Four plays that decided the New York Jets’ Monday fate vs. New England

New York Jets

Positives emerged from veterans and rookies alike, but the New York Jets couldn’t end their streak of bad luck against New England.

A lost three-point game against the New England Patriots might’ve been cause for celebration in the Tom Brady years. One could even argue it helps the New York Jets’ draft position. But, at least in the immediate aftermath, heartbreak reigns in East Rutherford.

Nick Folk’s 51-yard field goal as time expired gave capped off a stretch of 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for the Patriots, who earned their ninth consecutive victory over the Jets in a 30-27 final on Monday at MetLife Stadium. Cam Newton punched in two rushing touchdowns while Rex Burkhead tallied one more. With this loss, the Jets (0-9) have fallen in their first nine games for the first time in franchise history.

ESM looks back on four plays from the Jets’ latest defeat, highlighting one from each quarter that will define their past, present, and future…

1st Quarter: Mims’ The Word

Denzel Mims continued to show exactly why he was worth the long wait, getting off to another strong start. The second-round rookie finally had some assistance on his side during Monday’s action, as it marked the first time he was able to work with fellow depth chart-toppers Perriman and Jamison Crowder. Mims helped the Jets get off to a fast start on their opening drive, breaking free from the coverage of Jason McCourty for a second-down catch from Flacco. He would shake off McCourty for extra yardage, totaling 26 before Devin McCourty was there to clean up the mess. His efforts led to a Sergio Castillo field goal that gave the Jets the early lead.

While Mims is off to a strong start, the Jets’ remaining offensive exploits should be centered on trying to get him involved over the entire 60 minutes. Mims set an infantile career-best with 62 receiving yards on the evening, but all of that production came in the first half.

2nd Quarter: Fourth and Folorunso

We’ve spoken in this column before about the Jets’ propensity to go for it on fourth down. Entering Monday’s game, they were tied for fifth in the league with 13 attempts (converting four). Defending them, however, has been a bit of another problem. Opponents had gone attempted to go for it on six fourth downs against the Jets this season, the concept often rendered null and void because of one-sided leads. But members of the Jets’ defense got a case to show their stuff against Cam Newton and the Patriots’ offense.

While rookies took center stage on defense during Monday’s proceedings (namely Ashtyn Davis, Bryce Hall, and Bryce Huff), veterans seeking football longevity also had a chance to prove why they’re allowed to stay for the long haul. Anyone calling for the already-ludicrous notion of tanking should be immediately silenced by the efforts of some veterans fighting to extend their careers.

Folorunso Fatukasi is one such veteran. A 2018 sixth-round pick that has been on-and-off the Jets’ roster, Fatukasi made one of the biggest plays of the evening in terms of momentum shifting. The Jets held a 10-7 lead after a 93-yard trek by the offense, but New England was threatening to take it right back with a drive on their own. Facing a fourth-and-one just past the Jets’ 40, they attempted to continue their quest to a potential go-ahead score. Knowing what we know about the Jets’ offense, it may have well been insurmountable for the unit.

Instead, Fatukasi plowed through veteran blocker David Andrews in a backfield invasion, not only bringing down James four yards behind the line of scrimmage but forcing a fumble as well. It was recovered by the Patriots, but the Jets took over on downs and later earned a field goal on the earned possession to go up 13-7.

3rd Quarter: Go Joe Go

With Joe Flacco and Frank Gore leading the Jets’ offense, one could be excused for believing we had been transported out of the 2020 nightmare and dragged back to 2012. It was a particularly inspiring performance for Flacco, who threw for 262 yards and three touchdown passes, the last of the latter going to Perriman in the dying stages of the third quarter. It was also the first time he broke the 200-yard plateau this season, and first overall since September of the prior campaign.

While it was nice to see Flacco have some fun, shades of the 2012-13 AFC title game, it raises a question that a lot of Jets fans probably don’t want to have: the Jets’ strongest offensive showing of the season (322 yards of offense) came not with Sam Darnold under center, but the aging Flacco instead. Even if the Jets somehow fall out of the top overall slot, will they need to find a new franchise thrower? Time will only tell, but it’s yet another reason they should not take these final seven games for granted.

4th Quarter: My, Oh, Myers

Following Perriman’s score, the Jets only touched the ball for only 1:24 more during the fourth quarter. Jakobi Myers was the biggest factor, even when he wasn’t the one catching the ball. With the Patriots (3-5) advancing for the tying score, Davis appeared to make the play of the night on a penalty-induced 1st-and-20, knocking a big gain out of Myers’ hands after a video review. Myers, however, would have his revenge. Not only did a massive block allow Damiere Byrd to reach the Jets’ three-yard-line (leading to a one-yard punch-in by Cam Newton), but his 20-yard diving catch on the next passion allowed Nick Folk’s field goal to be booted, giving the Jets a 30-27 loss…vital for those who demand to see them tank.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Two New York Giants defenders playing with elite numbers

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have had a rocky start this season but picked up their second win when they defeated Washington on the road on Sunday. It’s the second time the Giants have beaten Washington this year and while they were only able to pull out a narrow win of three points, there’s reasons to think the result signals good things for the future.

Daniel Jones had a game without an interception, after a week where he was heavily criticized for his turnovers, and the Giants were able to get the running game going better than in some of their previous outings. However, many of the real top performers for the Giants are on their defense this season.

Two elite players for the Giants defense

It’s been a while since the Giants have had a star linebacker but it’s safe to say they have one now in Blake Martinez, who leads the league in tackles. He also has six tackles for a loss, which is more than his direct competitors for the leading tackler spot.

Martinez registered 155 tackles during his last season with Green Bay and it looks likely that he’ll break that mark by the end of this season given his current pace. It’s also worth giving some credit to the coaching staff. After all, this is a step up from Martinez’s performance in Green Bay and some fans were skeptical at first over whether he deserved the money. The staff likely had some role to play in the raise in performance.

Leonard Williams is another player that has picked up his performance this season, with 5 sacks so far. It puts him in the top 20 for the NFL’s pass rushers this season. The number may improve further based on what we’ve seen from Williams so far.

If these two players hadn’t stepped it up this season, it would have certainly reflected badly on GM Dave Gettleman and would likely have a negative impact on Gettleman’s job status with the team. But with these two additions becoming key members of the team, the Giants front office is faced with more complex and less clear decisions once we approach the offseason.

New York Giants still suffering from CB2 problems

New York Giants, Ryan Lewis

The New York Giants won their Week 9 matchup against Washington behind a dominating, five turnover performance from their defense. New York forced three interceptions as the secondary managed to contain Washington’s passing attack.

Despite this, there was still a familiar struggle within the Giants’ pass defense. The secondary cornerback position, this week manned by Isaac Yiadom, has been a consistent area of weakness for the Giants all season. The Giants have rotated the likes of Corey Ballentine, Isaac Yiadom, and Ryan Lewis in that position.

This week, Terry McLaurin was the lone bright spot on the Football Team’s offense as he totaled 7 receptions for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. James Bradberry managed McLaurin and any other receivers he lined up against, but Isaac Yiadom struggled severely.

Cornerback Isaac Yiadom allowed a perfect 158.3 passer rating against Washington on Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. James Bradberry, on the other hand, was only targeted in coverage one time. Washington made a conscious effort to avoid Bradberry and attack the Giants’ second cornerback position.

Ryan Lewis seemed to be the answer to the Giants’ cornerback problems. But, after he was placed on injured reserve, Isaac Yiadom was put back into the starting lineup. After this disappointing performance, it will be interesting to see who the Giants roll out there in Week 10 versus Philadelphia.

Additionally, Xavier McKinney could return to the Giants’ defense sometime this month. His addition to the lineup could move Logan Ryan over to cornerback two, or even Julian Love. New York, fortunately, has solid depth at the safety positions, but the cornerback position will need to improve.

Source: Isaac Okoro works out for Timberwolves in Auburn

Since 2011, the NBA championships have been greatly influenced by the league’s elite wingmen. LeBron James won the NBA Finals MVP award four times. Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, each had two, while Andre Igoudala had one at the start of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty in the 2014-15 season.

It is along with this line of thought that makes Auburn’s one-and-done wingman Isaac Okoro such an intriguing prospect. He’s been one of the biggest risers in the Draft, drawing interests from high lottery teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the No. 1 pick.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells Empire Sports Media that a Timberwolves delegation went to Auburn to watch Okoro work out in person last week. The source added he was impressive during the workout.

The Timberwolves are dreaming of contending in the stacked Western Conference. But for them to compete, they need an impactful wing they lost when they let Jimmy Butler walk away.

Okoro could give them the defensive swagger and playmaking that will perfectly complement Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell’s offensive games.

The 19-year old Okoro is widely regarded as the best perimeter defender in this draft class.

The 6’6 forward, built like a tank with his 225-pound body and armed with a bull-strong game and winner’s mentality, has drawn comparisons to Igoudala, Leonard, and Jimmy Butler.

ESPN’s NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz said Okoro has one of the highest floors.

“He was one of the most impactful defenders in the college game and has All-NBA potentials thanks to his excellent lateral quickness, high-intensity level, and sound technique,” Schmitz wrote.

Schmitz also noted that Okoro “plays a position and role that is extremely hard to find in today’s NBA.”

Okoro has impacted winning in every stop, scoring championships from AAU to high school and, at one point, led Auburn to a rousing 15-0 start last season. The Tigers were 25-6 when the Covid-19 pandemic stopped the college season.

“He is maybe the most-ready guy in the draft,” a Western Conference executive told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps last September.

Okoro has a shot at becoming Auburn’s highest-drafted player since Chris Morris (no. 4 in 1988), Chuck Person (no. 4 in 1986), and Charles Barkley (no. 5 in 1984).

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

The Indians reportedly want the Mets to be involved in Lindor sweepstakes

New York yankees, Francisco Lindor

Last week, Bob Nightengale reported that the Cleveland Indians have every intention to trade Francisco Lindor, their All-Star shortstop. He’s getting expensive (he earned the prorated sum of $17 million in 2020 and could earn more than $21 million in 2021, his last year of arbitration) and the tribe can’t afford to give him an extension. It is logical they want to get something in return in the form of MLB-ready players or prospects, and the New York Mets are very much in the mix.

USA Today’s Nightengale reported on Thursday that “Cleveland, strapped for money, intends to trade All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor by opening day, several rival teams have been informed. Lindor earned $17.5 million last season and is projected to earn about $21 million in salary arbitration in his final year before free agency.”

The New York Mets recently welcomed a new owner in Steve Cohen, and if he’s looking to make a splash in the trade market, Lindor is a prime candidate. The team doesn’t really need him, since there are two capable shortstops on the roster (Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario) but he could really be a difference-maker.

But as the Mets decide whether or not to pursue Lindor – they have much more pressing needs, the rotation and bullpen being the most obvious – the Indians definitely want folks at Queens involved in the sweepstakes.

Could the Mets swing a deal?

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported today that he expects “Francisco Lindor to be dealt this offseason, as Bob Nightengale has reported, but I was told today a trade is unlikely to happen quickly. The Indians would love for the Mets to be heavily involved, but it will take time for new front office to set priorities.”

In addition to bringing two or three rotation improvements and several capable bullpen arms, the Mets need to bring a starting catcher, as they decided not to pick up Wilson Ramos’ club option.

The Mets don’t have too many blue-chip prospects to deal for Lindor, but they do have a few. Pitcher Matthew Allan, third base Brett Baty, and shortstop Ronny Mauricio could entice the Indians. As far as MLB players, one of Rosario and Gimenez could presumably go to Cleveland in any deal, and third baseman/outfielder J.D. Davis is also a possibility, as the Indians need offense.

Lindor is 26 years old and has a track record of excellence, with two Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards and a .285/.346/.488 career line.

BREAKING: Rafael Dos Anjos – Paul Felder to headline UFC Vegas 14

What a 24 hours it has been for UFC Vegas 14. First, it was announced last night that Islam Makhachev was out of the main event. This is the second time that the proposed fight with Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13) had fallen through.

From there, the UFC began to work on a replacement for RDA. Dos Anjos called out Michael Chandler last night, however, Chandler said that he had other plans and wouldn’t be stepping in. The UFC never offered the fight to Chandler.

Well, per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC has found their replacement for Makhachev. The Irish Dragon, Paul Felder (17-5) will be stepping in on short notice to face Dos Anjos in the main event of UFC Vegas 14.

The crazy thing to me is that the fight is still going to take place at lightweight despite the short notice. Another crazy thing is that apparently Felder has agreed to the fight remaining 25 minutes despite having no training camp. Tons of respect for the Irish Dragon.

UFC Vegas 14’s New Main Event

This is literally the best case scenario for the UFC. They are able to keep their main event together, and now, they actually have a higher ranked opponent for RDA. Sure the fight was supposed to showcase and test Makhachev, but who doesn’t want to see Felder back in there.

The last time we saw Felder compete was back in February. The Irish Dragon was in an absolute war with Dan Hooker. In Hooker’s home of Australia, Felder fought him to a brutal split decision. However, Felder showed just how good he was that night.

Felder will enter the cage as the seventh ranked lightweight in the world on Saturday night. It’s a completely different fight for Dos Anjos, but it should be a fantastic matchup in the lightweight division. Fight fans should be pumped that the UFC was able to pull this off.

The UFC’s Light Heavyweight Dilemma

Corey Anderson

The UFC has a very complicated situation that is developing in their light heavyweight division. It all started back in the summer when Jon Jones announced that he would be vacating the light heavyweight championship following his incredible run.

Jones said he wanted to focus on capturing the UFC‘s heavyweight title. Following Jones’ departure, the UFC announced that Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes would fight for the vacant light heavyweight championship.

Blachowicz went on to knock out Reyes to capture the title back at UFC 253. A fight was setup to take place before this matchup between Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos. The fight was looked at as a title eliminator. The winner was said to be in line to face Blachowicz next year for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.

However, a wrench was thrown into the plans here. Last week it was announced that Israel Adesanya would be moving up for a UFC light heavyweight championship match. He’s expected to take on Jan Blachowicz at some point early next year.

Last Saturday at UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira defeated Thiago Santos. The 41 year old won his fifth straight fight making him the clear number one contender in the light heavyweight division. However, because of the Adesanya fight, we have no idea when Teixeira will actually get a shot.

UFC’s Current Situation

When it comes to selling, Israel Adesanya challenging for the title is much bigger than Glover Teixeira for the UFC. Adesanya is a superstar who has the chance to become an even bigger star by capturing his second championship.

For the sake of the article, let’s say that Adesanya is able to defeat Blachowicz next year to capture the title. Glover Teixeira will just get the first crack at Adesanya right? Unfortunately for the 41 year old contender, it’s not that easy.

Adesanya recently said that he would still plan on fighting at 185 and defending both titles if he were to win. There’s a good chance that he would move back down after capturing the light heavyweight title to rematch with Robert Whittaker.

Even if he decides to stay at 205 for back-to-back fights, the likelihood that Teixeira would get the first title shot is low. If Adesanya defeats Blachowicz, the UFC will likely do everything they can to book the Adesanya – Jon Jones fight.

This would be the biggest fight that the promotion could possibly make. However, it would be at the expense of Glover Teixeira. With the Adesanya – Blachowicz fight in the works, the best thing for Glover’s chances is a Blachowicz win. However, if Adesanya wins, God only knows when Teixeira will actually get the shot he deserves.

Should the New York Giants claim DE Takk McKinley off waivers?

New York Giants, Takkarist McKinley

After the New York Giants fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 8, they hit the waiver wire to claim wide receiver Dante Pettis, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers.

Pettis is a troubled player who simply lacked motivation and came to camp overweight in 2019. His opportunities have quickly taken a backseat, but the Giants and head coach Joe Judge will look to extract the potential they know is still available.

Surprisingly, another quality player has hit waivers, and this time it is a first-round talent pass rusher, Takkarist McKinley, formally of the Atlanta Falcons.

McKinley was having trouble in Atlanta, having run-ins with management, forcing his way off the team, and changing his scenery. The Giants may offer him a fresh opportunity to extract his potential and possibly earn a second contract. The Falcons declined his fifth-year option, so he will be a free agent at the end of the 2020 campaign, which might bode well for the Giants, who could retain him on a cheaper deal.

What would the New York Giants be getting in Takk?

McKinley, who has played in just four games this year, stands at 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds. He has eight total tackles, one sack, five quarterback hits, and one batted ball this year. He is quite solid across-the-board, offering good run defense and pressure on the quarterback. Considering he wasn’t in the best situation and probably lacked motivation, the Giants might be able to find his potential and display it on the football field.

Joining a defense that has played above their weight class this year might help McKinley, but the only issue is he plays primarily defensive end, so he would have to adapt to an outside linebacker position. Then again, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is very good at adapting players to his scheme and might be able to fit McKinley in one way or another.

It couldn’t hurt to kick the tires on the former first-round pick, who is extremely talented but simply wasn’t a fit with the Falcons. Transitioning to OLB might also be beneficial, as his size indicates he could be a good fit. Considering Kyler Fackrell is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, McKinley should offer some talent that could revitalize their pass rush.

Acquiring him would likely make him the Giants’ best pass rusher immediately, and it is another low risk, high reward scenario that they likely view as an opportunity. However, since the Giants did add Pettis, their waiver spot might not allow them a priority selection. They will have to hope other teams pass on him for miscellaneous reasons.

New York Mets: The search for a head of baseball operations and a GM is on!

New York Mets

With Steve Cohen officialized as the New York Mets‘ owner last week, the team can now, finally, direct all of its resources to find both a president of baseball operations and a general manager to work under new team president Sandy Alderson, who is actually a familiar face in the organization having worked as the GM between 2010 and 2018.

And, naturally, several names have been thrown around. The New York Mets are a pretty desirable destination for any hungry executive with aspirations of handling baseball decisions in MLB. They have a wealthy owner and a strong core of young players, especially on offense.

Bobby Heck, who is currently the Tampa Bay Rays special assistant, is a capable baseball mind. However, the New York Post’s Mike Puma recently reported that despite those rumors about Heck being “in play for the top position, an industry source on Saturday indicated he likely won’t be the Mets’ choice.”

MLB Trade Rumors speculates that given the words used by Puma, Heck could be considered as a GM candidate but not as the president of baseball operations, which is the “top position.” Specifics aren’t know, however.

The Mets’ main candidates

Rays GM Erik Neander could also be a good candidate for any role, but Puma hears that the Rays’ majority owner Stuart Sternberg “isn’t particularly fond” of Cohen, which could result in Tampa denying the Mets permission to interview Neander.

Puma wrote down two names to keep in mind, a pair of experienced and successful candidates: Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff, with a track record of success with the Cleveland Indians.

Per the Post, other names that could “gain traction include Athletics assistant GM Billy Owens, Diamondbacks assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye, Royals assistant GM Scott Sharp and J.P. Ricciardi, who has twice worked Alderson. Another potential candidate is John Ricco, who served as the interim GM following Alderson’s departure in 2018.”

Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu adds more hardware to his shelf of trophies

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees‘ second baseman DJ LeMahieu has accomplished a lot as a Yankee. On top of a 1st Team All-MLB nod, an all-star appearance, a silver slugger, a batting title, a 2020 All-MLB nomination, and a top 3 finish in the MVP voting this year, he has another award. The BBWAA has announced that DJ LeMahieu is the NY player of the year!

DJ Lemahieu wrapped up another great campaign, and he’s being recognized for it. This is his second straight year winning the award as in 2019, he won it as well. He has been quietly collecting hardware as a Yankee, and it’s been fun to watch.

DJ LeMahieu is Racking Up the Hardware

DJ LeMahieu has a shot at winning the 2020 AL MVP to add to his resume. As a Yankee, he’s probably going to have his second All-MLB team nod as the first team member. He will also have had won his 2nd Silver Slugger at the 2nd base position as a Yankee in as many years. The only reason he hasn’t racked up defensive accolades is due to his versatility, causing him to play fewer innings at 2nd. His hardware shelf has expanded a ton in just 2 seasons as prior to becoming a Yankee, he had a batting title, 2 gold gloves, and 2 all-star appearances to his name, and now he’s stacking awards like they are Jenga pieces. Along with his 2020 Batting Title, he’s burst onto the scene as an elite player.

Becoming the Best 2B in the Game

The New York Yankees $24 million dollar investment for 2 years flourished into the best 2B in baseball since 2019. He has the best wRC+, fWAR, wOBA, and OBP out of all 2B in baseball since 2019. This is while being a pretty good defensive 2B for the Yankees.

These awards obviously don’t always tell the full story, but there’s no doubt about 1 thing; DJ has been everything and then some you could ask for out of a 2B. With his power and on-base percentage numbers, he’s become a fan favorite for a reason. The two-man wrecking crew that DJ and Judge were in the 2019 playoffs, and then the table-setter DJ was for the Yankees in the 2020 regular season gave the Yankees a breath of fresh air with the injuries. He’s a superstar now, and he’s deserving of his praise.