night 160. Had Hermansson won that fight, he might have found himself next in line for a UFC title shot.

Instead, The Joker took on Gastelum on Fight Island. After making quick work of Gastelum, he turned his sites to Darren Till. Hermansson wanted this fight, and he’s getting this fight. The winner takes another step towards UFC gold. This should be a good one in December.

Meet Addison Russ, the newest pitcher in the Yankees roster

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees just got back Aroldis Chapman, but recently lost Zack Britton and has been without Tommy Kahnle for quite some time already. The unit, regarded as one of the best and deepest in baseball, hasn’t been able to stay on the field at the same time at any point in the season. Pitchers such as Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Adam Ottavino are helping it stay afloat.

However, without Kahnle and Britton, the Yankees lost some of the star power in their bullpen. Today, they traded veteran David Hale for 25-year-old hurler Addison Russ (not to be confused with former Cubs shortstop Addison Russell) and sent David Hale to the Philadelphia Phillies.

It’s clear that the New York Yankees are seeking some upside with the transaction. David Hale is seen as a steady veteran with little upside: he is now 32, but has been pitching very well this season with a 3.00 ERA and a 2.34 FIP. He also has struck 26.9% of the batters he has faced in 2020.

The Yankees like his projectability

However, Cashman and the Yankees traded that steady presence in their bullpen for some potential star-power arm in Addison Russ. The former Phillie is 25 years old and has been dominant in the minor leagues, including a 2.54 ERA with 81 strikeouts over 56 2/3 innings at the Double-A level in 2019. For now, he’ll go to the Yankees’ alternate training site.

Russ was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017, most precisely in the 19th round out of Houston Baptist University. He is a native of Amarillo, Texas.

The newest Yankees pitcher had a good spring training as a non-roster invitee in February and March, pitching 5 2/3 frames and allowing just one run, five hits and three walks, with five punchouts and a 1.59 ERA.

Russ throws a mid-90s fastball and a very good splitter, according to NJ.com.

UFC: Amanda Nunes to fight Megan Anderson

The greatest female fighter in MMA history will be making her return in December. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Amanda Nunes (20-4) will be returning at UFC 256. She will be defending her featherweight crown against Megan Anderson (11-4).

Nunes was rumored to be considering retirement after her last title defense at UFC 250, but with this announcement, it’s clear she’s not going anywhere. Anderson made the most sense as her next challenger, and she’s getting the shot.

Return of the UFC’s GOAT

When thinking of the greatest of all time in women’s MMA, there’s only one name that comes to mind, and that’s Amanda Nunes. It’s one of those questions where there really is not a debate.

Any female fighter that you could say is better or was better, she’s likely fought and defeated. She completely destroyed Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg in under a minute. Valentina Shevchenko gave her competitive fights, but still lost twice.

In her last fight at UFC 250, Nunes showed that she’s just head and shoulders ahead of her competition completely dismantling Felicia Spenser over five rounds. The beating was so bad that many begged Spencer’s corner to stop the fight.

Nunes is the only female fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously. She’s on an eleven fight winning streak and her only competitive fights came against Valentina Shevchenko who’s arguably the second greatest fighter in the world.

This is a massive step up in competition for Anderson. Anderson is riding a two fight winning streak and does pose some interesting challenges for Nunes given her size.

Anderson has good striking and decent submissions. She is going to have to come with her A+ game if she wants this fight to even be competitive. She’s expected to be a massive underdog to the UFC‘s queen.

Report: New York Rangers Loaning Vitali Kravtsov to the KHL for 2020-21

New York Rangers

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the New York Rangers are going to loan Vitali Kravtsov to Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL for the upcoming 2020-21 season. This will give Kravtsov a chance to get some ice time as the KHL has just started their preseason. Kravtsov was drafted ninth overall by the Rangers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Brooks also reported that the decision to assign Kravtsov to KHL a collaborative effort with his agent and that he will play for Coach Gitiatulin, the same coach as he had in his draft year.

Playing in the KHL will allow him to continue developing in a comfortable environment until he is NHL ready.

After attending the Rangers 2019 training camp, Kravtsov was assigned to make his North American debut with AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, to start the 2019–20 season. Registering 1 assist in 5 games, Kravtsov opted to continue his development back in Russia, securing a loan for the remainder of the season with former club, Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, on October 27, 2019. Kravtsov appeared in 11 games in his return to Chelyabinsk, recording 3 points. Kravtsov was then demoted to Traktor’s VHL affiliate, Chelmet. His loan was ended prematurely by the Rangers and he was re-assigned to re-join the Wolf Pack on 13 December 2019. He finished the season in Hartford with 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in 39 games played.

Kravtsov has a nice international resume, representing the Russian national junior team at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Vancouver, Canada. He ended the tournament with 6 points in 7 games, helping Russia claim the bronze medal.

Quin Snyder excited for Johnnie Bryant’s impact in New York Knicks

Johnnie Bryant, New York Knicks

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder raved about his assistant Johnnie Bryant ahead of his move to the New York Knicks.

News broke out last Tuesday that Bryant, 35, has agreed to a deal to become Tom Thibodeau’s associate head coach.

Snider said the whole Jazz organization is excited for Bryant.

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“I’m happy for Johnnie and his family. It’s an opportunity that he’s earned and deserved. We’re really excited for him,” Snyder said. “He’s been someone who’s been with me since I got to Utah.”

Bryant has worked his way up to become one of the brightest young coaches in the game.

Tactically, he’s learned [a lot] in the game and on the bench. He’s great on the court with players and you see him develop guys. It’s something we take pride in with our program. Johnnie’s been a big part of that,” Snyder added.

Bryant, who played at the University of Utah, has built his resume around his solid player development acumen.  Prior to joining the Jazz in 2012, Bryant was running his own training gym (Bryant Sports Academy). Former Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was so impressed with the work he’s done with Ronnie Price and Paul Millsap and his son Tyrell Corbin that he invited him to join his staff.

Two years later, Snider replaced Corbin.

Bryant continued his work under Snider, helping Gordon Hayward become an All-Star.  After Hayward left for Boston, he took then-rookie, Donovan Mitchell, under his wing, and the results bolstered his credentials even further.

His close relationship with Mitchell fueled speculations that the Connecticut native could soon find his way home.

Jazz radio announcer David Locke said that Bryant will be a big loss for the organization.  But more than that, his move will make the Jazz fan base uncomfortable because of his close relationship with their team’s rising star.

“It’s gonna be scary. Donovan and Johnnie are guys.  That’s the relationship there,” Locked told KUTV’s Dave Fox.

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Mitchell is expected to sign a lucrative contract extension with the Jazz this offseason.  But even if he doesn’t, he will still become a restricted free agent in 2021 where the Jazz can match any offer from other teams.  Unless Mitchell forces his way out, there’s not a chance the Knicks can get him in the next three to four years.

More than the lure of Mitchell, Bryant’s hiring will greatly impact the player development of the Knicks’ young core, especially RJ Barrett.

New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres placed on the injured list with Grade 1 strains of his left quad and left hamstring

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres is among the latest New York Yankees‘ players to suffer some kind of injury. Not only are the Bombers set to lose starter James Paxton for an extended period of time, but there are also about to be without their star shortstop Gleyber Torres at least for the next ten days. According to what sources told Marly Rivera of ESPN, the infielder was destined to the injured list with a tight left hamstring.

On Friday afternoon, when the team made the move official, it was reported that Torres suffered grade 1 strains of his left quad and left hamstring.

The expectation is that the Yankees give most of Torres’ at-bats to Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, and see if one of them gets into an offensive groove and establishes some separation. The team also recently signed defensive specialist Jordy Mercer, but he is seen as a backup option.

The Yankees’ bad luck with injuries continues

The Yankees have been hit incredibly hard by injuries in the 2020 season. Long before everything started, they lost starter Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery, not to mention the suspended Domingo German. After that, they have been without Giancarlo Stanton, Paxton, Aaron Judge, Tommy Kahnle, and others.

Torres left Thursday’s contest against the Rays after tweaking his left hamstring while running down the first base line on a third-inning groundout.

Torres had a great series against the Boston Red Sox, going 8-for-13 plus three walks, but otherwise has been unable to get into an offensive rhythm. The Yankees miss his potent bat and will be without it in the short-term, but the good news is that the ailment isn’t considered serious.

For the season, Torres has a .231/.341/.295 line with a .636 OPS, one home run and six RBI. He accumulates a couple of doubles, nine runs, 12 bases on balls and 17 strikeouts.