New York Giants: Joe Judge’s style makes the news once again

joe judge, new york giants

By now, most around the league are aware of New York Giants head coach Joe Judge and his methods. Judge is becoming one of the more polarizing coaches around the league, as Giants fans largely credit him with the team looking competitive last season while many in the national media believe that Judge is just playing a tough guy character instead of genuinely leading.

The talks about that picked up once again thanks to the way the Giants have handled training camp. Discipline has been a focus, as players have had to run laps for mistakes. Reportedly, the entire team ended up having to run after the notable brawl that ended up including most of the team.

While players on the team have largely been fine with the tough measures, some former players from around the NFL believe the way the Giants are going won’t end well.

Much of the contention seems to be around the parallels between Joe Judge and the New England Patriots organization. Judge, of course, was part of that organization before joining the Giants. He immediately brought over some aspects of their culture, but that has earned both praise and criticism depending on who you ask.

Former NFL player Shaun Smith went as far as to say the Giants are the new Patriots.

Of course, making a comparison to the Patriots in a negative way is a bit strange in this situation.

The Patriots are indeed infamous for having a strict coaching style under Bill Belichick and high standards for players, but that has paid off for them with incredible success. If the Giants could achieve similar success while only having to deal with some hurt feelings as a consequence, their hiring of Judge as a little known coordinator would be a historic steal.

Geoff Schwartz, who played with the Giants for a brief time himself, believes the rough practices had something to do with Joe Looney’s retirement and criticized Judge over it.

Is there merit to the complaints?

It’s true that it’s possible to lose the locker room with an overly strict coaching style. It’s happened to a number of coaches in the past, especially ones that weren’t able to compensate for their harsher style by winning. However, it shouldn’t be assumed that the same outcome will happen with the Giants and Joe Judge.

Even if some of Judge’s critics are former NFL players, those players don’t have experience within the Giants locker room right now. If the Giants were dealing with poor morale and finding it hard to attract players to play for Judge, there would be more reason for concern – but it seems like the opposite is true.

This offseason has been more of a positive one than the last, and interviews have confirmed that Judge was a part of the decision for some of the team’s most high profile free agents.

His style isn’t for everybody, as multiple Giants players have said this offseason. But there is a market for it, and it appears to be a good fit for the players the Giants have gathered now.

It’s often not hard to tell when things are going bad in a locker room – a sense of apathy from the players in public as well as anonymous complaints to the media are telltale signs. But the Giants have avoided that, and if anything the locker room has been far more energized than it was under Judge’s nicer predecessor Pat Shurmur.

Should the Giants ownership and fans be worried about the culture Judge is building? Not really. The Giants made back to back hires with more lax personalities before deciding on Judge, and neither one of them accomplished much.

It’s too soon to say if Judge is truly the coach of the future, but right now, his coaching has been a factor in giving the Giants hope. And if Judge proves that the locker room’s high opinion of him right now is deserved, that polarizing reputation around the league will be well worth it.

Some players may have a problem with it, but based on everything we’ve seen this offseason, it looks like those players aren’t the ones on the Giants roster whose opinions on the subject matter far more than outside media figures and personalities.

NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott falls short in heroic effort at Watkins Glen

The fastest car in racing doesn’t always win.

That, unfortunately, was the case for Chase Elliott on Sunday, who finished second in the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen after a whirlwind race. Elliott was expected to start the race in 11th place; however, a failure in prerace inspection sent him to the rear to start the race. Additionally, Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief, was ejected for the race and the team was docked 10 driver and owner points.

Elliott wasted no time making up ground, driving his No. 9 car all the way up to 8th place in 20 green flag laps for three stage points. He made a pit stop on lap 12 during the competition caution as well as another pit stop during the stage break.

However, Elliott was forced to make an unscheduled stop midway through the second stage. He flat-spotted his tires and was forced to make a trip down pit road, losing all of the time that he made up.

“[I need to] make less mistakes,” Elliott said. “[I can’t] flat spot the tires. That was ultimately the straw that broke it. It was my bad, completely my fault”.

Elliott fell many seconds behind the leader until the stage two caution allowed him to catch up. He was forced to start stage three towards the back of the field and race through traffic once again to catch the leaders.

With 15 laps to go, Elliott was within striking distance of leader Kyle Larson and second place car Martin Truex Jr. Elliott shaved nearly four seconds off Truex Jr. with eight laps to go, but lapped traffic gave Larson enough of a cushion to hold off Elliott.

“He was really fast,” Larson said. “[I was] just trying to judge the gap in my head and manage it and not make as many mistakes, and hopefully he wouldn’t be on my back bumper”.

Elliott’s second place finish at Watkins Glen is his third consecutive podium finish at the track, winning in both 2018 and 2019. He also scored his 13th top-10 finish of the 2021 season.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Obi Toppin, Jericho Sims electrify in Knicks’ first Summer League loss

New York Knicks, Obi Toppin

New York Knicks couldn’t find their mark from the outside, but Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims provided the highlights in an 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday at the start of their NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas.

The Knicks shot an atrocious 7 for 40 from deep, with Immanuel Quickley and Toppin combining for 4-of-21 three-point shooting. Both incoming sophomore players were 1 for 5 from the floor in the opening quarter as the Knicks played catchup the rest of the way.

“I was very curious. So far, it’s been a great experience,” Toppin said after the game. “It would have been better if we got the W. We just didn’t lose but we learned today. We’ll learn from this and get better.”

Toppin’s confidence grew as the game went on as he got comfortable in a go-to guy role in their summer roster after languishing behind Julius Randle last season. He led the Knicks with 24 points, including a breakaway slam in the opening half. He added eight rebounds, a steal, and a block and finished the game on 10-of-21 shooting.

Jericho Sims jumped out of nowhere to steal the show among the Knicks rookies. His energy and athleticism led him to produce 12 points on a perfect 6 for 6 shooting on the floor. He was electric and a human highlight reel with his above-the-rim shots. The Knicks announced during the early moments of the game that Sims had been signed to a two-way contract. He can be with the Knicks next season up to a maximum of 50 games. The 58th overall pick added eight rebounds and one shot block for good measure.

Quickley pushed the pace after his slow start and had the Knicks within single digits, 83-74, on his three-pointer with 2:26 left. But the Raptors answered with back-to-back threes to put the game away.

Quickley played a game-high 37 minutes and collected 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals as the primary point guard.

The Knicks’ first-round pick Quentin Grimes opened the game with a three-pointer and finished with nine points, all coming from beyond the arc. He was 3-for-11 overall and 3-of-8 from the three-point line. Miles McBride missed all his four attempts from 3 but scattered nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal while showing some toughness on both sides of the floor.

Luca Vildoza’s shooting slump from the Tokyo Olympics continued, but he drew a charge on his first defensive play and handed out three assists.

Lithuanian Rokas Jokubaitis did not see action, and Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yashimoto described him as situational. Barcelona only cleared him to play three games in Las Vegas. From the looks of it, he’s more likely a pick-and-stash with the Knicks prioritizing Vildoza before him.

The Knicks will return to action on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Why New York Giants DB Julian Love will see a ton of playing time in 2021

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants are loaded with talent in the secondary. The unit features a possibly elite cornerback duo in James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. It also features a sick trio of safeties on the back end, Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Xavier McKinney. But this is not a top-heavy unit. Depth pieces, like Julian Love, also stand out on this roster.

Julian Love was once a starting safety on the Giants’ defense. But as the team improved and acquired more talent, Love’s starting status changed. Instead, the team now views Julian Love as a versatile depth piece that can fill in at multiple positions, primarily as a backup.

But the term “backup” should be used loosely when discussing Julian Love. The Giants’ third-year defensive back will see a ton of playing time in 2021.

Why Julian Love will see a ton of playing time

The New York Giants are known to run a lot of nickel under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. This means they send an extra defensive back out on the field defensively. Usually, Julian Love is that extra defensive back.

Last year, Julian Love primarily played safety. But in college, Love was a cornerback. He made the transition to strong safety as a rookie before playing more free safety in his second season. The Giants even had Love play a little bit of slot and outside cornerback last year.

Julian Love has been taking snaps with the first-team defense at slot cornerback during training camp this year. The Giants clearly plan on moving Julian Love all over the field, using him in a versatile way. Peppers, Ryan, and McKinney will be your starting safeties. But Jabrill Peppers could play a lot of linebacker this season. This opens the door for Xavier McKinney at safety while also opening the door for Julian Love at nickel cornerback.

The Giants are bound to run plenty of “big nickel” this season, a defensive formation that features three safeties. That is when Love would play the “big nickel” role. The other two safeties in that formation would be Ryan and McKinney, while Peppers plays weakside linebacker. This formation allows the Giants to get all of their top defensive backs on the field at the same time, giving them a matchup advantage. If the Giants run this formation a lot, then Julian Love will see a ton of playing time in 2021.

NASCAR returns in familar fashion, as Kyle Larson takes Watkins Glen

Larson ended Chase Elliott’s monopoly on Schuyler County, leading the last 27 laps in the return of the NASCAR Cup Series.

We now return to our regularly scheduled NASCAR programming.

The NASCAR Cup Series ended two different pauses on Sunday at Watkins Glen International: Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen event not only ended a two-week hiatus for the circuit due to the Tokyo Olympics but also its return to Schuyler County. A Cup Series staple since 1986, WGI’s date was canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last season. Sunday’s return produced a familiar result.

Kyle Larson led the final 26 laps of Sunday’s race, earning his series-best fifth victory of the year and his first at The Glen. Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet denied teammate and defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott a chance to become the first driver since Jeff Gordon to win three consecutive Cup races at The Glen (1997-99). Elliott did finish in the runner-up spot, marking the fourth time he and Larson have swept the top two positions this season.

Joe Gibbs Toyotas driven by Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Larson ran started the race in fourth behind the Team Penske Fords of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney. Keselowski, the pole sitter, led the first nine laps before spinning, as his day was marred by brake issues. Logano’s No. 22 Ford would win the first of two 20-lap stages before giving way to Gibbs Toyotas. Over the second segment, Larson battled Truex and Christopher Bell for the lead, getting into trouble when contact spun the latter’s No. 20. Larson apologized to Bell, who recovered to finish seventh, during his postrace interview with NBC Sports.

Truex, winner of The Glen’s 2017 event, won the second stage and occupied the two spots with Larson when each of them made their final pit stop of the day with 33 laps to go. A strong service from the No. 5 crew allowed Larson to get off first, giving him the inside edge for the lead when pit stops cycled around. The resulting big interval, peaking at over 12 seconds, allowed him to hold off the charging No. 9 of Elliott, who sliced Larson’s lead down to 2.4 seconds after getting around Truex for the runner-up slot.

Elliott’s second-place run capped off a roller-coaster day for the No. 9 team. They were forced to start from the rear of the field after failing prerace inspection due to a faulty rear-window air deflector. Multiple failures led to the ejection of Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson and the loss of 10 points in the championship standings (Bell dealt with the same issues, losing his crew chief Adam Stevens).

Larson has now earned five wins this season, breaking his previous career-best of four set during the 2017 season. Two of those wins have come at road courses, having previously won at Sonoma in June. This latest win also ties Larson for the Cup Series’ regular season points lead with Hamlin, who has yet to visit victory lane this season. Elliott’s seven wins on road courses, including the most recent at Road America, are good for third-best in Cup Series history, behind only fellow champions Gordon (9) and Tony Stewart (8).

Another road course lingers next week. The Cup Series will make its maiden voyage on the road course at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (1 p.m. ET, NBC).

For full results, click here

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Yankees: Luis Gil’s glow brightens, but the Yankees fail the sweep of the Mariners

yankees, luis gil

The New York Yankees entered today’s game hoping for the sweep of the Seattle Mariners after winning the first three. Sweeps of a four-game series are really difficult, especially when you are short as many players as the Yankees. The Yankees announced they had placed Anthony Rizzo on the Covid list before the game, their twelfth player to go on the list. They activated Luke Voit. At the end of a frustrating day, the Yankees could not complete the sweep losing the fourth game 2-0.

Today Luis Gil got his second start since being brought up from the RailRiders. In his first start, he was masterful, going six innings of scoreless ball. He is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. However, no Mariner has seen him pitch except via video.

Gil faced Yusei Kikuchi, who was an All-Star this year. The lefty is 7-6 with an ERA of 3.89 and an impressive 129 strikeouts. The Yankees got 5 runs off him in their first meeting this season in just two innings.

Through seven innings of the game, nothing really happed as the game remained scoreless. Gil went five scoreless innings striking out eight Mariners. He brightened his already bright glow going eleven straight innings without allowing a run. He became the Yankee’s first pitcher to do that since “Slow Joe” (Judd Bruce Doyle) in 1947.

Wandy Peralta came in to replace Gil and allowed just one hit. Stephen Ridings struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh. The New York Yankees were again scoreless in the bottom of the seventh. Gleyber Torres was having a great game going three for three.

Going into the eighth inning, both teams were scoreless. At the top of the inning, it was back to the top of the lineup for the Mariners. Abe Toro faced the Yankee’s fourth pitcher Lucas Luetge and reached on a booted ball by Odor. Mitch Haniger walked.   With two on and no outs, Kyle Seager got a ground-rule double scoring Toro for the first run of the game. Ty France struck out. Jarred Kelenic went down looking. Kelenic argued the call and was thrown out, as was manager Scot Servais. Cal Raleigh got a two-run single to make it 3-0. the call at home plate was overturned, and the Mariners only picked up two runs. Seattle Mariners 2 Yankees 0.

Luke Voit led off and ground out in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Yankees behind 2 runs. Then, Gleyber Torres went down looking. Then, Rougie Odor flew out to right, and it was off to the ninth inning.

At the top of the night, Jake Fraley struck out against Albert Abreu in for the final inning. Dylan Moore flew out to Gardner in center. Jake Bauers walked. Toro walked. Haniger struck out swinging. With last licks on the line for the Yankees in the bottom, Kyle Higashioka ground out to third. Brett Gardner reached on a ball back to the pitcher. DJ LeMahieu ground out to short, with Gardner advancing to second. Aaron Judge went down looking in a failed attempt to sweep the Mariners.

The final score was the Seattle Mariners 2 and the New York Yankees 0. The two runs scored by the Mariners were unearned. The winning pitcher was Sewald, the loser was Lucas Luetge, and the save went to Steckenrider.

Vildoza, Jokubaitis make Knicks debut as last guaranteed spot still up for grabs

With rookies Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride signing their rookie contracts Friday, the New York Knicks have now filled 14 guaranteed spots in their roster.

The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas could prove to be the battleground for the last remaining roster spot between two Euroleague guards.

Luca Vildoza arrived in Sin City Friday night, still feeling the effects of jetlag. While Rokas Jokubaitis, the Lithuanian guard, who models his game after Goran Dragic, reportedly looked impressive in practice.

Both Euroleague players will be essentially fighting for that 15th spot in the Knicks roster.

“I’m trying to work hard. I’m trying to show myself. I’m trying to get better every day. I just want to show who I am,” Vildoza told reporters Saturday in his first media availability since the Knicks brought him for a partially guaranteed four-year deal last May. “If after that, I can’t get with the team, that’s okay. At least I gave everything.”

The Knicks have until the opening night of next season to guarantee Vildoza’s salary.

Vildoza is coming off a lackluster play in the Tokyo Olympics, where Argentina could only show one win in four games and got trashed in the quarterfinals.

“To be honest, we didn’t play as we know it. We played terrible. To be honest, I was missing a lot of shots I usually don’t miss. I was without confidence. Now, I’m trying to get back to where it was,” Vildoza said.

The 25-year old Argentine guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 steal playing behind Facundo Campazzo and Nico Laprovíttola. His shot looked shaky, converting only 31 percent from the floor and just 3 of 18 3s.

On the other hand, Jokubaitis has recently signed a four-year deal with Barcelona with an NBA escape clause. He was initially expected to be a draft-and-stash prospect. But the 36th overall pick isn’t discounting the possibility that he could come right away if he plays outstanding basketball in the NBA Summer League.

“Right now the plan is to go to Europe, but you never know in basketball because basketball is a sport where anything can happen,” Jokubaitis said during his zoom call Thursday in Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-4 Jokubaitis has secured clearance from Barcelona to play three Summer League games. He averaged 7.0 points and 2.5 assists in 31 Euroleague games last season for his Lithuanian club Zalgiris.

Vildoza joined his first practice with the Knicks Summer League team Saturday. He said he will be ready if ever he gets playing time when the Knicks open their campaign against fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors Sunday at 4:30 pm ET (ESPN2).

“It was actually very tough. I was trying to figure out the sets. In Europe, I usually play similar sets. I think I’m gonna get into the team as I know. But I was tired, to be honest. I didn’t sleep very well last night. The jetlag was very tough,” Vildoza said of his first practice with the Knicks. “But I am okay today (Saturday). I’m really happy to be here. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Vildoza is the flashy guard who is a streaky shooter, while Jokubaitis said he brings calmness and acts like a second coach on the floor.

Both Euroleague players are eager to prove themselves worthy of a spot. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Las Vegas.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees’ young starting pitcher eyeing second big outing, but what does his future look like?

yankees, luis gil

When the New York Yankees pulled up at Luis Gil to face off against the Baltimore Orioles, nobody expected he would blank them over 6.0 innings. Tossing 88 pitches, Gil allowed four hits and struck out six batters in his MLB debut.

The Yankees scored 13 runs in his first outing, as Gill replaced All-Star Gerrit Cole, who was put on the COVID-19 injured list last week. At 23 years old, Gil has featured prominently in the minor-league system, making eight appearances for Triple-A Scranton.

During his time at Triple-A, Gil posted a 5.64 ERA, earning an 11.27 strike-out rate per nine. In his first professional outing, his fastball averaged 95.8 MPH, curating a 37.5% ground ball rate and nine strikeouts per nine.

The Yankees are preparing to take on the Seattle Mariners in the final game of a four-game series at 1:05 PM on Sunday afternoon. Gil will once again feature as the team’s primary starter, as his opposition hosts Yusei Kikuchi on the mound.

If Luis can string together another positive performance, he could find himself in the mix at the back end of the rotation. The Yankees are expecting both Luis Severino and Corey Kluber to make a return toward the end of August, potentially early September. While I can’t imagine the team featuring Gil during a post-season game, they should continue to utilize him sparingly to help mitigate fatigue as the end of the regular season nears.

The Yankees are currently on a five-game winning streak, having emerged victorious in eight of their last nine games. In the AL East standings, the Bombers are 5.5 games back from the Tampa Bay Rays and 1.5 games back from the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card race.

Fortunately, Boston has lost eight of their last 10 games but squeaked out a victory against Toronto on Saturday. Tampa, on the other hand, has won seven of their last nine, with two wins over the Orioles. It will be difficult to catch up to Tampa, meaning the Wild Card presents a better opportunity for the Yankees to earn a playoff spot.

New York Yankees Breaking: Rizzo to the Covid list, Luke Voit activated

anthony rizzo, yankees

Before today’s game, the New York Yankees announced that newly acquired hitter Anthony Rizzo had been placed on the Covid list. In a corresponding move, the Yankees have reactivated first baseman, Luke Voit.

Since before the trade deadline, Voit is coming off a bruised knee that has kept him away from the team. Rizzo was acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs at the deadline in the past week, has had 3 home runs, has scored 8 runs was hitting .281 in nine games. However, the Yankees will now be without him for at least ten days.

In this latest round of positive tests, Rizzo adds yet another Yankee to test positive for the virus, including Aaron Judge, Kyle Higasioka, Gio Urshela, Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and Gary Sanchez. Judge and Higashioka are already back with the team.

Stay with EmpireSportsMedia.com for all the latest developments.

The Knicks showed their loyalty to Julius Randle this offseason, taking pressure off the All-Star

knicks, julius randle

Despite the New York Knicks being involved in several trade scenarios, including for star point guard Damian Lillard, they elected to remain loyal to some of their players preparing to hit the free-agent market. Bringing back Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Derrick Rose on three-year contracts showcased their desire for continuity. Having earned the 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference last season, in theory, keeping the majority of their most influential players would provide similar results.

However, the front office didn’t stop at retaining a few familiar faces, they also target upgrades at shooting guard and point guard.

Fortunately for star power forward Julius Randle, the Knicks decided to build around him instead of injecting another top player to steal the spotlight. Randle had his best season to date in 2020, averaging a career-high 24.1 points, 6.0 assists, 10.2 rebounds, and shot 45.6% from the field. He also connected on 41% from three, which blew his previous high of 34% out of the water.

Having played 37.6 minutes per game, Randle found himself earning an All-Star appearance for the first time in his career and featuring as the team’s top player. However, once the postseason rolled around, the Atlanta Hawks knew shutting him down with the key to beating New York in the first round.

The Knicks made moves to improve their scoring efficiency:

The front office realized that Tom Thibodeau needed more scoring options, so they went out and landed Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker to replace key positions.

Fournier, who is capable of playing both shooting guard and small forward, averaged 17.1 points last season with Orlando and Boston. As a successful three-point specialist, averaging 41% last year, he provides much more than Reggie Bullock, who signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

Bullock featured as more of a catch and shoot expert, while Fournier demands defensive attention and can create shots on his own. That takes a tremendous amount of pressure off Julius Randle, who was expected to be the Knicks’ top shot creator and scorer last season, which he did successfully until he faced a more physically imposing team in Atlanta.

Replacing Elfrid Payton with Kemba Walker also contributes significantly, as Payton averaged 10.1 points on 23.6 minutes per game last year. As a terrible three-point shooter, hitting on 28.6% of the shots, Walker offers a major upgrade. Playing in 43 games due to a lingering knee issue, Walker averaged 31.8 minutes per game. He doubled Payton’s scoring production, putting up 19.3 points per night, 4.9 assists, and shot 36% from range over 8.2 attempts per game.

A combination of Fournier and Walker will draw more attention away from defenders, allowing Julius to feature in more isolation scenarios. Also, Randle’s career-high 6.0 assists last year should continue to increase.

Having options with high three-point shooting percentages will give Randle more comfort in spreading the ball around the floor. Despite landing a fresh four-year, $117 million deal, the All-Star has already been working diligently on improving his game this off-season. The Knicks did everything they could to help spur continuity while adding playmakers to help Randle take his game to the next level. Proving his worth during the postseason is the next step in his progression.