New York Giants: This Daniel Jones statistic needs to change soon

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are relying a lot on Daniel Jones this season. Arguably, they’re relying on him too much. Everyone expected Jones to be a big part of the passing game, but not many would believe it if you said Jones would also be the leading rusher on the Giants come week four. But going into a game with the Rams, that’s the case. Jones is the leading rusher by a decent margin and the second place player, Saquon Barkley, is out for the season.

The Giants having rushing troubles in the first couple of weeks was somewhat understandable. The offensive line had changed and Barkley was injured early on. However, these troubles extending into the third loss of the season shows a bigger problem.

Poor performance for Giants running backs

The team just can’t get anything going in the rushing game. Devonta Freeman, the veteran back brought in after Barkley’s injury, only has 10 yards with the team so far. He was also limited in his role in his first game with the team, racking up only five rushes.

Freeman’s role with the team should expand in week four, but increased touches won’t mean much unless the offensive line gives openings and Freeman steps up and takes them. After all, Dion Lewis hasn’t performed well so far despite having an entire offseason to learn Jason Garrett’s system. Lewis has 12 attempts and one touchdown so far, but only 21 actual rushing yards.

The Giants will definitely have to rely on Daniel Jones to some degree on offense this year. But one area where they shouldn’t rely on him is the passing game. The Giants have a tough enough matchup against the Rams even without their rushing struggles.

If Jones is once again the leading rusher for the Giants and not one of the running backs, don’t expect the Giants to walk away with a win.

Carlos Condit gets back in the win column at UFC Fight Island 4

Carlos Condit

In the featured prelim of tonight’s UFC Fight Island 4 card, Carlos Condit (31-13) took on former ultimate fighter winner, Court McGee (19-10). For Condit, he entered the octagon trying to snap a five fight losing streak that dated back to UFC 195 in 2016.

In the first round of the fight, Condit looked to be a little tentative. Court McGee was doing a good job early on of getting off first. However, Condit really started to find his range in the final minute of the first round of the fight.

Then, in the final seconds of the first, Condit broke McGee’s nose with a shot that put the former ultimate fighter winner on the canvas. Condit would assume control for the majority of the featured prelim after that moment.

While McGee did have his moments here and there, the former interim UFC welterweight champion was doing the majority of the damage. In the end, all three judges gave every round to The Natural Born killer which snapped his five fight losing streak.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 4?

This was the first UFC win for Condit since May of 2015. It had been more than five years since Condit had his hand raised inside the octagon. You could tell in the post-fight interview that Condit was relieved more than anything else.

At 36 years old, there is still gas left in the tank for Condit. Recently, he said he would be interested in the UFC booking a rematch between him and Nick Diaz. Condit won their fight back at UFC 143, but it was a questionable decision in the eyes of many.

I personally wouldn’t mind the UFC booking him up against Robbie Lawler for a rematch. Their fight at UFC 195 was a classic, and many believed that Condit should have walked out of the cage with the undisputed UFC welterweight title.

Lawler is currently scheduled to fight Mike Perry, but after that, I would be all for running that one back. There are still some fun fights for Condit inside the UFC. I was just happy to see him get back in the win column Saturday night.

New York Yankees: Will Clint Frazier play at all in the ALDS?

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Entering the American League Wild Card Series, one of the biggest questions facing Aaron Boone and the New York Yankees was who was going to play left-field. Boone trusted his gut, and went with Brett Gardner. He’s more experienced, and he knew how to play the wall in left at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Also, Gardner began to heat up at season’s end.

Boone’s decision to play Gardner over Clint Frazier paid off as he was a contributing factor in the Yankees sweep over the Indians. In game one, Gardner went 3-for-5 with with a home run and three runs batted in. He struck out just once and added a double.

Game two saw him go hitless, but he got on base twice with walks and scored once in a game that the Yankees won by just one.

So, although Frazier was by far the better player in the regular season, it may be Gardner getting all the at-bats in the postseason. And unfortunately for Frazier, it isn’t really his fault. He’s stayed hot, but Gardner’s finally playing really well and his experience is unparalleled.

However, we may see Frazier against lefties and in pinch-hit scenarios. He pinch-hit in game two, but was struck-out on three pitches. Believe it or not, but it was just his first postseason at-bat.

Unless Gardner suddenly goes cold, it’s hard to see Frazier starting unless a lefty is on the mound. What Boone has done so far has worked, and it’s led the Yankees to wins. And for Gardner, he’s playing like his life depends on it. His contract expires after this season, and he’d like to come back for another season in the Bronx.

New York Giants: Keys to victory against the Rams in Week Four

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants will head to Los Angeles to face off against the Rams in Week Four. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses in Week Three. The Giants were blown out by the 49ers, falling to 0-3 on the season and the Rams lost a close one with the Bills, falling to 2-1.

The Giants desperately need to win in Week Three to turn their season around. If the Giants want to take down the Rams, they need to limit their turnovers, slow down Aaron Donald, and play a bend-don’t-break defense in Week Four.

Limit The Turnovers

Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones has a turnover problem. Through three games, Jones has turned the ball over six times in three games. The Rams’ defense has forced five turnovers in the last two games. The Giants will not win this game if they turn the ball over multiple times. The turnovers have crippled the Giants’ offense through three games and have directly turned into opposing points.

Slow Down Aaron Donald

The best defensive player in the NFL has been wreaking havoc through the first three weeks of the 2020 NFL season. Aaron Donald has not lost a step. Donald has been a First-Team All-Pro in each of the last five seasons. Donald is maintaining that elite-level of play in 2020, leading the NFL with 20 pressures generated this season (via Pro Football Focus).

The Giants’ offensive line has struggled tremendously in 2020. Quarterback Daniel Jones has been pressured on 41.5% of his dropbacks in 2020, according to PFF. This is the third-highest rate in the NFL.

Starting center Nick Gates has struggled this season while making a position switch. Now, he will face his toughest opponent yet. Aaron Donald has three sacks through three games in 2020. New York’s offensive line needs to step up in Week Four and prevent Aaron Donald from wrecking this game.

Do Not Break On Defense

The Giants’ defense could not get off the field on third down against the 49ers in Week Three. New York plays a bend-don’t-break defense. But, in Week Three, that defense broke more often than it should have.

The Giants’ defense forced the 49ers’ offense into 11 third-down situations. Technically, the 49ers ran plays on 12 third downs, but the last third down was the final play of the game when the 49ers took a knee to seal the win. So, actually, the 49ers converted 8 of their 11 third-down attempts. Additionally, the 49ers scored 6 points on 4th down, making 2 of 3 field-goal attempts. The 49ers did not punt once in Week Three.

This is not sustainable. The Giants cannot win games if they allow opposing offenses to convert over 70% of their third-down attempts. Against Sean McVay’s high-flying offense in Week Four, the Giants’ defense needs to get off the field on third down,

Bellator books Aaron Pico – John de Jesus (Reports)

Bellator MMA has booked one of their top prospects for his next fight. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the promotion has booked a featherweight contest between top prospect Aaron Pico (6-3) and John de Jesus (13-8). The fight is scheduled to take place on November 12th.

For Pico, he’s going to try to win his third consecutive fight inside the Bellator cage. Pico was known as the biggest prospect arguably in MMA history prior to him signing with Bellator a few years ago. Everyone believed he was destined for greatness.

However, it’s been a very humbling road for Pico thus far. He’s still very young at just 24 years old, but Pico has suffered several setbacks during his Bellator career so far. He’s been stopped three times in devastating fashion.

However, in his six wins, Pico has looked like a world class fighter. In his last fight against Chris Hatley Jr, Pico really showed off his wrestling skills. In the past, he seemed really reliant on his great boxing, but that also led him to getting knocked out.

Is Bellator’s top prospect ready for the next step?

Pico has all of the makings to be a world champion. He’s a very good athlete, he’s got great boxing, and he has elite wrestling. However, he hasn’t always fought with the wisest strategy. You can chalk it up to being young, but Pico has been drawn into some fire fights.

The Henry Corrales fight is a great example. At Bellator 214, Pico hurt Corrales bad seconds into the fight. However, Pico got reckless and Corrales knocked him out cold. When Pico fights smart, he’s going to be very dangerous.

Veteran John de Jesus will present some interesting challenges for Pico. He’s not going to be an easy out and he’s riding a three fight winning streak heading into Bellator‘s November 12th event.

If Pico is able to put together a dominant and complete performance against de Jesus, you can make the argument that he’s ready for the next step. If he falls again, you will have to wonder what’s next in terms of his career inside the Bellator cage.

New York Islanders: Is Alex Killorn in Play for the Isles?

Alex Killorn, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders need a top 6 winger, and that’s no secret to anyone. This top 6 winger must be a goal scorer, but at the same time, he needs to know how to play defense. That’s why I’m very skeptical of Patrik Laine and Taylor Hall. Neither of those guys is huge on defense, and they need to be if they want to get those big minutes in Barry Trotz’s system. Enter Alex Killorn. Alex Killorn does it all, he’s a goal scorer, he plays on the PP and PK, he’s a grinder who can lay the boom.  Killorn has the word Islander written all over his play. But, is he in play for the Islanders?

No Move Clause

Alex Killorn does have a no-trade clause in his contract, but it has become a 16 team no-trade list as of this year. If you’re the Islanders, you’re praying that you don’t get put on that list. Killorn could waive this, though. I mean, you recently saw Patrick Hornqvist waive his NTC after realizing the Penguins didn’t want him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Killorn ends up feeling the same way. Killorn’s team just won the Stanley Cup, it’s not like Tampa owes him anything or vice versa.

Contract

Alex Killorn signed a 7-year deal in 2016, he’s now making $4.5 million per year. The Islanders do not have a ton of cap, but they can make some moves to open up space. First, the Islanders have to find a way to ship off Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ladd. If the Isles can do that and sign all their RFA’s, it’s a no brainer to trade for Killorn. Killorn doesn’t have a large contract, but it’s not one the Isles can take straight on.

The Trade

Since I get berated in the comments every time I report a possible trade offer, I’m going to throw out multiple ideas. NTC for NTC? Jordan Eberle and Ross Johnston for Alex Killorn. As long as the Islanders keep Matt Martin, I don’t know which Islander fan that says no to that. Killorn is more than a million dollars cheaper and scores more points. Tampa gets a more expensive winger, but they also get a good enforcer. Or what about Nick Leddy, Kyle Burroughs’ rights, and a 6th round pick this year. Tampa gets another offensive defenseman and a 7th defensive defenseman. The Islanders get the guy they “want.”

Also, just for anyone, whose going to comment. The Islanders do not care about the boarding in game 2, it’s in the past, I doubt they hold grudges like that.

New York Islanders: Predicting the 3 big RFA contracts

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have to re-sign their “big 3,” and they need to be re-signed soon. This “big 3” will not be a cheap resign. Each of those three players is crucial to the Islanders’ success now and in the future. The deals will most likely be completed soon. No one has any idea what the negotiation status for all three players currently is because Lou Lamoriello doesn’t let anything slip. But, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine what these deals would look like.

Three potentially big RFA contracts for the New York Islanders:

Mat Barzal

The franchise player, the golden boy, the fastest player in the NHL. Mat Barzal deserves a hefty contract right now due to his recent play. Do I think Barzal could be playing better? Definitely, but he’s only 23 years old, which is scary. I think this deal will be a bridge deal. What do I mean by this? A bridge deal is almost like a “prove that you deserve all our money” deal. So, instead of a 7-8 year deal, I believe it will be a 3-4 year deal. So, when the deal is over, Barzal can cash in on big money. Right now, due to cap concerns, the Isles can’t throw all their money at Barzal. But, Barzal knows this by now and will take a discount to help the team win. Final deal: 4 years, $8 million.

Ryan Pulock

The best defender needs a new contract, and he earned big money. The fact that Pulock isn’t an all-star is absolutely mindblowing. Ryan Pulock deserves at least $5.5 million. But, Pulock will probably get more than that. I think Pulock will get around 5-6 years. No reason to let Pulock possibly leave in 3 years. Isles must sign their best defender for a long time. Final deal: 6 years, $6.5 million.

Devon Toews

The Islanders have a growing star here in Devon Toews, and they need to lock him up for a little while longer. Toews doesn’t deserve big money yet, but he has earned a decent contract. I’m thinking around $3.5-$4 million, and that’s a little generous. The number of years will be around 4. I think it’s a solid bet that Toews’ deal will get done first. Final deal: 4 years, $3.5 million.

New York Giants promote young UDFA wide receiver for week 4

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants made an interesting move prior to their week four contest against the Los Angeles Rams. With wide receiver Sterling Shepard set to miss the game with turf toe, the Giants elevated one young undrafted free agent receiver to the active roster.

Former Ohio State pass-catcher Austin Mack received the nod and will make his debut against a strong Rams team.

In Shepard’s absence, which could last multiple weeks, Mack could be his supplement for quite some time. Adding depth to the receiver corps is essential, and Mack did enough during camp to justify his elevation.

Mack, who is a 6-foot-2, 208-pound receiver, will likely spend a majority of his time on the active roster as a special teams fill-in. However, he has tangible traits to be a solid option for Daniel Jones in the passing game.

In 2019, he caught 27 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Injuries derailed his campaign, but he has deceiving strength off the line of scrimmage and is a solid route runner. The Giants failed to draft any past catchers this year, and in a deep class, it might have been a tumultuous move. They did add a bevy of undrafted players, including Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Derrick Dillon. Mack is the first to receive an opportunity in the NFL.

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier has strong words for ‘big market’ Yankees team

New York Yankees. Kevin Kiermaier

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have bad blood to sort out, but it likely won’t end in the ALDS matchup starting on October 5. The last time they faced closer Aroldis Chapman threw a 100 mph fastball at the head of Michael Brosseau, which sparked a benches-clearing situation, against COVID-19 protocols.

Ultimately, a ball traveling that fast can kill someone, and the Rays took it as such. After the contest, manager Kevin Cash torched the Yankees for their lack of professionalism and poor coaching. The Yankees didn’t respond in a hostile way via the media, but throwing  ”high and tight” is often the case between these two clubs.

Outfielder for the Rays, Kevin Kiermaier, had strong words for the Yankees as they approach their divisional series:

“With all the history we have had the last couple of years, it is what it is, I have said many times they don’t like us and we don’t like them,’’ Kiermaier said on a Zoom call via the New York Post. “It is going to continue to stay that way and it is going to be a very fun and energetic [series] and I know each team is going to try and put it to the opposition. I know that for a fact. It’s going to be two great teams playing against each other. I know our guys are real excited and ready to go and we plan to have the same thoughts when we get out West. Once again, we have forgot what went on, but moving forward we have to do everything in our power to be focused in order to win and that is what we plan on doing.’’

Both teams know that hostility could break out during the contest, and one bad pitch is all it takes for the chirping to begin. The Yankees, a big market team, facing off against a smaller market Tampa squad, is exciting, but somehow the Yankees are considered underdogs. The Rays have fantastic starting pitching, and the Yankees have been problematic in the category the past few weeks. Of course, ace Gerrit Cole is the most reliable arm, but behind him, things get a bit tumultuous.

“We know we can play with anyone. We know we can beat anyone. They are a big market team, everyone knows the Yankees, huge payroll. We are here trying to play our game. We don’t get a whole lot of recognition but at the end of the day we win ballgames,’’ Kiermaier said. “We know we are darn good at that. We don’t plan on changing anything as far as that. We plan on racking up the ‘Ws.’ We got 11 more and that is what we plan on doing.’’

Tampa feels as though they have something to prove, coming from a smaller market and less payroll. The Yankees, on the other hand, are expected to reach this stage of the playoffs every season, but simply haven’t been able to make it to the World Series in over a decade. The task ahead of them is tall, but they have the talent to get the job done.

New York Giants: 3 players who have stood out through three weeks

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants haven’t performed particularly well three weeks into the 2020 season, especially their offense, who have only scored 35 points compared to the Rams, who have posted 89 points. Their week four matchup will be problematic on several fronts, but the Giants can continue to rely on some of their players, who have undoubtedly showed up this year and have performed well.

Three New York Giants players who have stood out through three weeks:

1.) James Bradberry

The Giants’ star through three weeks has been James Bradberry, former Carolina cornerback who signed a three-year deal with the team this past off-season. Bradberry, who had an impressive week two performance against Chicago Bears, where he recorded one interception and forced another, has been the star on defense.

“He’s been very productive on the ball, he’s been very steady, very reliable,” defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said. “There are areas where he has to get better as well. But he’s been very productive on the ball. He’s done a good job there.”

Bradberry is a quiet player that leads by example. So far, his nine passes defended are four more than any other corner in the NFL. He has posted a 47.6% completion rate against, allowing two touchdowns, one of which wasn’t entirely his fault against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Overall, having a player as good as Bradberry has kept the Giants’ defense from falling to below average. They desperately need him to continue playing at a high-level, as the remainder of their team is still developing.