New York Jets: The Jets are officially eliminated from playoff contention

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets knew going into the season they were not going to make the playoffs. It is set and stone now. It’s official, the Jets are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

What had to happen?

A few things needed to take place before the Jets were mathematically out of the playoffs. The Jets needed to lose to the Chargers, they did. The Chargers beat the Jets 34-28. The Miami Dolphins or the Indianapolis Colts had to win their game. The Dolphins lost to the Denver Broncos, but the Colts beat the Packers. The Colts beat the Packers in overtime by a field goal, 34-31.

This marks the 10th straight year for the Jets not making it into the playoffs. This is currently the second-longest drought in franchise history. Not like this was not expected, but with the NFL gaining another playoff spot due to COVID-19, they got out of playoff contention this early is mind-blowing.

What does this mean for the Jets?

The season has ended early for the Jets but not for the entire NFL. The Jets have a chance to become the third team in NFL history to have a winless season. When your team is winless, that means, you have the best chance to have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. This pick could turn around the Jets franchise.

UFC: Sean O’Malley announces the date of his return

Sean O'Malley

The UFC‘s Suga Show is back. Per his official Instagram, Sean O’Malley (12-1) will be making his highly anticipated return early next year. O’Malley said that he will be returning to the UFC on February 13th.

February 13th is the targeted date for UFC 258 although that has not been confirmed. There are already some great matchups for that card including Kamaru Usman – Gilbert Burns as well as Chris Weidman – Uriah Hall 2. 

O’Malley’s addition will make the UFC‘s return to the US even bigger. The promotion is expected to start off 2021 on Fight Island with a card that will be headlined by Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar. 

Dana White said last week that the UFC is planning on a three show run on Fight Island culminating with UFC 257 headlined by the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. It’s not confirmed on if the promotion will have additional shows on Fight Island.

What we do know is that O’Malley’s return is tentatively scheduled for Las Vegas. O’Malley didn’t announce who is opponent was, but I’m anticipating we should know that information sooner rather than later.

UFC Return for the Suga Show

After nearly two years off, Sean O’Malley’s UFC return in 2020 couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. In March, he knocked out Jose Alberto Quinonez in the first round of their fight.

O’Malley topped that performance at UFC 250 when he had a clean walkoff knockout against former title challenger Eddie Wineland. The Suga Show was ready to bust into the top ten, however, he ran into Chito Vera back at UFC 252.

O’Malley looked sensational at the start of the fight. He had Vera biting heavy on nearly everything he was throwing and he was getting the better of the striking exchanges. However, near the end of the round, O’Malley started rolling over his ankle.

There’s been a lot of debate on whether this occurred due to ankle wraps or Vera’s calf kicks. Likely the latter of those two. Chito Vera took full advantage of the wounded O’Malley and ended up getting the first round finish.

It was a tough loss for O’Malley, but the future is still bright for him. He’s one of the up and coming stars for the promotion, and I’m very interested to see who the UFC is going to pair him with when he returns.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams playing at Pro Bowl level in 2020

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants are trending upward after a shaky start to the 2020 NFL season. New York has won three of its last five games, led by its stout defense that ranks tied-eleventh in the NFL in total sacks (25). Patrick Graham and the Giants’ defense has been a consistent strong point for the team this season.

One of the reasons for the Giants’ defensive success has been their defensive line. New York possesses one of the best young defensive lines in the NFL. Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams make up a beastly front trio for the Giants’ defense.

This year, though, the Giants have had one of their defensive linemen emerge and establish himself as one of the best in the game. Leonard Williams has had a breakout season in his second year with the New York Giants and is playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Leonard Williams Stats and Highlights

Former New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be playing his way to his second career Pro Bowl appearance. Of course, the Pro Bowl is happening in some virtual format this year, but players will still be honored for their special seasons by being selected to Pro Bowl teams.

In 2016, Leonard Williams made the Pro Bowl as a member of the New York Jets. This was Williams’s second season in the NFL. That season, Williams recorded 7 total sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hits. Williams is on pace to beat each one of those marks this season.

Through 10 games in 2020, Williams already has 5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits on the season. Williams is on pace to crush his career-high statistics this year. He has had an absolute breakout season in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme after a highly-disappointing 2019 season.

Last year, Williams was only able to manage 0.5 sack on the season. He failed to get home and bring down opposing quarterbacks, despite generating a high number of pressures. This year, though, Williams has turned those pressures into sacks at a higher rate and the Giants’ defense has benefited from this.

This will be a career year for Leonard Williams if he continues to play at this level. Playing on a franchise tag this season, Williams is in line for a lucrative contract extension this upcoming offseason. He seems to have earned one so far this season.

New York Mets won’t hire a president of baseball operations; will focus on general manager

As the New York Mets announced that Luis Rojas would return as the team manager for the 2021 season, president Sandy Alderson was very happy to welcome him back into the fold.

“I’m very happy about that decision,” Alderson said. “I think Luis is happy as well, and I’m looking forward to working with Luis with our new general manager and the rest of the new baseball operations group toward a successful 2021 season.”

Two weeks ago, the New York Mets’ president had said that Rojas was “very likely” to return as the team skipper, but didn’t quite make it official because he said that the president of baseball operations and the general manager, two positions that still haven’t been filled, would like to have a say in that decision.

However, as the Mets let the world know Rojas is coming back, Alderson said that they will not fill the president of baseball operations position. Instead, he explained that he will focus on finding a general manager.

Alderson is in charge of the Mets’ baseball decisions

That means Alderson, who was the Mets’ general manager from 2010 until 2018, will make baseball decisions at least for the time being.

Alderson said that the Mets have, so far, interviewed six candidates for the GM spot. There will be a second round of interviews, so an announcement is not imminent.

For now, Alderson seems very pleased about his first major on-field staff decision: securing Rojas’ role as a manager.

“Luis as an individual, as a person who’s able to relate to his players both in terms of their professional work as well as their personal lives, I think he’s exceptional in that regard,” Alderson said. “On the professional side, managing a game, I think that he will be better. We need to make sure that he has all of the necessary resources to be better and make good decisions based not only on his own judgment, but information that’s available. He’s very open to that. So I’m very happy that Luis is coming back, both from a personal standpoint and a professional standpoint,” he told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

Buffalo Bills: Tommy Sweeney out for season due to COVID-19 condition

The Buffalo Bills tight end and New Jersey native was diagnosed with myocarditis, a condition sometimes associated with COVID-19.

The Buffalo Bills have announced that tight end Tommy Sweeney will miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition associated with COVID-19.

Sweeney, in the midst of his second season with the Bills, was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on October 24 after he was deemed a close contact when fellow tight end Dawson Knox tested positive for the virus. He had yet to appear in a 2020 game due to a foot injury prior to Knox’s positive test. The Ramsey, NJ native joined the Bills as a seventh-round draft pick out of Boston College last season and earned 114 yards on eight receptions in his debut campaign.

“I saw him today, he’s in good spirits,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said, per The Buffalo News. “He’s had a rough year, with the injury, COVID, and residual piece of the COVID, unfortunately. We know he’s a good football player and a guy that we believe in and can’t wait to get him back on the field when he can in the offseason.”

According to WebMD, myocarditis is “inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium)”. Symptoms include shortness of breath, abnormal heartbeat, light-headedness, and joint pain. Though the full extent of its direct association is unknown, the rare viral disease has been found in COVID-19 patients, even those who have recovered. Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was diagnosed with myocarditis after a bout with coronavirus in July, who sat out the shortened 2020 MLB season to recover.

The Bills (7-3) are set to return to action this weekend following their bye week. They’ll host the Los Angeles Chargers at home on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

BREAKING NEWS: Luis Rojas will return as the New York Mets’ manager in 2021

The New York Mets are sticking with Luis Rojas for the 2021 season, as team president Sandy Alderson explained to reporters on Monday in a press conference. Although Rojas was appointed as the skipper under the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen’s time, new owner Steve Cohen and Alderson decided to give him another opportunity.

Rojas is a longtime member of the New York Mets in a variety of roles, from minor league manager to bench coach to coach of quality control. For more than a decade, he’s been involved with the organization.

He’s highly regarded as a good manager and has the respect of the players and the front office. He even managed several of the Mets’ current stars, such as Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and others while they were going through the minor league ranks.

A disappointing first season with the Mets

In his first season in charge of the Mets, Rojas compiled a 26-34 record, the worst in the National League East division. The team’s performance was viewed as a bitter disappointment given the talent available in the roster.

However, he had to deal with a myriad of injuries and two very important players opting out of playing due to COVID-19 concerns: Yoenis Cespedes and Marcus Stroman.

Now, the team is searching for a president of baseball operations and a general manager, although recent reports state that the Mets will probably ditch the former position and, instead, focus on the latter.

The Mets are expected to be major players in the free agency period, although Cohen and Alderson have said that they won’t spend money just because. They need to find a starting catcher, replace the suspended Robinson Cano at second base, and find a couple of good starting pitchers, not to mention patching up the relief corps.

What should the UFC do with Mike Perry?

This past Saturday night at UFC 255, Mike Perry (14-7) fought on the main card when he took on Tim Means (31-12-1, 1 NC). Perry has made headlines outside of the octagon for all of his troubles.

Those troubles include domestic violence accusations and a bar fight where he knocked out an old man. Still, Perry finds himself competing in the UFC‘s welterweight division. However, he messed up again last week.

After taunting Tim Means a week before the fight while eating cheeseburgers, Perry missed weight by 4.5 pounds. He wasn’t even close and normally this is something that infuriates UFC President Dana White.

Once the fights were over, I was expecting White to be more of a critic of Perry. However, White said in the post-fight press conference that Mike Perry is entertaining. The UFC 255 contest with Means was very entertaining.

In the first round, Perry was able to get Tim Means to the ground and get his back. The next two rounds were completely on the feet with Means getting the better of the exchanges. However, Perry did land some bombs and the fight was fun to watch.

What does the UFC do with Perry?

Now that the fight is over, we can start to think about what’s next. In reality, Mike Perry has been a PR nightmare for the UFC this year. In addition to that, he’s just 3-6 in his last nine fights inside the octagon.

I really do enjoy watching Mike Perry compete in the octagon. As Dana White said, he’s a ton of fun to watch. I also believe that Mike Perry has a lot of talent. He’s just got some issues he really needs to work through.

He needs to get himself in a good camp and he needs to take fighting more serious. While he’s entertaining, nobody can look at Mike Perry right now and say he’s a serious contender in the UFC.

I think the promotion needs to have a serious intervention with Perry. They need to be blunt about him getting his life together. If he can’t show that he’s willing to take it serious, he has no business in the UFC.

There are so many contenders that are just itching to get their chance with the promotion. I don’t think the promotion will cut Perry, but I think they keep him on the condition that he straightens up. His leash should be extremely short with the promotion.

New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox to meet in 2021 “Field of Dreams” game

Major League Baseball announced in a press release on Monday that the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will meet in the 2021 “Field of Dreams” game in Dyersville, Iowa. The game had been scheduled for the 2020 season between the two teams, but the matchup was postponed due to COVID-19.

In the release, the MLB stated that “plans will remain contingent upon the status of public health next summer, and the feasibility of ticket availability will be evaluated in the months ahead.”

An 8,000 seat temporary ballpark will play host the game in the cornfields of Iowa, where the movie Field of Dreams took place. The stadium finished construction last year, but was reportedly torn down after the cancelation of last year’s game.

The matchup between the two teams will take place on Thursday, August 12th, 2021 while televised nationally on FOX.

UFC: Is it time for Shogun Rua to hang it up?

Shogun Rua

This past weekend at UFC 255, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (27-12-1) took on Paul Craig (14-4-1) on the main card. The two men had previously fought about a year ago in a fight that resulted in a split draw.

The fight on Saturday night didn’t go according to plan for the former UFC light heavyweight champion. Rua couldn’t keep Craig off of him for the most part in the fight. Shogun said that he actually sustained an elbow injury after Craig’s first takedown.

He had moments in the first and second round whenever the two were striking. Shogun was able to land a couple of really good straight shots, but he wasn’t throwing any leg kicks which I though would be key for a victory at UFC 255.

Conventional wisdom would say that he wasn’t throwing leg kicks to avoid the takedowns. However, he still wasn’t able to avoid the takedowns from Craig. Shogun looked slow and withered in the second round of the fight.

Craig was able to land a big takedown and take Shogun’s back. It wasn’t long after that, that Shogun found himself flattened out. After Craig landed a few big shots, Shogun tapped out due to the strikes giving Craig the TKO victory.

UFC future for Shogun Rua

The former UFC light heavyweight champion is going to be turning 39 years old this week. He looked like a shell of his former self on Saturday night and Dana White said that he believes he should be done in the post-fight press conference. 

In Rua’s Instagram post where he detailed his elbow injury, he said that he would talk to his family about his future. The former UFC light heavyweight champion has accomplished so much in his historic career.

He’s one of a few men to have captured titles in Pride and in the UFC. However, he hasn’t been able to compete at the top level for a very long time. He’s stayed competitive, but it’s clear that his career is on life support.

If Shogun was to compete again, I would only want the UFC to give him a fight that he could actually win. I personally wish he would have walked away after the trilogy with Nogueira because there is truly nothing left for the legend to prove in this sport.

New York Rangers prospects continue to stand out, Lafreniere decision expected shortly

While the New York Rangers sit and wait for the NHL and NHLPA to work out a deal to start the 2020-2021 season, the Blueshirt prospects continue to give fans something to talk about.

Eight prospect players were highlighted in the New York Rangers prospect report that was made available on Monday.

Here is a look at how they are doing as of Nov. 23.

Players:

Nils Lundkvist registered five points (three goals, two assists) in three games during the past week; he tallied an assist and posted a plus-two rating in 23:14 of ice time on Nov. 19 against Orebro, recorded two points (one goal, one assist) and a plus-two rating on Nov. 21 against Linkoping, and established a single-game SHL career-high with two goals and tied a single-game SHL career-high with seven shots on goal on Nov. 22 against Farjestad. The Rangers’ first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has registered nine points (five goals, four assists) and 46 shots on goal in 15 SHL games in 2020-21, and he has averaged 20:37 of ice time in the 15 contests. Lundkvist is tied for first among SHL defensemen in goals this season, and he also leads SHL defensemen who are in their U21 season or younger in goals and points in 2020-21. His 46 shots on goal this season are the fifth-most by an SHL defenseman; he has already recorded half as many shots on goal as he did all of last season while only playing in one-third as many games (46 shots on goal in 15 games this season – 3.07 shots on goal per game; 92 shots on goal in 45 games last season – 2.04 shots on goal per game). Lundkvist leads Lulea in shots on goal, and he is tied for the team lead in goals and power-play goals (three) in 2020-21. Lundkvist ranks second on Lulea in average ice time this season, and his 20:37 average ice time per game is the highest among all SHL players who are 20 years old or younger. He has registered 21 career SHL goals, which is the third-most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history. In addition, Lundkvist’s 55 career SHL points are the fourth-most by an SHL defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history.

Eric Ciccolini recorded the game-winning goal on Nov. 19 against the University of Wisconsin and was on the ice for the game-winning goal in overtime on Nov. 20 against the University of Wisconsin. The Rangers’ seventh-round pick (205th overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft has recorded two goals/points in three games with the University of Michigan thus far this season, and he has also registered eight shots on goal and a plus-three rating in the three contests. Ciccolini tallied 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 26 games in his freshman year at the University of Michigan in 2019-20, and he ranked second among Michigan freshmen in assists and tied for third among Michigan freshmen in points last season.

Lauri Pajuniemi tallied a goal and posted a plus-one rating on Nov. 21 against HPK. The Rangers’ fifth-round pick (132nd overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has registered three points (two goals, one assist) and 32 shot attempts (18 of which have been on goal) in eight games with TPS in Liiga in 2020-21.

Vitali Kravtsov led all skaters with five shots on goal and 20:34 of ice time on Nov. 18 against SKA, and he established a single-game KHL career-high in ice time in the contest. Kravtsov also played on Traktor’s first line in each of the team’s three games during the past week. The Rangers’ first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has recorded 11 points (eight goals, three assists), a plus-eight rating, and 67 shots on goal in 22 KHL games with Traktor this season. Kravtsov leads Traktor in goals, even-strength goals (seven), and shots on goal per game (3.0), is tied for second on the team in shots on goal and is tied for third on the team in plus/minus rating in 2020-21. Among KHL players who are in their U22 season or younger in 2020-21, he ranks first in goals, is tied for second in plus/minus rating, and ranks third in points this season.

Tarmo Reunanen tied for the game-high with nine shot attempts (three of which were on goal) and posted a plus-one rating in 26:54 of ice time on Nov. 18 against JYP, and he also registered a goal, recorded six shot attempts, and posted a plus-two rating while skating in a game-high 28:58 of ice time on Nov. 21 against TPS. The Rangers’ fourth-round pick (98th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has recorded one goal, 18 shot attempts, and a plus-three rating in five games with HPK in Liiga this season, and he has averaged 24:56 of ice time per game in those five contests.

Leevi Aaltonen was loaned to IPK in Mestis (Finland’s second-highest professional league) during the past week, and he registered three points (two goals, one assist) in two games with IPK during the week. The Rangers’ fifth-round pick (130th overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft has also recorded two assists and 17 shot attempts (12 shots on goal) in 10 games with KalPa in Liiga in 2020-21.

Brett Berard is expected to begin his freshman season at Providence College on Nov. 27, as the Friars are scheduled to play their first regular-season game in 2020-21 against Boston College. The Rangers’ fifth-round pick (134th overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft skated in 41 games with the U.S. National U18 Team as part of the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) last season, registering 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points, along with a plus-15 rating and 46 penalty minutes. Berard led the team in game-winning goals (four), tied for second on the team in goals, ranked third in points, and ranked fourth in assists in 2019-20. He skated in 13 games against United States Hockey League (USHL) opponents last season, tallying 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in those 13 contests, and he led the USHL in points per game (1.38).

Riley Hughes is expected to begin his sophomore season at Northeastern University on Nov. 27, as the Huskies are scheduled to play their first regular-season game in 2020-21 against UMass Lowell. The Rangers’ seventh-round pick (216th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft tallied four points (one goal, three assists) in his freshman year last season, and he was one of seven players (and one of three freshmen) who skated in each of the team’s 34 games during the season.

A Decision on Alexis Lafreniere

Rangers first-round draft pick Alexis Lafreniere has yet to be invited to the Canadian World Juniors team. The Rangers have not made a decision on whether they would like him to play for them or wait until the team’s training camp will begin for him to skate with the team.

Time is running out for the Rangers to make a decision.  Per Adam Kimelman, the IIHF has ruled that all teams must be together one week before entering the bubble in Edmonton on Dec. 13.

The Jan. 1 rumored start date for the NHL could be pushed back to February which may give the Blueshirts more of a reason to allow Lafreniere to play for Team Canada.