New York Yankees Analysis: A Deeper Look, what’s wrong and how to fix it

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees lost again in the postseason on Friday night. There is obviously something wrong that the Yankees haven’t been able to win a World Series in the last eleven years.  The question is how to fix it and get back to their winning ways. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but at the same time, I have been an avid life-long Yankee fan for 70 plus years. I have seen teams come and go, and dynasties come and go. I’ve seen some truly great players and many that were not.  This look at the Yankees is not a report, but purely an opinion piece. I am a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and a Yankee writer for the last five years.

First of all, we are talking about the New York Yankees, not the Kansas City Royals or any of the other 29 major league teams. I can think of at least 25 teams that would consider this 2020 shortened season for the Yankees a great success.  But, that is not the case we talked about the Yankees, where the season is a failure if they don’t go into the postseason and win a World Championship.

The 2020 Yankees season was a good one, considering all of the obstacles and injuries.  For the second year in a row, the Yankees had an unprecedented number of injuries. Key pitchers and some in the lineup were either missing for the whole season or much of it.  Last year the Yankees completely shook up their strength and conditioning department. One would not expect an immediate positive result, but those changes should reap the rewards in the coming years after a season. But going forward, there is no way to predict what injuries the Yankees might endure in the coming season.

Last December, after another losing season, the New York Yankees made a big move, their first in a few years.  The front office was tired of losing. They went to California and signed the best pitcher available in the offseason, and one of the best in all of baseball; Gerrit Cole.  That was the only change they made, believing it would be the difference in winning a Championship, and they spent $324 million to sign him.

As the Yankees approached spring training, everything looked rosy, as the team was healthy, and they had a new pitching ace that would take care of the 2019 shortcomings.  Well, it didn’t take long for that rose to start to wither. They knew going in that they would be without their 2019 winningest pitcher, Domingo German, who was 18-4 last season. He would be out the much of the season, serving the remainder of his domestic violence suspension.

The Yankees were not aware at the time that James Paxton had had back surgery and would also miss the start of the season.  They knew that they had co-ace Luis Severino coming back from missing much of the 2019 season. Fast forward to him throwing his first few pitches of spring training, and his elbow was injured, which ended up requiring him to have Tommy John surgery, and he too would miss the season.  Considering the aging Masahiro Tanaka and missing two key pitchers, I, at that point, said to myself, well, that negates the plus of having Gerrit Cole, and we are back in the same situation we were last year.

Another big blow came when we learned Yankee slugger and star Aaron Judge had shoulder problems, which turned out to be a collapsed lung and a fractured rib. He two would miss the beginning of the season. The injuries piled up that I am not going to go into, but the Yankees’ rosy season looked in jeopardy.  Then it hit, COVID-19. As the virus began to sweep the nation, MLB shut down all baseball operations and announced a delay at the baseball season.

The original two-month delay turned out to be a delay of more than four months. There were contentious negotiations between MLB and the players regarding how to start the season safely and who would get paid for what. Those negotiations lagged, and Commissioner Rob Manfred ended up putting health protocols in place and implementing a 60 game season. To a degree, this was a godsend for the Yankees as it would give them time to get everyone healthy in time for the season start.

After a surprisingly good start to the season, they went 9-2. But then the injuries started popping up. The Yankees endured a 5-15 stretch and the season looked like they would have to fight to win the division.  They didn’t, allowing the Tampa Bay Rays to win the East Division. Gerrit Cole did his job, but much of the rest of the rotation didn’t. The Yankees endured long stretches where the powerful lineup was anything but effective.  Roughly half of the season, they went without Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees ended up the regular shortened season going 33-27.

Because of the expanded postseason format set up by MLB, the New York Yankees got to the postseason. They faced the Cleveland Indians, burying them in just two games while scoring 22 runs in the two games. The Yankees advanced to the ALDS against their nemesis  Tampa Bay Rays, winning the first game with 9 runs and Gerrit Cole on the mound.  That would be the last time they would score as much as two runs in the remaining four games. The lead in the series bounced back and forth, calling for a game five. In the eighth inning of that game, Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman would give up the winning run to Mike Brosseau.  This is the second season in a row that Chapman has ended the season giving up the winning run.

So, what’s wrong with this team that they can’t win in the win in the postseason and advance to a World Series appearance?  The answer is multi-folded. They don’t have dependable pitching, they don’t have consistent, timely hitting, they leave too many men on base, and they have some defensive holes.

Let’s address the defensive problems first, as they are the least significant. At shortstop, we have Gleyber Torres, after the Yankees did not re-sign Didi Gregorius in the offseason.  They bet on Torres fulfilling the position, it did not turn out well. Torres got off to a slow hitting start, but his main problem was holding down hitters at short. Torres committed 9 errors, the second-most in all of baseball. Torres also had two errors in the postseason.

One of the most significant problems the New York Yankees had in the 2020 season was their catcher, Gary Sanchez; after a year of improved performance at the backstop, Sanchez returned to his old ways, having allowed six passed balls, that’s near 19 in a regular season, leading all of baseball for a catcher. Add to that, he was, for the most part, just taking up space in the lineup. He ended the season with a .147 batting average. He had only 23 hits on the entire season, 10 of them home runs.

The Yankees have had undying faith in Sanchez as their catcher of the future. The Yankees continue to wait for him to fulfill that promise. The only problem is that he is going backward. His defense is worse than last season, and he has had a batting average of less than .232 during the last three seasons, two of them under .200. For the first time since he has been a Yankee, the Yankee front office, is showing cracks in that support.  As the end of the season approached, manager Aaron Boone benched him twice, and in the postseason, he caught in only one of the seven games.

Turning to pitching, Gerrit Cole was the only dependable starting pitcher in the season. Masahiro Tanaka, second in the rotation, went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.56 on the season. The Yankees lost both of his postseason starts. He had a postseason ERA of 12.58. James Paxton went 1-1 on the season but was injured and missed the last half of the season, and he all of the postseason.  J.A. Happ was a mixed bag, pitching poorly in the first half but becoming the best pitcher in the second half. Happ was 2-2 with an ERA of 3.47 ERA.  Jordan Montgomery was inconsistent all season, going 2-3 with an elevated ERA. He pitched his one postseason game well, but the Yankees lost the game nevertheless.

Going into the last half of the season, the New York Yankees realizing they needed pitching help, allowed the major league debut of Deivi Garcia. Garcia basically didn’t disappoint. He got in six starts on the season going 3-2 with an ERA of 4.98. In the season the Yankees also introduced Michael King and Clarke Schmidt who may be a part of the coming seasons.

The Yankees made a big mistake in the postseason. They tried to outsmart the Tampa Bay Rays by playing their game when they should have played their own game. Game 2 of the ALDS will be looked back upon as the game that turned the tide in favor of the Rays. For some unknown reason, the Yankees decided to start game two with an opener, instead of Masahario Tanaka. Mistake number two came when the only let Deivi Garcia pitch one inning. Mistake number three was when they brought in J. Happ to replace him, burning two starting pitchers in one game. The gamble didn’t pay off; the Yankees lost the game and their momentum.

The Yankees hitting in the Wild Card round was just that, wild. When it came to the ALDS the bats for the most part went silent again. I have no explanation as to why throughout the season, all of the Yankees bats went silent at the same time, with the exception of Luke Voit. I have to assume it was only an annoying coincidence.

How the New York Yankees can fix things!

The Yankees will presumably be getting Luis Severino and Domingo German back for the 2021 season. However, after not pitching for a year, the Yankees have no way of knowing how they will perform.  The Yankees need another premium arm.  Tevor Bauer is a free agent, he would be a good fit for the Yankees. That would give the Yankees a starting rotation that would look like this; Gerrit Cole Trevor Bauer, Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Deivi Garcia.  No one knows right now what will happen with Paxton, Happ or Tanaka who are all free agents.  My guess is that they will take Tanaka back at a discount and let Paxton and Happ go. Another option for the Yankees is Carlos Carrassco of the Indians.

On the defense and hitting side of the issue, the Yankees need to replace Gleyber Torres at short. Enter Francisco Lindor who is a free agent.  Lindor would be an upgrade at short and in the lineup. That would allow Torres who the Yankees will not get rid of, to return to his natural position at second base.  This would allow LeMahieu to become a utility man that can adequately fill in at all infield positions while keeping his hot timely bat in the lineup.

Looking at the other positions, Voit and Ford, although not the best, they can handle first base. Voit finished his season as the best home run hitter in all of baseball. The Young Gleyber Torres can continue to blossom at second base and in the lineup.  At third base is the real deal Gio Urshela, who is a Gold Glove type defender and timely hitter.  The outfield is pretty well set with Judge, Hicks, Frazier, and the MLB’s best defending outfielder, Mike Tauchman. Tauchman committed no errors.

Outside of the Torres situation, the Yankees still have three situations they must clear up in the postseason. One is easy; the Yankees must re-sign DJ LeManhieu, the 2020 batting average winner.  My suggestion is a 4 year $65 million contract, although it may take more dollars, the Yankees must get it done.  The other two questions are less clear. Brett Gardner is in the last season of his contract although he has an option for 2021. The Yankees can dump him for $2.2 million. Although Gardner didn’t hit as well this year he did contribute on the field and the bases. Gardner is also a team leader in the clubhouse.

The question about Gary Sanchez is more complicated. Sanchez can be very good, he hit 34 home runs in 2019. His defense is still questionable and his ability to get on base has been greatly reduced.  His trade value is near zero presenting the options to leave things as they are, move Higashioka to the everyday catcher, and domote him to backup.  Another option is to go after one of the best catchers in the game, J.T. Realmuto who is a free agent and would be a big-time upgrade.

The New York Yankees have the money to make all these upgrades, they spend less on player salaries compared to revenue than any other baseball team. In general the Yankees rely on the home run to win games, when they don’t hit them they lose. Lindor would help that, he hit 61 hits compared to Torre’s 33 hits.  Realmuto added to the lineup would provide more timly hitting as well.  The result would be a team that plays small ball and long ball for a better mix, and more consistant scoring.

The New York Yankees have a great team but need to make some minor tweaks to win a World Series, and time is running out.  The Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman made no moves to improve the team by the trade deadline in the last two years. The cheap “Baby Bombers” aren’t so baby anymore, they are aging and will all become free agents in the next two years, with the exception of Gleyber Torres, who is under team control until 2024.  If the Yankees want to win with the core of players they have, they only have this and the next year to make that a reality. Only the front office’s determination to win a 28th Championship and more in the coming Cole years will make that happen.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is s member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam

 

 

Yankees news/rumors, 10/11: Trevor Bauer sweepstakes, home runs or nothing, Rays troll Yankees in celebration

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

With the New York Yankees ending their playoff hopes on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays, we look forward to the off-season and free agency.

There will be plenty of movement for the Bombers in their pitching rotation and the batting order, especially with multiple players hitting FA. In the rotation, they have James Paxton, JA Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka all on expiring deals, so it will be interesting to see how the Yankees address the pitching unit’s bolstering.

They will also be gaining back several injured starters, including Luis Severino, Domingo German, and relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle.

Trevor Bauer sweepstakes:

One pitcher, the Yankees, could target is Reds’ star, Trevor Bauer. The former Cleveland Indian had a stellar 2020 campaign, finishing with a 1.73 ERA over 11 games. His 100 strikeouts were impressive over 73 innings, despite having a tough 2019 season, having played with Cleveland and Cincinnati, he bounced back in a big way with the Reds.

During the Tampa series, Bauer stated that the Yankees could use starting pitching, and he has been making his rounds through each team that could target him on the open market, via social media.

While Cole and Bauer have a tumultuous history, pairing them together would make the Yankees one of the best teams when it comes to starting pitching. Behind Cole and Bauer, they would theoretically have Severino, German, Jordan Montgomery, and Deivi Garcia.

Home runs or death for the Yankees:

The Yankees have been knocked out of the postseason for three consecutive years, despite having plenty of talent to reach the World Series. It has now been over a decade since they’ve reached the end goal, and their issue is primarily on their analytical perspective.

The Yankees have stuck to their guns and favored home run hitting players at the majority of their starting positions. While hitting homers is the easiest way to put runs on the board, cold streaks severely dampen their potential. Getting on base and playing small ball is effective, and the Rays did that well during the series.

Adding a bit more speed and high contact hitters could be a good move this off-season. Especially since the Yankees sluggers continue to deal with injured every year.

Rays troll Yankees in celebration:

The Tampa Bay Rays made their celebration known by blasting “New York, New York” over the loudspeakers. The celebration is a representative of the hostility between the two during the regular season.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, they couldn’t enjoy the luxury of winning this time around, and as stated above, it has been quite some time since they have. Adding the necessary pieces, this off-season is essential if they wish to compete realistically for a World Series appearance of 2021.

Results and Takeaways from Bellator’s first event in France

Yesterday, Bellator became the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. MMA was just legalized in France early in 2020, but the pandemic through a wrench in the plans of all promotions who wanted to host events there.

After resuming action a couple of months ago, Bellator made it a priority to host an event in Paris. They were able to work out the logistics and put on some pretty good fights yesterday. The Bellator action came in waves.

The first wave of action came in the form of Bellator 248. That event was headlined by the catchweight matchup between Michael “Venom” Page (18-1) and Ross Houston (8-1, 1 NC). Page was looking to make a statement to try to get a rematch with Bellator champion, Douglas Lima.

The second wave of action featured the homecoming for French heavyweight, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC). Kongo fought in a rematch against Tim Johnson (15-6) who was looking to avenge his knockout loss to Kongo which happened back in 2018.

Bellator 248 Results & Takeaways

The first headliner featured a rather lackluster main event for Bellator. While there seemed to be so much promise in the MVP fight against Ross Houston, there was a lack of action. The first round started out really well for Houston.

Houston came right out and was able to land an early takedown. He was able to control Page for the majority of the first. The second round saw Page land a takedown of his own. He rode out the round landing a few shots from the top, but seemed content with just holding control.

In the final round, both men threw strikes from the outside. Neither fighter landed anything significant, but Page landed the majority of the shots. In the end, the first Bellator main event was given to Page. Following the win, I wouldn’t be shocked if Page got a rematch with Douglas Lima after winning his fourth in a row.

The second Bellator main event featured the heavyweight clash between Kongo and Johnson. Johnson was going to need to use his grappling to win the fight, and that is exactly what he did. In the first, he caught a Kongo kick and took the Frenchman down and controlled him.

The second round was much better for Kongo. He was able to use the clinch to land some good shots, but nothing serious landed. The final round saw a ton of clinch work, but Johnson held control for most of the round. Two of the judges gave the fight to Johnson earning him the split decision.

It was an exciting day for Bellator, but unfortunately the action failed to live up to the hype. Johnson won his third fight in a row this year and might be close to getting a Bellator heavyweight title match. Page is likely going to get a welterweight title fight after winning his fourth in a row.

NASCAR Cup Series Preview: Bank of America Roval 400 (Charlotte)

The twists and turns of the NASCAR Playoffs descend upon…the twists and turns of Charlotte Motor Speedways’ famous “roval”.

What: Bank of America Roval 400
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Concord, NC
When: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC

Precipitation has left its mark on sports’ playoff proceedings. Snow has regularly blanketed Green Bay Packers playoff games at Lambeau Field. New York Jets fans are still haunted by their loss in the “Mud Bowl”, where South Floridian rains decimated the Orange Bowl field prior to their 14-0 defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins in the 1983 AFC title game.

Now, rain in North Carolina could have a significant role in how the NASCAR Cup Series playoff picture shakes out.

Storms often force NASCAR events to be put on hold, but special rain tires and setups will be on-hand as the premier Cup Series prepares to hold an elimination race at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “Roval”…a half-oval, half-road course behemoth featuring 17 turns that have made and broken playoff fortunes. After Sunday’s race, four races will remain on the 2020 Cup Series schedule. Four drivers from the remaining field of a dozen drivers will be eliminated from championship contention, giving way to the Round of 8 that gets underway at Kansas next weekend. Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin have clinched their spots into the next round through prior Round of 12 wins at Las Vegas and Talladega respectively. But six other spots are up for grabs as the season hits its twilight stages.

The potential for rain in the forecast only raises the potential for postseason chaos. Saturday’s Xfinity Series event was run in a storm and featured numerous incidents that shaped their own cutdown from 12 to 8 playoff drivers. Former Cup regular AJ Allmendinger wound up taking the victory.

Aric Almirola is one of the drivers on the outside of the advancement picture. At 48 points out, Almirola more than likely needs to win to keep his championship hopes alive. But he welcomes any form of additional chaos to the Roval setting, feeling confident he can avoid the pandemonium to earn his first win of the season.

“I think for us at this point the more chaos the better. It creates more opportunities and more chances for other people to have bad races and for us to capitalize on that,” said the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in a conference call earlier this week. “Where we’re at in points, if we have a bad race, so what? We are currently not in a position to make it anyway so we have to win. If there is rain or something else that is going to create more chaos and potential for more wrecks and more attrition, then that could potentially work out in our favor.”

The Track

First Cup Series Race: 2018
Length: 2.28 miles (109 laps, 248 miles)
Most Wins: Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott (1)

The Roval is contained within the infield of the de facto hub of NASCAR at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which sits a 20-minute drive away from the Hall of Fame. It contains portions of the traditional oval with the interior turns, its most treacherous being its chicane (a serpentine curve) in the backstretch. It has created an optimum spot for passing, but has also increased the potential for big wrecks.

They Said It

“We all care and I wouldn’t be continuing to go to the race track each and every week and pouring my heart and soul into this and taking time away from my family if I didn’t care. Obviously, there’s M&M’s and Interstate Batteries and Toyota and everybody else on my race car and at Joe Gibbs Racing that supports us that works as hard as they do and my team and my crew chief and all my guys, they don’t spend the time and effort that they do each and every week and all year long for the years that we’ve been together for one of us not to care. That’s tongue in cheek talk and should be known as that coming from me obviously, I say a lot of dumb s***. It is what it is and we’re going to go on into this week and fight like hell and try to make it through.”-Kyle Busch, 21 points from the cutoff, on his previous claim that he “didn’t care” about making the next round. 

“We had a really good season so far. To me, my focus won’t shift to the Round of 8. I’m still going to put in the same amount of work this week getting ready for the Roval as I would if I wasn’t locked in. But certainly, the stress level will be less. Certainly, we can be a little bit more aggressive with our strategy calls starting at the beginning of the race.”-Denny Hamlin on how he’s approaching the Roval 

Three To Watch

Chase Elliott (Starting 2nd)

If anyone was pleased about the inclusion of a record six road courses on the 2021 Cup Series schedule, it was Elliott. His No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has been at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the last three road course events, including the most recent Roval event last fall. After a rollercoaster postrace session at Talladega last week…his fifth-place finish was rescinded then retained after possible rules violation…Elliott is relatively safe in the standings (44 points ahead of the cutoff), so he has some extra freedom in terms of strategies to protect his title. The No. 9 has had a strong season as is, but a strong display of power could well come at the Roval. 

Alex Bowman (Starting 5th)

Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate received some big news this week, as he’ll be the lucky driver taking over the iconic No. 48 Chevrolet upon Jimmie Johnson’s retirement at the end of the year. Bowman still has a chance to end his time in his current No. 88 incarnation on a most victorious note. He’s 22 points ahead of elimination and has finished in the top five in each of the first two Roval events (including a runner-up finish behind Elliott last season).

Clint Bowyer (Starting 11th)

Bowyer’s situation is almost a Bizzaro version of Bowman. Earlier this week, Bowyer announced that he be retiring from the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford at the end of the season to join Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage. He’s 38 points from the next round after a tough prior two races, but he likewise is riding a streak of good luck at the Roval, having finished in the top five in each of the first two events (he and Bowman are the only two to do so). Bowyer’s also had considerable success on road courses, having finished no worse than 11th in all but one of the past nine events held on such tracks.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Giants moving toward benching Julian Love?

New York Giants, Julian Love

One of Patrick Graham’s best attributes is making adjustments to improve his unit. The New York Giants’ defense has been stellar through four weeks, despite an anomaly in week three against the San Francisco 49ers where the offense simply couldn’t stay on the field. A lopsided time of possession metric indicates that the defense was simply overwhelmed and broke toward the end of the third quarter.

Nonetheless, the defense still ranks 13th in overall points allowed and fifth in yards allowed per game. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is a major reason for their recent success, despite many going into the year, thinking it would be a weakness.

Graham has made several changes to his roster in recent weeks, including factoring out Devante Downs at linebacker, benching cornerback Corey Ballentine, and taking reps away from starting free safety Julian Love.

Love start of the season at free safety, with Antoine Bethea leaving the team in free agency after the 2019 season. Up to this point, he has played in 81% of defensive snaps, but that is quickly decreasing with the return of Adrian Colbert, according to North Jersey Media Group’s Zack Rosenblatt.

Colbert is a former San Francisco 49ers cornerback and also has experience with the Miami Dolphins. His experience in Graham’s scheme should help the unit moving forward.

The Giants made a strange move in week 4, though, scheming Julian Love out of their game-plan and inserting Adrien Colbert at free safety to help fill the void of Jabrill Peppers. Love only played in 17 of 60 total defensive snaps. Per PFF, Colbert finished the contest with a 76.4 tackling grade and played five snaps in the box.

“He’s a guy who comes to work every day, plays with a high motor,” Judge said. “I think he’s making some plays for us. He’s been flying around with high energy, he’s good for the defense out there, he’s good for the team just being a good team player.”

Colbert is likely to earn a majority of the reps on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in week five. Colbert can sit back in the deep secondary and operate at his ideal position with Peppers slated to return to his normal role at strong safety.

In this scenario, Love will return to his utility-man role and fill needs as Graham sees fit.

New York Giants and Jets tied for worst offense going into week five

New York Jets, New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are set to take on the Dallas Cowboys on the road while the Jets will face the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium, but both teams are tied in one key statistic. That statistic is total offensive yards and both teams are tied for dead last in it. The Giants and the Jets both have 1,112 yards in this category, a fitting stat considering the 0-4 status of both New York teams.

Both teams are dealing with injured high profile running backs. Saquon Barkley is out for the season with an ACL tear, while the Jets are only just now bringing Le’veon Bell off the injured reserve list. And in another similarity, both teams have staff figures on the hot seat. In the case of the Giants, it’s Dave Gettleman, while the Jets are likely to fire head coach Adam Gase – it doesn’t seem to be a matter of if, but when.

Gase only has a 1-10 record in the months of September and October since taking over as the Jets head coach, and both New York franchises have battled for most of this season to avoid the bottom spot in league power rankings. Both are projected to select within the top three of the draft, and if things keep going like this, the first two selections could both belong to New York teams.

And for the Giants, the question isn’t whether to remove new head coach Joe Judge, but whether or not Dave Gettleman should keep his job for another year. Gettleman is the architect of the current Giants team and has had time and money to bring in his desired players. But the results haven’t shown yet. Still, firing the GM resets the clock on a rebuild.

The NFC East: Worst division in football?

The Giants might be one of the worst teams in the league right now, but the NFC East in general isn’t in great shape this year. It’s led by the Eagles, who have a 1-2-1 record, and both Washington and Dallas have 1-3 records and multi-week losing streaks. In fact, the Giants’ clash with the Cowboys today will pit a four game losing streak against a two game streak. Washington, on the other hand, has lost their last three.

While the Giants are tied for the worst offense in the league in terms of total yardage, they’re joined by Washington and Philadelphia in the bottom five in the yards per game category. The total yardage stat isn’t friendly to either of these teams also. The Cowboys are the leader in both categories but that hasn’t helped them in wins, as their record shows.

Because of this, the Giants haven’t been entirely eliminated from contention in the division – but unless they get it together soon, their hopes of turning it around this season are dependent on the rest of the NFC East continuing to perform like the worst division in football.