New York Giants: Another ridiculous Joe Judge take from the national media

New York Giants, Joe Judge

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge made some big waves after taking over the position, but not everyone around the league gets his impact on the organization just yet. This offseason, there seems to be an increase in national media outlets taking a look at what’s going on with the Giants and assuming that Judge is more poser than real. Particularly, his ‘football guy’ persona has been brought up in multiple articles by now as something that’s more laughable than meaningful.

The latest of those articles comes from CBS Sports, where Cody Benjamin ranked Judge in the lower portion of the league’s head coaches and alleged that Judge’s tough mentality is an act – and one that, according to him, borders on silliness.

26. Joe Judge (Giants)

Season: 2nd with Giants and as HC
Career record: 6-10 (.375)
Playoff record: N/A

Sometimes his no-nonsense tough-guy act borders on silliness, like when he condemned the Eagles for refusing to get his own team into the playoffs. But the disciplinary spunk had the G-Men flashing surprise confidence throughout 2020. The question is whether he’s got what it takes to shepherd offensive growth, either with Daniel Jones at QB or someone else.

Is Judge actually overrated?

The take is somewhat understandable for someone that hasn’t paid attention to the Giants in depth – but those following the team more closely, of course, will be familiar with the visible changes that happened after Judge took over.

The Giants seemed like they were set to continue on the path of being a perennial loser before they made their most recent coaching change. The team had regressed under Ben McAdoo and shown little to no improvement under Pat Shurmur, leaving the Giants selecting high in the draft each year but not quite in a position to actually stay competitive deep into the season.

It’s true that Judge did arrive at a time when the Giants were willing to make more aggressive moves to get better, but his influence on upping the level of play from the team’s existing talent can’t be understated.

From the outside looking in, others might claim Judge is simply putting on an act. But without his presence – tough guy persona and all – it’s doubtful that there would be this much hope around the team going into next season.

With a better roster to work with this year, this may finally be the point when Judge gets the respect from around the league that didn’t come when the Giants hired him or after his rookie season in charge.

Braves Score 20 and Mets Peterson Leaves With an Injury in Ugly Loss

New York Mets, David Peterson

The Atlanta Braves took it to New York Mets pitching in a dominating 20-2 victory where they clubbed 20 hits as well. The big story for the Mets is David Peterson leaving the game with an injury to his side and ending his solid start streak.

Peterson lasted just three innings and struggled from his first pitch. He allowed eight hits, six runs (five earned) and could not avoid hard contact. Sean Reid-Foley provided no help by recording just one out while allowing five runs (four earned). Thomas Szapucki followed and made his MLB debut and gave the Mets 3.2 innings but allowed six runs, including two homers. Albert Almora Jr. allowed the Braves to get to 20 by allowing three runs in the one inning he threw.

Stop The Count

Every position player in the Braves starting lineup recorded at least one hit, and six Braves had multi-hit games. Ozzie Albies led the way with a five-hit, two-home run, seven RBI game. Austin Riley supported with three singles and the same amount of RBIs. Anything with the Braves starts with Ronald Acuna Jr., and he struck for another leadoff home run which opened the floodgates.

Surprisingly, the Mets led 2-0 after Pete Alonso’s two-run home run in the first inning. After the shaky start, Braves starter Max Fried settled in to throw five solid innings. Fried held the Mets to one hit in the other four innings he threw in his first start off the IL.

To put tonight in perspective, Jacob deGrom has allowed nine runs this entire season. He will get the ball and attempt to slow down the red-hot Braves offense against Ian Anderson. The final game is scheduled for another 7:20 p.m. ET start.

The New York Giants have the secondary to shut down NFC East’s loaded groups of WRs

New York Giants, James Bradberry, logan ryan

The New York Giants defense was a top-ten unit in the NFL last season. New York’s prominent defense was led by cornerback James Bradberry, defensive linemen Leonard Williams, linebacker Blake Martinez, among other formidable defenders. The real strength of the Giants’ defensive unit, though, was its secondary.

James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, and a few other talented defensive backs were featured on the Giants’ suffocating 2020 defense. In 2021, though, the team has added even more talent in its secondary, taking the group to the next level. These additions were necessary as the NFC East loaded up on offensive weaponry this offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL, featuring Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. Terry McLaurin of the Washington Football Team was already establishing himself as one of the game’s best receivers. Then the team went out and paired him with Curtis Samuel, creating a dangerous one-two punch. The Philadelphia Eagles also upgraded at the wide receiver position, selecting 2020’s Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The NFC East stockpiled talented wide receivers this offseason (the Giants included). Thankfully, the Giants have the talent in their secondary necessary to shut down these loaded groups of wide receivers.

How the New York Giants will shut down the NFC East’s WRs

James Bradberry on the primary receivers

James Bradberry is a true shutdown cornerback. In 2020, he was tasked with taking out opposing teams’ primary wide receivers every week. When matched up with Cowboys’ standout receiver Amari Cooper, Bradberry proved to be a tough corner to beat. In his two matchups against the New York Giants last season, Amari Cooper totaled 41 and 23 receiving yards, two of his lowest totals on the season, with 0 touchdowns.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ leading receiver in 2020, Travis Fulgham, had a decent outing against New York in Week 7, totaling 73 yards, before being shut down in Week 10 with a total of 8 yards. Fulgham scored 0 touchdowns in both outings.

The NFC East wide receiver that gave New York the most trouble in 2020 was Terry McLaurin. Terry totaled receiving performances of 74 and 115 yards against the Giants along with 1 touchdown. Part of this could have been the fact that McLaurin lined up in the slot rather frequently, moving him away from James Bradberry.

Adoree’ Jackson on the secondary receivers

CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys also enjoyed one of his best performances of the season against the Giants. New York managed to hold him to only 43 yards in Week 17, but he did erupt for 124 yards in Week 5 (a season-high). The Giants were comfortable with the elite James Bradberry continuing as their primary cornerback in 2021. But the team recognized a need to upgrade their second cornerback position.

To do this, the Giants went ahead and signed Adoree’ Jackson in free agency. Adoree’ Jackson will pair alongside James Bradberry as the team’s second outside cornerback, though the talent drop-off might not be as steep as some expect. Since 2018, Adoree Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6.

Teams like Dallas and Washington have stellar one-two punches at the receiver position. The Giants now also have a formidable first and second line of defense at cornerback to combat these receivers.

Who will take on the slot receivers?

CeeDee Lamb was a good example of a team’s second receiver gashing the Giants’ defense due to their lack of a competent second cornerback. However, Lamb played primarily out of the slot in his rookie season. Adoree’ Jackson will be able to match up well with the likes of Curtis Samuel on the outside in Washington. But Jackson might not face off against Lamb that often.

Instead, Darnay Holmes, entering his second season, will continue as the team’s primary slot cornerback. Now, in addition to Holmes, the Giants have added another talented nickel corner in Aaron Robinson. The Giants drafted Robinson in the third round of this year’s draft. Both Holmes and Robinson are young, talented members of this secondary with the physicality to compete with any of the slot receivers in this division.

While the NFC East saw a major influx of talent at the wide receiver position, the New York Giants saw an influx of talent in their secondary. The Giants have the talent necessary to counteract the division’s receivers in 2021.

Mets Game Preview: (6/30/21) @ Atlanta Braves (37-41)

The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves play the second game of their series after a terrific first game of their series. It looked like the Mets offense would disappoint once again, but a 4-run seventh gave them enough to win 4-3. The second game is scheduled for a usual 7:20 p.m. ET start from Truist Park.

Kevin Pillar gets the opportunity to bat leadoff with Jeff McNeil getting a night off. It is Pillar’s first time batting leadoff since the beginning of the month and is 1-for-18 as the number one-hitter this season. He is in the middle of a small hot streak with two home runs in his last four games. Surprisingly, Pillar is hitting just .190 against left-handed pitching after crushing them over the two prior seasons.

To beat the Atlanta Braves, pitching has to contain Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. They have done a great job against both, holding Acuna to a .167 average and Freeman to a .393 slugging percentage. Freeman did record five hits against the Mets earlier this season but only has one extra-base hit against them.

Pitching Matchup

David Peterson looks to continue his mini hot streak as he takes the mound for the Mets. In his last three starts, he has thrown 16.2 innings, holding opponents to two runs and a .115 batting average. With a very packed schedule coming up as the All-Star break approaches, they will need Peterson to continue pitching successfully.

Max Fried makes his first start off the IL after dealing with a blister on his index finger. Fried was in a terrific groove after lackluster April in which he had an ERA over ten. In the last two months, Fried has a 2.51 ERA and has allowed just three home runs. He pitched six innings in his start against the Mets in May, allowing one run and striking out eight.

Matchups To Lookout For

David Peterson vs. Austin Riley: 3-for-6 (.500), 3 Doubles, 3 Strikeouts

Max Fried vs. Pete Alonso: 2-for-15 (.133), Home Run, 3 Walks, 6 Strikeouts

Max Fried vs. Michael Conforto: 2-for-17 (.118), Double, 3 Walks, 8 Strikeouts

UFC books Sean O’Malley – Kris Moutinho

Sean O'Malley

The Suga Show has a new opponent for UFC 264. MMA Junkie was the first to confirm this afternoon that Sean O’Malley (13-1) will be staying on the card next weekend and he will be taking on UFC newcomer Kris Moutinho (9-4).

This all comes together after O’Malley’s original opponent, Luis Smolka, had to pull out of UFC 264. Earlier today, it looked like there could be some momentum in talks to book O’Malley against Ricky Simon (18-3).

Simon voiced interest in fighting O’Malley and that appeared to be the fight that O’Malley wanted. Simon is riding a three-fight win streak and the UFC was interested in making it happen. However, Ariel Helwani reported that Simon couldn’t make 135 pounds on such short notice.

With that, the promotion shifted gears and looked at a number of replacements. Despite many UFC bantamweights volunteering for the fight, it’s a newcomer that is getting the call up to the biggest show and stage possible.

Moutinho’s UFC Debut

What a massive opportunity this is for the 28 year old Kris Moutinho. Obviously he will be a massive betting underdog, but he’s getting a shot at arguably the biggest UFC event of the year.

Moutinho is getting to come in and make his debut against the hype machine that is Suga Sean O’Malley. Not too mention the fact that he’s going to be kicking off a PPV card that is headlined by the biggest star in the sport, Conor McGregor.

Moutinho will make his UFC debut on the heels of back-to-back wins. The last time he fought was about a month ago at CFFC 96 where he picked up an arm-triangle choke win in the third round.

This is a massive step up in competition for Moutinho at UFC 264. To date, Moutinho has only been in the cage with one guy who has fought in the UFC. That was against current UFC fighter Tony Gravely back in 2019. Worth noting that Moutinho was stopped in that fight.

This appears like it’s going to be a showcase for Sean O’Malley next weekend. He might end up being the biggest betting favorite on the card which does make it a risky fight. However, I think it might be a quick night for The Suga Show at UFC 264.

The Chicago Bears can finally have alternate helmets- time for new uniforms?

The NFL officially announced last week that the restrictions regarding alternate helmets would be lifted beginning the 2022-2023 season. Upon hearing this news, the NFL’s fanbase released a collective, “IT’S ABOUT TIME.” Chicago Bears fans, however, immediately began thinking. What changes could the Bears make to their uniforms?

With the popularity of alternate jerseys running amuck in the NBA, becoming a norm in the NHL, and gaining traction in the MLB, it was only a matter of time before the NFL embraced the ability to create new and unique ways to market their franchises. Unfortunately, the only thing standing in the NFL’s way in creating new aesthetic uniforms was an outdated and rather head-scratching uniform regulation regarding helmets. In 2018, the league rule allowed more than one uniform option per club. This rule, however, limited the clubs to no more than one helmet option.

This created monstrosities such as the awful 2017 Los Angeles Ram uniforms. However, the club designed and implemented new jerseys. The Rams were stuck with the helmets designed for Los Angeles to complement jerseys designed for St. Louis.

How could the Bears use this new rule?

Let me begin by saying this; the Bears neither need nor should change their standard uniforms. The Chicago Bears uniforms have stayed relatively consistent since the 1950s, it’s a classic, beautiful design that needs no altering. However, a new alternate wouldn’t hurt.

The Bears have had their fair share of alternates in the past decade, with the eye-catching 100th-anniversary fit, return of the orange jerseys, and my personal favorite, the thick orange lettering of the 1940’s monsters of the midway throwback.

Though these uniforms were exciting additions to the Bears classic look, the only uniform that has substantially changed the Bears helmet design is the 100th-anniversary fit, or the occasional white “C” logo as a call back to the 1960s.

Ranking the 25 best logos in the history of the NFL | For The Win
A logo used by the Chicago Bears from 1946-1973

As a fan and a person who has a passion for design, the Bears need to take this new regulation and run with it. Imagine a white helmet with the orange jerseys or a throwback with the logo that carried the Bears from 1946 to 1973. I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with this logo. I’m not the only one either. This writer from USA Today considered it the greatest logo in NFL history. 

With the possibility of having two helmet designs, the Bears can create a “City” edition, like Nike does with the NBA’s alternate uniforms. Although I’m not a great fan of the City designs, and as a charter franchise of the NFL, the Bears have added more to the city than the city has added to the Bears.

What do you think? What alternate would you like to see?

Ilya Sorokin exceeded expectations for the Islanders in year one

For a long time, Islanders fans had heard about Ilya Sorokin. They had heard he was the best goaltender not playing in North America. They had heard he was a legend in his native Russia, dominating in the KHL. They had heard he was going to be the solution to the decades-long search for a franchise goaltender.

Now there’s no more doubt.

After waiting seven years for Sorokin”s arrival — he was drafted by the organization in 2014 — his excellence was finally put on display on the NHL stage. And boy did he not disappoint. Sorokin was everything as advertised that people both inside and outside the organization said he was expected to be.

Islanders’ g.m. Lou Lamoriello was on with WFAN’s Moose & Maggie yesterday following his end of the year conference call with the media and talked about Sorokin’s first full campaign in North America.

“He came in and did everything we thought he was capable of doing,” Lamoriello said in praising the 25-year-old. “He certainly had success in the KHL. We knew of him as a person. His quality was indicative of him taking his English lessons on a daily basis from day one. Never missed a day no matter what.”

Lamoriello added: “His play, his work ethic in practice won over the players. So as I use the expression, he’s an Islander. There’s no question between he and Varly brought to our team on and off the ice.”

The Islanders’ goaltending was the backbone behind the team getting back to the Eastern Conference finals for a second straight year. Sorokin had an exceptional regular season, winning 13 of his 21 starts, recording three shutouts and posting a .919 save percentage. There was even a stretch from mid-February to late-March where the team went undefeated with Sorokin starting.

But it was in the playoffs when Sorokin officially arrived and etched himself into the franchise’s fabled playoff lore.

Having to relieve Varlamov — who was dealing with a knee injury — Sorokin went a perfect 4-0 in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, including an unforgettable performance in a 3-2 OT win in Game 5 in Pittsburgh.

“I will say this about Ilya, he is very calm,” head coach Barry Trotz said during the postseason. “Everybody loves him. He’s one of those guys that is extremely low maintenance. I do know this: He tends to his own game. He tends to how we play, but he doesn’t watch a lot of other games around the League. I think he’s a very intelligent young man. He’s got a smile on his face a lot, so you know that he’s got a good sense of humor with the guys. But he’s really relaxed. I think he’s very confident in what he is as a goaltender and also as a person. He’s a really low-maintenance guy.”

Although his final start in the postseason was a loss, and his last appearance was mop up duty in the Game 5 blowout in Tampa, Sorokin still was a great story all around for the Islanders. Sure he didn’t win the Calder Trophy — that honor belonged to Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov; Sorokin did receive a few votes — but the Russian native showed this stage didn’t intimidate him, which earned the recognition and respect from the critics and fans. A prime example was the fans chanting his name on the Nassau Coliseum concourse after the Islanders ended the series against Pittsburgh after Game 6.

That was a great moment.

Sorokin pointed out on Sunday he enjoyed this year, especially with the “Hey Josh Bailey..” chant during the playoffs and playing “under the Islander flag”. The feeling was definitely mutual for all those Isles fans who got to witness what they had only heard about for so long.

The future is bright for the organization, and Sorokin is going to play a major part of it. He lived up to the hype in year one and is only going to get better from here on out.

Will the New York Yankees be buyers or sellers at the deadline?

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman was blunt yesterday in saying that the team sucked. To be quite honest, it was honestly refreshing to get away from Aaron Boone’s optimism speeches and here someone say it like it is; this team sucks right now.

Now, I will say, I didn’t like how Cashman refused to blame anything on Boone. His inability to get anything out of this roster should be called out along with the rest of the coaches. That said, there are so many problems with the Yankees that it’s hard to pinpoint the blame.

The Yankees did respond yesterday by pummeling the Angels 11-5. The win snapped a four-game losing streak which included a sweep by the Boston Red Sox. Today is the last day of June and the trade deadline is just around the corner.

The Yankees find themselves in an interesting position. Heading into the season, many pegged The Bombers as a threat to win the World Series. However, now, it’s hard to even imagine this fourth-place team making the playoffs.

The team has the pieces to make a huge second-half run, but it’s hard to even imagine at this point with the way they look. With the deadline coming up, the question will shift from ‘Who will the Yankees get?’ to ‘Are they going to buy or sell?’

Will the Yankees buy?

Brian Cashman didn’t rule out the possibility that the Yankees would be sellers when speaking to the media yesterday. I think the GM is keeping all of his options open at this point and the next couple of weeks will really dictate the rest of the season.

If the Yankees decide to buy, they need to look at centerfield and they need to look at starters. We really don’t know what were going to get out of Corey Kluber and Luis Severino the rest of the way.

If both guys come back and pitch to their potential, that’s huge for the Yankees. However, should the bombers bank on that? Absolutely not. If they want to contend, they need to go out and get another starting pitcher they can rely on to pitch behind Gerrit Cole.

Obviously centerfield has been a disaster with Hicks out and the Yankees need someone of quality patrolling the middle. Perhaps someone like a Starling Marte or Joey Gallo could be in the cards. Ketel Marte would be the ideal target, but it’s hard to see that happening.

Hybrid approach?

If the Yankees completely fall apart in the coming weeks, I definitely see a scenario well they decide to sell. However, it won’t be a sell in the traditional sense. Instead, I could see them selling to build towards a WS run in 2022.

What could that entail? Well, trading Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier could very well be in the cards. Also trading away some relievers could be in the cards as well. Now, you might ask how trading Gleyber Torres could help in 2022?

Well, I think it’s obvious at this point that Gleyber Torres is not a shortstop. If a team in contention needs a really solid second base option Torres could be the guy. With his potential, the Yankees could still get a good haul for him and they’d be in a position to sign one of the star free agent shortstops in the offseason to replace him.

The situation in The Bronx is extremely fluid at the moment. I still believe that this team has the pieces to make a run, but were at the point where I have to see it to believe it will actually happen. There’s a lot of pressure on Brian Cashman and I’ll be very curious to see the strategy unfold over the next month.

What should the Yankees do at the deadline? Buy to try and win this year or sell to build towards next year?

Knicks could build tantalizing front-court with one off-season acquisition

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

The most efficient method of building a strong team this off-season is simple for the New York Knicks, don’t part ways with significant assets to acquire a player in a trade, but rather utilize available funds to bolster the team while approaching the draft with one impact prospect in mind. Simply put, the Knicks don’t have enough roster spots to field three more rookies as developmental projects, so pairing their selections together and targeting one in a trade-up would be a more beneficial move.

With that being said, President Leon Rose has $50+ million to work with this off-season in addition to his draft selections, meaning the Knicks can easily bolster their squad without selling the farm for a player like point guard Damian Lillard. As attractive as he is, if the front office has learned anything from the Carmelo Anthony trade, it is that one star player cannot win a championship alone. Even Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

Some might make the argument that Lillard and Julius Randle together would equate a championship caliber team, but they would have little in terms of complementary pieces to work around them. Just look what the Brooklyn Nets accomplished spending money and not giving away valuable draft and personnel pieces.

However, I want to shift our attention over to the frontcourt where the Knicks had issues during the postseason due to a lack of physicality and offensive production. With Mitchell Robinson going down with a fractured foot, head coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to operate with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson. While both big men played valiantly, they lacked in specific categories, notably on the offensive side.

Finding another solid center to play alongside Robinson should be a priority for New York this off-season, and one player that stands out is Jarrett Allen, who was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Cleveland Cavaliers last year.

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN:

Cleveland could let Allen shop for an offer sheet but unlike Capela, who entered a tough market with few options, Allen is likely to have plenty of suitors, ranging from Charlotte to New York and Toronto.

At 23 years old, Allen averaged 12.8 points, 10 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and connected on .618 of his shots from the field. At such a young age, Allen has plenty of quality basketball ahead of him, and with Robinson in the final year of his rookie deal, having two adequate options in the paint will give the Knicks plenty of value.

Clearly, it is necessary for a physical team that relies on defense to have two solid big men available, and guaranteeing Allen would stay for multiple years would give the Knicks a bit of comfort if Mitch doesn’t play to expectations this season.

I believe pairing these two together would be a tremendous addition for New York, solidifying their frontcourt alongside Julius Randle. With the work rate that Thibodeau commands, both players could average upwards of 25 minutes per game, keeping both fresh and fatigue-free as the latter portion of the season commences and intensity is turned up a few notches.

Of course, it ultimately boils down to price point, and I don’t believe Allen will command a massive payday, giving the Knicks a good opportunity to grab him off the market early.

What do you think about pairing Mitchell Robinson with Jarrett Allen? Comment below!

After falling short at UFC Vegas 30, what’s next for Alexander Volkov?

Alexander Volkov, UFC

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 30, two top heavyweights went to battle. Undefeated top prospect Ciryl Gane (9-0) was looking to remain unbeaten against the tough Alexander Volkov (33-9).

Volkov has been with the UFC since 2016 and he’s done extremely well. Heading into Saturday night, Volkov held a record of 7-2 in nine fights with the promotion. One of those losses came against Derrick Lewis in the final seconds.

Volkov dominated that fight until the very end when Lewis landed a devastating knockout shot in the final fifteen seconds. “Drago” lost to Curtis Blaydes last June and had since won back-to-back fights leading into UFC Vegas 30.

Volkov has done a really good job of beating the guys he was supposed to in his UFC career. However, he’s seemed to struggle when he takes on the guys at the top. Unfortunately for Volkov, that narrative didn’t change on Saturday night.

Ciryl Gane did a fantastic job of using his movement and speed to fluster the Russian. Volkov landed some good shots, but for the most part, the fight was dominated and controlled by Ciryl Gane. Ultimately, it was almost a unanimous sweep on the scorecards for Ciryl Gane at UFC Vegas 30.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 30?

For Alexander Volkov, it’s back to the drawing board. The Russian has come close to a UFC title shot on multiple occasions, but he’s always fallen short. The toughest for him to swallow obviously the Derrick Lewis fight in which he was just seconds away from a win.

Now, having his winning streak snapped and losing to Ciryl Gane, where does Volkov go from here? It is worth noting that I thought Volkov’s two wins leading into UFC Vegas 30 were some of the best of his career.

He looked sensational, but he just ran into a better fighter on Saturday night. An opponent that could be next for Volkov is Augusto Sakai (15-3-1). Sakai has lost two straight, but both of those fights were headliners. He’s still in the top ten and a matchup between the two could provide some clarity to the UFC about both contenders.