New York Giants: Logan Ryan has family on both sides of Eagles rivalry

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

The New York Giants are set to take on the Eagles in a regional rivalry game on Thursday Night Football, and this one will pit a lot of families against each other.

The Giants and the Eagles play within close proximity of each other compared to some other divisional rivalries and the state of New Jersey is largely split between the two when it comes to fandom. That means some extra bragging rights are at stake for the Giants players who come from the state.

One of those players is recent addition Logan Ryan. When Ryan was signed to the Giants, it was just about a perfect fit. Not just because the team needed another defensive back, but because Ryan himself is from New Jersey and finally received the chance to play for his hometown team.

But all of Ryan’s friends and family? Well, not all of them will be rooting for him on Thursday night.

“I didn’t grow up too far away. I definitely have some family members that grew up Eagles fans. I understand the rivalry in this division, I grew up in it,” Ryan said to reporters on Tuesday.

“I grew up watching all these Giants games, Eagles games. [I] Bleed blue right now, this is where I wake up early every day and put it on for them. My teammates support me, and the coaches support me. I’m bleeding blue all day for this one. I’m excited to upset a lot of family and friends who may be watching. If they’re not on my side, they’re on the wrong side.”

The Eagles started bringing fans back into the stadium with the last game, and fans will once again be allowed for the game against the Giants. It means Ryan might just have some familiar faces in the stands, and not just watching from at home.

That should serve as a motivating factor for Ryan, who has already proven to be a big player in the secondary so far. With 39 combined tackles so far and one forced fumble, Giants fans can hope the extra motivation pushes Ryan to improve his stats even further.

New York Jets trade OLB Jordan Willis to the San Francisco 49ers

New York Jets, Jordan Willis

The fire sale continues! The New York Jets have now traded promising edge rusher Jordan Willis to the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets will get back another 2022 6th Round Selection while parting ways with Wllis and a 7th this season.

Willis has only played 42 snaps this season, and was even in active the last three games. Despite that, he has displayed promise. Since being drafted to Cinncinati in 2017, Willis has displayed potential with a total of 52 tackles, 8 TFL’s and 3.0 sacks. This is a move that provides the 49era more depth at a position that has been decimated by injuries this season. As for the Jets, this is only a sign of more to come.

As I previously noted, with some veterans on cheap deals, teams that are willing to part with a mid rounder could entice Joe Douglas. Calling this a full-blown fire sale is still a stretch on my end, but a fire sale would not be an awful idea.

The team would have more draft flexibility and more cap room while also providing some younger players an opportunity to get in game reps. As for the veterans, this lets them out of the awful coaching staff’s grips and gives them a shot to rebuild their stock. With the team continuing to flounder and reportedly, ”Tanking for Trevor”, there is no end in sight to the roster upheaval coming.

New York Giants: Injury-riddled Eagles give Giants a chance to win again in Week 7

The New York Giants are coming off of their first win of the 2020 NFL season. New York beat the division-rival Washington Football team en route to its first win in Week Six. Now, in Week Seven, the Giants are preparing to play their third-straight divisional game on their schedule.

After losing to Dallas then beating Washington, the Giants are now traveling to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. With a win this week, the Giants can enter their hat in the playoff race and tie for first in the NFC East.

The Eagles, while having a poor 1-4-1 record, are the favorites to win on Thursday night. But Philadelphia’s pile of injuries could give the Giants a chance to upset their rivals on prime time.

Philadelphia’s Injuries

Key starters on both sides of the ball will be OUT on Thursday night for Philadelphia. Starting running back Miles Sanders, tight end Zack Ertz, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey are all out this week, leaving quarterback Carson Wentz without his best playmakers.

On defense, safety K’Von Wallace is out, as well as defensive tackle Malik Jackson. Philadelphia also has other key players dealing with injuries that have not been officially ruled out yet but could struggle if they play in Week Seven. All-Pro offensive tackle Lane Johnson is one of those battered players.

The Giants’ defense has been a pleasant surprise all season long. James Bradberry and Blake Martinez have helped the unit find great success and shut down opposing offenses in both phases of the game. While Carson Wentz poses a threat, the Giants’ defense does not have much to worry about when defending against the Eagles’ offense. Head coach Doug Peterson will need to come up with a creative offensive scheme to supplement the absence of his injured players.

New York Jets: QB Sam Darnold returns to practice on Wednesday

Eager for any kind of momentum, the New York Jets are hopeful that Sam Darnold can return to action on Sunday against Buffalo.

Sam Darnold was a limited participant in New York Jets’ practice on Wednesday, returning to fields at One Jets Drive for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in an October 1 loss to Denver.

It’s unknown whether Darnold will be ready for Sunday’s rematch with the Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS), but that appears to be part of the Jets’ plans. Head coach Adam Gase described Darnold as being on a “pitch count” and that more clarity on his Week 7 status should emerge on Thursday.

“If there’s anything that lingers or anything where he’s throwing (in pain), that’s kind of his red flag of, ‘Hey, I have to let you guys know.’ We need him to be real honest,” Gase said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. “If it’s a little less reps, I’ll be all right with that. He can handle that. If it was a second-year player behind Sam, I’d be a little more concerned.”

Veteran Joe Flacco remains continues to likewise prepare to make his third consecutive start.

“Obviously, you give the priority to Sam in terms of the reps and things like that,” Flacco said about his preparation this week, according to transcripts from the Jets. “I just got to stay mentally locked in and make sure I’m going through as much of the week as I can like I’m going to play.”

Darnold has missed eight games due to injury or illness since taking over as the Jets’ quarterback in 2018. The Jets (0-6) have lost each of those games, including the last two with Flacco at the helm.

As the Jets desperately seek offensive momentum, they could be welcoming back not only Darnold, but rookie receiver Denzel Mims as well. The second-round pick out of Baylor has dealt with injuries all season, but may be poised for a return on Sunday.

“Mims had a great week of practice last week with the scout stuff that we had him doing,” Gase said, per Chris Ryan of NJ Advance Media. “This week, we’ll get him involved in the normal offensive practice and, as long as we don’t have any setbacks and nothing happens, injury-wise, for us it’s the same thing with (La’mical) Perine. Let’s get these guys in there, let’s see what they can do, let’s give him the ball, see if of these young guys can make some explosive plays.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Buffalo Bills release veteran blocker Quinton Spain

Spain, 29, was granted a three-year extension by the Buffalo Bills in March after playing every offensive down last season.

The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that offensive lineman Quinton Spain has been released. Spain, 29, spent the past two seasons in Western New York and previously inked a two-year contract extension during the offseason.

The timing of Spain’s release seems a bit questionable, as Cody Ford suffered an injury in Monday’s loss to Kansas City and Jon Feliciano remains out indefinitely after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. However, it’s possible the move could’ve been initiated by Spain himself. In a tweet posted shortly before Buffalo announced his departure, Spain posted a photo of his Audemars Piguet watch declaring it was “time for a change”. Spain did thank Bills fans and the organization for the time he spent there.

Spain joined the Bills (4-2) on a one-year deal last season after four years with the Tennesee Titans. He became one of the most consistent presciences on Buffalo’s offensive line, partaking in every offensive snap in a 10-6 campaign. In that time, he was charged with allowing only a single sack. The aforementioned extension was granted in March and was worth $15 million over three seasons.

Known as an interior blocking prescience, Spain likely won’t have to wait long to find a new home. As for the line he leaves behind, the Bills may continue to roll with former Jets starter Brian Winters at guard. It’s also possible Feliciano could be close to returning. He was originally scheduled to come off of injured reserve after Week 4, but this turned out not to be the case.

According to Over The Cap, Spain’s release puts $3.5 million in dead money on the Buffalo books but saves them $1.25 million in 2020 cap space, putting them just over $6 million in the latter.

The Bills return to action on Sunday afternoon, as they hit the road to battle the New York Jets (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC books Marlon Moraes – Rob Font (Report)

Magic Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) is looking to quickly right the wrong that happened at UFC Fight Island 5. After getting dominated by Cory Sandhagen, Moraes is hopping right back into the saddle taking on Rob Font (17-4) on December 19th.

The fight was first reported by MMA Junkie. Moraes has arguably lost three fights in a row dating back to his title shot at UFC 238. Moraes looked like a world beater before that fight and many believed that he would defeat Henry Cejudo.

Through one round of their fight, it appeared that Moraes would capture UFC gold. However, Cejudo started turning things around in the second round. Entering the third round, Moraes started to fade and Cejudo finished him before the fight got to the fourth round.

From there, Moraes fought and defeated Jose Aldo at UFC 245. However, most people who watch that fight believe that Aldo won the fight. Aldo was actually awarded a title shot despite the judges giving the fight to Moraes. Then of course Marlon was dominated by Sandhagen.

Great UFC bantamweight contest

For Rob Font, it will be the first fight for him inside the UFC‘s octagon in 2020. Font is on a two fight winning streak with impressive wins over Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon. However, Font hasn’t been the most active due to injuries.

This will only be Font’s third fight since December of 2018. If Font is able to win this contest, it would vault him into contention given his winning streak and caliber of victories. If you’re in Moraes’ camp, this fight is truly a do or die situation.

It is important for Moraes to try to get back in the win column quickly. However, if he loses again, you could make the argument that he’s lost four in a row. He wouldn’t be in danger of being cut, but it would be a steep climb back to the top.

Marcus Stroman takes shot at the New York Yankees on Twitter

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The free agent market, when it comes to starting pitching, is a bit middling. Trevor Bauer is the heaviest name and true difference-maker, top-of-the-rotation arm, but after him, there are plenty of question marks. Former New York Yankees‘ hurlers James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ will all hit the market, and ex New York Mets’ pitcher Marcus Stroman will also be available. All of them are very talented, but a cut below Bauer.

Stroman took a shot at the Yankees and their current rotation. Indeed, the Bombers fell short of advancing to the American League Championship Series in part because their starting pitching lacked quality options and depth, at least compared to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Besides (Geritt) Cole, there’s no current Yankees pitcher who will be anywhere in my league over the next five-to-seven years,” Stroman wrote on his official Twitter account. That seems to indicate he values himself more than, say, Tanaka, Paxton and Happ, not to mention Deivi Garcia and Jordan Montgomery.

“Their pitching always folds in the end. That lineup and payroll should be winning (a) World Series left and right…yet they’re in a drought. Lol.” The New York Yankees should be on the free agent (or trade) market for the services of at least one starter. It’s unclear if they will make a run at Stroman, or if the righty will consider signing to play in the Bronx.

The Yankees made a run at Stroman in 2019

The Yankees made a run at acquiring Stroman prior to the 2019 trade deadline, but a deal didn’t come to fruition. General manager Brian Cashman didn’t want to meed the Toronto Blue Jays’ asking price at the time, reportedly Clint Frazier.

“We were interested in Stroman but we didn’t think he would be a difference-maker,” Cashman said at the time, according to Wallace Matthews of Yahoo Sports. “We felt he would be in our bullpen in the postseason.”

Stroman, 29, didn’t pitch in the 2020 campaign because of coronavirus concerns. He was an All-Star in 2019, posting a 3.22 ERA in 32 starts between the Blue Jays and Mets.

3 free agents the Yankees should consider in 2021 offseason

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

After having a huge offseason last year when they snagged Gerrit Cole off the free-agent list, the New York Yankees have found themselves still having similar problems to last year’s roster. One of the main issues is pitching along with defensive adjustments. Here are three free agents the Yankees’ front office should consider when looking to fill these holes.

Trevor Bauer

One of the more obvious ones that come to the minds of Yankee fans, Trevor Bauer would be a great fit in the Yankee rotation. With the possibility of Domingo German and Masahiro Tanaka possibly not coming back next season, having Bauer and Cole as a 1A and 1B type situation would be huge for the team. That’s exactly what both 2020 World Series team have right now. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler and the Rays have Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell.

After having a dominant season and proving to be the best pitcher in the National League by far, Trevor Bauer is most likely going to win the NL Cy Young award. Because of this, he’s also probably looking to get paid this offseason. Luckily for him, the Yankees have money. There’s only one concern when it comes to Bauer wearing pinstripes: he and Cole apparently don’t along which has stemmed from when they were teammates at UCLA. However, if they got along at UCLA, they can figure it out in the Bronx too.

J.T. Realmuto

This is one of the more unlikely signings for the Yankees, however, J.T. Realmuto has proven himself to be a top-three catcher in all of baseball especially for his defense. Gary Sanchez has proven for a few years now that all he can do is hit and is clearly a defensive liability behind the plate. Yankee fans saw this when they had to start back up catcher Kyle Higashioka during the ALDS against the Rays.

Realmuto is a two-time all-star and has won two silver slugger awards in the last three years. The reason why this pickup is unlikely for the Yankees is that they already have Sanchez and Higashioka and the Phillies are also probably going to try to resign him for some good money. It’ll be interesting to see where he lands up, but the Yankees should definitely keep their options open.

Marcus Stroman

Despite not playing during the 2020 season because of a calf injury, Marcus Stroman has proven himself to be a dominant starter and a premier pitcher in the league. He also fits in well in the Yankee rotation, being an extremely solid two or three depending on if Luis Severino returns.

Stroman holds a career 3.76 ERA and because of his prior two teams (Blue Jays and Mets), his record from last season doesn’t give him justice. With the Yankee run support, Stroman’s stuff will play in the Bronx. The Yankees should definitely keep him an option judging that every other team is probably going to shop Bauer hard.

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson have big decision to make

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

There is not an ounce of doubt that New York Knicks third-year center Mitchell Robinson will flourish defensively under new head coach Tom Thibodeau.

What is more intriguing is how will Thibodeau and his staff, which is filled with player development coaches, unlock Robinson’s potential on the offensive end.

New York-based NCAA and NBA skills trainer David Zenon believes that Robinson’s underrated offense will be on display next season.

“He’s been improving his three-point shot and midrange. He’s got a good touch,” Zenon told Empire Sports Media. “I think [New York] fans are gonna be surprised at how well he’s got a good feel for the ball and shoot. That’s the most important thing for him. To be able to develop his confidence with his shot.”

Robinson has yet to attempt a three-pointer in his career. That could change next season if Thibodeau is really true to his words that he’s more than willing to bend some of his coaching philosophies and adapt to the modern NBA.

It looks like he will hold up his end of the bargain.

“What he did last year was put a lot of pressure on the rim. He’s an incredible athlete,” Thibodeau said of Robinson. “But we don’t want to put a ceiling on him. We want to continue to work on all aspects of his game and develop.”

This past season, Robinson set the record for single-season field goal percentage. His historic 74.2 field goal percentage broke Wilt Chamberlain’s previous record of 72.7 percent.

Robinson accomplished the feat despite not having the free reins on the Knicks’ offense. The young big man, who was saddled with foul woes and inconsistent minutes, finished the pandemic-shortened regular season with modest averages of 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 0.9 steals in just 23.1 minutes this season.

Hopes are high that those numbers will shoot up under Thibodeau. And the wins would come.

Zenon is one of those people who are eagerly looking forward to Robinson’s improved play next season. He has personally witnessed the hard work that the young Knicks big man has put into his game since Day One.

“I’ve worked with him since his rookie year. His trainer (Marcel Scott) from New Orleans is a good friend of mine. And when Mitch needs some workout here in New York, [Marcel] hits me up and worked out something for Mitch to do whatever he needs to do,” Zenon told Empire Sports Media. “I’ve brought him to Lifetime Fitness and to some random gyms in Westchester as well.”

Thibodeau’s history of success with big men has given more credence to Zenon’s optimism.

“I just want him to steadily improve. Defensively, Mitch is a monster. He’s a defensive maven. As for Thibs, look what he has done with his all of his bigs defensively, Joakim (Noah) especially,” Zenon said.

Under Thibodeau’s watch, Taj Gibson became an enforcer and a glue guy, and Noah transformed from an energetic role player into a Defensive Player of the Year in Chicago.

Despite Thibodeau’s ugly exit in Minnesota, Karl-Anthony Towns became an All-Star before he left.

“Mitch is more athletic than those guys. He’s able to do a lot of stuff and cover a lot of ground. I’m excited to see that side of the ball, but I think Thibs will give him a little more freedom on offense and that comes with confidence and I’m sure Mitch has it,” Zenon said.

The 22-year old Robinson figures to be an integral part of the Knicks’ future.

Interestingly, Robinson has signed with Rich Paul’s agency Klutch Sports along with Allonzo Trier last February. Trier has since been dropped while Robinson is set for an upcoming lucrative extension.

Executives around the league will closely monitor how the new Knicks front office led by former Creative Artists Agency head Leon Rose will navigate Robinson’s contract extension.

Former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager and now ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks has broken down the intriguing scenarios of Robinson’s contract extension:

“If the Knicks extend him the maximum of a projected three years, $35 million, his new salary would replace the $1.9 million cap hold for 2022. The Knicks could also amend the contract to decline his option in 2021-22 and sign him to a four-year, $50 million extension. In either scenario, New York would lose up to $10 million in cap flexibility.

However, if there is no extension in place, the Knicks could lose him for nothing because he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.”

Marks suggested that the Knicks and Robinsons’ camp should hold off contract extension talks until next summer to give the team more wiggle room to be a major player in the loaded 2021 free agency. However, it comes with a caveat.

“What the Knicks and Robinson’s representatives can do is bypass an extension this offseason and wait until the summer of 2021, when he could be a restricted free agent. By declining his $1.8 million team option in 2021, Robinson would become a restricted free agent and the Knicks could take advantage of his $1.9 million cap hold before signing him to a new contract. However, Houston did the same with forward Chandler Parsons in 2014 and was outpriced by the Mavericks.”
With the financial uncertainty around the league brought by the pandemic as a backdrop, Robinson and the Knicks have a big decision to make that will be critical in their rebuild.

New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks, the underappreciated on-base machine

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

Analytics, among other things, have helped us understand the value of certain statistics and developments in a baseball field. Now, we know that batting average isn’t the be all, end all. Taking a walk is extremely valuable for an offense. Getting on base is what starts a rally and usually results in the ultimate goal of a batting order: score runs. The New York Yankees have quite a few batters willing to take a base this way.

And that is fantastic, because they also have several sluggers and capable hitters ready to bring them home. Overall, the Yankees had one of the lowest chase rates in all baseball. They are good at laying off bad pitches and offering at good ones.

When it comes to walks and OBP, the New York Yankees have one of the very best in the major leagues in Aaron Hicks. His batting average may not be flashy at all, as he finished the short 2020 season with a .225 mark. But when you look at his OBP of .379, and you see him ranked 18th in that stat, you should be amazed at the amount of bases on balls he was able to take.

The Yankees have a good one in Hicks

Aaron Hicks, usually deployed at the third spot (he should be batting first with that on-base skills) had a 19.4 BB%, which was the third best register in MLB and the best in the American League. Only Juan Soto and Bryce Harper had a higher mark, and that’s not too shabby. Not shabby at all.

His .225/.379/.414 slash line and .351 wOBA were enough for comfortably above-average production from the Yankees’ center fielder, who finished with a 123 wRC+. In 54 games, he hit six home runs and stole two bases. His biggest contributions to the Bombers, however, was that beautiful walk percentage.

Let’s also consider the fact that this was the first season Hicks played while returning from Tommy John surgery. There is a chance that he grows more comfortable at the plate next season and his offensive output improves. He should get more appreciation as one of the Yankees’ most consistent performers.