New York Giants “absolutely” going with Daniel Jones in the future

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Even if the New York Giants end up finishing the season with a high draft pick once again, it looks like Daniel Jones has job security at quarterback. Or at least, the Giants organization is confident enough in Jones to publicly declare that he has job security. While the franchise said the same things about Eli Manning before he was replaced, there’s no competitor waiting in the wings to Jones and the Giants will only find one if they draft a quarterback this year.

Joe Judge, too, insists that they already have their man going forward. He already made other statements along those lines this season, but this latest statement puts it in firmer terms and goes more into the reasoning behind the Giants keeping their faith in Jones during a tough year.

What did Judge have to say?

“You always want to know about is Daniel our guy? Are we going forward with Daniel? The answer is absolutely…” Judge told reporters on Monday. “You watch the tape yesterday and you see that guy in there operating, executing, understanding the pressure and not just standing in there with courage like he’s done all along and taken a hit but understanding how to take the hit and deliver an accurate pass and move the sticks down the field.”

Judge went as far as to defend Jones’ play in the loss, where he had 252 yards and one passing touchdown but was sacked six times. The sacks were a major setback in this game and the six times equals the other season high game for Jones, the one against Arizona when he was still partly injured.

“I thought Daniel yesterday played well. There are some plays I’m sure he’d like to have back, some plays we’d like to do differently. That’s natural in any game,” Judge continued. “We’re going to coach it to eliminate those plays on the front end. But at the same time, there was a lot of growth that I saw with Daniel that’s really showed up in terms of how he had to play the game yesterday and what he’s able to do.”

Daniel Jones’ long term future

Jones has indeed grown this season to reduce his turnovers but still has some ways to go to solidify his spot long term. Next season looks like the make or break one for him, because not only will it be his crucial third year, but the Giants should have more talent around him.

Right now, Jones is limited by both a bad offensive playcaller and by a poor offensive line and a group of receivers that has a hard time getting opened. If the Giants can deal with at least two out of three of those factors, we’ll probably get a more accurate look at just what Jones can do next year.

But until that point, don’t be surprised if reporters continue to ask each week if Jones is still the starting quarterback. After falling short of big expectations from the infamous New York press, Jones will be frequently questioned until he either improves further or is out of the franchise.

New York Giants’ offense needs to step up against Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

The New York Giants are entering a must-win, Week 17 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. With a loss, the Giants will be eliminated from the playoffs. With a win, New York will need some help from Philadelphia, but they could earn their first playoff birth since 2016.

First and foremost, the Giants have to beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 to make the playoffs. Despite Dallas’ 6-9 record, this will be no easy task for the Giants. The Giants narrowly lost their last matchup with the Cowboys by a score of 37-34 in Week 5. This game is significant for the Giants because it is the only game this season in which New York was able to top 30 points.

The Giants’ offense has been terrible this season. The Giants are averaging only 17.1 points per game this season, the second-worst average in the NFL behind only the New York Jets. A functioning offense has been rare in New York this season.

The Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, have a pretty high octane offense. The Cowboys are only 6-9, but their record is not a reflection of poor offensive play. Dallas is averaging 25.1 points per game this season. Andy Dalton and the Cowboys’ offense has been on a hot streak over the last three weeks, though. Over this three-game winning streak, Dallas is averaging 36 points per game.

The Dallas Cowboys are bound to put up a high volume of yardage and points in Week 17. The New York Giants have an excellent defense, but there is only so much they will be able to do against Dalton and Dallas. The Cowboys are bound to put points on the board and the Giants’ offense is going to need to match and surpass that total.

If Jason Garrett and the Giants’ offense cannot keep up with Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys’ offense, then the Giants will not be playing football in the second week of January.

OPINION: NASCAR should race at Homestead-Miami Speedway twice a year

Homestead-Miami Speedway played host for the championship races of NASCAR‘s top three series from 2002-2019, but no longer holds that privilege. For the 2020 season and beyond, NASCAR moved the championship races to Phoenix Raceway, a 1-mile, flat-banked short track. Chase Elliott won the inaugural Cup Series Championship race in Phoenix, beginning a new NASCAR chapter.

Although the Championship Weekend site has been moved, the Homestead-Miami race weekend won’t be eliminated. 2021’s event in South Florida is schedule to take place on February 27th and 28th, just the third race of the season. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series no longer has an event there, but the Xfinity and Cup Series will continue to race.

It’s great that Homestead-Miami Speedway still has an event on the calendar, but it my opinion, the venue should host events twice a season.

A 1.5-mile speedway with banking up to 20 degrees, Homestead-Miami Speedway provides some of the best racing on the calendar. With long straightaways and sharp corners, it makes drivers work extra hard and helps increase the entertainment value. Homestead-Miami Speedway is the only 1.5-mile venue where drivers have to really lift and brake in the corners. The track has multiple racing grooves, the fastest being just inches off the wall. One mistake, and drivers are in the fence.

Not many tracks have it where the top groove is the fastest groove, and it’s why Homestead is one of the most entertaining races of the season.

Additionally, there have been a lot of complaints about many other 1.5-mile race tracks. Many of them have provided long and boring races, hurting ratings for those events. Cars get spaced out quickly after restarts and it makes for poor racing and tough passing. Adding Homestead-Miami Speedway to the calendar twice a year could take the place of one speedways that haven’t provided good racing of late.

NASCAR’s 2021 schedule will see massive changes from previous years. The docket includes seven road-courses, a dirt race, and three completely new venues for the Cup Series. So, NASCAR’s showing that they’re willing to make changes to the schedule to ensure the best racing possible all season.

But, to improve the sport even more, NASCAR should add Homestead-Miami Speedway to the schedule for a second race. Whether it’s in the summer or even in the playoffs, the racing product at Homestead-Miami Speedway is too good to not have a race on the schedule multiple times.

REPORT: New York Jets expected to fire Adam Gase following Week 17

New York Jets, Adam Gase

According to multiple reports, the New York Jets are expected to fire Head Coach Adam Gase following the team’s Week 17 match-up against the New England Patriots. The news first broke on WFAN radio by Craig Carton and Evan Roberts.

Although the announcement isn’t official, management has reportedly informed Gase about the decision.

Gase was hired prior to the 2019 season following his three year tenure as the Miami Dolphins Head Coach. The Jets started off just 1-7 in his first season before finishing 6-2 in virtually meaningless games.  Most games were at least somewhat competitive in 2019, and the final 7-9 team record was enough to keep Gase on-board for another season.

2020 saw Gase and the Jets get off to a historically poor 0-13 start, with many losses coming in blow-out fashion. The Jets finally got on the board in 2020 with 23-to-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, then followed it up with a 23-to-16 victory over the COVID-19 depleted Cleveland Browns.

In his short New York tenure, Gase is most known for his regression of quarterback Sam Darnold. After a rookie season of 17 touchdowns, 2865 passing yards, and 15 interceptions, Darnold saw slight improvement under Gase in 2019. Darnold surpassed his passing yard and touchdown total, and threw two less interceptions.

However, Darnold’s 2020 has been a complete dumpster fire. On track for career worst numbers, Darnold sits with fewer than 2000 yards and just eight touchdowns. He continues to make poor reads and look like a rookie quarterback, and that’s likely not Darnold’s fault.

Under a new head coach, Jets fans may finally be able to see the potential that Sam Darnold has. The Gase experiment didn’t bode well for Darnold and the Jets, but the departure of Gase should hopefully end this dark chapter in Jets history.

Are the New York Yankees a player for Wilson Contreras?

It is no secret that there are issues with the New York Yankees at the catchers position. Gary Sanchez was just interviewed by ESPN yesterday where he discussed that he was confused by being benched for the playoffs.

A response that seemed to trigger most people in the Yankees fanbase. The issue is not that complicated, Gary Sanchez was benched because he was awful. He was atrocious, he was basically every negative adjective you can think of last year.

Gary Sanchez is not a defense first catcher. His biggest asset is his ability to swing the bat. Well, going back to 2018 for the Yankees, Sanchez is hitting under 200 combined over the last few seasons.

Yes, I know people will talk about his injuries and the COVID season of 2020. Nevertheless, Gary Sanchez has been awful for the Yankees. Combine that with the fact that he’s terrible behind the plate and you don’t have much going for you.

With Sanchez, the questions have never been about his talent. Frankly, his raw talent is the only reason the Yankees refuse to get rid of him. However, there is a catcher available that might make them strongly consider it.

The Yankees and Cubs to make another deal?

It has been reported all offseason that the Yankees have been looking into the catching market. Of course, publicly they say they are behind Gary Sanchez, however, behind closed doors they’ve been looking into replacement options.

A very interesting option just hit the trade market. USA Today and MLB Trade Rumors reported today that the Chicago Cubs are actively shopping All-Star catcher, Wilson Contreras. The Cubs are in the middle of a fire sale after non-tendering Schwarber and trading Yu Darvish.

The Yankees and the Cubs have a history of doing deals. The Cubs can thank the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman’s contributions to their WS victory and the bombers can thank the Cubs for Gleyber Torres.

Make no mistake about it, Contreras is an upgrade from Gary Sanchez for the Yankees. Both players are actually in the exact same spot in terms of their control, but Contreras is much more proven as an overall catcher.

If the Yankees were to pull off a deal for Contreras, they could either send Sanchez back to Chicago or put him in a different trade. However, acquiring Contreras would allow the Yankees to finally let go of Sanchez without thinking twice.

Now, there is no word on the Yanks potential interest in Contreras. All I can tell you is that the bombers have been catcher shopping and they are not sold on Sanchez. If a deal can materialize with Chicago, don’t be shocked to see the Yankees involved.

UFC books headliner between Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson

Kevin Holland

The UFC has booked the 2020 Breakout Fighter of the Year for his first fight in 2021. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the news that the promotion is booking a headliner between Kevin Holland (21-5) and Derek Brunson (21-7).

The headliner will take place on March 20th. Holland became a breakout star for the UFC in 2020. His incredible year is why we named him the Breakout Fighter of the Year here at Empire Sports.

Holland entered 2020 coming off of a loss to Brendan Allen. However, he was getting ready to show the world how good he really is in 2020. Holland went an astonishing 5-0 with four finishes in 2020.

His last win came against Jacare Souza at UFC 256. Holland was taken down moments into the fight. I figured if the fight touched the ground, Holland would be in a lot of trouble. However, I was dead wrong.

Holland showed incredible skills on the ground. Then he whipped a right hand at the forehead of Jacare Souza which dazed him. Holland followed up with shots and ended up scoring the TKO victory.

In 2020, Holland went from an entertaining character to a serious contender. His year has put him tenth in the UFC‘s middleweight rankings. This headliner will be the first time he takes on someone in the top 10.

UFC’s Middleweight Gate Keeper?

Derek Brunson is going to enter the octagon on March 20th being looked at as the UFC‘s middleweight gate keeper. A title that Brunson is not really a fan of, however, it’s a title that’s fitting.

Brunson is on a three-fight winning streak. Two of those wins came against rising contenders that were looked at as the next big thing. Those contenders were Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan.

I’ll admit it, I bought into the UFC hype of Shahbazyan. However, Brunson proved when they fought that there are levels to the game as Corey Anderson would say. Brunson dominated and finished Shahbazyan in the third round.

He’s currently ranked as the seventh best middleweight in the UFC. Brunson and Kevin Holland have been beefing over Twitter and both wanted this fight. Well, the UFC was happy to make it happen.

Given Holland’s desire to stay active, I’m a little surprised it’s booked so far out. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic matchup in the middleweight division. Whoever wins should be guaranteed a top five opponent in their next trip inside the octagon.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division entering 2021

One of the divisions that has really flipped in 2020 is the UFC‘s bantamweight division. I’m not sure anyone saw the division going the way that it did when the year started. Granted, I don’t think anything about 2020 went as planned.

When the year started, Henry Cejudo (16-2) was the reigning UFC bantamweight king. He was angling for a fight with former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7), after Aldo lost by split decision to Marlon Moraes.

Cejudo and the UFC brass felt that Aldo won the fight. The two men were scheduled to fight in May. However, after the pandemic hit, Aldo was not able to travel for UFC 249 to take on Cejudo.

That’s when former UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (22-3), stepped to the plate. Cruz had been out since 2016, but in that fight he lost his world title. The two men met at UFC 249.

That night, Cejudo finished Cruz in the second round then retired after the fight. The promotion decided to give Aldo a title shot after he was promised one and paired him against top contender, Petr Yan (16-1) for the vacant title.

At UFC 251 on Fight Island, Yan and Aldo met for the bantamweight championship. Aldo had some good moments early, however, Yan took over late. Ultimately, Yan finished Aldo in the fifth round to become bantamweight champion.

UFC’s Bantamweight Division in 2021

We already know the first title fight, we just don’t know when. Yan was supposed to defend his title against Aljamain Sterling (19-3) at UFC 256. However, Yan had to pull out for undisclosed reasons. That fight is supposed to be setup early in 2021.

An interesting wrinkle in the division is the return of former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw never lost his UFC title in the ring, but his suspension forced him to be stripped of the 135 pound title.

Dillashaw’s two-year suspension is up in January and he’s looking to get right back in the mix. Jose Aldo is one of the men that wants a shot at Dillashaw. Aldo is coming off of a big win against Chito Vera at UFC Vegas 17. 

The two former UFC champions could make for a very compelling matchup. Another key matchup early in the year is the matchup between Cory Sandhagen (13-2) and former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (24-8-1).

That matchup on February 6th might be a title eliminator. Rob Font (18-4) might be the one contender to watch in 2021. Font just knocked out Marlon Moraes at UFC Vegas 17. His hands looked incredibly crisp and he’s busted into the top five at bantamweight.

The UFC‘s bantamweight division is absolutely stacked. I didn’t even mention the matchup between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera that’s booked on January 20th. So many incredible matchups in that division.

Petr Yan looks like a world-beater. However, his division is full of guys who are waiting to take away that crown. So many interesting storylines and potential matchups surround the UFC’s bantamweight division entering 2021.

Bill Belichick praises New York Jets, Adam Gase as Week 17 looms

As a meaningless Week 17 showdown awaits, Bill Belichick had some kind words for the New York Jets and their embattled head coach.

As Adam Gase faces an uncertain future, he’s receiving some encouraging words from an esteemed colleague going into the 2020-21 season finale.

The embattled New York Jets head coach received some compliments from Bill Belichick as the two’s doomed squads are scheduled to do battle in a meaningless Week 17 tilt that will end their respective seasons on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS). While the lack of stakes may be a macabre routine for the Jets (2-13), it’s more or less new ground for Belichick’s Patriots. New England (6-9) was eliminated from playoff contention during Week 15 action in Miami and clinched their first losing season in two decades with an embarrassing 38-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Monday.

While Belichick is likely only leaving New England through his own volition, things are much murkier for Gase once the final seconds tick off Gillette Stadium’s scoreboard. The Jets have won two games in a row to avoid imperfect infamy but it hasn’t done much to lower the temperature on the second-year boss’ proverbial seat.

But Belichick had some kind words for Gase in Tuesday’s lead-up to the finale, praising him for the job he’s been able to do with numerous departures through injuries and transactions.

“I think Adam’s done a great job this year of continuing to improve the team with coaching,” Belichick said, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “As usual, his excellent game plan and play calling are problems for the defense. This is a team that’s gotten better. How many guys are on some kind of injured list? It must be 20. It’s a long list. They continue to plug guys in there and play very competitively in all three phases of the game.”

Belichick called out the job Gase and his staff has done with their front seven, as well as the progress they made on offense with two quarterbacks (Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco). To his former point, the Jets had have 17 sacks over their past six games after tallying only 11 in their first nine.

“They’ve got a good level of play the second half of the season from a lot of guys, defensively, especially along the front seven,” Belichick said. “They’ve been productive offensively, running the ball, throwing the ball with different quarterbacks with Joe and with Sam. They’ve both played well.”

“His offense is well designed and well called,” he continued. “Fundamentally, you can see the improvements that they are making steadily through the course of the season. Coach Gase and his staff have done an outstanding job. The players have individually gotten better and collectively they’ve performed better. They’ve done a good job there.”

The Jets’ brutal season, featuring their worst loss tally since the 15 in 1996, could be gain a sense of relief if they finish off with a win over New England. New York has not won at Gillette Stadium since their shocking triumph in the 2012 AFC divisional playoff round and hasn’t beaten the Patriots in regulation in the regular season since 2010. They led a majority of their November meeting at MetLife Stadium but were done in by allowing 13 unanswered points in the final quarter, capped off by a 51-yard field goal from Nick Folk.

Belichick has not announced his starting quarterback for the finale against the Jets. Cam Newton’s continuing struggles, leading to his benching against the Bills, have led some to believe that Jarrett Stidham will be granted his first NFL start as the Patriots continue to search for Tom Brady’s successor. Stidham made his NFL debut in a blowout victory against the Jets last season, infamously throwing an interception that was taken back 61 yards for a touchdown by Jamal Adams.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Steve Cohen: ‘The Mets’ farm system needs to be replenished’

The baseball world is in awe after the San Diego Padres made three high-profile moves to greatly improve their roster in a span of 36 hours. First, they traded for Tampa Bay Rays’ ace Blake Snell, then they agreed to terms with Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, and finally, they negotiated a deal with the Chicago Cubs to bring starter Yu Darvish, a National League Cy Young finalist, into the fold. Prior to those moves, the New York Mets were the most active team in free agency.

New York Mets’ owner Steve Cohen was among those surprised by San Diego’s sudden proactivity, and he went to his official Twitter account to congratulate the Padres on the additions.

“Hey, Give the Padres credit. They had a top 5 farm system that gave them the flexibility to trade for Snell. Newsflash, the Mets farm system needs to be replenished,” Cohen said.

Given that Cohen just took over the Mets this offseason, he has no responsibility whatsoever in the current state of the farm system.

Former Mets’ GM decimated the system

Former Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who occupied the role from 2018 until the arrival of Cohen this year, sacrificed some of the Mets’ top prospects to acquire win-now talent in the last couple of years.

He traded pitchers Anthony Kay, Kevin Smith, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Justin Dunn, plus top prospect Jarred Kelenic and other assets, in exchange for Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Marcus Stroman.

Those transactions, plus the graduations of Andres Gimenez, Dominic Smith, David Peterson, and others, have left the farm system severely short on talent, especially in the upper minors.

But Cohen wants to rescue the Mets’ farm systematically and progressively.

Right now, the team’s farm system was ranked No. 20 by with shortstop Ronny Mauricio (No. 57 on Top 100) catcher Francisco Alvarez (No. 58), and third baseman Brett Baty (No. 88) as the only prospects in the Top 100.

New York Jets: RB Frank Gore to miss finale in New England

After making history on Sunday, top rusher Frank Gore will miss the New York Jets’ season finale against New England.

Frank Gore’s season, and potentially his NFL career, has come to an end after making history.

The veteran rusher will not play in the New York Jets’ season finale on Sunday against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS). His season in green ends with 653 yards on 187 carries, two of which went for scores. Gore took on a larger workload this season following the release of Le’Veon Bell, starting the past 14 games.

Gore left last weekend’s win over Cleveland with what was initially reported to be a chest injury. Head coach Adam Gase later revealed that Gore had instead suffered a lung contusion.

“That’s going to be one of those ones where he will not be available for a few weeks, which obviously with one game left, he won’t be able to finish that last game,” Gase said, per notes from the Jets. As for Gore’s NFL future, Gase remarked that he hasn’t had those types of conversations with the running back yet. “I think Frank’s always going to kind of worry about that when the time comes and if he wants to play again, he may try to do it.”

During Week 16’s win over Cleveland, Gore, 37, hit the 16,000-yard mark for his career, joining Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton as the only rushers in NFL history to reach that plateau. Gore holds the NFL record for most games played as an NFL running back (241) and Sunday’s finale will mark only the third time since 2011 that he has had to miss due to injury.

Speaking about his future to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Gore said “I’ve got to be real with myself, how teams think about my age. They might not want a 38-year-old running back on the team”.

Gase has faced criticism for increasing the aging Gore’s role in the offense, often at the expense of ignoring younger rushers like La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams. Gore’s 187 carries are his most since 2017 but his average of 3.5 yards per carry is a new career-low.

Nonetheless, Gase praised Gore for his veteran leadership and the calming effect he has had on some of the younger players.

“I think as far as what he’s done this year, helped keep these guys together, showing guys the right way to do things,” Gase said. “I think he’s been great for that running back room, with the amount of young players we have in there.”

“I think the young players just in general on the whole team, seen him working day in and day out, understanding no matter what your record is, how you’re supposed to come to work, how you’re supposed to go through practice, how you’re supposed to play the game, I can’t say enough as far as what he’s done leading by example.”

Gore entered the league as a third-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, one of seven active picks remaining from those selections. He has also spent time with Indianapolis, Miami, and Buffalo. Gore’s finest performance as a Jets likely came against the Los Angeles Rams earlier this month, when he capped off a 59-yard day with a touchdown that proved to be a major role in the winning margin and a fourth-quarter reception that helped the Jets (2-13) seal the deal.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags