How Eddie Goldman makes the Chicago Bears defense expendable

eddie goldman, bears

The Chicago Bears defense dominated throughout the early portions of training camp but the biggest boost of all to the defense was the return of defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Goldman returns to the NFL, after not having playing since week 17 of the 2019 season.

With Chicago breaking in a new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai, adding Goldman to a front seven that includes Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, and Bilal Nichols means that the Bears are looking to crank up the pass rush. Luckily, Goldman’s presence allows the Bears pass rush to be more aggressive.

By taking on multiple double teams, Goldman sets Hicks and Mack up in one-on-one situations, making it easier for both to get after the quarterback. By being a presence in the running game, Goldman will let Smith’s speed flourish as Smith will be free to get into the backfield to make plays easily.

Cranking up Chicago’s pass rush buys the Bears secondary time in pass coverage. After moving on from Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller earlier in the offseason, the Bears will look to second-round pick Jaylon Johnson and veteran Desmond Trufant to fill the void.

“It feels amazing,” said Nichols regarding Goldman’s return.”Number one, we all know what type of caliber player Eddie is. Pro Bowler, best in his position. Just to have a dominant guy like that, right back with you, holding down the middle with Akiem on the other side, it’s amazing. We feel like we back to full strength now.”

When the Bears take the field on September 12th against the Los Angeles Rams, Goldman’s impact will be noticeable the first time that the defense takes the field. As Chicago continues training camp, Goldman’s progression from his year-long absence will be one to continue monitoring.

Have the New York Yankees original offseason plans changed due to Anthony Rizzo?

anthony rizzo, yankees

Last week the New York Yankees surprised everyone at the trade deadline. While many were talking about the team going after Trevor Story, Brian Cashman was working behind the scenes on acquiring a new first baseman.

Out of no where, the Yankees acquired the Cubs star first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The movement immediately paid off over the weekend as the Yankees swept the Marlins and Rizzo had one of the best first weekend’s you can imagine.

Rizzo slugged two mammoth homers and came up clutch in all three games. It wasn’t just with his bat, Rizzo showed off the leather yesterday when he turned a crucial double play in the eighth inning.

After the sweep, the Yankees are just 2.5 games out of the second wild card and now they’re only 5.5 games behind Boston for the first wild card. Rizzo and Joey Gallo’s acquisition really put some life into this team.

Yankees change of direction?

While Joey Gallo was a big acquisition, the Yankees needed someone like Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo also swings from the left side, but he rarely strikes out. You have to go back to 2016 to find a season where Rizzo struck out more than 100 times.

His elite defense at first is going to make everyone in the infield better. The Yankees had a good first baseman in Luke Voit, but in reality, Anthony Rizzo is better for this club all the way around.

With that said, has Rizzo already altered the Yankees offseason plans? By all indications, the Yankees were going to be looking at the star-studded shortstop market in free agency this year.

It looked like the Yankees were poised to make another big splash. However, Anthony Rizzo could be changing those plans. Instead of using a ton of money to sign a star shortstop, the Yankees could save a ton and keep their first baseman.

Rizzo would likely command a similar deal if not a little more than the team gave to DJ LeMahieu last off season. Would be pennies compared to some of the figures that are being thrown out there by shortstops like Corey Seager.

If the Yankees were to sign Rizzo, they could keep him at first and save a ton of money. That would also allow them the flexibility to trade Luke Voit. If they still wanted to sign a new shortstop, they could also look at Gerrit Cole’s brother-in-law, Brandon Crawford.

That would allow the Yankees to potentially trade Gleyber Torres for additional pitching help. One thing I know, Anthony Rizzo just looks like the perfect Yankee in every way. The way he answers questions, the leadership, and the play on the field. Don’t be shocked if he wears pinstripes the rest of his career.

New York Yankees: 4 Major takeaways from Yankees sweep of Miami

The New York Yankees entered last night’s game in Miami against the Marlins, hoping for a sweep after only being able to sweep four of ten possibilities. Instead, they got that sweep as they head into long homestand tonight. The Yankees won the first game 3-1, the second 4-2, and last night Jordan Montgomery led the Yankees in another 3-1 win to complete the sweep. The Yankees are now 56-48, 7 games behind the East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. They have won 6 of their last 10 games and are 2.5 games out of the second wild-card slot.

Will Yankee fans show the love?

By the trade deadline, most industry analysts believe that the New York Yankees were the AL winners in improving their team by the deadline. This deadline is different from previous years, where teams could still trade after the deadline to acquire players off of waivers. However, that is not the case this year; the team they have at the deadline is the team they will live with for the rest of the season.

The Yankees picked up three new pitchers and two lefty hitters to add to the lineup. As a result, the Yankees can now produce a lineup with five lefty hitters, should the need arise. Two of those new Yankees are Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. Gallo, who the Yankees got from the Rangers, has had a solid defensive start for the Yankees, but only last night did he get his first hit, a double in the seventh that almost topped the centerfield wall for a homer.

The other new New York Yankee hitter is Anthony Rizzo; he has been nothing short of amazing, almost single handily winning all three Marlin games for the Yankees in his Yankee debut weekend. He homered in the first game, homered in the second game, going five for five at the plate, and last night although not homering, he, with the Yankees scoreless to start the eighth inning, supplied the go-ahead run for the Yankee lead that they would not relinquish.

Today the New York Yankees return to Yankees Stadium in the Bronx to face the Baltimore Orioles. Yankee fans are some of the toughest fans in baseball, showing their disappointment when the team or a particular player is not playing well, but at the same time, they are not shy of showing their love. So when Anthony Rizzo takes to the field at first base, he will surely be welcomed; the only question is how loud a welcome he gets when he walks to the plate at the bottom of the first inning.

Montgomery has another good outing

Poor Jordan Montgomery struggled to find his way in the first inning, giving up a run, but then settled in and gave the Yankees a shot at winning the game. He pitched well as he found his curveball. In the end, he went five innings giving up just that one run while striking out six. But again, he got no runs support at all. The Yankees didn’t score until the eighth inning.

Montgomery has now given up 10 runs in his last 32.5 innings with absolutely no run support at all. Over the span, he has a .057 ERA. Last night, new Yankee pitcher Joely Rodriguez (J-Rod) got the won after throwing just one pitch for the Yankees to add insult to injury. Life isn’t fair.

Yankees lose a starter to the IL

Last night it was announced that Yankee starter Domingo German was being put on the 10 IL for right shoulder inflammation. Manager Aaron Boone said German would get an MRI exam in New York on Monday. After the Yankees did not make any significant pitching upgrades by the trade deadline, this is just another blow to the rotation this season. However, this type of injury is not totally unexpected as pitchers all over baseball adjust to playing a 162 game season after only going 60 games last season.

New New York Yankee starter Andrew Heaney, a lefty with a 6-7 record with an ERA of 5.27 and 113 strikeouts, will start tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. German’s next scheduled start is for the first game at the Stadium against the Seattle Mariners; on August 5, Nestor Cortes Jr will most likely be started.

Yankees made the plays

Although the Yankees did not score until the eighth, mostly due to Sandy Alcantara’s superb pitching, the scoreless innings still supplied some excitement. Although Brett Gardner was overshadowed by the play of Tyler Wad and Anthony Rizzo, Gardner has an excellent game; he ran down fly balls and even climbed the wall once getting an out. He also led off the rally in the eighth that eventually got the win for the Yankees.

At times during the night, Tyler Wade and Anthony Rizzo put on a show, making challenging plays. Tyler Wade, who is not a natural third baseman, completed an almost impossible play that a Gold Glove third baseman might not make. At the Marlins, half of the eighth Chisholm hit into a double play to end the inning. Rizzo made a spectacular scoop, fired to second, and made the catch to complete the double play. Rizzo is the real deal.

In the pitching department, Aroldis Chapman got his 22nd save of the season.

New York Jets revel in front of fans for the first time since 2019

New York Jets fans saw their team in person for the first time in nearly 20 months when 1 Jets Drive opened to the public over the weekend.

Granted access to their team for the first time since December 2019, New York Jets fans took full advantage, packing Florham Park for the first public training camp session over the weekend.

With both training camp and MetLife Stadium closed to the public during the health crisis last year, it had been nearly 20 months since the Jets held activities in front of a flesh-and-blood crowd, dating back to the 2019 season’s penultimate contest against Pittsburgh. Things looked a little different: ongoing precautions pushed back certain training camp traditions like photos and autographs another year. On the field, only 15 players that partook in that win over the Steelers remain on the Jets’ roster.

But that was of little concern to the fans, who giddily made their prescience felt with the Jets’ future on display. The loudest cheer of the day was likely reserved for a long scoring hook-up between rookies Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore.

Jets fans had made it clear that they were excited to see their team again…after all, free tickets to the public sessions in Florham Park disappeared in less than 24 hours…but physically seeing their supporters officially made the return of relative gridiron normalcy a reality.

Alijah Vera-Tucker kicked things off by leading the first spelling of Jets in a video shared by team owner Woody Johnson. One young fan proudly displayed his makeshift Wilson jersey, as strips of duct tape buried the Sam Darnold marks originally printed. According to NFL Network’s Judy Battista, the excitement was so palpable that one overzealous fan was ready to book tickets to Southern California for February’s Super Bowl.

The summer debut of Carl Lawson was one of the most anticipated events of camp, evidenced by a group of fans clad in shirts depicting Lawson adorning a Jets beanie shortly after his March signing. Lawson has lived up to the early hype and thanked fans for their support by declaring “Man I love being a jet” [sic] on Twitter shortly after Saturday’s festivities.

The Auburn and Cincinnati Bengals alum previously spoke to the team’s official site about the impact he’s hoping Jets fans will have on the revamped pass rush this season.

“Please come to a game, especially our home games, because it will help me a lot. It will help the D-line a lot,” Lawson implored in an interview with team reporter Eric Allen. “You are actually helping by being at the game…You don’t (have) to like me. You don’t have to do anything extra. Please, just come to the games and scream as loud as you can when the offense is on the field so they can hear nothing, and that would help me a lot.”

If the weekend was any indication, Jets fans are not only going to be big fans of Lawson, but will be more than happy to acquiesce to his request.

Head coach Robert Saleh likewise earned high approval ratings from fans. Florham Park engaged in hysterics when Saleh turned his famous “All gas, no brake” mantra into a chant for the fans, promising them “a lot of fun” once they get back to East Rutherford. The Jets open their preseason slate against the New York Giants on August 14 and their 2021 home debut comes on September 19 against the New England Patriots.

“It’s fun just to have human interaction again and fans, listening to them scream and boo and whatever else they were doing over there. It was awesome,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “I appreciate them coming out. It’s not easy in this climate right now to be able to step out and break out of your comfort zone. For them to come out here and enjoy a practice, hopefully it was worth it for them.”

Fans will be welcomed back to Monday and Wednesday’s practice sessions at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on 1 Jets Drive this week, with additional availability on August 9, 11, 24, and 25. Tickets to Florham Park are sold out but a limited number of entries are available to the Green & White practice at MetLife Stadium this Saturday. They can be obtained on the Jets’ official site.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

NASCAR: Storylines entering important Watkins Glen weekend

NASCAR‘s three premier series head north to Watkins Glen International Speedway this weekend, a high-speed, 7-turn road course located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Cup and Xfinity Series make their return to the 2.45-mile circuit after skipping the track last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Truck Series races at The Glen for the first time since 2000.

NASCAR returning to Watkins Glen is a story in itself, but some even bigger stories lie on the track.

Three-peat?

Chase Elliott has unofficially claimed the title of NASCAR’s new road course king, and it all began with his first career win at Watkins Glen in 2018. He followed up his 2018 victory with a repeat performance in 2019, and will now look to defend his title once again in Upstate New York.

Of Elliott’s 13 Cup Series victories, seven have come on the road course variety. He’s won two of the last three Cup Series races (COTA & Road America) and finished second in the non-win (Sonoma). Will anyone be able to stop Chase Elliott at Watkins Glen this weekend?

Is Almirola Safe?

When the NASCAR Cup Series last took the track on July 18, Aric Almirola scored an upset victory at New Hampshire to shake up the standings. Winning a race typically locks a team into the playoffs; however, that might not necessarily be the case with Almirola.

Thirteen drivers have won Cup Series races this season with four races remaining in the regular season. Just 16 drivers make the Cup Series field, meaning Almirola could be out of a playoff spot if several new drivers win before the start of the playoffs. Almirola is currently 23rd in the overall standings, and if he maintained that position, new 2021 winners could push him out.

Right now, the playoff field is comprised of the 13 winning drivers plus the overall points leader, Denny Hamlin. The overall points leader makes the playoffs and receives 15-playoff points regardless if they win a race or not, and Hamlin is currently in that position. Kyle Larson is just 13 points behind him, but Hamlin has a strong chance to make the playoffs regardless. That makes 14 drivers in the 16 driver field.

If Hamlin held on to the regular-season points title without winning a race, just three new winners sitting higher than Almirola’s points position would push the No. 10 driver out. Those drivers would be Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suarez. Any of those drivers are more than capable of winning races down the stretch to shake up the playoffs even more.

The ‘Dinger

AJ Allmendinger will run in the Xfinity Series this weekend at a track that he’s more than familiar with. Allmendinger won his only Cup Series race at The Glen in 2014 for JTG Daugherty Racing. He’s always had success at Watkins Glen, picking up several top-10s and winning other road course races in the Xfinity Series.

Allmendinger is running the Xfinity Series full-time this season, and his two victories thus far have placed him squarely in championship contention. He’ll have a great opportunity to pick up a third win at Watkins Glen this weekend if he can beat out Xfinity Series road course king Austin Cindric, the 2019 race winner. Never count out AJ Allmendinger at a road course, especially at Watkins Glen.

Xfinity Winless Surprises

As the Xfinity Series presses towards the playoffs, we’ve seen a few surprise non-winners through 19 races. Kyle Busch won all five of his allotted races this season, and points leader Austin Cindric has four. Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, and Ty Gibbs each have two wins apiece, while Josh Berry, Myatt Snider, Jeb Burton, and Christopher Bell each have one.

That leaves names like Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, and Brandon Jones winless, all drivers who won last season. Harrison Burton and Haley are both Cup Racing full-time next season, while Gragson and Jones are fighting for rides at the next level. Will one of the four score a win at Watkins Glen, or will a road course specialist take the victory?

Truck Series Regular-Season Finale

The Truck Series will race at Watkins Glen on Saturday for the first time in 21 years, and it should bring plenty of drama. Many drivers in the field have either limited or no experience at The Glen, shaping up for an interesting start on the challenging road course. Additionally, Saturday’s race is also the regular-season finale for the Truck Series.

Seven of the 10 playoff spots have already been filled, meaning three spots haven’t been clinched. John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, Austin Hill, and Sheldon Creed have all clinched with wins, while Zane Smith and Matt Crafton have clinched on points.

Carson Hocevar sits eighth in the standings and automatically clinches if a there’s a 2021 repeat winner or a non-points earning winner. Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith are both in positions to clinch under the same scenario as long as Friesen earns three points and Smith earns 15 in the race.

If there’s a new points-earning winner, the lower of Friesen and Smith would be out of the playoffs unless Hocevar essentially finishes last without any stage points. Derek Kraus, Tyler Ankrum, and Johnny Sauter can all clinch with help or a win.

Austin Wayne Self, Ryan Truex, Hallie Deegan, Tanner Grey, and Chase Purdy can only make it into the playoffs with a win at Watkins Glen.

——-

The NASCAR Truck Series race at Watkins Glen starts at 12:30 pm on Saturday with coverage on FS1. CNBC will carry the 4 pm Xfinity Series race following the trucks, while NBCSN will carry Sunday’s 3 pm Cup Series race. The ARCA Menards Series also races at Watkins Glen with a 6 pm start time on Friday on FS1.

Giants’ addition Joe Looney opens up a ton of new options on the offensive line

joe looney, new york giants

The New York Giants experienced a scare on the offensive line this past week when Shane Lemiuex was carted off the field with an apparent injury. As the team waited patiently on test results to return, luckily, Lemieux’s knee was cleared of any significant damage.

Head coach Joe Judge claimed that Lemieux was day-to-day and could return next week at some point. However, that didn’t stop the Giants from considering adding more depth, as former Kansas City Chiefs Center Austin Reiter came in for a visit. But the team had another player in mind, former Dallas Cowboys interior lineman Joe Looney.

Looney played in 12 games last year with Dallas, serving as a primary center and one game at right guard. He tallied 764 total snaps, recording a 50.6 overall pass-blocking grade and 50.3 run-blocking grade, per PFF. He was hit with 3.0 sacks allowed and 16 pressures, but his versatility and ability to perform at multiple interior spots gives the Giants a bit more wiggle room moving forward.

The former Cowboy brings plenty of experience in the trenches against NFC East opponents, and at 30-years-old he will be vying for starting snaps. Luckily for him, the Giants don’t have an established offensive front, giving him an opportunity to steal a starting job away from a player like a LeMieux or even center Nick Gates.

You can never have enough competition at any given position, and if Looney is able to snag the starting center job, Gates could end up competing at guard, which he’s better suited for after all. Gates stands at 6’5″ and 306 pounds, which is a bit tall for a center in the NFL. He held it down well last season after transitioning from the outside, but kicking him to left guard where he can compete with the Oregon product for starting snaps could end up being a solid strategy.

Having played several seasons under coordinator Jason Garrett, the team knows what they’re getting with Looney, which gives him an advantage. Garrett had great things to say about his former lineman last year, and the Giants nearly signed him, but he ended up sticking with Dallas for one more season. Having played 104 games in the NFL, starting 42, he’s a player to keep an eye on as training camp progresses.

Knicks News: Damian Lillard’s No. 1 trade destination is NY, Nerlens Noel earning tons of FA attention

damian lillard, new york knicks

The New York Knicks are gearing up to have an active August free agency period, but they may remain patient with their approach as star players like Damian Lillard prepare to decide on their future. Lillard hasn’t requested a trade from Portland, but if he does elect to force his way out, he has a new destination already in mind.

Stephen A. Smith confirmed that Damian Lillard’s “No. 1 destination” if he were to leave Portland is the Knicks, but the chances of him departing are slim.

If the Knicks have any chance at acquiring Lillard, they will have to give future first-round selections and young talent in a prospective deal. They would have to include RJ Barrett, who is set up to have a great year three after seeing significant increases in several categories last season.

At 20 years old, he averaged 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and shot 44% from the field. Playing in all 72 games, he averaged 34.9 minutes and shot 40% from three, a .08% increase from his rookie campaign.

Lillard is simply waiting to see how Portland addresses some of its bigger weaknesses, and having just signed a four-year, $176.2 million extension, a lot rides on their ability to improve the roster.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Lillard is buying his time “while waiting to see how the Blazers’ roster looks later in the offseason before reassessing his situation.”

If the Knicks were able to pair Lillard with Julius Randle and utilize some of their new depth pieces, they could have a quality team moving forward. They would need some unproven talents to rise to the occasion, but Lillard is capable of carrying a team all on his own. Last season, the six-time All-Star averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and shot 45% from the field. His incredible 39% from three over 10.5 attempts per game represents a great clip and success rate.

Knicks’ president Leon Rose would likely do whatever it takes to acquire Lillard, but there are a few other free agents he has to make a decision on in the near future.

Big man Nerlens Noel will have potential suitors this off-season, as he’s been connected to the Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, and Toronto Raptors. The Knicks are also interested in bringing him back on a new deal, having signed a one-year, $5 million contract last season. Noel proved to be a fantastic shot-blocker, averaging 2.2 per game, a career-high. While he doesn’t offer much on offense, he’s a solid reserve piece who can contribute defensively and mitigate fatigue for Mitchell Robinson.

The former first-round pick played valiantly in the absence of Robinson last year, starting 41 games and averaging 24.2 minutes. He is a quality player, but his price tag may increase this off-season to a point where the Knicks don’t feel comfortable spending upwards of $7 million on a backup center.

New York Rangers: Igor Shesterkin decides not to file for arbitration as deadline passes

New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin was not in the group of 17 players who filed for salary arbitration that was announced on Sunday evening.

The New York Ranger’s lone restricted free agent with arbitration rights, Igor Shesterkin, did not file for salary arbitration per an announcement that was put out on Twitter by the NHLPA on Sunday night.

The process of arbitration as per CapFriendly.com is as follows;

  • Salary arbitration is a contract negotiation method that uses a third-party arbitrator to determine a fair contract term and length for an expiring RFA player. Arbitration can be requested if a player meets the following conditions (CBA Reference 12.1 (b)):
    • The player qualifies as a Restricted Free Agent (RFA).
    • The player has not signed an offer sheet.
    • The player has met the required professional years of experience, as shown in the list below.
    • Eligibility for salary arbitration is dependent on entry-level signing age, and professional experience (CBA Reference 12.1 (a)):
      • 18-20: 4 years professional experience.
      • 21: 3 years professional experience.
      • 22-23: 2 years professional experience.
      • 24 and older: 1-year of professional experience.

      Signing age is the age the player is on September 15 of the year they signed their contract unless they turn 20 from September 16-December 31, in which case they are considered 20.

      A player is considered to have completed a year of professional experience if:
      1. The player is aged 18 or 19 and has played 10 or more NHL games in the respective season
      2. The player is aged 20 or older and has played 10 games in a professional league, while under an NHL SPC.
      Due to the 2019-20 season being shortened by COVID, a pro-rating for the professional games requirement was applied as follows:
      1. If the player is aged 18 or 19 and is considered a Covid Roster Freeze Player, the 10 games requirement was pro-rated to 9 games (pro-rating of 70/82).
      2. If the player is aged 20 or older, the 10 games requirement was pro-rated to 9 games (pro-rating of 70/82).
      Due to the 2020-21 season being shortened, the professional games requirement was pro-rated to 7 games (56/82).

    The list of players who filed for arbitration are;

    Nikita Zadorov CGY
    Dennis Gilbert COL
    Adam Erne DET
    Jakub Vrana DET
    Michael McNiven MTL
    Dante Fabbro NSH
    Juuse Saros NSH
    Adam Pelech NYI
    Victor Mete OTT
    Zach Aston-Reese PIT
    Vince Dunn SEA
    Adin Hill SJS
    Zach Sanford STL
    Ross Colton TBL
    Jason Dickinson VAN
    Andrew Copp WPG
    Neal Pionk WPG

    The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration notification is Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. ET. Hearings will be held from Aug. 11-26.

A Deal May Be Close

The mere fact that Shesterkin avoided filing for arbitration is a good sign for both sides. The decision indicates that Shestterkin’s camp and the Rangers are having fruitful discussions that are leading towards a new deal being completed.

Since he was called up to New York, Shesterkin has appeared in 47 games compiling a record of 26-16-3 with a 2.59 GAA.

The 25-year-old was handed the torch from fan-favorite Henrik Lundqvist when the 2020-’21 season concluded.  He has a tough start to this past season, but eventually found his way out of his slump ending the season with a  12-2-7 record in his final 22 games.