What if the Jets had drafted Dan Marino?

The New York Jets have one Super Bowl title in their history. That was all the way back in 1969 with Joe Namath, the greatest quarterback the team has ever had. Since then, players such as Richard Todd, Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez and Sam Darnold have manned the helm, to name a few.

Another player worth mentioning is Ken O’Brien, who was drafted to be the “quarterback of the future” in the 1983 draft. They drafted him with pick 24. Who was still available and selected three picks later by the Miami Dolphins? Dan Marino.

O’Brien was selected to two Pro Bowls, but Marino made it to nine Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl and the Hall of Fame. So, the question looms: what if the Jets had drafted Dan Marino?

What Could’ve Been

Now, this isn’t meant as a slight to Ken O’Brien, who was a solid quarterback for the Jets. However, Dan Marino is one of the greatest to ever play and they had an opportunity to get him in the green and white.

Marino made the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons and made the Super Bowl in his second season. That by itself is astonishing, but he also rewrote the record books that season. He set six league records including the most touchdown passes in a single season at the time (48) and became the first player to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season.

Being that this is a “what if” question, this is what the 1984 Jets offense would look like if Marino was plugged in:

QB: Dan Marino*

RB: Freeman McNeil*

WR1: Wesley Walker

TE: Mickey Shuler

*Pro Bowl selection 

I’m sure this “what if” offense could have some Jets fans salivating about the impossible possibilities of this unit. This group could’ve made some noise in the AFC and the league. To add to this fantasy, the Jets’ defense wasn’t all that bad either. They were led by players such as Marty Lyons, Lance Mehl and Mark Gastineau, who had 22 sacks that season.

Delusional Jets fans, such as myself, could see Marino making the Super Bowl that season with this group as well. Although, is it really all that delusional?

The two Dolphins receivers, Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, both had better seasons than Jets receivers, although they did have Marino. The Dolphins running back, Tony Nathan, was nowhere near being on the level of Freeman McNeil, who was a Pro Bowler. The tight end position isn’t much of a discussion as well since Mickey Shuler had a better season with the Jets than Dan Johnson did with the Dolphins. So, isn’t it a real possibility that Marino could’ve brought the 1984 Jets to the Super Bowl as well?

Okay fine, they may not have made it because, well, they’re the Jets. But what if it took one year longer to get there? Could 1985 have been the year? Let’s see what that offense would look like:

QB: Dan Marino*

RB: Freeman McNeil*

WR1: Wesley Walker

WR2: Al Toon

TE: Mickey Shuler

*Pro Bowl selection

The group is pretty much the same, except with the edition of then-rookie Al Toon. Also, on defense, the Jets added someone by the name of Joe Klecko. This team finished 11-5 that year and lost in the wild card game. Dan Marino could have very well pushed this team further in the playoffs. If not, the Jets had the same offensive unit the next year, except with Pro Bowl versions of Al Toon and Mickey Shuler.

So, once again, what if the Jets had drafted Dan Marino? Well, they could very well have another Super Bowl title in their history.

Islanders’ Mathew Barzal a model for one future NHLer

Mathew Barzal has taken huge steps in his career to become one of prominent players, not just for the Islanders but in the entire NHL.

From his Calder Trophy winning rookie campaign to his wonderful performance in the bubble postseason this past summer, Barzal’s game and reputation has continued to grow.

For one future NHLer, Phil Tomasino, he sees the 23-year old Barzal as the model for the kind of player he wants to be.

He’s so smooth with the puck and makes plays,” the Nashville Predators 24th overall pick from 2019 told TSN.ca. “He’s great defensively and an all-around player as well so he’s kind of the guy I try to be like.”

 

Barzal has made tremendous strides defensively as Tomasino referred to, thanks in large part to head coach Barry Trotz. Trotz’s defensive system he’s implemented since taking over behind the Islanders’ bench two years ago has helped turned the team into one of the stingiest defensive teams in the league. That dynamic is akin to the one of when Trotz was at his prior coaching gig when he was with the Washington Capitals and dealing with another superstar, Alex Ovechkin.

”I watched almost every Islanders game this year and seeing the way he skates, the way he moves the puck, I see a little bit of myself in him. Hopefully, I get the chance to be as good as him one day,” Tomasino added.

Barzal is still young enough to where he hasn’t even reached his peak from a defensive standpoint. Skating, his most lethal weapon, has drawn comparisons to some of the best in the league, which Tomasino would like to also emulate.

Said Tomasino: “The way he’s able to skate by guys up the ice, he’s probably the best in the League at it other than probably [Connor] McDavid.”

That’s some pretty elite company to be put in. But it shouldn’t come as a shock. Barzal is a superstar in the making.

“He’s incredible and such a smooth skater … He’s an incredible all-around player. You watch him on the back check and he’s always stripping guys and stuff like that so just a great player and I love watching him,” Tomasino concluded.

Tomasino will hopefully be in the NHL soon enough. The Predators have high hopes for him after watching his dominance in juniors which included a 100-point season in 62 games this past year for the Oshawa Generals.

When he does finally get the call, it will be fun to see Tomasino try and mirror Barzal.

He won’t be the first, and certainly won’t be the last.

UFC booking Carlos Condit – Matt Brown

Carlos Condit

The UFC is close to finalizing a fun welterweight contest for fans in 2021. Per MMA Fighting, the promotion is close to finalizing a contest between former interim champion, Carlos Condit (31-13), and Matt Brown (22-17).

This is the third time that the UFC has attempted to book these guys against each other. However, injuries derailed both of the previous matchups. This is an incredibly fun matchup for fans and a fight that makes sense for both fighters.

Carlos Condit fought for the first time in almost two years back in October. That night, Condit was able to snap his five fight losing streak and get a much needed win over Court McGee. Condit looked good that night even breaking the nose of McGee.

The 36 year old former UFC champion made it clear that night that he wasn’t done. It seemed that after the fight, Condit was rejuvenated by the much needed win. While a title run might not be in the cards, he’s still got gas in the tank.

UFC’s January 30th Card

The proposed welterweight contest is going to take place on the UFC‘s January 30th card. For Matt Brown, he’s going to be attempting to bounce back from his knockout loss to Miguel Baeza which occurred back in May.

Prior to that knockout loss, Brown had won back-to-back fights by knockout. Brown has long been known as one of the more entertaining and game fighters that the UFC has on their roster.

To me, this fight isn’t really about moving forward towards the top of the division. This is a fight between two guys who still have fight left in them and they are looking to put on a show for UFC fans.

It’s going to be a fantastic matchup. If both men show up at their best on January 30th, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I’m expecting a fun striking war when these two stand across from each other next year.

New York Giants: Week nine stock report, ups and downs

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants defeated the Washington Football Team 23-20 on Sunday.

It was the second win of the season for this New York squad that has struggled to close out games. However, fortunately, Big Blue was able to hold onto their 17 point lead and win the game. They now stand at 2-7 and tied for last in the NFC East.

Here’s how this win affected the stock of various players in the Giants organization.

Stock up

Daniel Jones, QB

Daniel Jones played one of his most complete games of this season in week nine. The sophomore quarterback finished with 212 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 94.2. These are average numbers, but when you combine it with the fact that he did not turn over the ball for the first time this season, this makes this game one of the best games in his entire career.

Austin Mack, WR

The undrafted free-agent showed out on Sunday with an increased role for the first time in his short career. Austin Mack corralled four receptions on five targets and turned them into 72 yards. He was the Giants’ leading receiver on the day and also had New York’s longest reception of the season, 50 yards. It seems like his role may continue to increase as this receiving core is unproven.

Alfred Morris, RB

Alfred Morris continued his revival to his career by posting 67 yards on nine touches. The former Washington running back looked like his former self against his former team as he made sharp cuts and put together many nice runs. This performance earned the running back to be the Giants’ highest-graded player, with a grade of 85.6, by Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Safeties

The safety department has slowly become one of the strongest aspects of this New York team with the tandem of Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan. In week nine, Peppers had six tackles, three passes defended, one fumble recovery, and one interception. His partner in crime also had six tackles, two passes defended, and an interception of his own. Both played phenomenally all game-breaking up crucial passes, most notably, on the last two drives when they each recorded an interception to help secure the victory.

Blake Martinez, LB

On the defensive side, Blake Martinez was once again the best player for Big Blue. He recorded a team-high 10 tackles while also defending two passes and recording one interception. Martinez has quickly proved his worth as an amazing and cost-efficient, signing for this squad as he has been one of the better linebackers in the NFL this season (6th, according to PFF).

Leonard Williams, DT

Another player who has been at the top of his game this season and is continuing to improve is Leonard Williams. On Sunday, Williams recorded his fifth sack after just having 0.5 sacks the season before. He has really been proving his worth as an elite interior defender, and if he keeps it up, he may get paid what he desires.

Stock Down

Isaac Yiadom, CB

This pretty much sums up Yiadom’s performance in week nine. 

The former Bronco really struggled to guard anyone and was constantly targeted in Washington’s attempt to come from behind. Yiadom has proved that he is not at the level to be a CB2 in the NFL, but at this point, New York does not have many other options.

Golden Tate, WR

Golden Tate was a healthy scratch on Sunday due to disciplinary issues, and the New York pass attack did not seem to miss a beat. His time in blue and red is in serious jeopardy.

Darius Slayton, WR

Another receiver whose stock has been dropping is Darius Slayton. With the new quick passing attack, his role has diminished. Slayton now has less than three catches in three of his last four games, and in week nine, he only had one catch for two yards. He needs to find a way to try to work himself back in this offense.

Shane Lemieux, LG

The rookie out of Oregon really struggled in his second start against a fierce Washington front. He received a pass-blocking PFF grade of just 20.8 as he allowed one sack and three pressures. The performance, combined with the return of Will Hernandez, should put Lemieux back to his original spot as a reserve guard going forward.

New York Mets: Trevor Bauer is appreciative of Sandy Alderson’s words

New York Yankees, Trevor Bauer

It is no secret that the New York Mets are in need of a top rotation reinforcement, maybe more. Jacob deGrom is perhaps the best starter in baseball, and Marcus Stroman is a good mid-rotation arm. But Noah Syndergaard is injured and while David Peterson was a nice surprise in his rookie year, more depth is needed.

Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League Cy Young, is available for just money. Steve Cohen, the New York Mets’ new owner, has loads of it. It isn’t always that easy, but all the pieces fit.

After Mets’ president Sandy Alderson had kind words for Bauer, saying that his personality is built for New York and that he basically supports his contributions to the “entertainment business” that is baseball, the hurler was appreciative.

“I heard Sandy’s comments, and it was refreshing to hear him speak that way about me,” Bauer said, via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. “In the past, a lot of the narrative surrounding me is I couldn’t handle a big market, a big media market, I was a head case, or whatever the case is, that’s kind of been the narrative. So to hear that someone as high-ranking as Sandy feels the way he feels about that is refreshing and good to hear him speak like that. I’m certainly very appreciative of that.”

Bauer would make a lot of sense for the Mets

Bauer just finished the short 2020 season with a 1.73 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, and 0.795 WHIP. He had a fantastic start for the Cincinnati Reds against the Atlanta Braves during the NL Wild Card round, but his team didn’t score and was swept. Now, lots of teams are interested in services, including the New York Mets.

“I also kind of zeroed in on one of the things he said, which is, ‘Baseball’s an entertainment business.’ We are an entertainment business, and I think that’s a view that I share. It’s something that I’m passionate about. I certainly would like to move that initiative forward, because I think that the players will be better for it when they start looking at it that way. Yes, you are paid to play baseball and to win on the field obviously, but you can’t do that 24/7. So if you can maximize your time and buy into the entertainment side of things, there’s so much opportunity for players to do things like that, and I think that the culture of baseball has slowly begun to shift in that direction.”

Bauer and the Mets make sense as a long-term marriage.

New York Yankees Analysis: The Yankees need to bite the bullet and negotiate with Trevor Bauer

New York Yankees, Trevor Bauer

The New York Yankees need pitching help. The Yankees being cash short due to a season with no fan and associated revenue is trying to find a way to patch up a starting pitching rotation that presently only has two pitchers. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ were not offered qualifying offers. The chances of them coming back for the 2021 season are remote, although the Yankees have reportedly talked to Tanaka. If he comes back, it will be a shortened contract at far less than he earned this year.

The Yankees have reportedly been looking at several options to get a mid-rotation premium type pitcher. Names like Charlie Morton, Lance Lynn, Kevin Gausman, and Marcus Stroman have all been mentioned. Any of them would make acceptable mid-rotation pitchers. It appears that some free agents are taking the route of accepting qualifying offers and waiting to hit the market next year when hopefully, the market will be financially better. Kevin Gausman and Marcus Stroman have both taken that route.

The New York Yankees’ choices for pitching replacements are dwindling, which may increase Tanaka’s likelihood of returning. But if they can’t get Tanaka at a substantial discount, they will let him walk. If the Yankees are truly committed, after spending $324 million for Gerrit Cole to get to a 28th World Championship, they can’t keep doing what they have been doing and expect different results. If they spend some of the $70 million they have shaved from payroll to make a truly impactful move, they will go out and get Trevor Bauer.

Any remnants of a college feud that Bauer and Cole may have hand will be put away in a quest for a World Series ring. Both pitchers are brilliant and know what a tandem of Cole and Bauer will do for the New York Yankees.

The question will be, will the Yankees put their money where their mouth is. They did it with Cole, but without an ace-like pitcher following him, they are wasting their money. The Yankees might have Domingo German coming back, and even Luis Severino by mid-season. But the Yankees have no way of knowing how they will perform after not pitching for a year. But, the question would be eased if they followed two quality pitchers.

In this writer’s opinion, the number one priority for the Yankees should be signing Trevor Bauer, number two should be securing DJ LeMahieu for the next four years. Any other problem the Yankees have is not as important as these to listed priorities. Brian Cashman, if your listening, go out and get Trevor Bauer, even it’s for a one-year contract.

Report: Yankees inquiring about future Hall of Fame catcher Yadier Molina

Yadier Molina, New York Yankees

For years, Yadier Molina has been one of the game’s most valuable catchers. His defensive contributions have been crucial to a couple of St. Louis Cardinals championships, and he carries a passable stick (if we consider his defensive prowess) even at 38 years old. The New York Yankees, with the struggling Gary Sanchez and a career backup in Kyle Higashioka, could be interested in upgrading at the position, and the veteran free agent backstop could provide an alternative.

To be clear, the New York Yankees haven’t shown any signs of wanting to upgrade the position. Sanchez, a career 117 wRC+ hitter who slumped all the way to 69 this season, lost his starting gig during the playoffs but still carries tremendous offensive potential.

However, fans and even some media circles have speculated that the Yankees could explore dealing the All-Star catcher. If that’s the case, Molina could make sense as an alternative. He clearly knows how to call a game and has championship pedigree.

Should the Yankees be interested?

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported on Thursday that Molina “has received calls with interest” from the Yankees, Mets, and three or four other teams. Make no mistake: the Cards are viewed as the favorites to get his services, and he has stated a desire of retiring with that uniform. But he will likely explore all deals before making a decision.

Molina is said to want a two-year contract. With the current market conditions, it doesn’t appear likely that he gets an extremely lucrative deal given his age, but he has won nine Gold Gloves and is still an above-average defensive catcher. The Yankees could certainly benefit from having him around, but it would depend on the cost.

During the 2020 season, he slashed .262/.303/.359 with four home runs over 42 games. For his career, he carries a .281/.333/.404 slash line with a .321 wOBA and a 99 wRC+. He is eight years removed from his best season, which came in 2012: .315/.373/.501, a .375 wOBA, a 138 wRC+, 22 home runs and a 7.7 fWAR.

Chances are that Molina will return to St. Louis when all is said and done, but if you are the Yankees, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

New York Giants: What beating the Eagles would mean to Joe Judge and his team

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

It almost feels like the Philadelphia Eagles represent that one final roadblock standing in the way of the New York Giants and turning the corner toward success. The Giants haven’t beaten Philadelphia away since 2013, and their last victory against this pesky opponent was in 2016 when the Giants won 28-23 on November 6.

Beating the Eagles represents much more than just a point in the victory column, it also suggests that a curse has been lifted from a franchise that has struggled to return to relevance.

The Giants, who are currently 2-7 and coming off a big win over the Washington Football Team, have a bit of momentum heading into Sunday’s game against Philly. However, they are expected to gain back receiver Alshon Jeffery, and they recently returned rookie Jalen Reagor to the receiver corps. The Giants will have a bolstered competitor compared to their first meeting this season, but they are still capable of walking away with a victory despite the addition of talent for the Eagles.

Currently, Philadelphia’s defense ranks in the middle of the pack in points allowed. They allow an average of 25.6 points per game, while the Giants are at 24.3. Offensively, they are worse, averaging just 22.7 points while the Giants are at 18.7, a significant difference in the margin, but Big Blue is taking small steps forward every week.

How can the New York Giants beat Philly?

The Giants’ game plan will be simple, establish the run and control time of possession, keeping the Eagles offense off the field. The Giants’ offensive line has taken a significant leap in the run game, propelling Alfred Morris and Wayne Gallman to 166 yards against Washington last week against a talented defensive front. The Eagles are also strong in the trenches, but giving Daniel Jones some time in the pocket and keeping the defense honest is the recipe for success.

With the NFC East in a tight race among all four teams, the Giants have an opportunity to overcome the Eagles and compete for a playoff spot. Despite the primary goal of overcoming NFC East challengers and making the post-season, beating the Eagles is a much more pressing challenge. They represent years of inadequacy and floundering for the Giants, and turning this page will be a huge development in Big Blue’s progress toward being a respectable team once again.

Report: Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka extension talks gaining steam

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees have yet to make any off-season moves following the World Series’s conclusion, despite most of the rumors and talks being centered around star infielder DJ LeMahieu. He recently rejected the Yankees’ qualifying offer on Wednesday and is now preparing to hit free agency with a full head of steam.

After turning in two impressive campaigns with the Yankees, he will be looking for a long-term deal worth big money, something the Yankees desire to offer DJ but don’t want to overpay on.

According to Dan Federico, the Yankees and starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka have also been in talks besides DJ.

It is no surprise the Yankees and Tanaka are still contemplating a reunion, based simply on the fact that the Japanese-born pitcher has been extremely consistent since joining the Bombers back in 2014. This past season, Tanaka finished with a 3.56 ERA, tallying a 43.3% ground ball rate and 16.4% home run to fly ball ratio (Fangraphs).

If Tanaka rejoins the Yankees, his contract will be far more team-friendly than in years past. Last season, he earned $23 million, far above his market value at this point in his career. The Yankees could offer him around $15 million per season, cutting it by $8 million and making him a more serviceable pitcher when it comes to finances.

In terms of arm velocity and efficiency, he utilized his fastball 24.1% of the time, splitter 24.6%, and slider 37.5%. He used the slider more than any other year in his career but also saw an increase in velocity by 1 mph in his fastball and slider.

Seemingly, Tanaka hasn’t lost a beat with his arm strength. His major issue last season was continuity, after being plunked in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton comebacker, which kept him out for several weeks and broke his consistency leading up to the start of the 2020 regular season.

With a full pre-season of baseball and a decreased yearly salary hit, bringing him back should be a more welcomed idea for the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman.

UFC: Leon Edwards promised a title shot if he beats Khamzat Chimaev

Leon Edwards

2020 has been a very frustrating year for the UFC‘s third ranked welterweight. Leon Edwards (18-3) was originally supposed to take on former champion, Tyron Woodley, back in March. Edwards would be entering that contest on an eight fight winning streak.

The general thought was that if Edwards won, he would be getting a UFC title shot. A week before the event was set to take place, the pandemic shut down the UFC‘s production and the Edwards – Woodley fight was cancelled.

The UFC decided to move the fight to May. However, due to the shutdown in the UK, Edwards was unable to train or travel. Gilbert Burns was given the shot and he ended up dominating Tyron Woodley.

Jorge Masvidal was originally supposed to fight Kamaru Usman for the title, however, that fight fell apart. The UFC called Edwards to see if he’d be able to take the fight, but due to the shutdowns, he had to pass up the opportunity.

The UFC then turned to Gilbert Burns and gave him the title shot. Burns came down with COVID and the promotion ultimately ended up going back to Jorge Masvidal to headline UFC 251 against Kamaru Usman.

After Usman defeated Masvidal, the promotion announced that Gilbert Burns was the number one contender. Meanwhile, Leon Edwards has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for his chance.

UFC title eliminator

While all of this was going on, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) was taking the world by storm. Chimaev has fought three times since July and he’s dominated everyone that the UFC has put in front of him.

The promotion was really struggling to book Chimaev in a headliner because nobody wanted to fight him. The promotion was also struggling to get Leon Edwards a fight. Edwards wanted a top contender or a title shot.

However, all of the top contenders were booked and the title fight was booked. Due to inactivity, Edwards was actually briefly removed from the UFC‘s rankings. Shortly after, a frustrated Edwards called for the fight nobody wanted.

The UFC then booked Edwards against the rising star, Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev is not currently ranked while Edwards is in the top three. However, given the hype, this is a fight that can put Edwards over the top.

In fact, Edwards told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani he’s been promised a title shot if he wins. Edwards said, “That’s been mentioned (a title shot). I believe that I’m going to get that title shot after I beat him (Chimaev).”

It’s a crazy fight, but it’s been a crazy year. It’s odd to think, but whoever wins on December 19th is likely going to get a shot at the UFC‘s welterweight champion. Leon Edwards can finally get his shot, or Khamzat Chimaev will show the world just how special he really is.