New York Jets: Connor McGovern welcomes an old rival

Connor McGovern, jets

New York Jets blocker Connor McGovern is ready to let bygones be bygones with incoming pass rusher Shaq Lawson.

New teammates Connor McGovern and Shaq Lawson appear to have resolved their differences over a pint…of Gatorade.

McGovern, set to enter his second season as the New York Jets’ primary center, is all too familiar with Lawson, the newest metropolitan pass rusher. The pair wore different colors during a fateful encounter in November 2019, when Lawson’s Buffalo Bills demolished McGovern and the Denver Broncos in a 20-3 shellacking in Orchard Park. Lawson played a major role in the victory, earning two sacks in part of a Buffalo defensive effort that allowed only 134 yards on the chilly afternoon.

After the game, cameras from WROC-TV captured Lawson confronting McGovern during the postgame scrum on the field.

“You remember my name, I had two sacks on your a**!” Lawson tells McGovern before being ushered away by then-teammate and McGovern’s fellow Missouri alum Mitch Morse. “I got two sacks on your a**, you remember me now!”

The Jets confirmed on Monday that they acquired Lawson from the Houston Texans in exchange for a sixth-round pick that originally belonged to San Francisco (obtained through a trade for linebacker Jordan Willis). McGovern was naturally asked about the transaction when he spoke after the Jets’ week-opening practice.

Fortunately for the Jets, McGovern said that the situation was resolved long before Lawson’s NFL passport was stamped with the Jets’ green oval. There was a prime opportunity to do so, as their new destinations…McGovern as a Jets and Lawson as a Miami Dolphin…gave them a prime opportunity to make amends.

“We played each other twice last year. It was all cordial,” McGovern said on Monday, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I’ve played him since then and nothing. It was just playing any other opponent. It’s game time. Everybody’s in the moment and what have you.”

“We talked after the last two times we played each other. That video is from two years ago,” he continued. “The last two times we played each other. It was fine. I think we actually laughed about it when we played down in Miami last year.”

McGovern had far more positive affairs to speak of on Monday, as he enthusiastically expressed his anticipation for the coming season. He’s particularly excited about working with the new schemes implemented by offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, believing he’s a perfect fit for what the former 49ers overseer is trying to accomplish.

“Personally, I feel like I’m confident in saying I’m built for this scheme,” McGovern said, per team reporter Ethan Greenberg. “I feel like I’ve had a really good camp, playing at some of the highest levels I’ve played at. Definitely a step up from last year, a huge step up from last year, and even another step up from two years ago. I’m looking to have, personally, a good year and I think this will be a phenomenal year for the Jets and especially the Jets offensive line.”

McGovern was part of the Jets’ blocking reformation last offseason, one of the rare metropolitan acquisitions guaranteed a second year under his contract. The former Bronco endured a roller-coaster season though he was the only New York blocker to appear in all 16 games. No Jet, in fact, played more snaps in 2020 than McGovern’s 969 during the woebegone 2020 campaign.

The center admitted that he “didn’t play as well as (he) wanted in 2020”, per Greenberg. But the hiring of Robert Saleh helped him regain his confidence going into the new season, describing the Jets’ new boss as a “leader of men”.

“He doesn’t think that Xs and Os win football games. He knows players win football games,” McGovern said of Saleh, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “He’s the kind of guy that’s going to motivate everybody. He makes it simple enough where we can play fast and play incredibly effective but not so simple that it’s easy to beat. He’s a head coach that I’ve always wanted to play for.”

McGovern is once again expected to take a starting role on the offensive line when the Jets open their regular season on Sept. 12 against the Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Knicks have one of the toughest schedules according to Positive Residual

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The odds are stacked again against the New York Knicks.

The Knicks have the 19th best odds overall and the 11th best odds in the East to make the playoffs at -135, according to DraftKing Sportsbook.

Crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets are an odds-on favorite to make the playoffs at -20000, followed by reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks (-8000) and the revamped Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, tied at -3500.

Despite the Knicks retaining much of their core that finished as fourth seed last season and upgrading their backcourt with Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, teams that didn’t make the playoffs were listed as favorites above them. 

Toronto Raptors (-300), Charlotte Hornets (-215), Indiana Pacers (-170), and Chicago Bulls (-155) have better odds to make the playoffs and the play-in tournament.

It doesn’t help that the Knicks have one of the toughest schedules in the upcoming season. They have the seventh toughest schedule based on Positive Residual’s metrics.

The Los Angeles-based sports analytics service provider said on their website that they measure the strength of schedule (SOS) by estimating how difficult a game or slate of games is based on the opponent’s quality, which is often defined by win percentage, net rating, or points above or below average and other variables such as home team strength, away team strength, rest and altitude at which home team plays. 

Positive Residual SOS chart

The Knicks’ schedule will feature 11 back-to-back games where Walker’s balky knee will be a question mark and two back-breaking road trips in February (5-game road swing in West Coast against playoff contenders) and March (7-game road trip: 5 in West Coast sandwiched by road games in Philadelphia and Brooklyn). But the Knicks front office has prioritized depth to mitigate these factors.

This could be arguably the most stacked team Tom Thibodeau will handle since the MVP Derrick Rose-led 2011 Chicago Bulls team he guided to 62-20 en route to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thibodeau’s projected starting five this season will feature Walker and Fournier at the backcourt and Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson in the frontcourt with a deep bench led by Rose, who should be an early favorite to win Sixth Man of the Year, and veteran Alec Burks.

Knicks Projected Depth Chart:

PG Walker, Rose, Quickley, McBride

SG Fournier, Burks, Quickley, Grimes, Vildoza/Bacon

SF Barrett, Burks, Knox

PF Randle, Toppin, Knox, Gibson

C Robinson, Noel, Gibson

The Knicks were never given a chance last season to enter the playoffs, but they defied the 22.5 win odds in the pandemic-condensed 72-game schedule and finished at 41-31. They are pegged as a 42.5-win team this year, with the NBA returning to the regular 82-game schedule.

But with a roster that deep and with Thibodeau, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, at the helm, it’s hard to bet against the Knicks.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Daniel Jones describes ‘bad decision’ on interception

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants wrapped up the preseason without a win, but it’s the performance of Daniel Jones that many will focus on rather than the overall result of their final game. Jones was one of the Giants starters who appeared in the preseason finale after resting the first two games, and appeared to put on an inferior performance to his rookie counterpart from the Patriots.

The most glaring mistake came in the form of a goal-line interception, where Jones fired the ball into traffic and cost the Giants a chance to come away with points. The interception mars a performance where Jones had 17 completions on 22 attempts, albeit only with an average of 6.1 yards per completion.

What did Jones have to say about the interception?

“I look at that play independently, like I look at all of them,” Jones said when asked about his view on the interception. “Obviously, a bad decision there. I gotta be smarter and throw the ball away in that situation, third-and-goal at the one. So, I look at each play independently and learn something from each of them.”

It’s a media friendly answer but not one that there’s a lot of patience for right now. With the Giants having a week 1 game against Denver coming up soon, and Daniel Jones still looking like an unpolished quarterback, the decision to rest Jones until the third preseason game looks more questionable.

Furthermore, much of the Giants offense remains an unknown factor going into week 1. With injuries keeping out Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay right now, we have little to go off of when judging the chemistry between Jones and his new targets.

One thing is sure, however, and that is the pressure ramping up for Jones going into his third season. Being outplayed by Patriots rookie Mac Jones isn’t a good look, and failures at the quarterback position and on the offensive line may undo an offseason of PR efforts from Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge.

It’s a known fact that the preseason doesn’t mean much in isolation, but if the Giants and Jones specifically don’t pick things up in the break between now and week 1, the question of just how much the team has improved will quickly arise.

UFC rebooks Amanda Nunes – Julianna Pena

The UFC has rebooked a massive title fight in the women’s bantamweight division. The promotion announced today that Amanda Nunes (21-4) will return to defend her bantamweight crown against Julianna Pena (10-4) in December.

The fight will take place at UFC 269 on December 11th. Originally, these two were supposed to fight earlier this month in the UFC 265 co-main event. However, after Nunes tested positive for Covid, the fight was called off. 

Pena was vocal about wanting an interim UFC title shot if Nunes wasn’t going to be able to fight anytime soon. However, the promotion was able to get this fight back on the books relatively quickly.

Back at UFC 257, Pena defeated Sara McMann by third round fear-naked choke. After the fight was over, she started calling for this fight with Amanda Nunes.

Pena stated that the UFC‘s two-division champion had been ducking her for years. The callouts were odd to me considering where Pena was in the division. The Venezuelan Vixen is just 2-2 in her last four and was put to sleep against Germaine de Randamie last October.

Nevertheless, the trash talk seemed to work and the UFC decided to give Pena the fight. If the current rankings hold, Julianna Pena will enter the cage in August as the fifth ranked bantamweight.

UFC 269 Grudge Match

Amanda Nunes is the greatest of all time and let’s be clear, Julianna Pena really doesn’t deserve this shot at UFC 269. Her resume doesn’t exactly make her the number one contender. Especially considering the top contender just put her to sleep in 2020.

However, Pena called out the champion and that’s what she’s getting. Nunes has defeated the best the UFC has to offer at both 135 and 145 pounds. Pena is one of the few bantamweights that Nunes hasn’t had the privilege of fighting yet.

Perhaps that had a lot to do with this booking as well. Either way, it should be a fun build back up to UFC 269. The last time we saw Nunes was when she demolished Megan Anderson at UFC 259.

The win was Nunes’ second straight defense of her featherweight title. Now, Nunes will return to the division that made her a champion for the first time.

Tyron Woodley wants immediate rematch after losing boxing match to Jake Paul

Last night we finally got to see the boxing matchup that the world was waiting on. Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (0-1) made his debut in the boxing ring against celebrity turned boxer Jake Paul (4-0).

For the first time, we were going to see Paul tested against someone who can actually throw a punch. Through Paul’s first three matchups he took on a guy from the internet, a former NBA player and a former MMA champion.

He’s taken incremental steps up in competition along the way, but it’s worth noting that the MMA champion he fought was Ben Askren. Askren had arguably the worst striking of all time for a guy that won a world title in MMA.

Tyron Woodley was different. While Woodley’s base MMA skill is wrestling, the former champion knows how to throw and throw with power. Woodley’s biggest knock is his unwillingness to pull the trigger. He needed to be aggressive to win this boxing match with Jake Paul.

In spots last night, we saw Woodley get aggressive. The former champion rocked Paul in the fourth round and had it not been for the ropes, Paul would’ve been knocked down. However, the inactivity and gaps in time between big shots cost him the fight.

Will Woodley and Paul be boxing again?

Jake Paul wasn’t able to knock out Tyron Woodley, but he was able to outpoint him. Paul was effective given the way Woodley fought him and ultimately two of the three judges gave Paul the split decision victory.

Let me be clear, I didn’t think the boxing match should’ve been a split decision. Coming from someone who is the furthest thing from a Jake Paul fan, I can admit that I thought he won five or six rounds pretty clearly last night.

Woodley moved forward a lot, but in the art of boxing, he didn’t do nearly enough to win. I can see more of an argument to give Paul seven rounds than giving the fight to Tyron Woodley.

Woodley was adamant that he believed he won the fight. After the event, Woodley called for an immediate rematch. Paul seemed hesitant but said that if Woodley got a ‘I love Jake Paul’ tattoo, he’d do it. Woodley immediately agreed to the stipulation.

I’m not sure what the boxing event did in terms of PPV numbers, but I can promise you the rematch would do worse. Paul got the win and he should move on from here. He needs to look for ways to improve and look for that next step up in competition.

Woodley had his chance but his downfall is what it’s always been. He seemed stuck in neutral throughout the fight. Sure there were moments where he moved down hill, but for the most part, he was boxing at a neutral pace. I don’t see the rematch going any different.

New York Giants: Could Ifeadi Odenigbo be a surprise cut?

ifeadi odenigbo, New York Giants

The New York Giants have wrapped up their preseason after their loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Now, with the preseason in the rear-view, NFL teams are focused on finalizing their rosters. Teams need to trim their rosters down to 53-men by 4 pm tomorrow. As the New York Giants make their final cuts, could pass-rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo be one of the team’s surprise cuts?

Could Ifeadi Odenigbo be cut?

The Giants signed Ifeadi Odenigbo this offseason to a one-year $2.5 million contract. His contract, though, only came with a $1 million dead cap hit. So if the Giants decide to cut or trade Odenigbo tomorrow, they can free $1.5 million in salary-cap space.

The signing of Ifeadi Odenigbo was once thought to be a signing of great value. In 32 career games (15 starts), Ifeadi has registered 10.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hits, one safety, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown to go with his 59 tackles (34 solo).

Despite this, Odenigbo could be cut tomorrow. The Giants have a crowded group of outside linebackers on their roster, some of which have had impressive summers. Ifeadi Odenigbo, however, has not stood out as much as most hoped he would.

In the Giants’ first unofficial depth chart of the year, Odenigbo was listed third string, behind Trent Harris and Lorenzo Carter. Seeing an established player like Odenigbo so far down the depth chart was surprising, but might foreshadow an early exit from New Jersey.

Trent Harris has had an excellent summer, standing out in training camp and the preseason. The Giants need to add more depth at other positions of greater need. Odenigbo has failed to make a major impact this summer. Because of this, the Giants could cut Ifeadi Odenigbo and reinvest that money elsewhere.

BREAKING: New York Giants trade for former first-round OL Billy Price, what are they getting?

new york giants, billy price

Oddly, the New York Giants sat interior defense of lineman BJ Hill on Sunday against the New England Patriots in the team’s final preseason game. Hill, who has been a productive pass rusher for the Giants the past few years was traded on Monday afternoon to the Cincinnati Bengals for former first-round pick, Billy price.

Price, who has 1,354 offensive snaps to his name, has struggled since being drafted in 2018. He posted a 29.4 pass-blocking grade, per PFF last season. He has given up five sacks, 31 hurries, and 41 pressures in his career, but has the versatility to play at left guard, center, and right guard.

This gives the Giants a bit more versatility in how they construct their lineup in the trenches. For example, if Shane Lemieux were struggling at left guard, the Giants can either kick Nick Gates to that position or put Price in. It will take him some time to get acclimated with the Giants’ offensive scheme, but his ability to play multiple spots is beneficial. He earned his best grades during his 2018 rookie season playing specifically at center, so he might prefer to stay at that spot rather than shift around to the guard positions.’

Overall, the Giants had plenty of depth and talent on the defensive side in the trenches, but their OL has been spotty all offseason, and adding more talent was a necessity.

Mets’ owner Steve Cohen: Player ‘hit the third rail’ with thumbs-down at fans, ‘it is unacceptable’

New York Mets

By now, the baseball world saw the latest controversy surrounding the New York Mets. Fans have been booing players for quite some time now, especially as of late since they are 8-19 in the month of August.

Players, understandably, are frustrated by everything related to the 2021 season: their own performance, and the way fans have been reacting to it. However, some of the team’s stars such as Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez made thumbs down gestures that were, as they revealed after the game, directed to fans.

Basically, Baez said that since fans booed them when they weren’t producing, they were going to “boo” (using the thumbs down sign) the fans when they produced.

Mets’ owner Steve Cohen went to Twitter last night, after the incident took place, to weigh in on the subject. He playfully wrote: “I miss the days when the biggest controversy was the black jerseys.”

The Mets’ owner hopes the players can ‘learn from this’

He did talk about the issue with Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “These are young guys and sometimes we forget they are on a public stage and can make mistakes,” Cohen told The Post by phone. “They hit the third rail, though, by messing with fans. And it is unacceptable. Hopefully, this is a teaching moment and they will learn from this.”

Mets’ president Sandy Alderson also issued a statement after the whole controversy took place on Sunday, condemning the players’ decision to ‘criticize’ fans.

“The Mets will not tolerate any player gesture that is unprofessional in its meaning or is directed in a negative way toward our fans,” Alderson said. “I will be meeting with our players and staff to convey this message directly.”

The Mets held the first place in the NL East for months, but since Jacob deGrom and Lindor hit the injured list in July, they have been playing poorly. They are now third in the division.

New York Giants: Evaluating each starting offensive lineman’s performance in final pre-season game

new york giants, daniel jones

The New York Giants might’ve walked away from their final preseason game of the off-season with more questions than answers. The starting offense was without several key playmakers, including Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Saquon Barkley, and Kyle Rudolph. With that being the case, quarterback Daniel Jones once again operated with less than stellar starting talent, but it was the offensive line that put him in harm’s way more often than not.

With the OL being the biggest concern, it was disappointing to see several poor performances that led to Jones either running from pass rushers or being thrown to the ground. There were some positives in the trenches, but two glaring weaknesses at tackle stand out.

Evaluating each starting offensive lineman in New York Giants’ final pre-season game:

LT: Andrew Thomas

Most entered Sunday’s game against the Patriots with a common belief, Andrew Thomas had taken a step forward this off-season. While some might stand by that assessment, Thomas was completely destroyed in pass protection, allowing a sack, a quarterback hit, one QB hurry, and three pressures over 39 snaps. Altogether, Thomas looked choppy and hesitant with his technique, indicating he was trying to stay square for as long as possible before kicking out to the edge.

“Started off a little slow. [There are] some things I’ve gotta improve on: hand placement, staying wide on my set to [create] the depth of the pocket. I’m confident. I’ve made improvements, but there’s still things I need to work on.”
This was not the encouraging performance we wanted to see from Thomas heading into the regular season, especially as Von Miller waits for him against Denver. Hopefully, he learns a thing or two and bounces back in a strong way, as most Giants fans are trembling in fear.

LG: Ted Larsen

With Shane Lemieux still sidelines, the Giants rolled with Ted Larsen at left guard to start the game. Larsen allowed a sack, QB hurry, and two pressures over 39 snaps. The 34-year-old guard will likely be supplemented by Lemieux in Week 1, but gaining essential chemistry during the preseason is necessary for positive growth. The Giants can’t possibly rely on Larsen as a starting guard, so this evaluation views him as a depth piece and nothing more.

C: Nick Gates

While the negative performances undoubtedly littered the field, center Nick Gates had a solid outing, dominating as a run blocker primarily. Per PFF, Gates was hit with two QB hurries and two pressures recorded, but he looked solid nonetheless.

Gates is one of the more consistent linemen for the Giants, and they expect him to lock down the center role for the 2021 season. Gates improved as the 2020 campaign went on, so I expect something similar moving forward as the regular season is just two weeks away.

RG: Will Hernandez

Of all the offensive linemen for the Giants on Sunday, Will Hernandez looked the best. He earned an 87 overall grade, per PFF, declining to give up a sack, QB hit, or pressure. Overall, he was the best looking lineman for the Giants and would’ve been for most teams. You never want to hear an offensive lineman’s name too often during a contest, and Hernandez was essentially a ghost. Putting together a few performances like this will get the coaching staff excited, but unless the rest of the OL can take a developmental step forward, they’ll once again be pulling Daniel Jones under pressure.

RT: Nate Solder/Matt Peart

Nate Solder enjoyed 20 snaps at right tackle in the loss to the Patriots, and during that time, he allowed a sack and pressure. While he served adequately as a run blocker, this was Solder’s first action of the preseason, and he was always going to experience a few bumpy snaps.

Overall, the right tackle spot is currently enjoying a position battle between Solder and the Peart. At this point, I would give Peart the slightest advantage, having allowed one QB hit and pressure over 32 snaps. The Giants would prefer to have their youngsters starting a tackle come Week 1, but they need to be comfortable with the idea that Daniel Jones may be under a bit of pressure at times.

Yankees News, 8/30: Good Corey Kluber injury news, starting pitcher loses his spot in rotation

corey kluber, new york yankees

The New York Yankees have had their fair share of struggles this season, and one category they’ve been absolutely decimated in is the starting pitching rotation. Over the past few months, they’ve seen Corey Kluber go down, Luis Severino suffer a setback in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, and Domingo German pick up an injury as well. In the meantime, skipper Aaron Boone has relied on Nestor Cortes, Luis Gil and traded for former Los Angeles Angels starter Andrew Heaney.

However, Boone is preparing to make more changes to the rotation, as he recently deactivated Heaney as the team plans for the return of Kluber from a lengthy spell on the injured list, fighting his way back through rehabilitation assignments.

Kluber was positive regarding his progress but did strike a bit of cautiousness into the hearts of fans as he described the difference between executing at a high level in the MLB to throwing simulated games.

“The health side of it, with the way I’ve felt out there and bouncing back, it puts your mind at ease that the injury isn’t an issue anymore,’’ Kluber said. “Then it’s going out there and executing pitches to different parts of the strike zone.”

Boone is excited to get Kluber back into the rotation, as he pitched a no-hitter shortly before picking up a shoulder injury. He hosts a 3.04 ERA on the season over 10 games, recording a 9.28 strikeouts per nine rate and 46.4% ground ball right, the highest since his 2014 season.

“He gets a lot of movement on his pitches,’’ Boone said of what makes Kluber effective. “That’s been there. Now it’s just getting up against major league competition and getting his workload back up. Hopefully he can really impact us down the stretch.”

With September right around the corner, the Yankees will be excited to get back several starting pitchers before the postseason. Severino and German are still a few weeks away, but Kluber is looking to pick up where he left off against the Angels on Monday night.