New York Giants preparing to give opportunities to two young linebackers

carter coughlin, New York Giants

The New York Giants have sustained multiple injuries at outside linebacker, leaving Kyler Fackrell and Markus Golden as their primary pass rushers.

When the season began, they had Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines both featuring at the position, but Carter tore his Achilles against Dallas in week five, and Ximines was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder issue.

Losing Carter was a massive blow to the defense, as Dallas immediately marched downfield and used a power running scheme to overwhelm the Giants’ defense immediately after he was carted off. While Carter isn’t the type of linebacker to rack up sacks, he did a fantastic job securing the edge with his length and athleticism. The moment Golden replaced him, deficiencies became obvious.

How the New York Giants will operate at OLB moving forward:

The Giants are being forced to roll with Golden and Fackrell, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fackrell has been fantastic this season, on a one-year, $4.6 million deal. He has racked up 17 combined tackles, six tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, 2.0 sacks, and one interception in which he took for a touchdown.

Nonetheless, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will have to add more talent to the position, providing some sort of rotation with their two young guns out. That brings me to rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin, who have made solid progress this season.

Fackrell stated that both Brown and Coughlin are starting to blossom and believe they can contribute toward the defense. So far, Cam has been fantastic on special teams. The former sixth-round pick has logged two assisted tackles for the unit and has been a primary strong side gunner. His contributions there have made head coach Joe Judge happy and could lead to an extended opportunity on the defense.

“I think the one thing about special teams for young players is that it allows them to learn and adjust to the speed of the game and the physicality. And just the reactionary instincts they have to develop within the game that transfers to offense and defense as well.”

For Penn State, Brown played and 51 total games with 26 starts. He recorded 198 total tackles, including 14.5 for a loss and four forced fumbles. He has the frame to be an athletic coverage linebacker, but adding a bit more muscle mass and starting at OLB could be the Giants’ priority.

As for Carter Coughlin, who dominated at the University of Minnesota, he is more of a situational pass rusher. I don’t think he has the frame and strength to seal the edge in the running game, making him a decent option on third downs in pass-heavy sets. His thin frame and speed makes him an attractive player on creative blitzes.

I could see how Patrick Graham good find imaginative ways to activate Coughlin in his scheme. However, he lacks the experience and technicalities to produce at the NFL level. I believe Brown will receive the first shot behind Fackrell and Golden, but Coughlin could be sprinkled in situationally.

Yankees: Aaron Boone’s answer on offseason changes is not what fans wanted to hear

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees are carrying another disappointing postseason defeat into the 2021 off-season, where wholesale changes should be made at specific positions. The starting pitching rotation has been lackluster at times, especially with the loss of Luis Severino and James Paxton for all if not some of the 2020 campaign.

The bullpen also suffered injuries, with Tommy Kahnle going down due to Tommy John surgery. They were forced to utilize Jonathan Holder and a bevy of inexperienced arms. Their more reliable options, like Adam Ottavino and Chad Green, struggled to a degree. Yankee management understands that changes need to be made, but they were noncommittal to any major ones during Wednesday’s interviews.

“As much as we constantly are going to try to improve here, and there’s going to be tweaks to the roster as a result of that, I think it’s also important to note just how still close we are to being the last team standing,” Boone said Wednesday. “I understand the frustrations of the fan base, but I think if you really look at it, it’s razor thin, the difference between us and say the team that’s going to win the World Series this year.”

Boone mentions slight tweaks, insisting that the current roster is more than capable of reaching the World Series and walking away victorious. While some agree, the consistent injuries to their sluggers have created a lack of confidence within the fan base.

However, it doesn’t start and end with the injuries, it comes down to inconsistent play across the board. Great teams have consistent pitching in all phases and reliable batters. The Yankees fluctuated from double-digit run games to barely making a dent on offense. That is simply unacceptable in the postseason when teams like the Rays present a much more consistent threat.

“Ultimately, we ran up against a team that was better,” Cashman said. “They proved in a marathon of 60 games that they were better. And then they proved in the sprint of the Division Series that they were better.”

The Rays put up an admirable fight against the Yankees, overcoming them in five games. The Yankees did their best, with a much higher payroll and more star talent. The Rays, who rely on analytics and small ball walked away victorious, showing the Yankees that their system is still flawed.

Significant moves are required this off-season, as the Yankees need another premier starting pitcher and a consistent option at catcher. Management was committed to giving Gary Sanchez more time to bounce back and find his rhythm, but their responses did not suggest any major moves were coming.

Hopefully, it’s simply a tactic and they will be active during the hot stove months.

Le’Veon Bell: The wrong man to open the purge of the New York Jets

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

Necessary changes are coming to the New York Jets. Bidding Le’Veon Bell farewell, while merciful, wasn’t the right way to start them.

In the 2001 children’s picture Monsters Inc., a monster armed with the voice of Brooklyn native Steve Buscemi tells a one-eyed green creature voiced by The Bronx-raised Billy Crystal to be wary of “the winds of change“.

Another green monstrosity felt them blow on Tuesday night.

As professional football fans enjoyed a rare excursion on the second day of the week, the Jets opted to end Le’Veon Bell’s New York journey after 17 games, 863 rushing yards, $27 million in guaranteed money, and countless rumored feuds with head coach Adam Gase. Bell joined the Jets on a four-year deal during the 2019 offseason.

The Jets’ perpetual rebuild has somehow fallen into a deep abyss, one that has them at 0-5 (the losses coming by an average margin of over two touchdowns) and on a collision course with NFL infamy. Combine that with a plethora of free agents on the horizon and the mere thought of keeping the status quo would be lunacy. But for Bell’s status as the modern Jets’ first sacrifice to the football gods is a slap in the face to successful gridiron reboots and rebuilds everywhere.

Granted, Bell’s four-year, $52.5 million contract will likely go down in the same sentence as the deals bestowed to expensive, unproductive endeavors like Trumaine Johnson and Neil O’Donnell. Should Bell return to the elite form displayed in Pittsburgh, his image in green can probably be stored in the same folder as photos of Randy Moss in the Oakland Raiders’ colors.

But what the Jets’ latest transaction shows is a dedication to a regime that’s not working.

For as much as Bell floundered in New York, his 17 games in green don’t take away his glory days between 2013 and 2017 in Pittsburgh, ones that saw him finish third in the NFL in rushing yards in that span. But Bell is a rare New York representative that knows about success at the highest level in football. That’s also why Frank Gore, who is set to take over the top rushing duties in the Jets’ backfield, is still valuable at 37 years old. But the Jets now have the audacity to turn down the services of a top player still lingering in his prime while unproven names continue to steer the franchise ship.

Irony was perhaps best defined on Tuesday night by the fact that Gase, careening toward Rich Kotite status, remains employed by the same Jets team that granted Bell his walking papers. Further ironic hijinks also came from a rare sanctioned NFL game on Tuesday as well. As Bell was let go, a former Gase pupil helped move his team to 4-0 by guiding them to four touchdowns. That player, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, was subjected to countless “make-or-break” seasons under Gase’s watch in Miami. He has since established himself as the franchise quarterback for a Titans squad living up to the hype of their AFC title game appearance last season (when they’re not dealing with the ongoing health crisis, that is).

 (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The release of Bell thus sets a troubling precedent: the Jets appear all too willing to commit to a regime that’s only trending downward.

Tannehill isn’t even the only former practitioner of a Gase offense to find success elsewhere. Robby Anderson, for example, only spent a year under him but is on pace for career-best numbers in Carolina. Kenyan Drake has emerged as a security blanket for Kyler Murray in Arizona. If the Jets aren’t careful, more of their fleeting silver linings could venture out for greener pastures (oh, you know what we mean).

Under Gase, the Jets have lost some of their best, most recognizable players. Guys on a team desperate silver linings perhaps look at the Bell news and can’t help but think that they’re next. For example, if the Jets are willing to part ways with a proven, expensive talent like Bell, and allow Gase’s tenure to continue, who’s to say Sam Darnold, whose NFL journey is rife with uncertainty, isn’t next?

It’s not even guys on the current roster that might be most concerning. The Jets are blessed with strong cap space in time for the 2021 offseason. But what big-name free agent in their right mind is going to look at Bell’s tumultuous time in New York and declare “yeah…I want in on that”? It’s the type of move that’s going to have a ripple effect across several years…only this time, the waves could well sink the Jets further into the abyss.

The arrival of Gase and his staff wasn’t going to lead to wins immediately. Even with Tom Brady’s highly-publicized departure from the AFC East and expanded wild card capital, asking the Jets to reach the 2020 playoffs was going to be a tall task. But the 2020 season, one that gets no easier with a rescheduled visit to Miami on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS), has instead become one long vote of confidence to a staff that’s in over their heads and dragging the players down with them.

General manager Joe Douglas has a bit of a longer leash in this process. After all, it wasn’t he who added Bell, that honor instead going to Mike Maccagnan, one the latters final decisions before a most unusual firing after the draft. But Gase and company have to be on thin ice. His offensive ranking are at or near the NFL’s nadir. Promising prospects have regressed while others have been forced to wallow in obscurity. For example, the Jets appeared to have high hopes for fourth-round La’Mical Perine, and an opportunity appeared to open when Bell went down with an injury in Week 1. Carries instead when to the 37-year-old Gore, whose status beyond 2020 was always in question after inking a one-year deal this offseason.

New York Jets, Adam Gase

With the exception of the Jets improbable 6-2 finish to cap off the 2019 season, mostly earned against teams that were either resting players or were somehow more lost than they were, Gase and his staff have instill little hope in building anything successful, other than their case for the top overall draft pick next spring. Fans immediately came to adore the brash Gregg Williams in the defensive coordinator spot, but his unit has been equally guilty, as his unit ranks 25th in total defense this season.

Yet, it feels like the entire Gase era has been one long extension of a vote of confidence. It happened at his introduction, it happened when the Jets started off 1-7 last season, it continues to happen as 2020 continues to present more horrifying surprises.

The playoffs are obviously long removed from any form of New York football conversation. But the last 11-12 weeks of the season may mean everything to the Jets’ on-field representatives. Time will only tell how long the Gase experiment is allowed to continue, but some of these players could be playing for their football livelihoods, whether it’s with the Jets or elsewhere. If anything, it provides meaning to otherwise meaningless contests, starting with the adjusted matchup against the Dolphins on Sunday.

After all, if Le’Veon Bell isn’t safe in this system…how can they be?

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags