Mets Patience At The Plate Leads To Their First Win of the Season, 8-4

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets lineup is built with dangerous hitters, and their terrific approaches at the plate gave them an 8-4 victory. Marcus Stroman led the Mets with six strong innings, allowing just one run and three hits to hand the Philadelphia Phillies their first loss of the season. Stroman only struck out three but stayed true to his craft with 13 ground ball outs.

Chase Anderson held his own against the menacing Mets hitters. He gave the Phillies five strong innings with a Dominic Smith two-run home run as the only blemish on his outing. The homer was no fault of his own because Smith swung at a ball by his shoulders but still managed to lose it to the opposite field. Vince Velasquez was the first reliever for the Phillies and had a “Jekyll and Hyde” outing. He struck out the 3-4-5 hitters in order in the sixth but was a completely different pitcher in the seventh.

Velasquez walked four batters, three in a row at one point, which eased the Mets into a 3-1 lead. Francisco Lindor picked up his first Mets RBI with a sacrifice fly followed by a first and third double steal, allowing the Mets to score their fifth run. The double steal easily could have been marked as an error on Didi Gregorius, who muffed a catchable throw at second base. Michael Conforto finished off the four-run inning with an RBI double. Pete Alonso put the finishing touches on the win by muscling a 2-run home run over the left field fence in the ninth inning.

Bullpen Woes

A five-run lead would have been an opportune time for Manager Luis Rojas to give Dellin Betances or Jeurys Familia some low leverage work, but he opted for Miguel Castro again. Castro bent but did not break after allowing three straight two-out hits and a run. He got Bryce Harper to fly out on a solid play by center fielder Brandon Nimmo to escape the jam.

Trevor May pitched into another jam in the eighth but struck out Brad Miller and Roman Quinn to slither out of a first and second situation. Jeurys Familia finally got some action with a six-run lead in the ninth and had tough luck on two weak hits and an error resulting in two unearned runs. Despite the issues, Familia got through the inning and completed the first win of the season.

The Mets defense compiled another two errors to push their count to three in the early season. Overall, the defense has been much better than last season, but they still have more work to join the upper class in the NL. The Mets’ eight walks were vital as the offense only mustered five hits. Four of those hits resulted in extra bases; two doubles and two home runs.

J.D. Davis also left the game in the second inning after getting drilled in the hand with a pitch. X-Rays came back negative and his status is day-to-day at the moment. On Wednesday, both teams play the rubber game of their series as the Mets send David Peterson to the mound against Aaron Nola. The first pitch is at 4:05 p.m. ET from Citizens Bank Park.

 

 

New York Giants: The Athletic names Nate Solder decade’s worst addition

New York Giants, Nate Solder

Sometimes free agents work out in the NFL. And sometimes they don’t. The New York Giants have had a fair share of hits and misses during the time they’ve spent rebuilding during the past decade. But the one that takes the title of biggest miss might just be current tackle Nate Solder.

Solder isn’t the most popular player with the fans and The Athletic agreed with their sentiment when making a list of each team’s worst free agent additions of the decade. The list named Solder as the decade’s worst free agent for the Giants, owing to his massive deal followed by on the field struggles.

Dan Duggan’s take on Solder

Wide receiver Golden Tate made a strong case for this “honor,” with a four-game PED suspension and a benching for selfish behavior in two seasons after signing a four-year, $37.5 million contract in 2019. But it’s impossible to top the Solder disappointment considering the Giants made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they gave him a four-year, $62 million contract. Solder wasn’t very good in 2018 and then was abysmal in 2019. He opted out last season and now is back after taking a steep pay cut to just $3 million to serve as a swing tackle. Solder has been the poster boy for the Giants’ prolonged offensive line woes.

Things aren’t looking as bad as they were before, however. The Giants were fortunately able to bring Solder to the negotiating table and cut down on his deal, freeing up cap space to spend on other players while allowing Solder to play this season without getting cut.

Solder will come into the season without much in the way of guaranteed status, though. Poor performance in his last season with the Giants followed by missing an entire year has basically taken him out of the rotation entirely, and he’ll have to earn his way back in.

Just how much playing time Solder ends up with remains to be seen. But even if this season isn’t as bad as the previous ones, it’s unlikely to reverse the sentiment that the whole move to bring Solder in as a free agent was a mistake.

The New York Rangers use big First Period in Victory over Pittsburgh

The New York Rangers jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period and cruised to an 8-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Eight different Rangers scored goals, which happened for the first time since Jan. 19, 2010, vs. Tampa Bay.

Artemi Panarin had three assists and a goal to lead the Blueshirts in their scoring outburst. Panarin has certainly enjoyed the Broadway spotlight as he has recorded a three-point game in six different games this season. All of these have been at MSG Arena.

Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry allowed four goals in the first period before being replaced by Casey DeSmith to start the second period. The Rangers also scored four times off of DeSmith.

Colin Blackwell celebrated his promotion to the second line by scoring the first Rangers goal and providing one of the assists on Kappo Kakko’s goal.

Adam Fox continues his red-hot play as he added a goal and two assists on the night. Per NYR Stats&Info, Fox has registered 30 or more assists in each of his first two NHL seasons. He is the first Rangers defenseman who has tallied at least 30 assists in each of his first two NHL seasons since Reijo Ruotsalainen in 1981-82 and 1982-83. He also has an 11-game point streak, the longest by a Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch had a 14-game streak in the 1996-97 season.

Ryan Strome, Alexis Lafreniere, Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad also scored goals for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin had 41 saves on the night.

The New York Rangers discuss their offensive outburst.

In his post-game Zoom conference, Fox talked about the Ranger’s fast start. “I think when the power-play scores goals, it helps,” Fox said. “I think we just capitalized on our chances and got some goals around the crease.”

“I thought we were very opportunistic, our power-play was very good,” said head coach David Quinn in his post-game Zoom conference. “It was a funny game. We found a way to win tonight but we are going to have to play better than that if we want to win consistently.”

The Rangers went three for three on their power-play, which tied their single-game season-high.

The two teams square off again on Thursday night at MSG.

 

New York Yankees Recap: Gerrit Cole a strikeout machine in Yankees win over the O’s

yankees, gerrit cole

Tonight the New York Yankees met up with the Baltimore Orioles for game two of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees shut out the O’s last night with Jordan Montgomery on the mound and Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hitting home runs. Stanton’s was the Yankee’s first Grand Slam of the season. Tonight Gerrit Cole was on the mound for his second start of the season. He faced the Orioles, Dean Kremer. The game-time temperature was 68 degrees under a clear sky. The Yankees won this one 7-2.

Cole faced Cedric Mullins the best O’s player and he singled to center. Against Trey Mancini Mullins stole second. Then the ball got away from Higashioka and Mullins went to third base. Mancini struck out. Santander ground out and Mullins was called out at home. Mountcastle flew out to Bruce to end the half. DJ LeMahieu faced Kremer in the bottom and singled a bullet up the middle. Aaron Judge hit the pitcher with a comebacker for a single. Brett Gardner walked to load the bases. Giancarlo Stanton strikeout. Gleyber Torres struck out. Clint Frazier also struck out. The Yankees did the unthinkable leaving the bases loaded with no outs. No score.

Rio Ruiz led off the second against Cole and he stuck out. Franco singled to Judge. Galvis struck out on a 98mph fastball. Severino struck out to end the half. Jay Bruce led off the bottom of the second with a home run, putting the Yankees up by one. Gio Urshela popped back to the pitcher. Kyle Higashioka went down on strikes for the second out. Lemahieu flew out to center to end the inning, but the Yankees picked up a run. Yankees 1 O’s 0.

Cole faced Chance Sisco in at the third and he struck out. Mullens struck out for Cole’s sixth strikeout of the game. Mancini got a ground-rule double. Santander struck out for Cole’s seventh strikeout. Half over. Aaron Judge led off the bottom and grounded out to short. Brett Gardner struck out and Giancarlo Stanton singled beyond second. Torres singled to right field. Clint Frazier popped out.

Mountcastle singled to lead off the fourth. Ruiz struck out. Franco flew out and Galvis struck out to end the half. Jay Bruce led off the bottom and he walked. Urshela walked moving Bruce to second base. Higgy walked for the third walk off the inning. Bases loaded removed, Kremer. He was replaced by Adam Plutko with no outs and the bases loaded with Yankees. DJ LeMahieu ground into a double play but the Yankees scored a run. Aaron Judge with a man in third, Judge got an RBI single driving in Higgy. Brett Gardner doubled moving Judge to third base. Giancarlo Stanton ground out, but the Yankees picked up two runs in the inning. Yankees 3 O’s 0.

Pedro Severino led off for the O’s against Gerrit Cole. Severino ground out. Chance Sisco struck out on three pitches. Mullens strike out for 10 strikeouts in the game. At the bottom, Torres ground out. Frazier flew out and Bruce flew out for the very fast inning. New York Yankees 3 O’s 0.

Trey Mancini led off the sixth inning striking out for Cole’s 11th strick out. Santander flew out, and Mountcastle struck out for Cole’s 12th strikeout and his ninth put down in a row. To lead off the bottom Gio Urshela flew out to center. Higashioka flew out to right field. LeMahieu flew out to right caught in foul territory to end the inning. Yankees 3 O’s 0.

Rio Ruiz led off the inning against Cole and flew out to center. Franco ground out to short, and Galvis allowed Cole his 13th strikeout of the game in 7 innings of work. At the bottom, Aaron Judge led off against Tyler Wells (Wells is taller than Judge) and flew out to far-right. Gardner walked. Stanton doubled allowing Gardner to score from first base to tack on another Yankee run. Torres struck out. Clint Frazier lined out to third to end the inning leaving one on base. 4-0 Yankees.

Chad Green took over for Gerrit Cole in the eighth-facing Pedro Severino flew out, Sisco flew out, and Mullins flew out to Judge in right for a 1-2-3 inning for Green. At the bottom with LeBlanc on the mound, Bruce ground out. Urshela singled, Higgy doubled but Urshela was called out at home. LeMehieu reaches and Aaron Judge homers (432′) to make it 7-0 Yankees. Brett Gardner flew out, but the Yankee picked up 3 more runs. Yankees 7 O’s 0.

With last licks on the line, the O’s took to the plate with  Trey Mancini facing Lucas Luetge. Mancini ground out to short. Santander ground out to Urshela, and Mountcastle singled barely. Rio Ruiz got a two-run home run to right. Franco doubled with two outs. Galvis struck out to finish off the game for the Yankees. Final score Yankees 7 O’s 2. The winning pitcher was Gerrit Cole and the loser was Dean Kramer.

Notes. the game would have ended in a shutout in the ninth if it wasn’t for the lollygag throw from shortstop Gleyber Torres to DJ LeMahieu allowing Mountcastle to single with two outs. This win was the New York Yankees’ 12th straight win against the O’s at Yankee Stadium. Former New York Yankee pitcher Al Leiter’s son Jack is 7-0 in seven starts at Vanderbilt University.

 

Mets Game Preview (4/6/21): 7:05 p.m. @ Philadelphia Phillies (4-0)

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets hope to rebound after a disappointing Opening Day collapse in the eighth inning on Monday. They will play game two of their three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have asserted themselves as an underrated contender for the NL East crown after winning four straight to start the season. All four wins have come against the preseason front runners, three against the Braves and one versus the Mets.

Brandon Nimmo rightly returns to the leadoff spot with a right-handed pitcher on the mound. He plays center field while Dominic Smith makes his first start of the season in left field. The rest of the lineup is what we expect to see for the majority of the season.

The Phillies tweaked their lineup by adding the very selective Matt Joyce to the top of the order. Alec Bohm also moves up to the second spot in the order to replace Rhys Hoskins. He gets a surprising night off after a solid start to the season; Brad Miller will play first place in his place.

The Phillies bullpen has done a complete 180 from their 2020 performance. Over the first four games of the season, they combined to allow just one run. Jose Alvarado and Hector Neris combined to allow just one run in six innings while striking out 12 batters. In Monday’s game, the bullpen pitched 5.2 innings, allowing one run and struck out seven.

Pitching Matchups

Marcus Stroman makes his first start since the 2019 season after he opted out in 2020. Stroman had a 3.44 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 18.1 spring training innings. Of course, Stroman features the hard sinker, a cutter, slider, and the new split changeup that he debuted during the spring. Stroman has to fill the role of the second starter behind deGrom with Carlos Carrasco injured.

Chase Anderson makes his Phillies debut after spending 2020 with the Toronto Blue Jays. In the spring, Anderson had a 3.07 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched. Anderson features a 4-seam fastball, changeup, cutter, curveball, and an occasional sinker. Over his career, left-handed hitters hit just .223/.297/.388 against Anderson.

Matchups To Lookout For

Marcus Stroman vs. Matt Joyce: 4-for-11 (.364), Double, Home Run, 3 Walks, 3 Strikeouts

Marcus Stroman vs. Brad Miller: 7-for-32 (.219), Double, Triple, Home Run, 4 Walks, 9 Strikeouts

Chase Anderson vs. Michael Conforto: 3-for-13 (.231), 3 Home Runs, 2 Walks, 4 Strikeouts

Chase Anderson vs. Brandon Nimmo: 3-for-6 (.500), Double, Home Run, Walk, 3 Strikeouts

UFC books Aspen Ladd – Macy Chiasson

One of the best bantamweights in the UFC is making her return. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report today that Aspen Ladd (9-1) will be making her return to the octagon and she will be taking on Macy Chiasson (7-1).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 24th. Chiasson is going to have a massive opportunity to play spoiler on July 24th. For the last few years, Aspen Ladd has been widely considered one of the best prospects in MMA.

She will make the walk on July 24th ranked third in the bantamweight division while Chiasson is ranked ninth. The UFC‘s ninth ranked bantamweight has won two in a row and she’s 5-1 in the octagon for her career.

She competed only once in 2020 and defeated Shanna Young by decision. She returned just a couple of weeks ago at UFC Vegas 22 and defeated Marion Reneau by unanimous decision. A win over Ladd would be massive for her career.

UFC return for Aspen Ladd

As mentioned, Aspen Ladd has been one of the biggest prospects in the UFC over the last few years. Her lone blemish in the octagon came against Germaine de Randamie who landed the perfect shot just seconds into their fight.

However, outside of that, Ladd has been tremendous. In her last fight, she stopped the durable Yana Kunitskaya in the third round. After that win, the UFC set her up to take on former Olympian and title challenger, Sara McMann.

However, Ladd tore her ACL and she hasn’t competed since. This will be her first fight in the UFC since December of 2019. Chiasson is a super tough contender and not an easy opponent for Ladd to come back to.

Given the status of the division, this fight is extremely important. If Ladd is able to come out and dominate, she could be in position to have a title eliminator in her next UFC bout. For Chiasson, this is an opportunity to bust into the top five and make some noise at 135.

ONE on TNT 1 Preview: Eddie Alvarez – Iuri Lapicus

Tomorrow night, ONE Championship will make their debut on TNT. The Singapore-based MMA organization is taking a monumental step forward in having their fights broadcasted on The Turner Network.

ONE is bringing forward a big time card tomorrow night for their debut on TNT. Their main event features one of the greatest to ever do it in Demetrious Johnson, but it’s the co-main event that might steal the headlines.

In the co-main event, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (30-7, 1 NC) will taking on surging contender Iuri Lapicus (14-1). Lapicus suffered his first career loss in his last appearance with ONE back in October.

That night, Lapicus was stopped by Christian Lee. However, prior to that loss, the 25 year old prospect had won fourteen straight and he had finished every opponent. While he has 10 submissions, it’s his striking that could be the key at ONE on TNT 1.

Lapicus is going to have his hands full with The Underground King. Eddie Alvarez is seeking a lightweight title in ONE. Alvarez has been Bellator lightweight champion and the UFC lightweight champion. He said this week that a ONE lightweight title would make him the best ever.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing so far since Alvarez made the jump from the UFC to ONE. Alvarez was stopped in his first fight by Timofey Nastyukhin and then he won against Eduard Folayang in a fight that was an absolute war.

ONE on TNT 1 Prediction

Lapicus is a really tough matchup for Eddie Alvarez. However, Alvarez is one of the those fighters you should never count out. I remember not giving him a chance when he fought Rafael Dos Anjos and we all know how that turned out.

For Eddie Alvarez to win at ONE on TNT 1, he has to make this fight dirty. He needs to take Lapicus to the deep waters and try to break him. If this fight is flashy and clean, I’m not sure I like his chances.

Lapicus is going to have the technique advantage on the feet. With his submission threats, I’m not sure Alvarez is going to try to take this to the ground. However, I can see Alvarez using the clinch a lot at ONE on TNT 1.

I’m looking for Eddie Alvarez to use the clinch and some dirty boxing tomorrow. However, I’m not sure it’ll be enough. This is his first fight since August of 2019 and I really don’t like the matchup. I think he’s going to get clipped tomorrow and I believe Iuri Lapicus gets the biggest win of his career at ONE on TNT 1.

Prediction: Iuri Lapicus by TKO – Round 2

Yankees strike deal with Rangers to acquire infielder Rougned Odor

Rougned Odor, yankees

The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers have struck a deal to trade infielder Rougned Odor to the Bronx. Having last played in 2020, Odor experienced 38 games of action, hitting 10 homers and 30 RBIs, finishing with a .167 average. The Rangers recently designated Odor for assignment prior to Opening Day, who has two years and $27 million remaining on his contract.

This is undoubtedly an interesting move for the Yankees, as Odor is capable of being a solid lefty hitter with power, hitting 30 homers in 2019. At 27 years old, he is still youthful and has tons of potential left to un-tap. However, his strikeout rate has ballooned in recent years, going from 17% in 2014 to 31.8% in 2020.

The Yankees might see something in his fundamentals and technique that might be throwing him off as they look to resurrect his career and make him a potential starter moving forward. He will join a bench that features catcher Kyle Higashioka, outfielders Mike Tauchman, Brett Gardner, and INF Tyler Wade.

Wade could be sent back to the minor leagues while Odor will take over his spot. The question is, who in the infield is going to make a move with the acquisition of Odor. Theoretically, the Yankees could move DJ LeMahieu to first base, Gleyber Torres to second, and Gio Urshela to shortstop, with Odor taking over the hot corner. The only issue, Odor has never played third base before, so that could present an issue.

Nonetheless, we will have to wait and see how the Yankees approach this acquisition and what they plan to do with the former Texas Ranger.

 

Yankees’ Gerrit Cole is a ‘huge fan’ of Shohei Ohtani

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Sunday night was a day to remember in baseball for a long time. It didn’t have anything to do with the New York Yankees, though: Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher/outfielder, was the first hurler in years to be placed second in the lineup.

Not only that, but he threw bullet after bullet to home plate from the mound: 100 mph fastballs, disgusting, bat-missing splitters, and sliders were part of his fantastic repertoire. He was as impressive as it gets as a pitcher, even though he left the game tied at three after series of defensive miscues.

During the same game, he hit a tape-measure shot: 451 feet, and it sounded like a gunshot. In fact, it broke the Angels’ record for hardest-hit home run in the Statcast era (2015-), at more than 115 mph.

The Yankees’ ace is impressed by Ohtani’s unique talent

Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole confessed that he loves watching Ohtani play, as his two-way talent is a joy to the game.

“I’m a huge fan of Shohei Ohtani; what a magnificent talent,” Cole told MLB.com. “I certainly can throw the ball as hard as him, but I can’t hit it as far as he can. There are certainly people that can hit it as far as he can and can’t even throw it anywhere close to the way that he can throw it. I’ve just sat in the fan seat and rooted for it.”

Cole remembers the time when Mike Trout, the Angels’ franchise player, told him before a game (back when he was with the Houston Astros: “You’ve got to watch this guy’s [batting practice].”

“I snuck out for a couple, and it’s impressive — impressive to all parts of the field,” Cole said. “Pitching against him certainly is a tough out. I only got to see him throw like one time, but he was firing 93-mph splits. That had me on the front of my seat as well.”

The Yankees’ frontline starter said that his Angels colleague has been “given a gift.” And boy, it’s extremely impressive.

One question will define Sam Darnold’s New York Jets tenure

As the Sam Darnold era ends, a lingering question will haunt New York Jets fans as he prepares to move to Charlotte.

With respect to the countless devotees of movies, books, television shows, etc., across the world, no one writes more fan fiction than football fans. Rather than “Once upon a time…”, football fables often begin with a question: “What if…?”.

The question is endlessly asked before, during, and after every NFL season. What if that star prospect falls? What if they went for it on fourth down? What if that quarterback retires?

What if the New York Jets hired someone…anyone…other than Adam Gase to oversee Sam Darnold’s developmental years as head coach?

It’s a question whose answers reside months, even years, away. Both Gase and Darnold are now distant memories in the New York archives, the former fired and the latter bound for Charlotte in a trade with the Carolina Panthers. The Jets only have numbers to show for it in the immediate aftermath. Dealing Darnold netted them the 226th overall pick in the coming draft, as well as a second and fourth-round choice in the spring of 2022.

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

In the immediate aftermath, it’s easy to call the Jets’ Darnold deal with Carolina a win for both sides on paper. Darnold gains welcome stability in Carolina (reuniting with fellow ex-Jet Robby Anderson and working with All-Pro rusher Christian McCaffrey) while the Jets make some fine additions to their draft collection. But the Jets will forever look back on their Darnold with a sense of regret and what might’ve been. The chorus of “what if” echoes as the countdown to what’ll likely be the beginning of the Zach Wilson or Justin Fields era.

It starts with the hiring of Gase, a supposed offensive guru brought in to oversee Darnold’s vital post-rookie campaigns. Todd Bowles’ tenure had undoubtedly run its course, but its final stages were full of hope through Darnold’s final four games. It was a stretch that saw Darnold earn a come-from-behind victory in Buffalo (topping fellow 2018 draftee Josh Allen in their first meeting) and go head-to-head and blow-for-blow with Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers in consecutive weeks. The latter tilt, a Festivus showdown with the Green Bay Packers, was an overtime thriller that saw Darnold earn career-bests in passer rating (128.4) and passing yardage (341).

When Bowles was let go, the Jets needed someone with a strong developmental mind, someone who could nurture Darnold’s potential and build on the promise shown over the final stretch. CEO/Chairman Christopher Johnson knew just how vital the search would be when he spoke after dismissing the current defensive coordinator of the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I think the Jets are a really good spot for a coach to end up,” Johnson said at the time. “So I think that we have a competitive advantage there. But we’re not going to sit down and wait for people to come to us, we’re going to search hard and fast. We want to get this done.”

It got done through the arrival of Gase, fresh off three years of Miami mediocrity. From the get-go, there probably should’ve been something off about the new boss, one who never truly fostered a young quarterback. Peyton Manning put the best numbers of his career under Gase, but the most adamant football denier could probably oversee an offense with Peyton Manning and still average 21 points a game.

Gase helped get the Chicago Bears’ offense back on track as coordinator in 2015, but Jay Cutler, despite a career-best passer rating, was in his 11th season and headed toward his polarizing career’s final stanzas. Even if Gase’s work with Cutler counted for something, it was more or less undone when the pair reunited for a fruitless season in South Beach two years later. In terms of youth, Ryan Tannehill endured what seemed like an endless stream of “make-or-break” campaigns before being mercifully shipped to Tennessee after Gase’s Floridan ousting. By now, little more needs to be written about Tannehill’s success sans Gase.

Yet, the Jets insisted Gase was their man, sticking with him after a dreadful 0-4 start. After his infamous bout with mononucleosis…a happening only amplified by social media schadenfreude that amplifies the Jets’ simplest errors…Darnold helped right to ship to the tune of a 7-9 ledger. Further fleeting flashes of brilliance emerged, such as Darnold’s return from illness, a 338-yard, two-score showing in a triumph over Dallas, the Jets’ first win of the year. Further silliness came through Darnold’s failed Ghostbusters tenure, but to have him post a winning record (7-6) despite endless silliness surrounding him was a promising sign.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

But seeds for a destructive 2020 season…for reasons far beyond limitations set up by the ongoing health crisis…were starting to take root. Anderson, Darnold’s favorite target during his opening years, absconded for Carolina after “(losing) his love of football“. Every week, it felt like Gase had to ensure the public that he wasn’t dealing with a full-on mutiny.

As the season moved on, the Jets continuously eschewed the notion of firing Gase in-season. Johnson even broke out the guru comparisons after a listless opening day loss in Buffalo by calling Gase “a brilliant offensive mind” after the Jets pulled off the statistical anomaly of earning under 300 yards in Orchard Park. The sub-300 tally, in fact, occurred 11 times during the 2020 campaign…a downright jaw-dropping occurrence in an NFL that worships offense.

All the while, the Jets gave up on several accomplished names before deciding Gase was expendable. A mini-fire sale ensued that saw accomplished defenders Steve McLendon, Avery Williamson, and Pierre Desir sent away. Le’Veon Bell, a constant co-combatant in Gase headlines, was outright released while the eyes of the nation were centered on a rare Tuesday night game.

Darnold sank further into oblivion, forced into situations that even the greatest, most established quarterbacks would have trouble salvaging. One couldn’t even argue that the Jets were showing promise in these losses. All but one of their first eight defeats came by multiple possessions, exacerbated by the struggle to gain yardage. Unlike their blue MetLife Stadium co-tenants (the Giants losing five of their first eight in single possession games), there was nothing to get excited for from a Jets perspective.

For the record, it’s not only the Gase hire that Darnold had to put up with. His rookie season was spent behind an offensive built through the negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. When the 2020 season kicked off, Darnold had only a single receiver left from his rookie campaign (tight end Chris Herndon, who has struggled to maintain rookie momentum) and his offensive line had undergone yet another makeover. The fact such flashes of brilliance were achieved despite playing in the far reaches of the football netherworld perhaps says something about Darnold, who has a prime opportunity to put his career back on track in Charlotte.

It could’ve happened in New York. The offensive line still needs work, but the Jets upgraded their weaponry this offseason, bringing in capable targets (Corey Davis, Keelan Cole) that can compete with returnees (Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims) for top receiving honors. A multi-faceted rushing talent like Tevin Coleman can take some of the pressure off of whoever the quarterback will be.

But the Jets are trying to pen their own redemption story. They don’t have the time to co-author someone else’s.

In short, the Gase era left the Jets no other choice. His firing brought in a new regime, one praised not by the hot take artists but by players themselves, both domestically and abroad. For Robert Saleh to fully implement his vision and the Jets holding the ever valuable second overall pick of the NFL draft…the original of aerial franchise saviors like Donovan McNabb and Roman Gabriel…Darnold simply had to go.

Still, that won’t stop the eternal discussions, the fabled chapters that Jets fans will write for months before a single down is played and in the years after that, both supporting what Darnold could’ve done and celebrating his release.

The question will still be asked…what if?

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags