New York Islanders: Lou Lamoriello’s Case for General Manager of the Year

New York Islanders, Lou Lamoriello

New York Islanders‘ general manager Lou Lamoriello is a nominee for the Jim Gregory award. This award goes to the best general manager of the year, as voted by his peers. Mr. Lamoriello has a strong case for winning this award. The Islanders’ captain and franchise player John Tavares left in free agency, and just 700+ days later, the Islanders are in the ECF. This doesn’t just happen off of good coaching; there needs to be a good roster put forth. Lou Lamoriello gave the Islanders the extra pieces they needed to make a deep playoff run.

Trading for Pageau

J.G. Pageau has been one of the Islanders’ top playoff performers this year. Also, Pageau doesn’t lose too many faceoffs. On top of that, Pageau also is on the penalty kill. Lou Lamoriello traded late-round conditional picks for a second-line center and then signed him hours later to a cheap contract. Pageau is a perfect Islander, and Lamoriello traded virtually nothing for him. How many points did that late first-rounder score?

Signed Ilya Sorokin

The Islanders drafted goalie Ilya Sorokin in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It took six years just to sign him. Lou Lamoriello not only signed Ilya Sorokin for this year but resigned him to a one year deal. Lamoriello signed Sorokin twice in the span of a day, while Garth Snow couldn’t sign Sorokin at all. Sorokin is going to be a key piece in the Isles’ quest to become Stanley Cup champions.

Signing Derick Brassard

Every Islander fan always moans about how there are too many bottom-six forwards on the roster, how the young guys won’t get a shot because of that. The young guys like Bellows, Wahlstrom, and Holmstrom have to prove they’re worthy of taking spots away from these veterans. Derick Brassard is the name that comes to mind. Yes, Brassard is inconsistent. But, Brassard has scored some clutch goals as of late. Don’t forget his amazing pass to Andy Greene, leading to a goal in game 7.

Trading for Andy Greene

Yes, Andy Greene has taken some costly penalties and turned the puck over a lot as of late. But, he was the perfect replacement for Adam Pelech when he went down. Greene is top 5 in shot blocks, and he’s a veteran leader. His play alongside Dobson in the regular season is amazing for Dobson’s development. Greene has scored some big goals in the playoffs and has been a solid top 6 defenseman.

Conclusion

Lou Lamoriello should be the general manager of the year. He took the Islanders roster from one of the worst on paper to a respectable one. The Islanders are in a better position for the future with Lamoriello at the helm.

Kevin Durant: I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant isn’t built for the pressure of playing in the ‘mecca’.

Durant doubled down on his claim that the New York Knicks was never an option during his free agency last year.

The Knicks were made to believe they had an inside track on Durant and another star free agent of his liking. But as it turned out, it wasn’t the case.

“I never planned on going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there especially when I didn’t sign a 3-year deal that previous summer. Once I signed a 1+1, just the noise got louder around me just going to the Knicks for some reason. The Knicks need a savior, you know how that goes. Every time a big free agent is up, the Knicks are going to get him. It just took off,” Durant said in The Old Man and the Three Podcast.

The Brooklyn Nets star accused the media for spreading the rumor during his tumultuous last season with the Golden State Warriors. His former teammate Draymond Green publicly feuded with him which put a strain in their locker room chemistry. While it was injuries, which ultimately caused their downfall in the Finals, it was clear that all the drama that surrounded the Warriors factored in his decision to leave.

“Once the media infiltrated our locker room with that Draymond situation, they just ran with the rumors even more and it just got so loud every single day. I think the media just hyped it up and just wanted to make drama around the team and  around me so much that they made up this Knicks thing,” said Durant who called media in the Bay area as the “worst” and “obsessed” with his free agency.

The Knicks never had the chance to get an audience with Durant nor with any marquee free agents. With the stars spurning them, they signed ill-fitted veterans to short deals to maintain cap flexibility.

“Around February, I was thinking I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York. I didn’t care about being the king of New York. That never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway. I just wanted to play ball and go to the crib and chill. I felt like that’s what Brooklyn embodied,” Durant said.

The Nets are hoping the trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving, and rookie coach Steve Nash will usher in a new era in Brooklyn as they aim to take over New York from the Knicks starting next season.

“Brooklyn was everything I’m about: chill, on the low, all black, we quiet, just focus on basketball. There’s no show when you come to our games. No Madison Square mecca, all of that s–t. We just gonna hoop and build something new in Brooklyn,” Durant added. 

The Knicks, meanwhile, are hoping to change that negative perception around them with the arrival of new team president Leon Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau to usher in a real rebuild. And they hope to acquire a star with a mentality to take on the challenge of leading the Knicks out of the doldrums.

 

Yankees’ Gio Urshela back on field today, Boone expects Urshela to be activated Tuesday

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

New York Yankees’ third basemen Gio Urshela has been on the 10-day injured list since September 4 with a bone spur in his right elbow. Manager Aaron Boone suggested on Thursday that he expected Urshela to be activated on Tuesday which means we could possibly see him back in the lineup by late next week.

After finding out that Urshela had no other issues beyond the bone spur, the club believes that this will just be a short IL stint and Urshela will be back to playing games once the ten days are up.

The 28-year-old is a big part of the Yankees’ lineup and especially the defense. He’s currently batting .272 on the year with six home runs and 23 runs batted in.

Miguel Andujar has been taking Urshela’s role in the lineup and DJ LeMahieu has been covering third base in the meantime.

Other key players that are struggling to stay off the injured list are Aaron Judge (calf), Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), James Paxton (forearm), and Jonathan Loaisiga (undisclosed). Right-handed pitcher Luis Severino and reliever Tommy Kahnle are both out for the remainder of the year dealing with their own injuries. Gary Sanchez

The Yanks are no stranger to injuries, having set an MLB record the season prior for most players ever put on the injured list. It was especially important this season to avoid this same issue, however, the Yankees have found themselves in the same boat.

The Yankees will begin a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday where it’ll also be a doubleheader. Gerrit Cole is expected to pitch the first game.

New York Giants Have A Tall Task In Slowing Down TJ Watt

The New York Giants will face off with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night to kick off their 2020 NFL season. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones will lead the Giants’ young offense into battle against a fierce Pittsburgh defense that led the NFL in forced turnovers in 2019.

Daniel Jones struggled to keep the ball out of harm’s way in his rookie season. In 12 starts, Jones fumbled the ball 17 times. Jones and the Giants’ coaching staff have worked hard this offseason to improve on this flaw in Daniel’s game. But the Steelers have a certain sack-master on defense that is known to force quite a few fumbles. TJ Watt led the NFL in forced fumbles last season. The New York Giants have a tall task in slowing down TJ Watt on Monday night.

What Makes Watt So Dominant?

Daniel Jones is going to be under pressure in this Week One matchup. The Steelers had the best pass-rush in the NFL last season, leading the league with 54 total sacks and a 30.5% pressure rate. This is a brand new, young Giants offensive line that could struggle early on this season. Pittsburgh could exploit that and bring the heat in Week One.

The leader of that Steelers pass-rush was TJ Watt. TJ Watt is one of the best and most versatile edge rushers in the NFL, and he could cause serious problems for Daniel Jones and the Giants.

TJ Watt is entering his fourth NFL season and coming off of a 2019 campaign that saw him finish as a First-Team All-Pro. Watt recorded 14.5 sacks, 59 pressures, and 36 quarterback hits, and 8 forced fumbles in 2019. He was absolutely dominant as a pass-rusher and even against the run.

Watt typically lines up over the right tackle position, so it will be up to Cam Fleming to slow down the Steelers’ most talented defender. Fleming started three games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. This will be a tall task for him, as it will be for the rest of the Giants’ offense.

TJ Watt rushes with incredible burst and speed off of the edge. He often wins with the speed rush. The pass-rush move that Watt uses the most is the dip and rip. He uses a speed rush to get leverage on the outside shoulder of a right tackle, then dips down, and rips his right arm up to fight off the offensive tackle.

If the New York Giants want to win this game, they need to slow down TJ Watt. He is a game-wrecking, dominant force, and he could spoil the Giants’ season opener if they do not handle him properly.

UFC: Tony Ferguson – Dustin Poirier fight not happening

Tony Ferguson, UFC

One of the most highly anticipated lightweight matchups of the fall will not happen. The UFC was planning on having Tony Ferguson (25-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) co-headline UFC 254. The promotion has been working on this fight for a while.

Things started to get bumpy when Poirier said yesterday that he was a, “Prize fighter and the prize needs to be right.” Seemingly, Poirier was suggesting that the negotiations with the UFC were not going well.

Well, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani is reporting this afternoon that the highly anticipated matchup between Poirier and Ferguson is off. According to Poirier, “UFC and I couldn’t come to terms. I won’t be fighting on October 24th.”

What does the UFC do now?

It’s tough to say what the UFC is planning to do next. We don’t know how far they were apart with Poirier, but for the fight to fall apart publicly, my guess is that the numbers were not close. I think the promotion will still try to keep Ferguson on the card.

In looking at the rankings, it’s possible that the UFC tries to throw Dan Hooker (20-9) in there. Hooker is coming off of a loss back in June to Poirier, but from a rankings perspective, he would be the next in line. I’m not counting Conor McGregor here.

Of course, there is a much sexier option that I would offer the UFC. Why not call up the hottest free agent in the business in Michael Chandler (21-5)? Chandler said that if he comes to the UFC, he wants to go right into the deep end. Doesn’t get much deeper than El Cucuy.

Of course, the UFC could always try to renegotiate the fight with Poirier for a later date. Time will tell what happens, but this is a tough blow for fans that were pumped for this fight.

New York Giants: Logan Ryan Studying “20 Hours A Day” Before Opener

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

The New York Giants open up their season soon, and they’ll have Logan Ryan in their starting lineup when they do so. Ryan and the Giants look like a match made in heaven.

While there was some apprehension from fans earlier on, the Giants needed another cornerback and Ryan needed a team. They lost DeAndre Baker to a legal case this offseason and the only other options at second cornerback were very under-qualified for the role. Ryan, on the other hand, just wanted to play after failing to find a team for most of free agency.

It looks so far like Ryan is working pretty hard to make sure his start with the team is a good one. On Monday, Ryan gave some insight on just what he’s been up to.

Logan Ryan studying hard in preparation for season

Ryan claims his prep for the 2020 season includes study. A lot of study. In fact, trying to get his hands on an iPad to study the playbook is one of the first things Ryan did after getting on the team.

“I begged for an iPad, they gave me one. I’ve been studying film about 20 hours a day, a variety of positions. I got to see my mom who lives an hour south obviously. She’s scared to death of the sun right now because of COVID. I got to see her for a half hour and then right back to the film,” Ryan told reporters on Monday. “My wife and kids are back home in Nashville where they’re at. I’m up here by myself. I have nothing to do but watch a ton of film and start preparing for the Steelers.”

Ryan also went into another valuable fact. Experience. Most of the Giants haven’t played under the current head coach or DC, but that’s not a problem for Ryan.

“Luckily, I have played for Pat Graham, I’ve played for Joe Judge before. It’s a system that I’m familiar with. I played in the system before in my career, so I think that helped me a little bit with the terminology and things of that nature.”

It’s important that Ryan adapts quickly, because there’s not much time between his signing with the team and the season opener. NFL playbooks are huge, after all, and a player is only effective if they can carry out the plays effectively.

We’ll see in less than a week if Ryan can be a productive player and run the team’s defensive playbook correctly after such a short time to study it.

New York Jets Game Preview Week 1: Buffalo Bills

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

A familiar foe awaits the New York Jets in their return to action, as they’ll face the Buffalo Bills for the second straight kickoff weekend.

What: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Where: Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS

It will be deja vu all over again on Sunday afternoon for the New York Jets. For the third time in four seasons, the Jets will open their regular season proceedings against the Buffalo Bills.

Special, unusual circumstances hover over this particular meeting, however. Not only will fans be barred from entering Bills Stadium, in conjunction with COVID-19 protocols, but this will be the first time the teams are facing off against a squad in different-colored equipment. Training camp scrimmages and preseason games were put on hold as the NFL navigated its offseason through the ongoing health crisis.

“In preseason games you kind of have that feeling of, okay, this is live. I can get sacked here and things can happen and I can escape the pocket without the whistle being blown so now that it is the real deal, kind of another feeling out process,” Jets quarterback Sam Darnold remarked in transcripts from the Jets. “In the offseason, you try to simulate live reps and all that with coaches with noodles or with different things to throw out you. You try to simulate things like that, but there’s nothing like a guy who’s trying to tackle you. It’s just going to be going out there on Sunday and I think the first couple series, we’ll start to get back into a groove, especially just speaking for myself, if I get hit a couple of times, I feel like I’ll start to get back into it a little bit.”

The Jets (7-9) are coming off their best win tally since 2015, but matching that output might be a tall task with several key contributors from last season having either moved on (Jamal Adams) or opting out of the 2020 proceedings entirely (C.J. Mosley). Players from both sides of the ball are set to make their debuts, including a completely revamped blocking unit headlined by the arrival of Mekhi Becton, the 11th overall pick of April’s draft. Darnold’s top targets have likewise been adjusted, with second-round choice Denzel Mims on pace to man the receiving corps alongside veteran arrival Breshad Perriman. Adam Gase will also enter his second season as head coach of the Jets.

Meanwhile, the Bills (10-6) have been pegged by many as AFC contenders after reaching 10 wins for the first time since 1999. The Bills reached the playoffs for the second time in three seasons back in January, falling in overtime to the Houston Texans in the wild-card round. Buffalo’s offense is headlined by young talents Josh Allen and Devin Singletary, while All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White returns after inking a $70 million contract extension. Buffalo is coached by Sean McDermott, who has earned a 25-23 record over three seasons with the team.

The Series

This will be the 120th meeting between the Jets and Bills, a showdown that dates back to 1960. Buffalo leads the all-time set by a 63-56 tally. Sunday also marks the third time over the last four seasons that the Jets and Bills have met on opening weekend.

The Bills won last year’s debut in a 17-16 final at MetLife Stadium. Buffalo made up a 16-0 deficit in the second half, their comeback completed with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Allen to John Brown. The Jets built their lead through Mosley’s interception return for a touchdown and a nine-yard Darnold hook-up with Le’Veon Bell. New York would close the year with a 13-6 win in Orchard Park during the final week of the regular season, taking advantage of resting Bills starters. Darnold and Jamison Crowder united for the only touchdown of the day on a one-yard pass.

The Jets and Bills have split their yearly pair in each of the past three seasons.

History Happens: 2002

Overall, the Jets and Bills have met in Week 1 a dozen times, with Jets leading 8-4 in the subset. The 2002 get-together was one for the literal record books as the Jets’ 37-31 victory was earned through what was then the fastest overtime in NFL history.

Buffalo tied the game with 26 seconds left in regulation on a Drew Bledsoe touchdown pass to Eric Moulds but the Jets immediately put the concept of momentum aside. Chad Morton took the ensuing overtime kickoff back 96 yards, ending the extra period only 14 seconds in. It was the second kickoff return of the game for Morton, who currently serves as the running backs coach in Seattle.

They Said It

“We try to put our players in the best position possible. So, when guys do go down, when we do have some kind of change, we can’t flinch as coaches, we just adjust what we’re doing. We do everything we can to put those guys in the best position possible. Sometimes it’s through trial and error, sometimes it’s, ‘Hey prove to us that you either can do something or you can’t.’ That comes through the entire time of training camp.”Adam Gase on the “next man up” philosophy, per Jack Bell

“We went through the (scouting) process with Sam. I have a lot of respect for Sam and his work and who he is. As you look at him, he’s mobile, he does a good job in the pocket (and) he does a good job getting them in and out of checks at the line of scrimmage based on the looks he’s presented with. So, he looks like a young quarterback with a lot of upside.”Bills head coach Sean McDermott on Sam Darnold, per Eric Allen

Matchup To Watch

T Mekhi Becton vs. DE Jerry Hughes

The Jets were likely among the teams most affected by a lack of preseason games. Four consequence-free opportunities would’ve been a good chance for a completely rebooted offensive line to build some chemistry. Individually, Becton could’ve gotten used to the pace and surroundings of an NFL environment.

Becton has yet to play a single down in green, but he already holds an unerasable place in team history. If he succeeds, and the Jets’ offense enjoys a much-needed wake-up call, Becton will go down in the same sentence as D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. If his NFL career doesn’t pan out the way the Jets are hoping, the ever-prevalent hindsight of football fans and draft enthusiasts everywhere will question why the Jets didn’t go for one of the talented receivers available to them at No. 11. A quartet of game-paced scrimmages would’ve been a good way to start his professional career.

The Louisville alum will immediately be thrown into the NFL fire. Attacking Darnold’s blind side will be Hughes, the talented pass rusher out of TCU. In his last outing, Hughes sacked Deshaun Watson three times in a playoff game. He’s earned 51.5 sacks over an NFL career that’s about to hit a decade. He owns a career-best 43 tackles, including 10 for a loss, against the Jets. Thus, Becton has no opportunity for a “training day” afforded to countless rookies before him.

The lack of preseason games has also appeared to affect Hughes as well, as he’s had no opportunity to see Becton work in the New York offense.

“It kind of feels a little bit like college-esque in the sense of there’s no preseason games to go off of,” Hughes explained to Maddy Glab of BuffaloBills.com. “Some guys don’t even have NFL tape, so you’re pulling up things from the archives of what they did a year or two ago in college. It’s kind of eerie being in this position just because we’ve always had the preseason games to kind of catch our bearings, catch our breath and get into the whole game flow.”

The Jets Will Win If…

The lack of preseason game preparation doesn’t come back to haunt them.

Shortening or eliminating preseason games has been proposed even in “normal” times, but Gase has been a rare voice against the concept. The Jets are a team with many newcomers, both rookies and veterans alike, and they could’ve used an opportunity to build chemistry in what could well be a trying season. Teams like Buffalo are relatively set due to their sense of continuity and relatively little turnover at the top of the depth chart. Even with expanded playoff capital in the AFC, it’s going to be a tall task to ask the Jets to reach the playoffs. Getting some good wins, especially against divisional opponents filled with hope and expectations, would help a tricky season go by a lot smoother.

The Bills Will Win If…

They avoid the trap.

Almost everyone’s preseason darling has emerged from Buffalo. But how many preseason Super Bowl champion have we seen fall into oblivion once the real games get going? The “Dream Team” edition of the Philadelphia Eagles certainly comes to everyone’s mind. The Bills are so eager to be known as the Empire State’s team and they would be wise to take advice bestowed to one of the state’s most famous fictional residents: with great power, comes great responsibility. Buffalo is in a spot where they’re the team that’s in the best spot to pick up where New England left off. Thus, they’re already in a position to play trap games. The Patriots built their sterling reputation by dominating subpar divisional competition. If the Bills truly want to take over, they need to handle affairs in winnable games.

Prediction

Sunday could be the start of something extraordinary. Jets-Bills has never truly been must-see, prime time television, but there’s a prime opportunity for the yearly pair to become one of the NFL’s strongest rivalries. Both teams need to take care of their business and win games for the rivalry to truly flourish, but the New York factor and the battle of 2018 draftees under center could make a premiere matchup in the coming years.

The Jets could take advantage of Buffalo’s most unusual trap game scenario. To bring up the lack of August football factor again, we could see some sloppy football in the early stages of the year. Such surroundings tend to favor the underdog. But asking the Jets to win their first game with mostly new personnel is going to be a tall task without the proper game-pace preparation. The time the favored Bills spend getting their game legs back could allow the Jets to keep pace, but asking for a win is simply too tall a task at this point in time.

Bills 19, Jets 13

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New York Giants Injury Report For Thursday Sept 10

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The following is the official injury report of the New York Giants for Thursday, Sept. 10:

Did Not Participate in Practice
LB Markus Golden (Illness)

Limited Participation in Practice
DB Adrian Colbert (Illness)
LB Tae Crowder (Hamstring)
WR Golden Tate (Hamstring)
TE Levine Toilolo (Hamstring)

Head coach Joe Judge did not comment on injuries during his presser before practice but did have this to say about his team:

“They’ve come to work every day urgent with great effort and attentiveness. Look, they’ve been a pleasure to work with. When you have guys that come to work every day to get better, you make progress, and I’ve seen a lot of progress in our team so far. We have another big day to get ready for the Steelers today, and then obviously, we’ll tie it up with a couple quick days on the field the next couple days. But they’ve made a lot of progress and I’m very proud with how they’ve worked.”

The Giants’ opponent for next Monday night’s game, the Pittsburgh Steelers had two players held out of practice on Thursday:

G Dave DeCastro (Knee) and WR Diontae Johnson (foot).

New York Giants: Players respond to Joe Judge ripping them for lack of intensity during practice

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants are headed toward the first regular-season game on Monday, September 14, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This week of practice has been tailored toward this match-up. Working on scheme related tactics and how they will combat a tough Pittsburgh team is a priority. For head coach Joe Judge, intensity is demanded every single day. Being 100% ready and cognizant is a part of success, and he plans to bring that to the New York Giants‘ organization.

When his team stepped onto the field Thursday morning for practice, he did not like what he saw after 20 minutes of individual drills. He huddled his team and ripped into them, dropping F-bombs, according to reporters.

Judge demanded that his team restart practice from the beginning due to a lack of effort and intensity. Clearly, he is trying to hammer home a fundamental aspect of winning teams — discipline. Taking your craft seriously is how you win on game day, and clearly, Pat Shurmur’s lackluster system spilled over into Thursday’s practice, which was quickly spotted and taken care of by the new head coach.

New York Giants’ players respond to Joe Judge’s wrath:

Saquon Barkley:

“I love it.”

Blake Martinez:

“Didn’t come out the right way at practice today….judge had us refocus…..had to bounce back and show resolve, understand what was wrong and fix it.”

“First time had to re-boot a practice since been in the nfl….everybody understood what the coach wanted….we know this first game is big to make a statement as a team”
While some players might feel attacked for his style of coaching, they took it quite well and proceeded forward with practice. Hopefully, the Giants can set the stage with a strong game-1 performance. Even if they lose, competing until the final moments is a necessity, especially for a team that gave up in the fourth quarter the past few seasons.

Forbes Magazine Estimates New York Giants’ Value at $4.3 Billion

New York Giants, John Mara

The New York Giants are gaining in value even though there’s a pandemic going on and revenues are sure to suffer. You would be wrong to assume that. NFL Team values are up 7% from last year and there are now four teams valued over $4 billion according to Forbes Magazine:

Dallas Cowboys: $5.7 billion
New England Patriots: $4.4 billion
New York Giants: $4.3 billion
Los Angeles Rams: $4 billion

From Forbes:

“Last season, NFL franchises posted $477 million of revenue, on average, and generated $109 million of operating income per team, trouncing the NBA ($70 million), MLB ($50 million) and NHL ($25 million).

That helped the league start this season with scant debt relative to team values, despite some $10 billion of credit that it can make available to teams at cheaper rates than they could borrow individually because the debt is backed by the league’s long-term, guaranteed media deals. NFL team owners can stack up to $500 million of debt on their teams and another $150 million of debt on a special purpose entity.

And while the pandemic is likely to cut average team revenue by about a third and leave the NFL facing a breakeven year, the downturn will be short lived. The NFL will likely soon sign new national media rights deals that will begin in 2023 and are expected to average roughly $15 billion a year, twice the value of its current media agreements.”

The Giants are up 10% in value since 2019, even though they’ve only won 12 of their last 48 games and no longer have popular players such as Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. They have an operating income of $168 million with a yearly revenue of $547 million and debt/value percentage of 11.

They had $98 million in gate receipts last year that they will not come close to recouping this year as there doesn’t appear to be any word on whether or not fans will be permitted to attend games in New Jersey.