Rams’ Sean McVay has glowing review of Giants’ Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

New York Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones has been everything but consistent this season. After a tough outing against the San Francisco 49ers in week three, he is looking to bounce back against the Los Angeles Rams in week four.

Jones was lackluster, at best, against the 49ers, completing just 53% of his passes for 179 yards and one interception. He didn’t take a single snap in the red zone, which is quite embarrassing, considering injuries gashed the 49ers. As a second-year quarterback, most expected him to take a significant leap forward in his progression. Still, injuries and a lack of protection from the offensive line have been his downfall, as it was for Eli Manning several years ago.

Despite Jones‘s inability to put together lively offensive performances, the blame can be spread around equally for the team’s failures. Nonetheless, Rams’ head coach Sean McVay had a glowing review for Jones, who still has plenty of time to leave his mark in the NFL and become an adequate quarterback.

“I remember the first real exposure I had to Daniel was when we crossed over when [the Giants] beat the Bucs last year when we were getting ready for them in Week 4,” McVay said during a Wednesday conference call, per Dan Benton of the Giants Wire. “Man, did he play really well. I was so impressed with his poise, his ability to make plays down the stretch. His ability to extend plays, the athleticism.

While McVay will never say anything bad about his opponent, it is nice to see him recall specifics about the Giants’ young passer. McVay has a photographic memory to a degree, recalling anything related to football and the relevant specifics.

“You see it with a couple of zone reads that he had [in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers]. I’ve also been impressed with his ability to just show the athleticism by keeping plays alive in the pocket, out of the pocket. Coach [Jason] Garrett always does a nice job of being able to accentuate guys skill sets – I think this a part of the league as a quarterback. But Daniel has a really bright future and I’ve seen enough film of him to feel pretty strongly about that.”

One thing that Sean touches on that has been inspiring is Jones’ ability to make something out of nothing. He can escape the pocket with his legs and make plays on the move, but the Giants simply haven’t done him any favors in the passing game, and their lack of separation has been appalling. In fact, the Giants are successfully ruining Jones early on in his career, with a lack of weapons and protection. In addition, the running game has been virtually nonexistent, as Jones led the team in week three with 49 rushing yards. Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallmann, and Dion Lewis combined for just 17 yards on 10 carries last week.

If the Giants really wish to see Jones blossom and hit his peak, they must do something to elevate his probability of success. So far, they are trending down a questionable path, and there is no end in sight.

One heroic performance saved the Yankees from potential doom

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

If not for DJ LeMahieu’s two outs single in the ninth inning, the New York Yankees would have given the Cleavland Indians one more chance to walk away with a victory. Of course, extra innings were possible at that point, despite the game going six hours due to a rain delay early on. Overall, the contest was full of strange factors and decisions on both sides, but it was an instant classic, with the Yankees securing the Wild Card series 10-9.

However, LeMahieu wasn’t the hero of the day, despite his single in the ninth-inning. In fact, it was third baseman Gio Urshela, who finished the evening with two hits over five at-bats. While that might not spark your imagination, Urshela utilized one of those hits to clear the fence and drive in four runs for a grand slam. He is currently hitting .333 over two games in the postseason.

Gio Urshela stated following the New York Yankees’ win on Wednesday evening:

“That was one of the best games I ever played in my life.”

Aroldis Chapman further stated, “Gio saved the game.”

When the Yankees acquired Urshela from the Toronto Blue Jays two years ago, nobody thought he would become such an integral part of the team. Many believed the move flew under the radar, as the Yankees offered Toronto cash considerations for his talents. Earlier that year, he was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians and was only hitting .233 at a time over 46 plate appearances.

Fast forward to the present day, Urshela hit .314 in 2019 and .298 this past regular season. He has been one of the more motivating acquisitions for general manager Brian Cashman, especially with Miguel Andujar struggling to hold his own on the hot corner.

Gio has always been known for his defense, but he showed his versatility against the Indians, displaying excellence in both categories. A double-play laying on his back in the eighth inning limited the Indians significantly, keeping the Yankees within two and offering a glimmer of hope. He proceeded to single and was drove in by LeMahieu, securing the lead in the ninth.

Without Urshela, there’s no way the Yankees walk away with a victory on Wednesday. He was their hero and continues to be a staple in the lineup every day.

UFC: Israel Adesanya wants a quick turnaround

Coming off his domination at UFC 253, you would think Israel Adesanya (20-0) would want to just relax and soak in the victory. However, the middleweight champion already has his eyes set on the next challenge, and he doesn’t want to wait.

The UFC’s middleweight king is ready to fight. He doesn’t want to wait and his team is already talking to the UFC about his next potential fight. Adesanya went into detail on the talks with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani yesterday.

At first, Helwani suggested March or April for Adesanya’s next fight which was met with raised eyebrows from the UFC champ. Adesanya responded saying, “I’m fresh. I want to fight fast. I want to fight this year. We talked about it and I want to fight again this year. I ain’t f–ckin’ around Ariel.”

Next UFC opponent for Adesanya

The next logical step for Adesanya would be defending his UFC title against the winner of Jared Cannonier – Robert Whittaker. Those two fight at UFC 254 and the winner of that fight will be looked at as the clear number one contender in the middleweight division.

Adesanya said that he wanted to fight Cannonier after his victory at UFC 253. Of course, Cannonier has a tough test in front of him in the former UFC middleweight champion, Whittaker. Adesanya knocked Whittaker out in the second round when they fought to capture the title.

If Whittaker were to beat Cannonier, I wonder if Adesanya would want to do the rematch. His first victory over Whittaker at UFC 243 was very dominant. He might not be as interested in a rematch considering the way the first fight went.

Of course, there’s always the potential for the Jon Jones fight. However, I don’t see that fight materializing before the end of the year. In my opinion, the potential Jones – Adesanya fight would probably take place sometime in the middle of 2021.

There are a number of exciting options for the UFC‘s middleweight champion. He could also pull an Anderson Silva and move up to light heavyweight just to try it out. Either way, the last stylebender is planning on another fight in 2020.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Catcher Wilson Ramos

The New York Mets felt confident in their offense from Wilson Ramos, but underachievement marked his 2020 season. He never found his way on offense or defense and became a focal point of the Mets’ struggles in their poor season.

Ramos only hit .239/.297/.387, which were the worst offensive numbers he put up since the 2015 season. The staple of Ramos game was his clutch hitting with runners in scoring position, but he struggled mightily in those situations. He embodied the Mets struggles, only hitting .139 during 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The biggest issue with his swing comes with his emphasis on hitting the ball on the ground. It is a guarantee Ramos gets thrown out if any of the infielders can get to the ball, which resulted in him grounding to five double plays this season. Five might not seem like too much, but every single one came in a huge spot.

A huge point to fix his swing should come with an increase in his launch angle. He only hit .153 on groundballs and .211 against groundball pitchers. Ramos will benefit more from hitting the ball in the air, and his strength to all fields should allow him to increase his average, home runs, and lower the number of double plays he hits into.

Struggling Defense

With his offensive struggles, Ramos’s defensive shortcomings were heightened. He only threw out 18% of baserunners, allowed four passed balls, and 16 wild pitches. While his defense improved from last season, it still ranked in the bottom half of baseball. Ramos had an issue blocking pitches on his right side because his new position had his right knee down, which forced him to stab at those pitches.

He also failed to tag out Roman Quinn during a walk-off loss against the Philadelphia Phillies, where he had more than enough time to get the glove down and beat Quinn to the plate. Heading into his age-33 season, it is hard to expect him to improve in his defense any more.

What Did He Do Well?

Ramos did not play in many day games but found success in those rare occasions. He slashed .302/.348 /.535 in 14 day games compared to .212/.275/.323 in 31 games during the night. Ramos also finished the season on a 6-for-15 streak with one home run to boost his worth heading into likely free agency.

He has a club option for the 2021 season, but the combination of J.T. Realmuto on the market and Steve Cohen’s wallet makes a reunion very unlikely. Ramos had good moments during his 2019 season with the Mets, but 2020 was the opposite. To his credit, Ramos continued to be a professional throughout the struggles, and expect to see him bounce back in a new environment during 2021. 

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 40 (55), Came on late, too good of a hitter to stay at his 2020 production.

Power: 40 (45), All depends on if he makes any adjustments to his swing. Still has power to all fields.

Run: 20 (20), If zero were an option, I would use that.

Arm: 50 (45), His arm was the biggest reason he could throw anyone out. The Mets pitchers gave him little help.

Field: 35 (30), Pitch framing and blocking are well below average.

Overall: 35 (45), Ramos is still a very useful hitter and a bounce-back season is likely. Just needs to find a better situation with a different team.

 

NASCAR Cup Series unveils revamped 2021 schedule

Road courses ruled the day as NASCAR’s top circuit unveiled its 2021 slate, one that featured new locales and old sites getting a makeover.

The 36-race tally and 500-mile opener at Daytona notwithstanding, the NASCAR Cup Series’ 2021 schedule bears little resemblance to its predecessor.

NASCAR unveiled next year’s slate on Wednesday, featuring three courses making their Cup Series debut and a pair of renowned auto racing landmarks undergoing a special makeover. The five new races are the most added to a Cup Series schedule since 1969.

“(This is a) hugely exciting day for NASCAR, really everyone involved in the industry,” NASCAR Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said after the release. “We said back early in 2019 that we wanted to evolve the schedule. 2020 was going to be a year where we could make some moves within the portfolio of races we had. Really, (in) 2021 and beyond you’re going to see some really bold changes from NASCAR.”

NASCAR has sought to create new innovations in racing as they enter this new decade. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed some changes, but the sport was nonetheless the first major North American sport to return to full-time competition in the midst of the ongoing health crisis. In addition to this new schedule, further innovations await, including a new racecar template, known as the “Next Gen” car, that will debut during the 2022 season.

When it comes to the schedule, O’Donnell hinted that the changes may have only just begun. 

“The primary goal for us was to continue to evolve the schedule, to continue to build it, to continue to listen to the fans,” he said. “2021, we believe, is a really bold step in that direction, but we’re not done.  There’s 2022 and beyond where we’ll continue to look at making changes that we believe are in the best interest of the sport in key markets and key iconic racetracks as well.  We’re going to continue the journey.”

The following tracks/formats will be making their debut next season…

Bristol Dirt (March 28)

Many NASCAR drivers have gotten their start on local dirt tracks. Next spring, NASCAR will cover the iconic asphalt at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first dirt track race at the Cup Series level since a visit to the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in 1970. Previously, the lower-tier Truck Series would make an annual dirt visit to Eldora Speedway, with current Cup competitors Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace, and Christopher Bell each earning a win in the Eldora Dirt Derby. This year’s race was called off due to the pandemic.

Circuit of the Americas (May 23)

This 3.426-mile road course in Austin, Texas has previously hosted numerous forms of auto racing, including Formula One and IndyCar. Having hosted the former’s United States Grand Prix event since 2012, COTA is the first American venue to be specifically built for F1 racing.

Nashville Superspeedway (June 20)

Originally opening in 2001, financial woes caused Nashville to close ten years later. However, the track will reopen by hosting the 2021 Father’s Day event, its first NASCAR-sanctioned event since its shutdown. Though the Cup Series descends upon the track for the first time, previous winners at the 1.333-mile oval through Xfinity and Truck endeavors include Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano. The Nashville date takes one of two race from Dover International Speedway.

Road America (July 4)

Perhaps nothing could define Independence Day better than a NASCAR race at a track called Road America, located in Plymouth, Wisconsin. This 4.048-mile road course has hosted the Xfinity Series since 2010, its most recent win going to Team Penske’s Austin Cindric in August.

Indianapolis Road Course (August 15)

The Cup Series will make a change to its annual visit to the Brickyard, eschewing the 2.5-mile rectangular oval for the 2.44-mile road course. Earlier this season, the Xfinity Series made the change early, going with a 62-lap event won by Chase Briscoe.

Other changes and notes relate to more familiar locales…

  • As is tradition, the season will open with the running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (February 14). However, the exhibition race known as the Busch Clash, traditionally held a week before the main event, will now be run on Daytona’s road course, which hosted its first Cup Series race in August (won by Chase Elliott).

 

  • After Daytona, the series will remain in the Sunshine State, with the second race shifting to Homestead-Miami Speedway (February 21). Homestead previously hosted the season final for nearly two decades (2002-19) before being moved up to March, though the Dixie Vodka 400 was run in June due to the pause.

 

  • Incumbent tracks Chicagoland and Kentucky were left off the schedule. Chicagoland had hosted races since 2001, while Kentucky was the most recent venue to join the Cup Series schedule in 2011.

  • Darlington Raceway has been scheduled to host multiple events for the first time since 2004. Commonly known as “The Track Too Tough to Tame”, Darlington hosted three events this season, the first two being rescheduled races and the first to be run in the return from the pause. The first race will come on May 15, while the Southern 500 retains its status as the opener to the Cup Series Playoffs (September 5).

 

  • Atlanta Motor Speedway likewise returns to two-date status, its two races scheduled to be run on March 21 and July 11. AMS had not hosted two events in a single season since 2010.

  • Texas Motor Speedway will host its first NASCAR All-Star Race on June 13. The All-Star exhibition shifted to Bristol this season after over three decades at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Texas did lose one of its points races, but retained its playoff date (October 17). The All-Star will also serve as the season finale for Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage before transitioning to the networks of NBC.

 

  • Save for flipping Kansas and Texas’ spots in the Round of 8, no changes were made to the NASCAR Playoff schedule. The season will end at Phoenix Raceway for the second straight season (November 7).

 

  • The Cup Series will have two weeks between New Hampshire (July 18) and Watkins Glen (August 8) to account for the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season continues on Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway for the YellaWood 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees Postseason Recap: Yankees win a war in Cleveland and advance to the ALDS in San Diego

The New York Yankees took to the mound in the first inning of the second game of the Wild Card game, ahead of the Cleveland Indians one game to nothing. But the early lead in the series was smashed as the Indians overwhelmed New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka by scoring four runs in the very first inning. Tanaka remained in the game, hoping along with manager Aaron Boone that the Yankee’s powerful lineup could back him up.

With the Yankees behind 4-1 at the top of the fourth inning, Gio Urshela put the Yankees ahead 5-4, with a Grand Slam, when it was needed most. Then, Carrasco allowed two walks in a row then Carassco’s night on the mound was over. Phil Maton took over for Carrasco with two on and no outs.  Ushela  been nothing but great for the Yankees. In the game he became the first Yankee third baseman ever, to hit a Grand Slam in the postseason for the Yankees. Aaron Judge was the ninth man of the inning to come to the plate for the Yankees, he flew out, but the Yankee damage was done, and the Yankees led the Indians 5-4.

In the same inning, the Yankees put men on the corners, still with no outs. The runners advanced, and it was a man on second and third with no outs. Giancarlo Stanton flew out, but Hicks scored from third for the Yankees 6-4 lead in the game.  Urshela up for the third time singled and they got the lead runner for the force out for the second out of the inning. With Urshela in scoring position, Phil Maton got out of the inning, giving up just the one run, but the Yankees were ahead in an elimination game for the Cleveland Indians.

At the bottom of the fifth inning, Masahiro Tanaka again took the mound for the Yankees with 70 pitches thrown.  Chad Green was ready in the inning if Tanaka faltered. He did, and exited the game with the two-run lead.  Before the game, DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit had already made their mark on the season.  LeMahieu already gained the batting title with a .364 batting average and Luke Voit captured the home run title with 22 home runs on the season.

With Chad Green in the bottom of the fifth, the Indians tied up the game, when Lindor scored off of a double by Ramirez. But Green got out of the inning by striking out two Indian batters and leaving the score tied at six apiece, when the Indians Ramirez flew out to Aaron Judge in right field.

At the top of the 6th, Gary Sanchez regained the lead for the Yankees with a two-run home run off of Indians reliever McKenzie. Yankees 8 and the Indians 6. Down 8-6 and their postseason in jeopardy of a quick ending, the Indians tied it in the seventh on pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow’s two-out, two-run double off right-hander  Jonathan Loaisgia. The Indians went ahead again in the eight inning for the 9-8 Indian lead

At the botton of the eighth inning, Gio Urshela turned an amazing double play while laying on the ground, that play saved the Yankees, and kept the Yankees within one. In the top of the ninth with the bases loaded Gary Sanchez popped out on a long fly ball driving in  a run and the score was tied at 9. DJ LeMahieu got a ground ball base hit through the pitchers legs and into center field, Gio Urshela scored for the Yankee’s 10-9 lead. At the bottom of the inning Aroldis Chapman, in his second inning of work, got the save and the win for the Yankees.  Brad Hand took the loss for the Indians.

In an absolute war in Cleveland, the New York Yankees came away with the sweep of the Indians in the Wild Card, in a game that saw a record tying 19 walks, two rain delays, and the lead going back and forth throughout the four hour and 50 minute  game.  But, with the win the Yankees advanced to the ALDS at Petco Park in San Diego on Monday. The Yankees are now seven wins away from a 28th World Championship. The Yankees were jubilant but did not celebrate on the field, instead, did their usual line of fist pumps.

After the game Aaron Boone, manager of the Yankees had this to say:

“I don’t know how you top that one — the back and forth, the amount of big plays. Tonight just had that feeling that these guys weren’t going to be denied. They weren’t going to lose.”

On Monday, in San Diego, the New York Yankees will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, in a seven game matchup between two teams, that to say the least, don’t care for each other. The Yankees were 2-8 against the Rays in the regular season. The Yankees will have workout today, and later fly to San Diego.

 

 

 

New York Jets Game Preview Week 4: Denver Broncos

The New York Jets have an opportunity in primetime to earn their first win against the likewise-reeling Denver Broncos.

What: Denver Broncos @ New York Jets
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network

Thursday night will show just how badly the American public missed football, as two winless squads prepare to do battle in primetime.

The embattled New York Jets (0-3) return to MetLife Stadium on Thursday, seeking to end a streak of brutality against an equally woebegone Denver Broncos squad. New York and Denver (0-3) account for a quarter of the eight winless teams left in the NFL after three weeks.

Back at home, the Jets have been crushed by a combined 47-point margin over the last two weeks. The latest defeat was a 36-7 shellacking at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Their lone score was a 16-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold to Braxton Berrios in the first quarter, shortly before the Colts opened up a barrage on 29 unanswered points. Darnold threw three interceptions during the afternoon, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Denver has failed to live up to preseason expectations as an AFC darkhorse, partially due to injuries that have decimated the top of the depth chart. The Broncos likewise fell to 0-3 on the road last weekend, dropping a 28-10 decision in Tampa Bay. Missing franchise quarterback Drew Lock, the Broncos made a change at quarterback in the late stages of the defeat, sitting Jeff Driskel for Brett Rypien, the nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark. Rypien is expected to make the first start of his NFL career on Thursday night.

Thursday’s game will serve as a reunion for former bearers of orange Connor McGovern and Joe Flacco. McGovern played his first four seasons with the Broncos after joining them as a fifth-round pick in 2016, while Flacco started eight games in Denver last season.

The Series

This will be the 38th meeting between the Jets and Broncos, a series that dates back to the days of the American Football League. Denver leads the get-togethers by a 20-16-1 tally, but the Jets won the last one 34-16, also at MetLife Stadium. Isaiah Crowell ran for a Jets single-game record 219 yards on a mere 15 carries, the biggest chunk of that coming from a 77-yard touchdown sprint that opened New York scoring. Denver had won the prior three meetings, including a 31-17 win in East Rutherford in 2014.

History Happens: 1999

Ironically, the Jets and Broncos have squared off with matching 0-3 records before. Seven months after their meeting in the AFC Championship Game (a 23-10 Denver win), the loss of starting quarterbacks from that showdown brought about hard times in each locale. John Elway retired after riding off into the victorious sunset in Super Bowl XXXIII, while the Jets lost Vinny Testaverde in a Week 1 loss to New England at Giants Stadium. The rematch at Mile High Stadium matched Rick Mirer and Brian Griese.

Girdiron ugliness ensued, with Mirer, Griese, and another Denver thrower, Bubby Brister, uniting for seven interceptions. Victor Green and Marcus Coleman had two each for the Jets, who erased a 13-7 deficit in the fourth quarter on a two-yard scoring rush by Curtis Martin. Mirer provided insurance on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Dedric Ward, while Coleman’s turnovers against Brister, each coming within the final four minutes, sealed the deal in a 21-13 Jets victory.

They Said It

“It’s wasted energy for me. It’s not going to help me at all. All I can do is make sure I get our guys in the right headspace to go out there on Thursday and play well.”Jets head coach Adam Gase on rumors his job could be in jeopardy, per the Associated Press

“I think no matter who we’re playing right now, we definitely need a win…that’s the main focus. The focus for me is just to try to get better these next two days. We’re not going to get a lot of reps full speed with the guys. It’s about the mental reps and making sure I’m dialed in on protections and things like that.”Broncos QB Brett Rypien on Thursday’s game, per Field Level Media

Matchup To Watch

Brett Rypien vs. Gregg Williams’ Defense

On paper, going up against Rypien, an undrafted college hero from Boise State making his first career NFL start seems simple enough. But, as they probably should’ve figured out by now, the Jets are in no position to take any opponent lightly, no matter his experience and resume.

The pass rush is coming off a tough weekend in Indianapolis, struggling to attack Phillip Rivers while dealing with the Colts’ experienced blocking unit. Facing the far younger, far more agile Rypien will be a change of pace, one the Jets must make as uncomfortable as possible for the debuting thrower.

However, this challenge could yet present a positive opportunity. Over the past couple of dreary defeats, it’s clear that the defense is also part of the Jets’ endless list of issues. Opening weekend’s lapses were understandable…the unit spent over 40 minutes in the field during Week 1 against Buffalo…but no one has been immune from football shortcomings in New York.

There have been plenty of individual silver linings. Marcus Maye had a strong debut as the leader of the secondary against the Bills. Quinnen Williams had his first multi-sack showing in the first game at MetLife. But it’s time to build some consistency. Going up against an inexperienced offensive leader…one who won’t have weapons like Courtland Sutton at his disposal…would be a strong way to do so. Williams can do his part in making Rypien miss his days as a collegiate Bronco by turning up the blitz.

The Jets Will Win If…

They take advantage of a team in more dire straights than they are.

Unlike the Jets, Denver had preseason accolades thrust upon them, energized by a strong conclusion to 2019 (7-5 after an 0-4 start, including a 4-1 stretch to end it). Injuries to several crucial starters (Lock, Sutton, Von Miller, A.J. Bouye, Jurrell Casey) and general inconsistencies have give way to a brutal start.

The playoffs are an afterthought, even after only three games, but the early de facto elimination grants them a macabre gift: the ability to play with little consequence and generally little to lose. They have to play like that, though. Barring a long to-go situation, there’s probably no reason to punt once the Jets get past their 40. Kicking field goals down 24-3 isn’t the way to do it either. There’s a rare opportunity here through the most morbid of must-wins, one that could potentially save the job of Adam Gase or several others. It’s a dire situation, but the Jets can feel a little bit better about the way things of gone if they take advantage.

The Broncos Will Win If…

They treat the Jets as they would any other opponent.

Each of the NFL’s 31 other teams can probably look at their situation and, no matter how dire it is, remark “at least we’re not the Jets”. But Denver is winless as well and are in no position to underestimate or disregard any opponents. It’s easy, perhaps, to let your guard down when one watches the New York film and sees lost efforts against San Francisco’s de facto second unit and a Colts team whose ceiling likely looms on wild card weekend.

One way to do that is not rely entirely on Rypien to win the game. Their matchup against Tampa Bay saw he and Driskel unite for 39 passes while Melvin Gordon received only eight carries. If Gordon is joined by Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos can rely on veteran rushing to help them get through a difficult primetime situation.

Prediction

Thursday’s game is perhaps the perfect storm for many in the Jets organization. While things are disappointing from a statistical standpoint in Denver, the Jets are in a position where a loss could lead to a sweeping change, one only exacerbated by the facts that they’re facing an equally desperate squad, haven’t played with anything resembling competitiveness over the first trio, and have ten days to prepare under a potential interim boss.

Desperation will be the name of the game on Thursday night, which will likely see strong ratings if only through nihilistic curiosity and internet meme potential (comparisons have already been drawn to the erratic presidential debate seen on Tuesday). At this moment, the Jets fit the description better. Denver, even with a plethora of medical woes, can still hang their helmets on the fact they’re relatively satisfied with their core. Time will tell how that desperation fuels New York in the future, but it well could be the key to temporary solace on Thursday.

Any given Sunday comes three days early. The Jets may be in dire straight, but dooming them to 0-16 is just a little too harsh.

Jets 17, Broncos 13

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: 3 players who need to step up against the Rams

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants have a tall task ahead of them, with the Los Angeles Rams standing in their path in week four. After three consecutive losses to open the season, the Giants are looking for a lively performance to showcase their abilities. However, their defeats have been ugly; notably, their loss to the 49ers last week, in which the defense allowed 36 points, and the offense didn’t take a single snap in the red-zone.

The Giants have been anything but exemplary this season, but with a new coaching staff in place and new schematics being introduced, it was always a pipe dream to believe they could be a contending team. The growing pains of a young squad learning a new system are problematic, and more experienced teams with veterans in place will always take advantage.

That is primarily why the Giants will likely get battered by the Rams, but they can at least remain competitive and show their will to fight after being embarrassed at home in week three.

Three New York Giants players who need to step up in week 4:

1.) Julian Love

The injury report this week indicates that starting strong safety Jabrill Peppers will likely not be available against the Rams. After suffering a low ankle sprain on an extra point attempt by the 49ers, Peppers went down in a heap of pain. He limped off the field under his own power but was unable to return. Low ankle sprains can take a few weeks to heal, and the Giants are lucky that is all he suffered. We all remember how difficult it was for Saquon Barkley to return after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Nonetheless, I expect free safety Julian Love to move up into the box, considering he experienced reps there last season with the Giants. After Peppers went down with a season-ending hip injury, Love started and played in 100% of the final three games of the year. He can adequately fill the role, but I could also see the Giants putting Logan Ryan in that position alternatively.

Considering Love has been playing in the deep half of the secondary this year, he has done a good job mitigating any big plays from their opponents. However, the Giants have still managed to give up methodical drives to more experienced teams.

Love can get the job done, but I wouldn’t expect him to be playing at an All-Pro level. The Rams will take advantage of the young safety, but at the very least, he has the positional experience to hold his own for the time being.

Rangers turn to the next chapter with Igor Shesterkin leading the team onto the ice

Wednesday was a tough emotional day for the New York Rangers, their fans, and of course Henrik Lundqvist. Now that the dust has settled the first player emerging from the windstorm of the buyout is Igor Shesterkin.

Last February head coach David Quinn named Shesterkin the team’s number one goalie, which was the first step in the process that resulted in the buyout of Lundqvist. The 24-year-old goalie, who will turn 25 in December, performed admirably in his 12 starts posting a 10-2 record while having one of the best Ranger players to ever wear the sweater on the bench with him.

Come opening night when Shesterkin looks over at the team’s bench he will see Alexandar Georgiev backing him up. The dreams of SHesterkin’s childhood will become a reality the moment he leads the team onto the ice for that first game of the 2020-2021 season;

The team is in his hands now.

Pressure All On Him

Shesterkin has been a winner at every level he has played. He plays with a calmness that is uncanny for a player with 12 games under his belt. A level of confidence regardless of a goal scored against him or the score of a game spreads to his teammates.  He has a weapon the defense will come to appreciate and expect over time, he can handle the puck on his goalie stick.

He can pass from the far corners of the ice, can clear the puck from behind his net on a dump and chase plays, the Russian netminder can and will shoot at an empty net. Shesterkin can be a third defenseman on the ice if a player needs to pass a puck back into their own end when the opportunity calls for it.

With all of the skill he has shown, there is one thing he will need to experience on the ice, game by game. The Madison Square Garden Ranger fans. The true judgment of how he handles pressure will be the first time a bad play is recorded on the ice.

The constant question by the New York media is another area Shesterkin has little experience in. The never-ending questioning and second-guessing is something he has never been through. It’s not as important as his play during a game, yet it has frazzled the best of players in years past so he will need to learn what to say and not say.

Up For The Challenge

Shesterkin has been a winner at every level he has competed in.  In his five seasons in the KHL, he had a record of 79-14-13. His best season there 2016-’17 where he won 27 games, had a 1.67 goals-against average and a .9.37 save percentage.

His success carried over to North America this past season when he played for the team’s minor league affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack. In 25 games he posted 17 wins and a .934 save percentage.  The man is a proven winner, though a final decision on how good he can be will be determined once he p0lays a full season in the NHL.

The baton has been handed over from Lundqvist to Shesterkin now. He will have one of the best teams in recent years playing in front of him which will include the number one overall pick in this year’s draft ( presumably Alexis Lafreniere) when the start of 2020-2021 begins.

Solid defense in front of him along with some of the best scorers and playmakers in the league should make his game a little easier, something Lundqvist had rarely in his 15 years.

The new number one goalie in New York will leave up to the hype. He has all the skills and weapons to be a game-changer, a goalie who can handle the pressure of the opposing team, the pressure of the fan base, and the pressure he puts on himself to be the winner Rangerstown needs him to be.

It going to be strange to hear the announcer on game day introduce “Igor Shesterkin” as the netminder starting in goal most nights.

Shesterkin has earned the right to lead the Blueshirts onto the ice on game day. Like the goalies who have preceded him, he will be the one to stand tall and carry the Rangers back to the playoffs and hopefully to the Stankey Cup Finals.

Yankees: Good news and bad news in insane comeback win to secure Wild Card victory over Cleveland

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

In what should have been an easy win for the New York Yankees became a shoot out late in the game against the Cleveland Indians. Scoring eight runs should be plenty in a postseason game, but mistakes by manager Aaron Boone allowed the Indians to crawl back into the contest.

The Yankees overcame Cleveland 10-9 in the ninth-inning, securing victory in the AL Wild Card and moving on to the next round.

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news for the Yankees, their offense is well and alive. They recorded seven hits and 10 runs, securing 11 walks in the process. While they did strike out 12 times, the Bombers remained extremely patient at the plate and allowed Cleveland’s pitchers to do the work for them. The notable performances were Gio Urshela, who launched a grand slam in the fourth inning, and Gary Sanchez, who hit a two-run homer in the six-inning to regain the lead.

Urshela’s grand slam was the first by any Yankee 3rd baseman in the team’s postseason history. In addition, he singled to center to get on base and ended up being the go-ahead run after DJ LeMaheiu saved the day with a two-out single in the ninth.

So far, the Yankees’ offense has been stellar through two games, tallying 22 overall runs. This was a major shift after finishing the season on a cold streak. With the bats well and alive, the Yankees are capable of staying in any game. However, their pitching on Wednesday evening was problematic at best.

BAD NEWS:

Aaron Boone was a destructive force for the Yankees in their decision making down the line. Starting pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka allowed six earned runs in four innings, which was not representative of his stellar postseason statistics in the past.

An odd decision by Cleveland manager Sandy Alomar forced the hand of Boone, who brought in Jonathan Loaisiga to face off against a right-handed batter. Well, that decision turned out to be awful, as he allowed a double to center field and walked two batters, forcing Aroldis Chapman to enter the game early.

That is not to mention that Boone also took out Luke Voit in the seventh inning with the Yankees sitting on a two-run lead. They could have used Voit’s bat late in the game, despite the victory. Tumultuous decisions like this will not be friendly in the future.

Thankfully, the Bombers didn’t have to rely on JA Happ in game three, avoiding a potentially devastating matchup.