New York Giants: One peculiar NFC East fact about Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Not everyone is happy with Daniel Jones as the starter for the New York Giants, but the situation could be far worse.

One interesting fact about the NFC East puts that on full display, and shows how the Giants actually have one of the more stable quarterback situations right now in the division. This division, of course, has been one of the worst in terms of quarterback play over the past year – but as other teams shuffle around their starters, the Giants might come out looking the best in that department.

If the season began today, the Giants would almost certainly be in the best position QB wise. Daniel Jones, after all, would likely be the most experienced starting quarterback.

Sure, Alex Smith has more experience overall, but is hardly the expected starter for Washington despite his great comeback story. It looks like Washington is out to find another starter – either the young Taylor Heinicke or a player from the draft.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, is trading away Carson Wentz for a pair of draft picks and finally cutting ties with their starter from last season despite his past success with the franchise. It looks like Jalen Hurts is the frontrunner for the job in Philly, but Hurts of course has limited experience as a potential starter.

And right now, Dak Prescott’s status as the starting QB in Dallas is in question. He’ll be the starter if he comes back, but with his contract in question, things are in a state of limbo. If the season started right now, we wouldn’t see Dak playing for the Cowboys just because of that contract.

Daniel Jones might not be the greatest quarterback, sure. But there’s some value in stability. And this season, the New York Giants don’t have to ask these questions about stability at QB that every other team in the division does right now.

Resilient New York Rangers win in a shootout over the Philadelphia Flyers

New York Rangers, Alexandar Georgiev

The New York Rangers did not get the offensive explosion they were hoping for but solid defense and goaltending were enough to lead the Blueshirts to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

After giving a goal in the first 59 seconds of the game, Colin Blackwell‘s power-play goal in the second period tied it up. It was the first power-play goal of his NHL career. Blackwell has tallied a goal in two consecutive games for the first time in his NHL career. He has recorded five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games with the Rangers.

The Rangers took the lead in the third period on Brendan Smith‘s first goal of the season but the Flyers tied it up when Joel Farabee punched in a shot during a scramble in front of the Ranger’s net.

The Rangers defense was stellar on the night as they only allowed the Flyers to get 22 shots and killed all five of the Flyer’s power-play attempts.

The Flyers played their first game after 11 days off due to players being placed on the COVID-19 protocol. Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Jakub Voracek, and Justin Braun were out. None of the six will make the trip to Lake Tahoe on Sunday for Philadelphia’s outdoor game against Boston.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped two of the three Flyer’s attempts in the shootout and had 20 saves on the night. This was Georgiev’s third straight overtime game.

The New York Rangers were pleased with their resiliency

In his post-game press conference, Smith talked about how the Rangers did not get down after the Flyers scored late in the third period. “I think we didn’t break. I think with a lot of younger teams that they will break after giving up the tying goal. It was good resilience and a good effort. We really needed that.”

Artemi Panarin said after the game that “Today we played better and after the second goal against it was great that the team didn’t give up. It was a big win for us”

In his post-game Zoom conference, head coach David Quinn talked about how proud he was of his team. “I’m very proud. This has been a tough go for us and losing can wear on you. I don’t care how we needed to do it, I don’t care how pretty it looked, I don’t care how it came to fruition we needed two points and we got two points.”

The Rangers will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Washington to face the Capitals with a 12:30 p.m. puck drop.

 

 

 

 

How the Carson Wentz trade could cause a wide receiver to fall to the New York Giants at eleven

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The NFL offseason is already off to a wild start. After Matthew Stafford was traded just weeks ago, another big-name quarterback has been shipped off. The Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with quarterback Carson Wentz, trading him to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick.

This trade does possibly foreshadow what the Philadelphia Eagles might be planning to do in the 2021 NFL Draft. Up to this point, many analysts were predicting that Philadelphia would draft a playmaker with the sixth-overall pick. Oftentimes, Philly was mocked receivers like Devonta Smith and JaMarr Chase. But now, mock drafts predict the Eagles will select a quarterback with the sixth overall pick.

For the New York Giants, this is exciting news. General manager Dave Gettleman and co-owner John Mara both made the same promise at their post-season press conferences. They promised that the Giants would acquire playmakers and upgrade their offense this offseason. New York is very likely to target a wide receiver at eleven overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

There are three wide receivers projected to go in the top ten this year. However, some think that one of these prospects will slip outside of the top ten and fall into New York’s lap at eleven. The likelihood of that happen may have just increased due to the Carson Wentz trade.

Why a receiver might fall to eleven overall

The Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz trade today indicates one of two things: Philly is either ready to find a new quarterback, or they are ready to build around Jalen Hurts. In 2020, Hurts had some decent performances, but he did not establish himself as a franchise quarterback. As the Eagles hold the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, they will probably have the opportunity to draft one of this year’s top quarterback prospects.

One more team taking a quarterback means one less team taking a wide receiver. Add in a few teams likely to target defenders or offensive linemen, and the likelihood of an offensive playmaker falling to the Giants at eleven is increasing.

Additionally, fans may be expecting a bit too much from the wide receivers in this year’s draft class. Those top three, Smith, Waddle, and Chase, are incredible prospects. They are all top-ten talents. But last year, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III were also top-ten talents. None of them were selected within the top ten picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The first receiver in 2020 was selected with the eleventh overall pick. These premiere receiving talents fell down the draft board because the draft class was loaded with wide receiver talent. Teams knew they could find talented wideouts in the later rounds. Once again, 2021 is a loaded wide receiver class, deep in talent well beyond the first round. This could cause wide receivers to fall in the first round once again.

The New York Giants have plenty of enticing options to choose from with the eleventh overall pick in 2021. But if they want to target an offensive weapon with that pick, they will be holding their breath, hoping one of the top prospects takes a tumble on draft day.

NASCAR: Three drivers to watch for this weekend at the Daytona Road Course

After Michael McDowell’s upset victory in the Daytona 500, the NASCAR Cup Series once again heads to Daytona International Speedway. This time, NASCAR’s best will take on the Daytona Road Course in a 70-lap, 253-mile shootout. Here are three drivers to watch for this weekend who could contend for a win.

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott has proven to undoubtedly be the best full-time road course racer in NASCAR. Of his 10 career wins, five of them have been on road courses, including last summer at Daytona. Elliott has also won the last four Cup Series road-course races dating back to Watkins Glen in 2019.

Coming off a Cup Series championship, NASCAR’s most popular driver is looking to get on the board early in 2021 with a win.

AJ Allmendinger

After racing part-time in the Xfinity Series in both 2019 and 2020, AJ Allmendinger is back in the Cup Series. He’ll run a part-time Cup Series schedule with Kaulig Racing in 2021 and will run full-time with the team in the Xfinity Series.

Allmendinger is a road-course specialist; his only Cup Series victory coming in 2014 at Watkins Glen. Four of his five Xfinity Series wins have come at Road Courses and is coming off back-to-back wins at the ROVAL in 2019 and 2020. Allmendinger has also run the Rolex 24 at Daytona 15 times, meaning he has more experience on the track than any other driver.

With Allmendinger being in good equipment, expect him to contend for the win at Daytona.

Kyle Busch

After a disappointing one-win 2020 season, Kyle Busch started off his 2021 campaign strong with a win in the Busch Clash on the Daytona Road Course on February 9. He’s won four Cup Series road-course races over his career and would like a fifth on a new track on the circuit.

With a new crew and a clean slate in 2021, expect Kyle Busch to contend for a win to punch his playoff ticket early.

NASCAR: Austin Cindric reflects on Daytona debut, next steps

Cindric’s NASCAR Cup Series debut literally went up in flames, but there were plenty of positives to glean from Sunday’s race.

Austin Cindric had an epiphany in the wee hours of Monday morning on the final lap of the 2021 Daytona 500…

“Fire is hot”.

That’s what Cindric, driving the No. 33 Team Penske Ford, posted on Twitter after the race ended in a fiery finale, a multi-car wreck that also totaled the cars of his teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. The on-track damage ended the race early, as the caution was flown for safety reasons, allowing Michael McDowell to earn his high-publicized first career victory.

According to Cindric, his postrace tweet was not meant to be tongue-in-cheek, as it was the first time he had been involved in a firey accident (set off by excess fuel remaining in the cars). Armed with his health and a slight sense of humor, he was able to smile about it days later, but overall called his introduction to fire “unnerving”.

“I wasn’t trying to be a smart-alek, but it is amazing. Holy cow. The amount of heat that comes off that,” Cindric said. “There was a big fire. That was the first time I had been in a fire. I didn’t know if I was on fire or not. That was a bit unnerving, to be honest. It was a big impact. I’m fine.”

It’s a shame that Cindric’s Speedweeks, the opening festivities of the NASCAR season, will be best remembered for the chaos on the last lap. In making his Cup debut, Cindric ran in the top ten for most of the day and even led two laps after finishing the first 65-lap stage in fifth-place. It’s the first of several starts Cindric, one of the modern stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series (the AAA-baseball equivalent of NASCAR), will make in anticipation of his full-time debut on the premier circuit. The 22-year-old will race for the Penske-affiliated Wood Brothers Racing next season, taking over the No. 21 Ford now occupied by Matt DiBenedetto.

Cindric was officially credited finished 15th in the main event. Prior to the wreck, a miscommunication on pit road pushed him toward the back of the lead-lap field. He previously overcame pit road disaster, in this case a speeding penalty, in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels to qualify for the 500. The No. 33 finished 16th but gained some assistance when Ryan Preece finished ahead of Ty Dillon to secure the “open” spots available.

Cindric was pleased with the way his Cup endeavors went overall. He earned some positive feedback from Penske teammate Logano, with whom Cindric united as a draft partner for a good portion of the evening. Logano’s No. 22 Ford was leading on the final lap before McDowell’s victorious move and chaos erupted to close things out. Working with teammates was a fresh experience for Cindric, who operates as a one-driver show in Penske’s Xfinity program, where he represents the same numerals as Logano. Cindric won last season’s Xfinity Series championship, Penske’s first since Keselowski also won in the 22 back in 2010.

“I definitely wanted (Logano’s) feedback as far as things to do better and things we could work on moving forward,” he said. “He is really positive and really strong at that discipline of racing. It is great to have guys to lean on. I haven’t had teammates in a few years so to have guys to bounce ideas off of but also in an application where we can work together and make ourselves stronger as an organization is a great tool to have.”

“I’m a competitor so I’m frustrated by the missed opportunities,” Cindric continued. “But for me, it’s a first step of establishing myself amongst those drivers. Obviously, speedway racing is a much different discipline than a lot of the other race tracks we go to. I definitely know I have a lot more to learn and I am excited for the next opportunity to drive the 33 car, wherever that track may be, and try to keep building that momentum moving forward.”

Cup Series regulations allow for a handful of starts at the top level without sacrificing Rookie of the Year status. Cindric is expected to pilot the part-time No. 33 again at some point this season, but his next entry has yet to be determined. He hinted that he probably won’t return to the summer Daytona race in August or visit the other superspeedway at Talladega, as Cindric would like to get a taste of the different kinds of tracks the circuit has to offer.

“I want to get the experience and I think the intent on the team as well is to get me experience at intermediate, short tracks, and road courses,” he said. “As much as we can get done in the short schedule we have planned. That’s why I haven’t said any race tracks because I don’t want to commit to anything knowing that some of it is out of our control. That’s the intent.”

On the Xfinity front, Cindric began the defense of his 2020 title on a strong note, winning the season-opening Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at Daytona. NASCAR’s national series now returns to the Daytona road course, where Cindric led 21 of 52 laps en route to victory the Xfinity circuit’s maiden voyage on the track. Cindric will start in the front row for the return trip on Saturday (5 p.m. ET, FS1) next to Brett Moffitt.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone provides extremely promising update on Luis Severino

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees managed to put together an impressive rotation even after losing three-fifths of the 2020 unit. James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka are wearing other uniforms now, but the Bombers brought Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, and are getting Domingo German back. They also signed Jhoulys Chacin and Asher Wojciechowski for depth purposes.

However, the one that could really take the Yankees’ rotation to the next level is Luis Severino, once he completes his rehab from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last spring.

The usual timeframe for Tommy John surgery recovery is between 12 and 16 months, and he had the procedure in late February. The expectation is that Severino is ready to rejoin the rotation sometime in the summer.

Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported that Severino is scheduled to get on the mound “in a couple of weeks,” per Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone.

The Yankees miss that power arsenal

Advancing to mound work is a major step in Severino’s recovery as he fights his way back from a long layoff. The Yankees know that the power right-handed pitcher has been highly successful when healthy.

In 2017, he pitched 193.1 innings of a 2.98 ERA and a 3.07 FIP, with a fantastic 10.71 K/9. A year later, he was also elite, with a 3.39 ERA and a 2.95 FIP in 191.1 frames. He has a career ERA of 3.46.

If the Yankees can get the best version of Severino, even if it is in late summer, they will be well-positioned to make a deep postseason run. That’s a big if, though, and by no means a sure thing. He has work to do, and the luck factor comes into play as well.

For now, the Yankees have the depth to cope. But getting Sevy back and dealing sometime in July or August would take the rotation to another level.

BREAKING: UFC books Leon Edwards – Belal Muhammad

Leon Edwards

The UFC has finally found an opponent for Leon Edwards (18-3). After Khamzat Chimaev had to pull out of their fight again last week, the promotion has been in a scramble to find a replacement for Chimaev.

Dana White said that the UFC was interested in having Colby Covington (16-2) face Edwards. However, Covington has said that he wasn’t interested in fighting Edwards. The promotion then switched gears to other potential matchups in the welterweight division.

Edwards has been anxious and just wants to get back inside the octagon. Well, the UFC has found a willing opponent and Edwards has accepted. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that Belal Muhammad (18-3) will be stepping up to take on Leon Edwards.

Muhammad just competed last weekend at UFC 258. but it was a clean win and he took no damage. Muhammad is not wanting to waste any time and he jumped at the opportunity to take on Leon Edwards next month.

The fight will still take place on the original date that Edwards was booked which is March 13th. The fight will also remain a five round main event which is what Edwards was planning on all along.

Big implications in the UFC’s welterweight division

Since 2017, Muhammad is 8-1 in the UFC. His lone loss came against Geoff Neal and that was at the beginning of 2019. Since that loss, Muhammad has gone 4-0 and he’s looked incredibly impressive in those fights.

Muhammad’s striking looked sensational last weekend, but it was his pressure and pace that really stood out. You can be sure that he’s not going to make things easy on Leon Edwards when the two fight next month.

This will be the first fight for Leon Edwards since July of 2019. Edwards has been going crazy trying to get back into action, however, the UFC has struggled in getting him a fight that wouldn’t fall through. Hopefully this one stays together and Edwards gets to make the walk next month.

It will be very interesting to watch how Edwards looks in this first fight back. Will ring rust play a factor here or will he come out looking better than ever? This is a dangerous fight against a guy with a lot of momentum. Should he win, a UFC title shot could be next for Leon Edwards.

Hart, Rawlings or somebody else? Feldman weighs in on Paige VanZant’s next BKFC fight

Paige VanZant isn’t going anywhere.

After a disappointing Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship debut, where she lost to Britain Hart via unanimous decision, VanZant isn’t backing down from the challenge of the new sport.

“Immediately after the fight, she said I want to do this again. That says a lot about her as a fighter. So we’re not looking to cut ties with the Paige VanZant brand at any time in the near future,” BKFC President and CEO David Feldman told Empire Sports Media.

The former UFC star looked tentative at the start of the fight, with Hart taking the action to her. But Feldman saw promising signs in the latter rounds that made him convinced VanZant has what it takes to become successful in the BKFC.

“She kinda came alive in the fourth and fifth round. And that was encouraging for me. She showed a lot of grit and determination, so we’ll probably bring her back in the summertime, early to mid-summer,” Feldman said. “She’s very interested in coming back.”

VanZant told Sirius XM show Knuckle Up Radio that she wants to get back into the BKFC ring in April.

Feldman, however, has yet to determine who will be her next opponent.

“We’ll have to sit down to talk about who’s next for her and who makes sense. She didn’t get fed any easy win her on her first fight. And it showed as she came out with a loss. It’s gonna be the same way moving forward. That’s how we’re building the sport,” Feldman said.

A rematch with Hart is on the table, but it depends on some variables, according to Feldman.

“It could be an option [Britain Hart rematch]. We’ll see if people will be intrigued by that. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

Another intriguing matchup could be against former BKFC champion Bec Rawlings who is now with Bellator. Rawlings, who lost to VanZant in UFC before, said back in December that she’s open for a rematch. In the same interview, she also added that VanZant would have a tougher time in BKFC than in UFC. And it showed in VanZant’s loss to one of Rawlings’ earlier victims in BKFC.

“That’s also an option (Bec Rawlings) as well as a couple of ladies. With Bec, she left on good terms. We have a good relationship, and there’s a strong possibility that she could be back, and that could be against Page,” Feldman said.

VanZant, however, isn’t too keen on a Rawlings rematch prior to her BKFC debut.

“Of course, she wants to fight me again. I knocked her out with a head kick the last time we fought. [I’m] really interested in fighting people who I haven’t fight yet or haven’t beaten. So if she wants to come back to BKFC, that’s totally fine, and if the matchup makes sense, but I’m in Bare Knuckle Boxing working my way in the division for a title. And I just don’t want to fight people because they want to call me out,” VanZant told Empire Sports Media ahead of her fight against Hart.

But after losing to Hart, VanZant could have a change of heart.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Liberty: Amanda Zahui B gives thanks and farewell

Amanda Zahui B, one of the longest-tenured members of the New York Liberty, is moving to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Another Swedish athlete who took over Madison Square Garden’s staging area is moving on.

New York Liberty veteran Amanda Zahui B has announced her metropolitan departure, as the WNBA veteran will join the Los Angeles Sparks. Zahui B, a Stockholm native, was the longest-tenured member of the team alongside fellow international import Rebecca Allen. She originally joined the Liberty via a trade with the Tulsa Shock five years ago. The Minnesota alumna entered the Association as the second overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, chosen by the Shock, who now go by the Dallas Wings moniker.

Over five seasons in seafoam, Zahui B made her prescience felt on and off the court. She played a particularly large role in the Liberty’s 2020 endeavors in the Bradenton bubble, serving as a “baby vet” on a team laden with rookies. Zahui B averaged 9.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in her final Liberty season, partaking in all but one of the 22 games. Among her most cherished New York memories was a 37-point showing during a June 2019 win in Los Angels (the second-best single-game output in Liberty history) and hauling in a WNBA-record 21 defensive rebounds last August against Dallas, breaking a record held by Detroit’s Cindy Brown for over two decades. Along the way, Zahui B endeared herself to her Liberty teammates, developing strong friends with players like Allen and Han Xu.

After her departure was made official, Zahui B took to Instagram to pen a heartfelt farewell and thanks to her New York compatriots. Among the photos included in the post included her team gathered at midcourt at MSG, a Floridan pose with rookie Jazmine Jones, Sabrina Ionescu, Kylee Shook, and Leaonna Odom, and her participation in the 2018 NYC Pride March.

“I came to New York very confused, shattered in many ways, and really kind of lost. Lost in God’s plans. I had no clue that NY would become home,” Zahui B’s caption partially reads. “I grew so much as a player and even more as a person.”

“Finding my confidence would not have been possible without each and every single one of my teammates through my NY years,” she continued. “I don’t even know how I would’ve made it without y’all crazy asses! From our Turn-up crews to standing up against injustice, police brutality, racism, and for all kind of humans. No matter where or how, y’all will always be in my heart and we shall continue to make a change together.” [sic]

Zahui B’s New York teammates wished her well, including current Liberty reps Allen, Stokes, and Asia Durr.

Despite the loss of Zahui B, the Liberty have remained active in the transaction front, welcoming in 2020’s Most Improved Player champion Betnijah Laney from Atlanta, as well as Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb from Seattle through a three-team trade that also involved the Phoenix Mercury.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone says 2021 team is championship caliber, and more

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Pitchers and catchers for the New York Yankees have arrived at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, as spring training finally gets to a start. The position players will arrive shortly. Although this season will be as bizarre as last season, hopefully, it will be far from normal. In an almost empty training complex, the pitchers and catchers wander through the stadium’s halls with masks on and greeting each other with a wave instead of a traditional huge after not season each other since the end of the season.

New York Yankee manager talked to the media yesterday in his first spring training press conference. He was certainly upbeat, liking many of the moves the team made over the offseason.

“Talk is always cheap at this point, but I really liked the winter that we’ve had,” Boone said. “Some of the additions we’ve made, I think are going to be impactful. The makeup of this team is of championship caliber. That’s what we’re here to try and accomplish. Hopefully this is the year we get to the top of that mountain.”

Boone also announced that Clint Frazier would be his starting left fielder this season. Frazier has had a long journey getting to be a regular player for the Yankees; he has spent more time the last few seasons on the Scranton shuttle than playing baseball. There is no question that the kid has a live bat and can hit the ball; his often lousy defense has kept him from a permanent place in the lineup. But somewhere out of nowhere last season, he became a Gold Glove-like defender and earning an everyday job with the Yankees.

“Clint has come a long way in every aspect of his game,” Boone said. “He certainly earned his place last year when nothing was given to him. He had to earn everything. Really, the last couple of years he’s been a contributor, going back to the first year I was here [in 2018]. Last year, I think he really proved that he was ready to grab an everyday role on this team.”

Last season for the New York Yankees Frazier slashed .267/.394/.511 (149 OPS+) with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 39 games last season. His defense was so good that he became a finalist in the Glove Glove voting. The 2021 outfield will be rounded out with the Aarons, Aaron Hicks in center, and Aaron Judge in right field.