New York Giants: Daniel Jones will play first half in final preseason game

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have kept Daniel Jones out of the preseason up to this point, but the coaching staff is changing tunes going into the final game. The decision is now that Jones will start, as part of an underlying shift for the third game to focus on regular season preparation instead of just evaluation.

This week we’ll treat more as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. My expectation at this point would be for Daniel to play at least the first half and we’ll decide on what we’re going to do in terms of coming out of halftime later in the week,” Joe Judge told reporters as part of a lengthy answer about Jones and the distribution of playing time at QB.

According to Judge, injury risk had nothing to do with keeping Jones out in the first two games. Instead, the Giants kept Jones out to give a chance for backup Mike Glennon to start. As Glennon is a new addition to the Giants from this offseason, these preseason games will be the only film the Giants get on the player working in their system for a while.

What does this mean for the Giants?

The Giants haven’t been a high scoring preseason team so far, but they haven’t been trying for the most part. The focus has been on individual performances rather than winning, which may change with the third game being treated more like a regular season rehearsal.

Jones will still be without some weapons such as Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay, which might be a cause for concern as we have little idea how these players will mesh on the field together come the regular season. But despite that, this will be our first chance to see something resembling the team’s regular season offense before week 1.

After two games of poor showings due to playing backups, the expectations will be a bit higher in this final game but the Giants should in theory be equipped to handle it better. At least, they should be for the first half where Daniel Jones is set to make his mark.

New York Yankees Recap: Chapman falters, but the Yankees pull out 11th straight win

yankees, dj lemahieu

The New York Yankees entered tonight’s game in a very unusual situation. That situation was to win their 11th straight game, which has not been done since 1985. The Yankees have won their last 9 series and their 10th game in a row going 26-8 since July 17th. No team in baseball has had two teams with a 9-1 record or better face each other since 1901. The Yankees would not have an easy task with the Atlant Braves starter Charlie Morton on the mound. The Yankees had Andrew Heaney starting for them. The Yankees got their 11th straight win 5-4 over the Braves. It was the 10th series win. the first time that has been done since 1954.

The first inning was led off by DJ LeMahieu, who ground out to short. Anthony Rizzo struck out on a Morton curveball. Aaron Judge hit a line drive to center for a single. Joey Gallo flew out to center to end the half. At the bottom, Ozzie Albies led off and ground out to short. Jorge Soler also ground out to Velazquez at short. Freddie Freeman walked. A pitch hit Austin Riley. Dansby Swanson hit a two-run double, driving both Freeman and Riley. Travis d’Arnaud ground out to short to end the inning, but the Braves scored two runs. Atlanta Braves 2 New York Yankees 0.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the second inning by homering to right-center to bring the Yankees one run closer. Gary Sanchez struck out swinging. Rougie Odor went down swinging, as did Andrew Velazquez to end the half. At the bottom, Adam Duvall led off and struck out. Joc Pederson went down swinging. Charlie Morton gave Heaney a strikeout of the side. Braves 2 Yankees 1.

The third inning was led off by Andrew Heaney, who went down looking. LeMahieu struck out for Morton’s sixth strikeout. Rizzo flew out to center to end the half. At the bottom, Albies hit the first pitch he saw for an out to right field. Soler ground out to Odor at third. Freeman popped out to left-center. Braves 2 Yankees 1.

Aaron Judge led off the fourth inning by leading off with a double down the right-field line. Gallo went down looking. Stanton that homered in the second ground out to the infield with Judge moving to third base. Sanchez singled up the middle-scoring Judge to tie the game at 2. Odor chopped out to first to end the half, but the Yankees tied the game. At the bottom, Riley led off by singling to short. Swanson swung out swinging. d’Arnaud singled to left. Duvall, with two on and one out, popped out to Rizzo in right field territory. Pederson was hit by a pitch but swung for the final out of the inning. New York Yankees 2 Braves 2.

The fifth inning was led off by Andrew Velazquez, who struck out. Then, DJ LeMahieu hit a two-run homer to deep left. At the end of the fifth inning, the New York Yankees 4 and the Atlanta Braves 3.  The sixth inning was scoreless for both teams. Clay Holmes pitched an excellent sixth for the Yankees. In the seventh inning, the Yankees picked up another run with Rougie Odor’s solo homer, which turned out to be the winning run for the Yankees. . Chad Green in for the Yankees had a scoreless seventh. New York Yankees 5 the Atlanta Braves 3.

The top of the eighth inning was scoreless for the Yankees. At the bottom of the eighth, Chad Green struck out Soler. Freeman singled to left field out of Gallo’s reach. Riley singled but tried to stretch it to a double and was called out at second. Freeman took third base. Swanson ground out to end the inning. New York Yankees 5 Atlanta Braves 3.

At the top of the ninth inning, Gary Sanchez was called out on strikes. Odor walked. Velazquez struck out swinging. Luke Voit pinch hit for Chad Green and walked on four pitches. DJ LeMahieu popped out to Swanson at short to end the half-inning.

At the bottom of the inning closer, Aroldis Chapman came to close it out for the Yankees. Facing him was d’Arnaud, who ground out to Velazquez. Duvall singled up the middle. Heredia pinch-hitting for Pederson went down on a Chapman slider, two outs. Ehire Adrianza pinch-hit for pitcher Will Smith, he walked. With two on and two outs, the dangerous Ozzie Albies came to the plate as the winning run and singled to left to load the bases with Braves. Then with the bases loaded and two outs Jorge Soler with sweat dripping from Chapman’s cap, walked, bringing in the fourth run and knocking Chapman out of the game.

Wandy Peralta came in to get the save for the Yankees. Peralta, with the bases, still loaded, faced Freddie Freeman with the game on the line, the winning streak on the line. Freeman flew out to Gallo in left for the Yankee win and the 11th straight win for the first time since 1985. The final score was the New York Yankees 5 and the Atlanta Braves 4. The winning pitcher was Clay Holmes, and the loser was Charlie Morton. The save went to Wandy Peralta (5).

Megill Gets Tagged For Four Homers in Mets 8-0 Loss To Giants

yankees, New York Mets, Luis Rojas

The New York Mets welcomed the combination of Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez for the first time, but the San Francisco Giants looked at it and laughed. It took just two batters for them to get a lead they would not surrender and cruised to an easy 8-0 victory in game one of their series.

Tylor Megill did not have his good stuff early on, leading to the ugliest start of his young career. He allowed seven runs on 11 hits, including those four homers, and only lasted 3.2 innings. Megill allowed a first-inning homer to Brandon Belt, a 451-foot homer to Mike Yastrzemski in the second inning, and homers to LaMonte Wade and Belt again during the fourth inning.

Throughout the start, Megill looked like he was pitching with a lack of confidence. It showed the most when Megill assumed a ground ball to Pete Alonso would become a base hit. Megill broke towards home plate to back up instead of making a move to cover first base.

New Day, Same Offense

Sammy Long looked the complete opposite against the horrid Mets offense, but then again, what pitcher has not? Long complete 5.1 shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. He had the Mets guessing all night with his ability to throw his changeup and slow looping curve at any time. Long even threw a nasty changeup to Baez, making him look like he had never swung a bat before.

The loss was about what you would expect when the best team in baseball plays a team that has barely been better than the Baltimore Orioles this month. On Wednesday, they will try to rebound when Taijuan Walker takes the mound against Johnny Cueto, making his first start off the IL. The first pitch from Citi Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Ranking the best quarterbacks in New York Giants history

New York Giants, Eli Manning

It’s been a long time since the New York Giants gave their fans something to truly shout about. During the down years, it’s often tough to remember the good times, but it doesn’t mean they’ve never happened. 

Here we look back at the best quarterbacks in NY Giants history to prove that it hasn’t always been so bleak.

Number 5. Charlie Conerly

Kicking off our list of the best quarterbacks in NY Giants history is Charlie Conerly. Conerly joined the Giants way back in 1945 as the 127th draft pick. From there on out, it was only ever the Giants for the Ole Miss graduate.

He remained with the franchise his entire 14-year professional career, racking up a grand total of 19,488 passing yards and making two Pro Bowl teams; the second of those Pro Bowl honors arrived in 1956, which was the year Conerly led the team to the NFL Championship. 

Number 4. Y A Tittle

The inclusion of Y A Tittle takes us forward a few years from the inaugural campaign of Conerly but only by a few years; Tittle joined the NFL in 1948, although it wasn’t until 1961 that he landed in NY. He would only strut his stuff for four years at Yankee Stadium, but boy did he leave a mark. 

The first three years saw him earn Pro Bowl nods along with leading the league in touchdown passes in 62 and 63. It wasn’t just the more standard recognition that came Tittle’s way whist a Giant, though. He was also named the NFL MVP in 1963; part of that award might have been to acknowledge the seven touchdown passes he threw against the Redskins. He was only the fourth man to achieve such a feat, and, to this day, nobody has converted more.

Number 3. Benny Friedman

Hall of Famer Benny Friedman spent hardly any time with the Giants, but you have to be extremely blinkered to ignore just how good he was; some would go as far as to label him as a game-changer of American Football. In the year prior to his move to the Giants, he led the league in passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. 

It was a first that someone had achieved both, but unsurprising, really given Friedman practically invented the raking forward throws you see today. His time in NY lasted just three years with no major franchise success, but he’s a figure that cannot be ignored. 

Number 2. Phil Simms

The silver medal on our list goes to Phil Simms. Simms was the seventh overall pick in 1979 after starring for Morehead State and instantly started to make an impression on the team with 11 starts in his inaugural campaign. 

He remained with the Giants through to his retirement in 1993 and – even allowing for the 1982 and 1983 seasons where he played just two games combined (starting none), he racked up a grand total of over 33,000 passing yards. It’s not all about yards thrown, though, and Simms delivered on the biggest stage of all, guiding the franchise to Super Bowl glory in 1986 and again four years later. The first win saw Simms walk away with both the league and Bowl MVP awards.

Number 1. Eli Manning

Topping our list of the best quarterbacks in NY Giants history is Eli Manning. There is actually a lot of similarity between Manning and Simms; both were Giants from start to finish, both led the team to two Super Bowls, and both are forever engrained in the memory. 

The big thing that sees Manning into first place is the host of records he holds, which range from the most yards thrown through to the most touchdown passes and most completions. Even with the hype that comes with being the number one pick, you could argue Manning’s displays over the years still defied the NFL betting odds.

There you have it, the best quarterbacks in NY Giants history. Click here for the top five quarterbacks in NFL history!

Do you think any of these Giants legends should be included in the top 5? Comment below!

Top 5 storylines for Knicks preseason games

To some, it’s just the preseason games. But don’t tell that to the New York Knicks fans who will troop to the Garden and cheer out for their team after spending most of last season cheering from their couch.

The preseason games are not lacking in drama as there are many storylines to be unpacked when the retooled Knicks plunge back into action after a surprising playoff run and a solid offseason.

The Knicks will play four preseason games, three at the Garden in what is expected to be a full capacity crowd in one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history in a long while.

Knicks Preseason Schedule:

Pacers @ Knicks Oct. 5, 7:30 pm

Knicks @ Wizards Oct. 9, 7:00 pm

Pistons @ Knicks Oct. 13, 7:30 pm

Wizards @ Knicks Oct. 15, 7:30 pm

Let’s take a look at the five most intriguing storylines of the Knicks’ preseason.

First look at reloaded backcourt

Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier will have their Garden debut as a Knick in their preseason opener.

Walker and Fournier arrived with much fanfare and are viewed as upgrades over former starters Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock.

It will be interesting to see how Tom Thibodeau will manage Walker, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley’s minutes.

The One That Got Away

The Knicks reportedly tried to trade up for Oregon star Chris Duarte in the draft. And the Knicks will have the chance to size up the one prospect that got away right in their preseason opener.

Actually, it will be Duarte’s second game against the Knicks, but it will be his first against their entire lineup. Duarte made quite an impression in his Summer League debut in Indiana Pacers’ loss to the Knicks. The 24-year old lived up to his billing as a ready-made 3-and-D player with his solid play on both ends of the court as he came away with a full line: 14 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

Done with Broadway drama

The Knicks will play two games against the new-look Wizards, who scooped up Spencer Dinwiddie and picked up Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell from the Los Angeles Lakers for Russell Westbrook.

Dinwiddie, who essentially replaces Westbrook, had a love and hate relationship with the Knicks fans and media following his exit from crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets.

A segment of the fan base wanted him to be a Knick before Walker came along. New York Post stirred the pot with a report that he wanted no part of it.

Dinwiddie quickly shut down the report as he moves on from the drama in New York for the much laidback atmosphere in the nation’s capital.

Dinwiddie is happy and content that he got his bag in Washington as Bradley Beal’s new backcourt partner. But there will be no love lost for sure when he plays his first game at the Garden following his Nets stint.

MotorCade at the Garden

The top overall pick Cade Cunningham will make his Garden debut when the Detroit Pistons visit New York on Oct. 13.

Cunningham hit seven triples in what came down as his coming out party in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Thibodeau will definitely map out a defensive game plan against the gifted rookie.

Last chance to catch the bus

The preseason games will be Luca Vildoza’s final test before the Knicks decide on his team’s option for the upcoming season. The team has until the opening night whether to keep the Argentine guard or let him go.

After a month of training with the Knicks player development staff, Vildoza had an underwhelming performance in Argentina’s Olympic quest. He went scoreless in the Summer League before he was shut down due to a foot injury.

Veteran guard Dwayne Bacon, who signed an Exhibit 10 deal, is lurking in the background and remains to be the biggest threat to Vildoza.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Yankee Legends: Ron Guidry’s #49 retired cementing his place in history

Yesterday, 18 years ago, Ron Guidry was invited to Yankee Stadium. He had no idea what was in store for him that day. Guidry pitched his entire 14-year career with the New York Yankees. This sunny hot day at the stadium would overwhelm him. After arriving at the park, he learned that this day was Ron Guidry Day, in one of the best-kept secrets in Yankee history.  A day that his #49 would be retired and a plaque would be erected in Monument Park honoring him next to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Micky Mantle.

Guidry became only the second Yankee pitcher in history to have his number retired; the other was Whitey Ford. Ron Guidry wiped tears from his eyes as his framed No. 49 jersey was carried onto the field at Yankee Stadium. After the ceremony and the unveiling of his plaque, he spoke to the packed Stadium:

“Twenty-seven years ago I walked into the stadium for the first time and I remember looking at this field and seeing how beautiful this place was,” Guidry said. “Every little boy’s dream is to play major league ball. I feel fortunate not only that I got to play pro ball, I got to play it with the only team I ever wanted to play pro ball for.”

As I said earlier, Guidry spent his entire career with the New York Yankees. He helped them to two World Series Championships in 1977 and 1978. In 78 helped the Yankee recover from a 14 game deficit to a one-game playoff at Fenway Park that the Yankees won. He is also most known for his 18 strikeout game against the Angels, a Yankee record that still stands today. For younger fans that never got to see Guidry pitch, here is his story.

Ron Guidry, the early years

The New York Yankees’ Ron Guidry was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, on August 28, 1950; Ronald Ames Guidry spent his entire fourteen-year pitching career with the New York Yankees. This short for a pitcher, “this skinny kid was the fiercest competitor I have ever played with. He has more heart and more determination than anyone I have ever known,”  was said by former teammate Willie Randolph.

Guidry’s family is Cajun through and through. Ron Guidry grew up hunting and fishing on the bayous, as well as speaking Cajun French. One day, at the age of eight, Ron told his mother that he would visit his grandmother but instead took a detour by a park where some boys played baseball. When a ball got away and rolled towards Guidry, he threw it back with such velocity that a man watching ran over to Guidry. The man was a coach of a Little League team and happened to be a friend of Roland Guidry Ron’s Father. However, Ron did not need too much convincing and joined his first organized baseball team at eight. Like many players who showed plenty of ability, Guidry excelled and then graduated to American Legion baseball.

Guidry shows great promise as a pitcher

In high school, Guidry would excel in two sports, baseball and track and field. He showed great promise as a pitcher, but it was sprinting that Ron was most noticed for. Although he was awarded scholarships for track, he chooses a baseball scholarship close to home at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. In his freshman year, he posted a 5-1 record with a 1.57 ERA. The next season he was 7-4, striking out 87 batters in 80 innings. Already he was recorded as throwing up to 95 miles per hour.

Upon the advice of a Yankee scout, the Yankees selected Guidry in the 1971 draft. Guidry began his professional career in 1971 with the Johnson City Yankees. He was able to blow his blazing fastball by most hitters in the low minors. Although he struck out many batters, he also walked quite a few. Guidry enlisted into the National Guard in 1971 and was active through 1977. On September 23, 1972, he married the former Bonnie Rutledge. They had three children: daughters Jamie and Danielle and son Brandon.

After Guidry was with the Yankees for four years, he hadn’t made a name for himself. He struck out a lot of batters, but he also walked a lot of them. In 1974 he was transferred to the West Haven, Connecticut Yankees and made a reliever. This was a big mistake because the results were horrible. He went 2-4 with an ERA close to 6. In 1974 he was sent to Syracuse, where good pitchers surrounded him for the first time. Pitchers like Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, and Jim Beatie all showed him the ropes. The club manager at the time was Bobby Cox, who Guidry greatly admired. He would make Guidry his closer, and Guidry racked up 14 saves in that role to go with a 6-5 record and a 2.90 ERA in 42 games.

Guidry makes his major league debut

He then earned a ticket to the Queens Shea Stadium as Yankee Stadium was being renovated. Guidry made his major league debut on July 27, 1975, in the second game of a doubleheader against Boston.  While there, he met up with teammates Sparky Lyle and Dick Tidrow. Tidrow gave Ron his nickname “Gator”. Sparky Lyle gave him something else, his slider pitch, and Ron became a two-pitch pitcher combined with his high-velocity fastball. Soon after, when the Yankees acquired Doc Ellis, Guidry was sent back to Syracuse, where he pitched very well. In 11 games, he posted a 3-1 record with a 1.37 ERA, fanning 25 batters in 20 innings.

The Yankees traded away a pitcher, and Guidry would be called back up to replace him. New manager Billy Martin put him in a game on his first day back. Just off the bus. Guidry would later say Billy Martin didn’t like me and was setting me up for failure. It worked; I got one out and gave up four runs. Both Martin and Steinbrenner wanted more experienced pitchers, so Ron sat in the bullpen for 47 games. At one point, George Steinbrenner, the “boss,” would tell him you will never make a pitcher in the majors.

In 1977 both the “boss” and manager Billy Martin wanted to trade Guidry to the White Sox, but President Gabe Paul would have no part. 1977 also saw new players Reggie Jackson and Don Gullet. In 25 starts and six relief appearances, Guidry posted a 16-7 record with a 2.82 ERA. He threw a two-hitter against Texas on August 28. All of a sudden, Billy Martin liked Guidry and took credit for his new fame. The Yankees went 100-62 and won the east over the Baltimore Orioles. In the ALCS, Guidry pitched a complete-game win over the Kansas City Royals, but he was knocked out in game 5. In the 77 World Series, he got only one start, and he won a complete game for the Yankees.

Guidry attains the best Yankee pitching record ever

In 1978 it would be Guidry’s best year; he would win 25 games while losing only three, the last Yankee pitcher to have a record that good to date. In 1978, the east title would come down to a playoff game for the title. In a now-famous conversation, Ron met George Steinbrenner in the parking lot and noticed he looked dejected. Ron asked why, and George said because we have to go up there to Fenway and play those sons of bitches. Ron answered, “don’t worry, boss. I’ll win it for us”. And indeed he did; he pitched 6 1/3 innings for the win of the division. Guidry would pitch one game against the Royals in the ALCS and one in the World Series against the Dodgers; he won both games. The Yankees would win the World Series for the last time in the next eighteen years.

Guidry would go on to have seven more winning seasons for the Yankees. In 1986 he had his first losing season going 9-12, but still having an ERA below 4. As all fastball pitchers do when they age, they lose velocity, and it was no different for Ron. He became more of a pitcher and less of a thrower. 1986-88 also saw a reduced number of starts as well. Guidry reported to spring training in 1989 but clashed with new manager Dallas Green. The Yankees sent him down to Columbus of the AAA International League. He posted a 1-5 record and decided to move on from baseball and get on with the rest of his life. Guidry was 170-91 with a 3.29 ERA in his New York Yankee career.

Yankee’s number 49 shirt retired, and Guidry honored.

On August 23, 2003, Guidry’s number 49 was retired by the Yankees. He was the 16th player to be so honored. In addition, he was presented with a plaque that would be placed in Monument Park of Yankee Stadium. When he was asked to speak at the ceremony, he said:

“I have but one regret in baseball, and that is that I never got to say goodbye to you wonderful fans, and how much I appreciated you. When you would stand and clap on my second strike, I would hear you.”

In his career, Ron Guidry won five Gold Glove Awards, the Roberto Clemente Award, Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award, Sporting News Major League Player of the Year Award, Baseball Digest, and Associated Press Player of the Year Awards, and in 1978 the Cy Young Award. Unfortunately, to date, Ron never achieved entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as many voters thought his career was too short, although he was one of the greatest pitchers of the late ’70s and ’80s. Reggie Jackson may have had a candy bar named after him, but Guidry had the “Lousiana Lightning Hot Sauce.” In the last 60 years, no other pitcher has had more than 25 wins in a season, and his 18 strikeouts in a game remains a New York Yankee record.

 

New York Giants: Rookie CB Rodarius Williams bounced back in second preseason game

new york giants, rodarius williams

The New York Giants fell to 0-2 in the 2021 preseason after losing to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. However, the focus in the preseason is usually more on the players and their individual performances, rather than the game’s final score. One Giants player that had an impressive individual performance was sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams.

Rodarius Williams is a player that has stood out for the Giants in the summer. The older brother of Cleveland Browns cornerback Greedy Williams has been a training camp standout for the Giants. Earned his way to first-team reps in practice and generated plenty of excitement and support from the fanbase.

Some of those fans were met with disappointment after the Giants’ first preseason game. Rodarius got plenty of playing time against the Jets, but his performance did not make him stand out the way he has in practices. But in the Giants’ second preseason game, Rodarius Williams bounced back against the Browns.

Rodarius Williams in the second preseason game

Rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams’s first preseason game was a struggle. The sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma State was beaten consistently in pass coverage. He did recover a fumble and nearly take it back to the end zone. However, his struggles to defend the Jets’ wide receivers were the main takeaway from that game.

In the Giants’ second preseason game, though, Rodarius bounced back in a major way. Rodarius improved drastically in coverage. Compare Rodarius Williams’s performance from Week One to his performance from Week Two:

  • vs. the Jets: Allowed 8 receptions for 99 yards
  • vs. the Browns: Allowed 2 receptions for 35 yards, 1 pass breakup

Check out this pass breakup by Rodarius Williams from the Giants’ preseason game:

The Giants are not planning on declaring Rodarius Williams a starter anytime soon, however, they have definitely found themselves a good player in the later rounds. Williams is fighting for a spot on the final 53-man roster. He appears to have a good chance of making it into the regular season. Throughout the summer, Rodarius Williams has proven to be a valuable depth piece at cornerback for the New York Giants.

New York Jets: Is a trade for pass rushing the right move right now?

new york jets, robert saleh

It’s been theorized that the New York Jets could seek out a new pass rusher. But is that the most worthwhile move as the 2021 kickoff looms?

Any analysis of the New York Jets’ 2021 offseason must be prefaced with the caveat that the previous campaign sunk the team to such dramatic depths that anything short of full-on contraction would’ve been seen as an upgrade…and, even then, some Gang Green fans would go full John McKay.

But there is no objectively denying that the Jets made smart moves following last year’s disastrous two-win showing. Even with the loss of the most expensive purchase, defensive end Carl Lawson, the Jets are in a favorable position to at least start to reintroduce themselves to the world of professional football relevancy. At the same time, however, even the most unapologetic Jets propagandist has to admit that Lawson’s forced season-long departure due to a ruptured Achillies sustained during last week’s joint activities with the Green Bay Packers puts a bit of a damper on Joe Douglas’ most impactful offseason to date.

To that end, the Jets are reportedly seeking help from abroad to bolster their pass rush game. A popular candidate amongst fans has been former New England pass rusher Chandler Jones, who’s reportedly displeased with his current settings in Arizona. Other potential movers could include Preston Smith of the aforementioned Packers or 2019’s fourth overall choice Clelin Ferrell in Las Vegas.

But as the Jets plan one more summer splurge before school starts, is the pass rush the right area to address?

The loss of Lawson obviously brings the unit down a few notches, but the Jets’ pass rush still has several notable returnees looking to build on breakout seasons from 2020. It’s a group headlined by 2019’s third overall choice Quinnen Williams and assisted by John Franklin-Myers and Foley Fatukasi. The team is also set to welcome back Kyle Phillips and Bryce Huff, the latter of whom has earned positive reviews during the most recent camp sessions in Florham Park. Veteran arrivals Vinny Curry and Sheldon Rankins have likewise dealt with ailments but bring talent and playoff experience from Philadelphia and New Orleans respectively. A major opportunity rises for Ronald Blair, a late arrival who previously worked with head coach Robert Saleh in the Bay Area.

In addition to the talent assembled, the Jets’ new boss has experience in dealing with big losses in the front seven. During his final season as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator, new head coach Robert Saleh dealt with injury reports that resembled Pro Bowl rosters. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were lost for the year after ACL tears at MetLife Stadium. Help from abroad (Dee Ford, Ziggy Ansah) was likewise medically removed from the 2020 proceedings.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the losses, Saleh’s backfield invaders still managed to post respectable efforts. The 49ers ranked fifth in quarterback hurries per dropback (11.2 percent) and yards allowed (314.4 per game) despite the departures. One could argue that Saleh’s ability to adapt was one of the big reasons why he was one of the most coveted head coaching candidates once the year let out.

Saleh knows how much is lost with Lawson done for the year but he was among the first to come to grips with the doomsday diagnosis in the aftermath of the Green Bay business trip.

“I’ve said it before, the NFL train stops for nobody,” Saleh said after the Jets’ 23-14 preseason win over the Packers on Saturday, per team reporter Randy Lange. “When someone falls off the train…it’s another opportunity for someone to jump on the train. A lot of men at that defensive end spot are chomping at the bit for the opportunity, and they got it. We’ll work our tails off to get them ready, and I know they’ll work their tails off to reciprocate.”

There’s enough talent on the defensive line for the Jets to survive. The injury of Lawson shouldn’t awaken the Jets from dreams of development that would allow them to label the 2021 season a success. But there’s always room for improvement, especially when your rebuild prepares to enter a second decade. With so much draft capital…the Jets currently own 13 spots on the 2022 draft board…it would almost be silly not to seek out a trade. There are enough valuable names on the line that can hold down the pass rushing fort while Lawson heals. Improvement is better sought elsewhere.

Douglas has never been one to shy away from a late move if it helps the team: he took over the Jets after primary offseason activities like free agency and the draft ended and immediately tried to bolster the blocking (Ryan Kalil, Alex Lews) and receiving (Demaryius Thomas). None of those moves truly panned out in the long term…none of them are with the team…but Douglas’ activity was refreshing after the passiveness of the Mike Maccagnan era.

New York Jets, Joe Douglas
 (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

It appears that the Jets might be ready to make another late summer move, but they have to assess their priorities. A show of faith to the talented youngsters of the defensive line might help team morale moving forward, leaving them to look at other areas, ones entrenched in far greater states of desperation.

With apologies to those still traumatized by the 2020 season, the ineptitude on display in the final year of the Adam Gase almost guaranteed that some area on the team was going to be neglected, even with the perfect offseason. The secondary still remains woefully undermanned in terms of experience. Their struggles were prominently on display during Saturday’s exhibition showcase in Titletown: Jets starters played deep into the first half and allowed a Green Bay offense consisting almost entirely of reserves to score on two of their four drives over the first 30 minutes. The ultimate insult was a 19-play, 81-yard drive that ate over 10 minutes of game time.

Zach Wilson’s (nearly) perfect showing allowed the Jets to bring some optimism home, but New York can’t allow it to mask their defensive struggles. Green Bay went 8-of-14 on third down, four alone earned through the air on the aforementioned long drive. The last was a five-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Benkert to Jace Sternberger. Perhaps the extra draft capital is better spent on a veteran corner to mentor and/or compete with Bless Austin and Bryce Hall. Charvarius Ward could be a championship addition from Kansas City (especially with L’Jarius Sneed’s emergence) while C.J. Henderson remains a tantalizing prize in Jacksonville.

The early strong returns from Wilson also shouldn’t discourage the Jets from bolstering their backup quarterback situation. Sam Darnold’s medical woes over the past three seasons have shown the Jets just how far south a season can go without the intended starter, even if they had good intentions through veteran additions like Joe Flacco, Josh McCown, and Trevor Siemian.

Mike White has been serviceable this preseason (86.1 passer ratings and no turnovers through two games) but it probably hasn’t been anything to convince the Jets they can stay afloat if the unthinkable happened to Wilson. White also took a few tough hits during Saturday’s win in Green Bay, leaving the contest with a rib injury. Late acquisition Josh Johnson was seen as a veteran mentor to Wilson but has yet to take a preseason snap in green.

Trading for Chicago’s Nick Foles remains the most popular and realistic option for teams seeking quarterback depth. Not only is Foles set to wallow in the third slot on the depth chart behind the Justin Fields/Andy Dalton conundrum, but the Bears are also in desperate need of early draft picks. Chicago has only two picks over the first four rounds in Las Vegas next spring, having dealt their first and fourth round choices to the Giants to ensure the selection of Fields. The Jets’ pair of first-rounders (including the last piece of the Jamal Adams trade from Seattle) is likely off the table but they have five other choices over rounds two through four.

No one’s denying the Jets can get better through a late trade or overcome the loss of Lawson (especially considering his prescience or absence wasn’t the difference in terms of ending their ten-year postseason drought). But if they’re going to make one more move before summer lets out, the Jets must take the time to assess their priorities, values, and faith.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Islanders players pay tribute to the late Jimmy Hayes

The hockey world was hit hard over the past few days with the deaths of three junior players, Rangers legend Rod Gilbert and the sudden passing of Jimmy Hayes.

Hayes, 31, was suddenly found dead inside his Milton, Mass. home yesterday just mere hours after celebrating his son Beau’s 2nd birthday on Sunday.

The news of Hayes’ death sent shockwaves around the sport.

“The NHL family mourns the passing of Jimmy Hayes, who appeared in over 300 games with the Blackhawks, Panthers, Devils and his hometown Bruins,” the NHL said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Several Islanders who knew Hayes or were teammates of him shared their memories of him via social media.

“One of the best teammates you could Ask for,” Islanders’ forward Austin Czarnik tweeted moments after the news came out. Czarnik and Hayes were on the same Bruins squad together for the 2016-17 season. “Truly a great person and friend. Was a pleasure to get to know Jimmy and play with him. Prayers to the Hayes family.”

Travis Zajac, who was a teammate with Hayes for his one season in New Jersey back in 2017-18 posted a picture of he and Hayes and teammate Kyle Palmieri with the caption, “Great teammate, better person. RIP Jimmy”.

Oliver Wahlstrom, a Boston native — the place for which Hayes was considered a legend in the area for having been from Dorchester and gone on to win a national championship at Boston College — shared his thoughts via his Instagram.

“One of the best guys ever,” Wahlstrom wrote. “RIP Jimmy ❤️❤️❤️”.

Yankees’ bullpen has been a driving force behind the recent hot streak

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

Everybody knows that the New York Yankees’ offense has come alive during their 10-game winning streak. In eight of those 10 games, the team has scored at least five runs. However, one department in which the Bombers have been dominant for a while is the bullpen.

Quietly, but surely, the Yankees’ bullpen has gotten the job done in the month of August, and the unit’s success has allowed the team to hold to the leads generated by the offense and protected early by the starters.

The Yankees’ relievers are leading the league in Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, in the month of August with 1.9. They have a 0.3 advantage over the second-placed San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, both with 1.6.

Over that timeframe, the Yanks’ relievers also have the best ERA in MLB with 2.16, and are getting both grounders (52.7 percent groundball rate) and strikeouts (9.07 K%), both easy avenues to outs.

The Yankees relievers always deliver

Last night, Yankees’ starter Jordan Montgomery didn’t quite have his best stuff, but was able to complete five innings while only conceding a single earned run. Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Aroldis Chapman combined to throw four scoreless innings.

Ever since July 5, when the Yankees’ hot streak really started, their relievers have been there to bail the starters when they can’t go long in an outing, and even in bullpen days, they have delivered.

“What’s been nice about it is, it’s been the entire roster,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com after winning against the Atlanta Braves on Monday. “All 26 guys in there are playing important roles in this and having big hands in us winning ballgames. And that’s a fun thing to be a part of.

“Knowing that guy 1 through 26 is going to be counted on, and chances are maybe in a big spot … I feel like guys are locked in with that mindset of, ‘What can I do to help us win a ballgame today?’”

 

The bullpen has certainly become a strength again.