New York Giants: Joe Judge Gets New Advice From Bill Parcells

New York Giants, Joe Judge

It’s not easy to walk into the New York Giants as a first year head coach. The fans are demanding, the team has been losing and the expectation is to bounce back quickly, and the previous head coaches to try their luck with the Giants had quick exits after mediocre tenures. For Joe Judge, who has never been a head coach or a coordinator on offense or defense, it has to be an intimidating challenge.

But there’s a lot of people rooting for Judge. Some of them include great figures from the franchise’s past. That includes Bill Parcells, who has plenty of experience coaching the Giants and dealing with the unique challenges.

Parcells recently spoke to the New York Post and gave some advice to Judge, and it looks like advice worth following.

Simple advice from Bill Parcells to Joe Judge

“Be yourself.”

That’s the advice that Parcells had for Judge. It’s simple, but not always easy to follow through with. After all, given the situation Judge is walking into, there’s no shortage of external pressure to be someone else.

According to Parcells, his own struggles early into his career as the Giants head coach came from not following that advice.

“I was just trying to be a head coach instead of being Bill Parcells,” he said.

It remains to be seen what it looks like to truly ‘be Joe Judge.’ We’ve never seen Judge coach a team before, at least not from the head coach position. Judge has worked on special teams and with wide receivers for both Alabama and New England, but coaching special teams is a different ball game from coaching an NFL franchise.

Parcells believes that experience and continuity is one of the main factors in success for a coaching staff – the Giants have some experienced figures on their own staff, but they fall more on the unknown side in terms of results. There are no results yet from this coaching staff. As Parcells says, it’s hard to know how the head coach will operate.

“Those coaches have been through the drill with their assistants. Their assistants know what to expect. It’s all new for these other guys that just put their staff together. And even if you have veteran coaches, you never know how the head coach is gonna operate exactly. It’s a difficult thing,” Parcells continued.

He mentioned that the Giants are only set to have 14 padded practices before their first game compared to 50, back when Parcells was coach – there’s less chance of injury this way, but also less of a chance for the team to prepare during a year with no preseason to warm up with.

The Giants are set to take on the Steelers on the 14th of September. No fans will be in attendance, assuming the game does happen as scheduled. It’s not a long way off. And it’s quite the significant game. After all, the first impression under a new head coach will likely matter a great deal.

NASCAR: Kevin Harvick denies Jimmie Johnson playoff berth in historic win

Kevin Harvick wasn’t letting NASCAR nostalgics get in the way of his seventh win of the season, which made history for his manufacturer.

Kevin Harvick wasn’t going to get the feel-good potential of a Jimmie Johnson victory lap get in the way of his own personal history in the second half of the NASCAR Cup Series’ doubleheader in Delaware.

Just over 24 hours after Denny Hamlin tied him in the first segment, Harvick won his series-best seventh race of the season at the Drydene 311 at Dover International Speedway. Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford passed Johnson with 17 laps remaining, denying Johnson a chance to clinch a berth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The final race of the regular season comes next weekend at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.

With the win, Harvick clinches the Cup Series’ regular-season championship, which affords him 15 bonus points. Between his seven wins and stage victories each (including two more at Dover on Sunday), Harvick has a 57-point advantage over the first cutoff line, which eliminates the 13th through 16th-place drivers after the first three races.

“It’s something that we’ve never done before, so any time you can do something for the first time is definitely fun to accomplish, and I think in this instance, it definitely pays dividends in the playoff points,” Harvick said of the regular-season title. “That’s really what you want to accomplish in the regular season is to gain as many playoff points as you can. We’ve done that by winning races.”

Harvick also moves into a ninth-place tie with fellow former champion Kyle Busch on the Cup Series’ all-time wins list with 56. Next up on the list is the late, legendary Dale Earnhardt. Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion, began his Cup career by taking over for Earnhardt after the latter’s death in a crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. It’s also the 700th victory for manufacturer Ford, second-most in series history behind Chevrolet.

“It’s an honor just to be up there on that list,” Harvick said. “I feel like it’s definitely a huge responsibility to be up there and be around those guys. Hopefully, we can keep this thing rolling and make up some ground on the next gap. But it’s been a lot of fun at Stewart-Haas Racing, and you’re only as good as the race cars that you have, and it’s been an honor to drive the race cars and be able to take those race cars and have success with them and capitalize on winning like we did today.”

Harvick began his conquest by stealing the first 75-lap stage from Ryan Blaney on the final stanza. From that point forward, Harvick went on to dominate the event, leading all but 19 of the remaining 236 circuits.

The biggest threat to his authority came with just over 20 laps to go, when his massive lead was erased by a caution flag brought out by the slow car of Corey LaJoie. All 16 lead lap cars came to pit road for service, including Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson, the seven-time champion retiring from full-time racing at the end of the season, was running a strong race in fighting for playoff position. The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team had a three-point advantage on teammate William Byron entering the second half at Dover, but a speeding penalty on pit road after the first stage allowed the No. 24 to retake the spot. Johnson worked his way back toward the front after Byron earned points by finishing ahead of Johnson in each of the first two stages.

But on these final stops, Johnson and crew chief Cliff Daniels opted to take only two tires, leading to a quicker stop. The move allowed the No. 48 to take the lead for the final 17-lap dash. A win for Johnson would’ve clinched his spot in the playoffs.

He’s one of the few drivers ahead of Harvick with 83, but the No. 4’s pass extended the longest drought of his career to 118. Dover had played host to 11 of those prior victories.

I knew he was at a huge deficit,” Harvick said of Johnson’s two-tire endeavor. “I think as you saw the restart there, he had a little bit of trouble getting grip, and my main goal was to just try to be beside him as we got off of turn two and he pushed up the racetrack.”

“I felt like we were still in a really good position, and obviously Jimmie has had a lot of success here, I feel like, over the last several years. If it weren’t for knocking the dang valve stems out of it, there would have been three or four more opportunities to have won races. It’s been a really good racetrack for us and felt good about the position that we were in at the end.”

Johnson and Daniels’ gutsy decision was not all for naught. Martin Truex Jr. passed him for the runner-up spot but Johnson held off Byron and another teammate, Alex Bowman, to finish third, his best finish since May’s race at Bristol. Byron holds a four-point advantage headed into the Daytona finale, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, NBC).

Race Notes

  • Truex finished in the runner-up spot in each of the weekend’s  Cup Series events at Dover. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has finished no worse than third in eight of the past nine races (albeit with no wins).

 

  • The race endured a red flag period that lasted just over 12 minutes to repair a portion of the concrete surface.

 

  • Aric Almirola (7th), Kyle Busch (11th), and Kurt Busch (13th) each clinched playoff spots via points. Clint Bowyer (14th in points) is 57 points over the cutoff.

 

  • Matt DiBenedetto started on the pole after a 20th-place finish on Saturday with the field’s first 20 starting positions determined through an inversion of the prior running order. His No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford led the first 11 laps but a 17th-place finish leaves him only nine points ahead of Johnson in the cutoff.

 

  • Bowman’s top-five finish was his first since the series made its return from the coronavirus-induced pause at Darlington Raceway in May.

 

  • Saturday’s winner Denny Hamlin was relegated to a 19th-place finish after being forced to pit from second for a loose wheel at lap 227 of 311.

 

  • The days of Chase Elliott and Joey Gase ended in the opening laps when they got caught up in Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s spin on the sixth lap. Stenhouse was eventually able to run enough laps to finish 37th.

 

  • Austin Dillon capped off a successful return to the track in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with a top-ten finish (9th). Dillon missed last weekend’s event at Daytona’s road course after a self-reported positive test for COVID-19 and was replaced by Kaz Grala. The No. 3 led 46 laps on Saturday and finished 15th.

For full results, click here

For full standings, click here

Geoff Maglioccheti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets: Tuesday Pinpointed as Return Date

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

The New York Mets have contained their COVID-19 problem to keep it within the one player and staff member who contracted it. With their entire traveling party testing negative now, the Mets have to figure out when to return to action for the second half of the season.

Ideally, they can attempt to squeeze in a doubleheader on Monday with the New York Yankees. Returning to action on Monday is unlikely due to taking extreme caution with a potential outbreak. Tuesday marks the start of a series with the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. The Mets have not held any workouts since their last game, which could give them Monday as a day to get the team back on the field.

Negative Tests

The people who returned to New York received tests on Thursday and Friday with no positive results. MLB has not released Saturday and Sunday’s tests, and the Mets have not commented at any point about the entire matter. After the outbreaks to occur with the Marlins and Cardinals, the Mets handling of the situation is very encouraging to MLB.

While we do not know who the player that tested positive is yet, we will likely know when said player is not with the Mets when they resume play. Luckily no matter who it is, the Mets’ playoff aspirations are still very much alive. The NL East is full of underachieving teams who are dealing with personnel issues. The division is as wide open as any in all of baseball.

The assumption would be that Jacob deGrom restarts the Mets season on Tuesday. With the starting rotation in shambles, deGrom would technically start back-to-back games if he earned Tuesday’s start.

New York Giants: Recapping Today’s Practice

The New York Giants practiced today after taking Saturday off. The offense and defense faced off earlier this Friday for the first intra-squad scrimmage of training camp. Today, though, the team had a standard practice. Despite the COVID scare in the NFL today, the Giants still held their walkthrough.

In the NFL, multiple teams had positive COVID tests from Saturday’s daily testing. The Giants were one of the teams that had staff members test positive. But, according to reports, the tests around the league were false positive. There was an issue at a lab in New Jersey. The Giants and all other teams affected took the necessary precautions, but it appears that these tests were inaccurate and there is not actually a spike in COVID cases within the NFL.

Today’s Practice Recap

The Giants had a light practice today. It was an easy Sunday as the players continue to recover from their hard scrimmage on Friday. The team is likely to speed things up again tomorrow, though, after today’s practice was “little more than a walkthrough.”

Two key players did not participate in today’s practice: linebacker Ryan Connelly and fullback Eli Penny.

Quarterbacks coach Joe Schuplisnki offered some praise for the team’s young quarterback, Daniel Jones, today. Schuplinski explained that he worked out Daniel Jones before the 2019 NFL Draft (with the Patriots) and thought his “arm looked good.” But the quarterbacks coach thinks Jones’s arm “looks even stronger now.” Schuplinski said this has been “eye-opening” for him.

Practice Highlights

Second-year wide receiver Darius Slayton made an impressive toe-tap touchdown catch today:

Post-Practice Quotes

The Giants have practiced hard throughout training camp. It has been high-intensity, but there have not been any fights yet. If fights do happen, though, head coach Joe Judge has a response plan:

“If you fight in a game, you get penalized and get ejected. We’ll play nasty, not dirty. If you get thrown out for fighting in a game, you can get kicked out of practice.” – Joe Judge on team fights during practice via Matt Lombardo

Joe Judge is still delivering on his promises: this will be a disciplined, no-nonsense team under his control. Judge has been receiving plenty of praise and criticism for his hard, disciplined practice style so far. But the players and assistant coaches have all had positive things to say about Judge. Outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema said today: “There’s no falseness to it, there’s no just trying to put a certain look. It’s just him being real.” Judge has made an authentic, genuine impression on his staff.

New York Islanders: The Adam Pelech Effect

Adam Pelech, New York Islanders

New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech has been absolutely sensational these playoffs. Pelech originally was having a great year during the regular season but ended up going down with an Achilles injury. This injury would sideline him for six months. Pelech would miraculously return for the play-in round and dominate. The Islanders are a totally different team with Pelech.

Pelech’s Impact on the New York Islanders

The Islanders were lacking without their top-line defenseman. It was apparent in their four-goal blown lead against the Capitals in January and all the way through the last seven games of the season. Pelech possesses amazing stick skills. The Islanders fans like to call it “The Pelech Poke.” Pelech is a huge part of the Islanders’ success. Not only does he create turnovers in the defensive zone, but he creates offense by his neutral zone play. When the Isles were without Adam Pelech, they let up 3.2 GAA and went 10-13-7. When the Islanders were with Pelech, they let up 2.61 GAA and went 25-10-3. This is not a coincidence. Pelech is an unsung hero of the Isles defense, and one of the most underrated defensemen in the league.

Playoff Pelech

Adam Pelech is arguably a 3 star of the game player every night. From body slamming Panthers to stopping Ovechkin, Pelech does it all. Not to gloss over Pelech shutting down Sidney Crosby last year. Pelech most recently had a beautiful assist to the Captain Anders Lee in game three vs. the Capitals. The pass somehow found its way to the far post after sneaking its way through 4 players. It was just another example of how Pelech isn’t just a defensive defenseman.

Conclusion

Adam Pelech is one of the unknown weapons of the Islanders. If it wasn’t for Pelech, the Islanders probably wouldn’t be in the second round right now. Pelech should be in the running for the Norris trophy very soon.

Yankees’ Aaron Boone proposes makeup game date for Mets series

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees were scheduled to face off against the New York Mets over the weekend, but multiple COVID-19 tests came back positive, which postponed the series.

The Mets reportedly had one player and coach test positive, therefore forcing the remainder of the team into expedited testing and shutting down operations on their side of things. The Yankees have been waiting idly by to continue playing, which might have been a good thing for them considering the injuries that have presented themselves in recent days. Slugger Aaron Judge should return next week against the Atlanta Braves, with plenty of time to heal and recuperate.

However, with a condensed schedule, both teams need to make up the games at some point, in which manager Aaron Boone suggested next weekend as a possible makeup date. Playing doubleheaders on both days would make sense, but since the Yankees, who are already so thin when it comes to players, would have to call up a bevy of reserve options to make do.

Nonetheless, we can expect a doubleheader on both Saturday and Sunday next weekend against the Mets.

 

Three players the Yankees could utilize as trade bait at the August 31st deadline

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The Yankees need to acquire more talent for the pitching rotation. There are lots of options out there, but teams need to make sure that they are getting players to help them in the long run. New York has great depth at many positions that other teams may take a look at during trade talks.

1. OF Clint Frazier

If you follow the Yankees pretty consistently, then you had to know that he was going to be on this list. Clint Frazier is a player that many view as someone ready to take over a permanent role in the outfield. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t seem like that will be with the Yankees. Many scenarios could result in him becoming an everyday player for New York. However, most of them are very unlikely at this point in time. Frazier is a great hitter with very fast hands. He can pull a 100 mile per hour fastball and has shown it. He’s also an up and coming fielder with loads of potential out there. Frazier’s a hard worker, and all he wants is to be given a chance. Teams are definitely going to be interested in him when the trade deadline comes around. 

2. INF/OF Miguel Andujar

Like Frazier, if you follow the Yankees, you probably knew this was coming too. Andujar is a player that has just gotten unlucky. His whole MLB career has been about finishing second. In 2018, he was on a tear offensively and ended up becoming the runner-up for Rookie of the Year behind Shohei Ohtani. Then in 2019, Yankee fans had high hopes for the youngster after a phenomenal first year. Unfortunately, very early into the season, he went down with a shoulder injury and had season-ending surgery.

Then out of nowhere, Gio Urshela came in and was incredible offensively and defensively. It was crazy how good he was. He ended taking Andujar’s spot in the lineup in 2020, and Miguel finished second once again. However, he is really showing how versatile he can be and is trying to find new ways to contribute to the team. He has started taking reps in the outfield and has been pretty good out there. Teams love when a player can be so versatile, and he might be a HUGE trade piece for the Yankees. 

3. RHP Jonathan Loaisiga

This one is a little different from the others. No one has put Jonathan Loaisiga as a potential trade piece. However, I don’t think it’s that crazy to say. Loaisiga has excellent pitches in his arsenal, and I think he will one day become one of the better relievers in the MLB.

The Yankees have been utilizing Loaisiga in their bullpen for the last two years or so and seem high on the right-hander as well. However, I think the Yankees could be using him to get some “win now” talent. He has many skills that scouts go crazy over and has a really high-velocity fastball for someone this young. Aaron Boone seems to like him a lot and trusts him in big situations. But, I think Brian Cashman could have other ideas. Again, I haven’t seen anything that would give me a hint of this happening, but look at this as a surprise trade piece. You never know what Mr. Cashman is thinking. 

These players have all affected the Yankees one way or another over their short MLB careers. They all have great potential but are stuck behind a very talented team. The Yankees have other holes to fill and will definitely look at some of these players when trying to fill them. Look out for these BIG names in trade talks this year. 

Giants’ Freddie Kitchens raves about Joe Judge as new head coach

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants have undoubtedly overhauled their mentality and coaching staff since the hiring of head coach Joe Judge. Bringing in former head coaches Freddie Kitchens, and Jason Garrett was a positive move to help judge adapt to the NFL style.

Having served as the special-teams coordinator the past few seasons, Judge made the leap directly to head coach, which had been a rarity prior to this development. Co-owner John Mara didn’t need much convincing to hire the former Patriot coordinator, based on his immense attention to detail and the fundamentalist approach.

Having a young team with valuable draft capital helped Judge dive into the action and move forward with his style. Having people and players to support his mentality was a priority, and utilizing the fresh minds of his youth players is a priority.

Freddie Kitchens, who is most recently the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, had great things to say about Joe.

He primarily harped on Joe’s attention to positive habits. Holding people accountable and being extremely organized should promote a more successful team on game day. With the NFL regular season set to start in less than a month, things have to come together rather quickly.

The New York Giants are making progress:

Judge had plenty of positive things to say about his team’s Friday intrasquad scrimmage. The intensity and knowledge of the playbook have been apparent with a young nucleus of players, but a lot more work needs to be done before they are game ready. This off-season has been incredibly challenging for a first your head coach, but Judge has taken everything in stride and has instilled confidence in the fan-base up to this point.

With a rookie left tackle in Andrew Thomas and Xavier McKinney manning the free safety spot, I fully expect 2020 to be a developmental season. Judge understands that the rebuild is still underway, and he is approaching every day with that fact in mind.

New York Yankees: James Paxton hopes to return just before the playoffs

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Currently dealing with a flexor strain in his left (throwing) arm, New York Yankees‘ starter James Paxton knows that he is nursing a multi-week injury, but at the same time, he is confident that he will be back in time to make an impact just before the playoffs start.

The Yankees decided to shut down their lefty starter for two weeks. The club is not playing, after the Subway series against the Mets was postponed due to a COVID-19 bout in the Queens’ club.

The New York Yankees are still discussing who will replace Paxton in the rotation for the time he spends on the injured list. Options include Clarke Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nick Nelson, Mike King, or making a trade.

Paxton was diagnosed with the strained left flexor tendon after an MRI on Thursday. He hasn’t had a particularly good season for the Yankees, with a 1-1 record and an uncharacteristic 6.64 ERA in five starts.

The Yankees are weighing their options

“At first when it happened, I was thinking, ‘This can’t be happening,’” Paxton said to MLB.com. “It just continued to get tighter and tighter. Considering the circumstances, I got very lucky with the injury. I was glad that it wasn’t anything with the [ulnar collateral ligament]. It’s perfectly healthy, so that’s great news. It should be a short-term thing.”

“We’ll just kind of figure it out,” Boone said regarding Paxton’s replacement. “We won’t have to make that decision yet, but obviously guys like King, Nelson and Lo are stretched out. We have a lot of people that can give us innings.”

The Yankees’ skipper praised Schmidt and said he is also being considered for a callup. “He’s doing really well and continues to get good reports,” Boone said. “It’s been a very good work year for him. As we’ve had some attrition, he certainly very much is one of the guys we’ve talked about a lot and [he’s] in the conversation.”

The New York Giants have one linebacker pushing Ryan Connelly for starting job

New York Giants, Devante Downs

The New York Giants signed David Mayo do a three-year extension this off-season, with the goal that he could push Ryan Connelly for a starting job on defense. However, another low-key player has quietly made an impact during practice.

With the Giants enjoying their first week of padded practices, getting a more in-depth look at some of their younger, unproven players, has opened some eyes to potential roster changes.

Head coach Joe Judge made sure to enter the training camp portion of the off-season with a focus on competition. He stated that every player had to earn their spot on the roster, specifically starters. That gave players like Devante Downs, formally a seventh-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2018, the confidence to compete for starting reps.

Downs, who barely played in his first two years in the NFL, featured primarily on special teams. He recorded 28% of the reps for the Minnesota Vikings in 2018 and 26% for the Giants last year after being claimed in October.

The special-teams unit can often be the gateway to starting teams, and Downs has shown an elevation in efficiency in production during practice so far.

New York Giants’ Judge has been impressed by Downs:

“He has good movement skills. I like the way he works,” Judge said of Downs this week. “He’s starting to communicate a lot better with his command in the system and really understanding. That just comes with time. That’s every player in our system. Everyone gets more comfortable and communicates better. But he’s a guy that comes in, you can see his eyes in meetings, he’s very engaged and focused on you when you’re talking.

“Whether you’re talking directly to him or somebody else, he’s taking the same coaching point. He comes on the field every day, ‘Yes sir,’ ‘no sir,’ goes to work, does whatever you ask him to do to the best of his ability. I’m enjoying working with him a whole lot.”

Ultimately, if Downs can even sneak his way into sub-packages on defense, that will be a huge victory for the former seventh-rounder. He has a long way to go before he can be a starter, but with Ryan Connelly coming back from torn ACL, he has a better opportunity than most. Of course, he will have to beat out Mayo, who started in 13 games last year, racking up 82 combine tackles, five tackles for a loss, and two sacks.

An increase in maturity and dedication has seemed to treat Downs well, with Judge noticing him through the first week of practice.