Why the New York Giants found their answer in Joe Judge

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants‘ 1-6 record doesn’t tell the full story of their season, in fact, a mirage would be a better way to perceive things. When ownership hired Joe Judge to lead the team into the future, they anticipated positive progress, and if anything, we have seen the Giants fight and develop in a number of ways.

Defensively, the Giants have taken significant steps in the right direction, as they currently rank 14th in points allowed per game. Offensively, the team has been abysmal, ranking 31st in the league, averaging 17.4 points per game.

While the team as a whole has struggled and they have collapsed in the fourth quarter on multiple occasions, the establishment of new schematics on offense can be tumultuous, which is exactly what has set the Giants back. Jason Garrett has struggled to implement his scheme over the first seven weeks, but his unit has taken marginal steps forward.

Quarterback Daniel Jones’ turnover problems, the offensive line’s youth and lack of continuity, and the injury to Saquon Barkley have all severely limited the offense’s capabilities.

The reality is — Judge has inherited a team full of holes and deficiencies, but the cultural changes he’s put in place are already bubbling to the surface. Despite losing six of their last seven games, the team still feels confident they’re close to turning the corner and turning some of these close losses into victories.

Even reserve running-back Wayne Gallman said he feels far more confident in the current team than one from year’s past.

They have lost four of their six defeats by eight points or less, indicating the Giants are simply bad at finishing. Week seven’s loss to the Eagles was a compound of late-game penalties and bad drops by TE Evan Engram, but the team was very much in the contest and fought until the final moments.

The New York Giants made a good choice with Joe Judge:

Reflecting on the hiring process, the Giants interviewed several candidates for their vacant head coaching position, but looking over at NFC East Rival, the Dallas Cowboys, they took one hard look at Mike McCarthy and elected to take go with his modernized approach.

Through seven weeks, McCarthy and the Cowboys are 2-6 and are crumbling at the seams, as the players and coaching staff blame one another for their lack of intensity.

When looking at the Giants and Judge, we can derive several things:

1.) They don’t lack intensity

2.) They have boughten into the system

3.) The players respect Joe Judge

4.) The players know they aren’t far off

5.) Progress has been made on both sides of the ball

6.) Respect for the coaching staff

It will take time for the plan in place to come to fruition, but this time around feels different than the ones from years past, notably Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur’s establishments. Hopefully, by the end of the 2020 season, we will see a team representative of the blue-collar workers from New York, to quote Judge.

Yankees: Ranking the positions that need to be addressed this offseason

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees are in for an interesting off-season after being knocked out of the postseason in the ALCS. With World Series expectations heading into the 2020 season, the Yankees found themselves dealing with injuries and inconsistencies during the campaign.

Losing sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge for large chunks certainly didn’t help, as well as starting pitcher James Paxton and Luis Severino. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help their progression and consistency, but good teams find ways to supplement deficiencies.

Just take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays, who have a fraction of the salary the Yankees do, and are currently fighting for a World Series title. There is no question the Yankees need to find solutions at multiple positions, but which ones are they?

Ranking the weakest positions for the New York Yankees:

1.) Starting pitching

Starting pitching is going to be a big issue for the Yankees this off-season, as they are set to lose Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ.

With three starters coming off the books, it opens up plenty of salary for GM Brian Cashman to go out and sign a few capable players. While Cashman could look to retain Paxton or Tanaka, it is possible they want fresh blood with more reliable health histories.

There are a few elite starters on the market, including Cincinnati Reds star Trevor Bauer. The rumors will be flowing this off-season, but I imagine the Yankees will sign a quality number two to pair with Gerrit Cole. We mustn’t forget about Severino’s return and Domingo German, given the Yanks give him the green light to make a comeback after his justified consequences following a domestic abuse case.

2.) Relief pitching

The Yankees relief pitching is one of the bigger mysteries on the team. They have the quality arms to show but simply haven’t been able to remain consistent. For example, Adam Ottavino finished the 2020 season with a 5.89 ERA, allowing 12 runs over 18.1 innings.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cashman tried and unload a player like Otto, who struggled this past season but dominated in 2019 with a 1.90 ERA. It seems like other teams have figured out a way to hit him, or lack of confidence played into his poor performance.

Nonetheless, the Yankees will back Tommy Kahnle at the midway point in 2021 (Tommy John), but I imagine they will likely have to sign an additional relief arm to bolster the bullpen.

3.) Leftfield

Leftfield is the big conundrum for the Yankees moving forward, as they have a decision to go with Brett Gardner, their veteran workhorse, or Clint Frazier, their young and developing stud. After a tumultuous 2019 season for Frazier, he has bounced back massively and is a Gold Glove finalist.

I believe the Yankees will stick with Frazier in left field for the future, but since we don’t know for sure, we have to list this position as a potential tossup.

4.) Rotational outfielder

As stated above, the Yankees have a decision to make with Gardner, who has a $10 million option for the 2021 season. He will be 37 years old, and Cashman could elect to buy him out at 2.5 million. Considering his value to the team and consistent health, I believe the Yankees will retain Gardner and insert Frazier as the everyday starter.

I’m not ruling out the possibility that Cashman wants a cheaper and younger rotational option in the outfield, and considering the Yankees’ financial struggles this season due to COVID, saving the extra cash could be enticing.

Four plays that decided the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday fate vs. the NY Jets

It wasn’t pretty, but the Buffalo Bills got back in the win column with a win over their divisional rivals in East Rutherford.

The Buffalo Bills’ latest Sunday endeavor was all about the Bass.

Rookie kicker Tyler Bass booted a team-record six field goals on eight attempts, while their defense allowed only four yards in the second half. The offensive performance left a touchdown to be desired, but the Bills (5-2) were able to earn an 18-10 decision over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Buffalo got back to the win column after consecutive losses. They trailed 10-6 at the halftime break, but shutout the Jets in the latter portion while Bass booted his triples.

“I think for us, figuring out how they were going to attack us, really helped us out,” defender Jerry Hughes said of the halftime shift, per Matt Bove of WBKW-TV. “Working with our coaching staff, everything really just fell perfectly into place in the second half.”

ESM looks back on four big plays, one from each quarter, that shaped Buffalo’s present or future…for better or worse.

1st Quarter: Double Order of Buffalo Swing

Early in the game, the Bills appeared to be channeling the late, great, fictional Admiral Gial Ackbar by silently declaring “It’s a trap…game!”.

Somewhat rejuvenated by the return of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, the Bills allowed the Jets to infiltrate the red zone, as the green New Jerseyans were 17 yards away from the end zone on their opening drive. It was a process, but the Jets’ early momentum took a massive hit on one play involving two key defenders.

A shared seven-yard sack from AJ Epensa and Trent Murphy stopped the Jets’ aspirations for a red zone touchdown before they ever truly began. Still getting his rhythm back, Darnold could only muster an eight-yard pass to Breshad Perriman and a failed attempt to Denzel Mims, unable to take advantage of five free yards afforded back to them on a Buffalo offsides penalty. The Jets left that drive with a field goal, missing out on a chance to score a touchdown and truly establish early momentum.

2nd Quarter: Diggs with the Bigs

Diggs failed to recapture his early momentum, held to under 50 yards receiving for the second straight game. But the receptions he did make on Sunday…nabbing six for 48 yards…proved that his sense of clutch play was one of the many reasons the Bills traded for the former Minnesota playoff hero.

With the Jets having done the unthinkable in not only scoring a touchdown but also building a two-possession lead at 10-0, the Bills were facing a seven-yard third down at their own 38, sending the Jets’ invisible crowd into a frenzy. Covered by Pierre Desir, who was later called for an illegal contact penalty, Diggs took a short pass from Josh Allen and was able to produce nine yards en route to a vital first down. The penalty was declined, and the Bills would later enjoy the first of Bass’ six field goals on the afternoon.

Diggs would later come up big in the trek to another Bass finisher, earning a 12-yard gain in the third quarter that shrank the Jets’ lead to 10-9.

3rd Quarter: Tyler’s Burden

By the end of Sunday’s affair, Bass had missed nearly as many kicks in his rookie campaign as former specialist staple Steven Hauschka had in each of the last two seasons (having posted matching postings of 22-of-28 in 2018-19). Some even felt that Bass’ job could’ve been on the line prior to Sunday’s proceedings, but it’ll be hard to do that when he just tied a team record also held by 1990s hero Steve Christie.

Bass did miss two more field goals on the afternoon, but he managed to permanently give Buffalo the lead with a 37-yard boot after he failed to tighten things up at the end of the half.

Bass later remarked that it was the words of head coach Sean McDermott that kept his hopes up during a very trying process.

“Coach always talks about character,” Bass said, per Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News. “It’s really not about how many you make. It’s about what you do after a miss, after something goes wrong. Anyone can handle stuff when things are easy. It’s just about when something goes wrong, how do you handle that? You don’t let it define you. You just trust everything you’ve done in practice that week.”

4th Quarter: Coming Up Hughes

The Bills saw several players come up big in Sunday’s victory. On offense, Cole Beasly earned new career-bests (11 receptions, 112 yards) while Tyler Kroft (6 receptions, 84 yards) stood up for a depleted tight end group. Defensively, however, the usual suspects rose to the occasion, particularly on the final drive of the game.

Despite sheer domination in the second half, the Jets’ offense still had a chance to send the game into overtime by getting the ball back with a mere eight-point deficit. But the defense shut down any hope of a comeback through a vital effort from Hughes.

Still seeking the proper respect one of the most consistent names in the league should garner, Hughes opened the drive by swarming the backfield and sacking Darnold. A dangerous hit from Micah Hyde on Breshad Perriman gave the Jets 15 free yards, but more Hughes pressure forced Darnold into a desperate interception, one that commenced the Buffalo celebration. The interception was made possible by a deflection from Quinton Jefferson.

“What are the odds that you have a ball floating around in the D-line territory?” Hughes said with a smile of his big moment, per Jason Wolf of The Buffalo News. “So why not grab it, run around with it, try to score? Let’s have some fun. But certainly, got to get down so we can end that game.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags