Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans

rob saleh, jets

In desperate need of a win, the New York Jets do battle with the defending AFC South champions and Corey Davis’ former employers on Sunday.

  • What: Tennessee Titans (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
New York Giants, Corey Davis
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Magliocchetti

Never mind the Jets and Titans; the real winner of Sunday’s tilt at MetLife Stadium is anyone blessed with the services of Derrick Henry on their fantasy football team.

Tennessee has recovered from an early slip-up by not only feeding the MVP candidate but giving him the gridiron equivalent of a six-course meal. Over the past two victorious weekends, the Titans put the ball in Henry’s hands a jaw-dropping 72 times, a count that includes a career-high 35 carries in Week 2’s overtime prevailing against Seattle. Shockingly, Henry’s opportunities may only increase against the Jets. Last week’s divisional triumph over the Colts was a costly one, as the Titans’ receiving corps could be missing both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

While Henry prevents a literally massive challenge (6-foot-3, 250 pounds), defense hasn’t been the Jets’ problem. The unit has played well with the hands it has been dealt, evidenced by its NFL-best 33 percent touchdown rate in red zone situations (tied with Denver and New Orleans). But, as we saw against Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers, the Jets’ respectable makeshift unit doesn’t have the firepower or experience to withstand an assault by a superstar player.

At this point, it’d be a mere win for the Jets to merely visit the end zone right now, having gone just over two hours of game time without scoring a touchdown. Tennessee’s issues on defense could allow the Jets to achieve that manageable goal but the prescience of Henry and lack of offensive traction continues to make an addition to the left-hand side of the standings column too much of a tall task.

Titans 26, Jets 10

Dylan Price

Last week felt like a chance for a turnaround. Expectations were low and the Jets had a chance to overachieve. Instead, they found a way to lower the bar yet again.

This week, the Jets take on the Tennessee Titans. The Jets offense was stagnant yet again in Denver and the game-plan has been pitiful the past two weeks. Zach Wilson has to take advantage of all his receivers, not just Corey Davis. The Titans’ secondary gives the Jets a prime opportunity to finally get things rolling. New York’s pass defense, which has been surprisingly good to this point, will have a strong chance to make plays this weekend as A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are out.

The Jets have a chance to win this game, but containing Derrick Henry will be the key to this game. I think they keep it close but ultimately the Jets lose a tight one.

Titans 24, Jets 20

New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Best of the Rest

Magliocchetti Price
Jacksonville @ Cincinnati (Thu.) Bengals Bengals
Carolina @ Dallas Cowboys Panthers
Cleveland @ Minnesota Browns Browns
Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions
Houston @ Buffalo Bills Bills
Indianapolis @ Miami Dolphins Colts
Kansas City @ Philadelphia Chiefs Chiefs
NY Giants @ New Orleans Saints Saints
Washington @ Atlanta Falcons Football Team
Arizona @ LA Rams Rams Rams
Seattle @ San Francisco 49ers Seahawks
Baltimore @ Denver Ravens Broncos
Pittsburgh @ Green Bay Packers Packers
Tampa Bay @ New England Buccaneers Buccaneers
Las Vegas @ LA Chargers Chargers Chargers
Last Week 9-7 11-5
Overall 29-19 27-21

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees lose a squeaker in the eighth at Rogers’ Center

yankees, gerrit cole

After an incredible run of winning seven games in a row, the New York Yankees hoped to win another one tonight, taking the series from the Blue Jays. The Yankees swept the Red Sox and, with the win last night, retook the number one berth in the wild card race, gaining home-field advantage and putting the Red Sox two games behind, but the Yankees couldn’t get complacent as the Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners were nipping at their heels.

With five games to go in the regular season, the Yankees sent their ace Gerrit Cole to the mound at Roger’s Center in Toronto to face the Jays Jose Berrios. At the end of the night, with a homer by Bo Bichette in the eighth, the Blue Jays edged the Yankees 6-5.

The game started with DJ LeMahieu at the plate and Jose Berrio on the mound; LeMahieu went down on strikes. Anthony Rizzo also went down on strikes. Aaron Judge made it three as Berrios stuck out the Yankee side. At the bottom, George Springer doubled. Marcus Semien got a two-run homer into the left-field stands. Vlad Guerrero, with no outs, flew out to Gallo in left. Bo Bichette doubled. Teoscar Hernandez ground out to second, but Bichette went to third. Two outs. Lourdes Gurriel ground out to short. Blue Jays 2 Yankees 0.

The top of the second saw DH Giancarlo Stanton ground out to Bichette at short. Joey Gallo, who went 0-5 last night, flew out to the far center. Gleyber Torres also ground out to short to end the half scoreless. At the bottom, Cory Dickerson flew out to Gallo in left. Santiago Espinal doubled easily up the left-field line. Reese McGuire went down swinging. Springer singled, scoring Espinal. Semien struck out. Blue Jays 3 Yankees 0.

Gio Urshela led off the third inning by popping out to center. Brett Gardner went down on strikes. Kyle Higashioka struck out; Berrios was perfect through three. At the bottom, Guerrero ground out to short. Bichette homered to center. Hernandez struck out. Gurriel struck out. Toronto Blue Jays 4 New York Yankees 0.

The fourth inning was led off by LeMahieu, who ground out to short. Rizzo grounded out to second. Judge ground out up the middle for a perfect four innings for Berrios. At the bottom, with Cole still on the mound, faced Dickerson, who flew out to Gardner in center. Espinal struck out. McGuire flew out to center to end the inning. Blue Jays 4 Yankees 0.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the fifth inning by struck out swinging. Gallo struck out. Torres doubled to left to break up Berrios’ perfect game. Urshela singled, driving in Torres as the Yankees got on the board. Gardner got an RBI double driving in Urshela. Higashioka, with one on and two outs, ground out to first to end the half, but the Yankees picked up two runs. At the bottom, Springer led off by doubling to left both Urshela and Gallo let it fall between them as they both backed off. . Semien flew out to right, but Springer made it to third. Guerrero doubled as Springer scored. Bichette struck out. Hernandez few out to Gardner. Blue Jays 5 Yankees 2.

The sixth inning was led off by LeMahieu, who doubled to center. Rizzo ground out. Judge had a sac fly scoring LeMahieu. Stanton ground out to third to end the half, but the Yankees picked up a run. At the bottom Gurriel out. Dickerson lined out to left. Espinal singled. McGuire flew out to Gardner in center. Blue Jays 5 New York Yankees 3.

Joey Gallo led off the seventh inning by facing new pitcher Tim Mayza and was hit by a pitch. Torres, who broke up the perfect game by Berrios, singled on a slow roller to left, moving Gallo to second. Urshela, with two on and no outs, went down swinging for the first out. Luke Voit pinch-hitting for Gardner struck out. Higashioka got a two-run single, tying the game at 5. LeMahieu faced the new pitcher Adam Cimber and flew out to center, but the Yankees scored two runs to tie up the game. New York Yankees 5 Blue Jays 5.

At the bottom of the inning against Jonathan Loaisiga, Springer struck out on a 99 mph slider. Semien ground out to LeMahieu. Guerrero ground out to LeMahieu for the 1-2-3 inning for Loaisiga after coming off the IL and not pitching for four weeks. Yankees 5 Jays 5.

The eighth inning was led off by Rizzo, who flew out to Hernandez in right. Judge tapped back to the pitcher Cimber. Stanton flew out to the warning track in center to end the half. Bo Bichette led off the bottom of the inning by hitting a homer to center to retake the lead. Hernandez struck out. Gurriel ground to short, and Urshela laid out to get it and threw from his back for the second out. Dickerson chopped out to end the inning, but the Jays retook the lead. Blue Jays 6 Yankees 5.

With last licks on the line for the New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez pinch hit for Joey Gallo leading off and went down looking. Gleyber Torres singled to left. Gio Urshela flew out to center. Torres tagged and made it to second. Tyler Wade pinch-hitting for Gardner flew out to center to end the game.

The final score was the Toronto Blue Jays 6 and the New York Yankees 5. The winning pitcher was Adam Cimber, the loser was Clay Holmes and the save went to Jordan Romano.

 

 

 

 

New York Jets: Marcus Maye’s agent attaches curious tweet to injury news

Maye reportedly won’t don a New York Jets uniform for at least three weeks but his agent hinted it could be even longer.

A new year and new on-field management appear to have nonetheless begotten controversy in the New York Jets secondary.

A tweet from Erik Burkhardt, the agent of Gang Green safety Marcus Maye, seems to imply that one of the longest-tenured Jets could be on the movie by the time the NFL’s trade deadline rolls around. Burkhardt was referencing a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that Maye would miss the next three to four weeks with an ankle injury.

He was particularly interested in Maye’s estimated return. Under the reported estimation, Maye would be back by the end of October, days before the moratorium on Nov. 2.

“Should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadline…” Burkhardt says, accompanying his tweet with a handshake emoji.

This isn’t the first time a Burkhardt tweet has caused a green stir. In March, Burkhardt expressed displeasure that the Jets hadn’t signed his client to a long-term deal, doing so in a reply to ESPN correspondent Field Yates’ tweet about the Jets’ $80 million in cap space after the release of defensive end Henry Anderson.

“(The Jets) refuse to take care of their best player, Captain, & team-voted MVP in his prime who had several All-Pro votes,” Burkhardt said. He also referenced Maye’s switch to his natural free safety spot after the team traded  “(He) played out his entire rookie deal and even changed positions on his contract year (after they got rid of last yrs [sic] All-Pro safety).”

Adams eventually burned down his metropolitan bridges through a series of disparaging social media posts. He got his wish for an expensive long-term deal after he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, who granted him a four-year, $70 million contract last offseason.

Maye is instead playing on a $10.6 million franchise tag in lieu of the long-term deal he sought. He has tallied 23 tackles and one sack through the Jets’ first three games. Maye, like Adams before him, has expressed a desire to become one of the highest-paid safeties in football but dedicated himself to a year on the tag shortly before the year opened.

“Winning games is first, that’s what you play the game for,” Maye said on Sept. 4, per team reporter Jack Bell. “Also, (you play it to) take care of your family and making sure you’re set up for the future. Control the controllable. If you have no control over something, there’s no point in getting all upset. If you’re not here to win games, then what are you doing this for?

“Once (contract talks) were over with, I just put it to the side and got back to the basics of playing football. Once I get on the grass I never worry about anything else.”

In lieu of Maye, the Jets welcomed back safeties Ashtyn Davis and Sharrod Neasman to practice on Wednesday after the two spent most of September on injured reserve. New York (0-3) returns to action on Sunday afternoon at home against the Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Knicks: Tom Thibodeau explains why Kemba Walker will start over Derrick Rose

knicks, kemba walker

On Wednesday, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed that Kemba Walker would be the opening night starter.

Derrick Rose, an early Sixth Man of the Year favorite, will reprise his role as the second unit leader, giving the Knicks a solid point guard rotation they lacked last season.

“Pretty much [Kemba Walker will start]. I had an idea going in what we wanted to look at,” Thibodeau said on the second day of the training camp. “The one thing I feel very strongly about is that our second unit played very well together last year. So I want them to stay intact.”

“But that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. A lot of these guys are interchangeable. So yeah, they’re gonna play with both groups. And I’ve never really been concerned with who starts as much as I am with who finishes. So the guys who give us the best chance to win will gonna finish.”

The Knicks front office, led by team president Leon Rose, had assembled arguably the deepest roster that Thibodeau will handle since 2011 when he coached the MVP Rose-led Chicago Bulls to a 62-20 record on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. That team featured a starting lineup consists of Rose, Keith Bogans, and Luol Deng as the constants while Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Kurt Thomas, and Taj Gibson rotated in the starting frontline with CJ Watson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and Omer Asik coming off the bench.

Looking at this year’s Knicks depth chart, they resemble that depth or arguably even better in terms of a combination of talent, veteran leadership, and depth. This Knicks team is two to even three-deep in each position.

One of the Knicks’ strengths last season was their bench depth. The Rose trade proved to be a masterstroke that swung their playoff chances to their favor. The Knicks went 24-11 with Rose in the lineup.

Their bench scoring jumped from 23rd (33.9 points) to fifth in the league (39.7 points), per NBA stats tracking data, since acquiring Rose from Detroit in February.

According to Cleaning the Glass, the lineup of Rose, Quickley, Burks, Toppin, and Noel had a plus differential of +6.3 on a total of 78 possessions which ranked in the 85th percentile. That quickly jumped to +17.9 on a total of 252 possessions, ranked in the 99th percentile, when you swapped Noel with Gibson. A small sample of that second unit with Robinson in the middle had the biggest plus differential of +20.0 on 10 possessions, ranking in the 100th percentile.

Last season, there were times when the Knicks bench outplayed the starting lineup, which relied heavily on Randle. The addition of Walker and Fournier is expected to balance out a starting unit that was lacking in shot creation.

With Rose leading the way in the second unit and Quickley and Toppin expected to make a leap in their second year, Thibodeau hopes that continuity will lead to more productivity.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

A little help might be on the way for the New York Jets

ashtyn davis, new york giants

A pair of secondary defenders returned to New York Jets practice on Wednesday and a top receiver may finally be ready for Sunday.

The 2021 New York Jets might finally be catching a break…and even that doesn’t come without an asterisk.

The team announced on Wednesday that injured safeties Ashtyn Davis and Sharrod Neasman returned to practice after spending most of September on injured reserve. Head coach Robert Saleh also announced that the team is “expecting” receiver Jamison Crowder to be ready for Week 4’s home contest against the Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS). The return of these secondary defenders comes as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported that Marcus Maye is set to miss multiple games with an ankle injury.

Davis was projected to be one of the starting safeties next to Maye but was placed on IR after dealing with lingering issues from a foot injury that cut his rookie season short. Head coach Robert Saleh sang the sophomore’s praises during his availability on Wednesday, referring to him as an “interchangeable” secondary piece as both a post safety and working with Maye closer to the line of scrimmage, per notes from the Jets.

“I know one has asked to do more than the other but (Davis and Maye) are both the same in our book,” Saleh said. “Marcus can play the middle just as well as he can play down and (Adrian) Colbert can go down just as well as he can play back. (Davis) be right there in the thick of things to be able to do both.”

Saleh said that his former employers in San Francisco thought highly of Davis during the virtual draft in 2020, where he was eventually chosen by the Jets in the third round. The Cal-Berkeley alum earned 36 tackles and a fumble recovery over ten games in his freshman campaign.

“We thought he had great red line-to-red line speed, he’s very smart, his speed shows up on tape,” Saleh said. “He’s a grinder, he’s a hard hitter…Watching him in all of his individual work throughout working with the strength crew and rehab since he’s been on IR, his movement looks fantastic so we’re just excited to see what he does here over the next week.”

Neasman joined the Jets in June, staging a reunion with current Jets defensive coordinator and former Falcons defensive coach Jeff Ulbrich. With five years in Atlanta under his belt, he’ll give the Jets some veteran support as they’ve mostly worked with Colbert, a well-traveled defender plucked off New England’s final cuts earlier this month.

In terms of seeing Davis and Neasman against the Titans, Saleh merely replied that the team will “see how the week goes”. He provided a more concrete answer about the status of Jamison Crowder, as Saleh says the team is “expecting” the top receiver over the last two seasons to return to game action after a bout with COVID-19.

The Jets’ receiving depth chart took a bit of a hit as both Elijah Moore and Jeff Smith are dealing with concussions. Moore was injured during the latter stages of the Jets’ 26-0 loss to Denver on Sunday while Smith did not appear in Wednesday’s proceedings after he was involved in a car accident on his way to the facility. Smith was examined and diagnosed upon his arrival.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Phil Simms says struggles come down to star players

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay, james bradberry

There are a lot of voices weighing in on the New York Giants after their 0-3 start to the season. Much of the feedback is directed towards the coaching staff, and the organization’s upper management. However, there is another element to consider – the players themselves, and how they haven’t stepped up this season to seize a win yet.

Some might blame the coaches for holding back the team’s talents, but former Giants quarterback Phill Simms disagrees. According to Simms, it’s the Giants’ stars that need to perform better to turn things around from their current state.

Giants top players need to perform better, says Simms

“I think the Giants have a lot of good players. But it comes down to this: name me the stars on the team. Is there a guy on offense, is there a pass rusher who can win the game for you right now? The answer is no,” Simms told the New York Daily News.

“Saquon Barkley, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Evan Engram, Kenny Golladay, the corners, all of them are potential stars. They need to turn into stars. And the coaches have to help them become stars, too,” Simms continued.

It’s indeed true that many of the ‘star’ players for the Giants have underperformed this season. The Giants have largely played like a team that lacks game changing talents, and this fact has become evident in their back to back losses by extremely thin margins. In both losses, it’s easy to argue that a team with true star players would be able to make one or two more game changing plays and come away with a win.

With that being said, Simms may be underestimating the responsibility of the coaches to help the players make those plays. Jason Garrett’s offense has been widely criticized for a number of legitimate reasons, and the Giants playing soft on defense helped backup QB Taylor Heinicke to lead Washington to victory in week 2. Both of those issues are related to scheme, not just talent.

But one large risk for the coaching staff at this point is losing the locker room. Whether the team’s struggles are primarily on the coaches or the players, too much losing in the next few weeks risks the players checking out entirely. That is an outcome where all sides would lose, as the unprecedented bad run would likely continue for the Giants and the coaching staff’s survival into next season would become unlikely.

After successful title defense at UFC 266, what’s next for Alexander Volkanovski?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 266, Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) defended his featherweight title against Brian Ortega (15-2, 1 NC). Ortega was getting his second crack at UFC gold while Volkanovski was trying to defend for the second time.

When this fight was first announced, I really liked Ortega’s chances. The Brian Ortega that fought Chan Sung Jung last year looked like he could be the guy to take out Volkanovski. Or, so I thought.

Volkanovski has had an interesting run so for as UFC champion. He did the unthinkable when he defeated Max Holloway (22-6) to win the title. Then he barely edged out Holloway in the second fight to retain.

However, the split decision nature of the second fight has casted some doubts regarding his status as UFC champion. Well, Saturday night he did a pretty damn good job of silencing those who casted doubt.

From the opening bell, Volkanovski controlled the fight. Sensational feints and pinpoint striking had Ortega flustered throughout the fight. However, there was one moment where the fight almost went to Ortega.

Ortega locked in a mounted guillotine in the third round. It was so deep that I was tapping from my chair at home. However, the UFC champion gutted it out and survived. Ultimately, he won a lopsided unanimous decision.

What’s next after UFC 266?

Volkanovski now finds himself in an interesting spot after UFC 266. To me, the clear option for his next opponent is the trilogy with Max Holloway. However, Holloway has a fight with Yair Rodriguez in November so there’s likely going to be a layoff for the champ.

Nobody is expecting Holloway to have troubles with Yair Rodriguez so I think the plan is already in place for the UFC to do the trilogy. However, there could be an outside the box idea that could get considered.

Henry Cejudo (16-2) continues to tease a comeback. The former two-division UFC champion and Olympic Gold Medalist retired last year after defending his bantamweight crown. He’s talked about his desire to capture a belt in three weight classes which has never been done.

I do not expect the UFC to go in this direction, but I wouldn’t dismiss it either. If Volkanovski wants to fight relatively close to the beginning of the year, they might have to go a different direction than Holloway. That direction could be the King of Cringe.

New York Jets: Grading Week 3’s loss in Denver

jets, zach wilson

Already trapped in the depths of the NFL’s offensive landscape, the New York Jets somehow sank further on Sunday in Denver.

New York Jets 0 (0-3)

Top Offensive Performer: QB Zach Wilson (19-of-35, 160 yards, 2 INT)
Top Defensive Performer: DL Quinnen Williams (4 tackles, 1.5 sacks)
Top Specialist: P Thomas Morestead (6 punts, 46.7 average)
Up Next: Sunday vs. Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Denver Broncos 26 (3-0)

Top Offensive Performer: WR Tim Patrick (5 receptions, 98 yards)
Top Defensive Performer: LB Alexander Johnson (5 tackles, 2 sacks)
Top Specialist: K Brandon McManus (4-of-4 FG, long 47, 2-of-2 XP)
Up Next: Sunday vs. Baltimore (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS)

Offense: F

With the rise of big plays and penalties bestowed for merely looking at a quarterback or receiver the wrong way, it’s almost impossible to be blanked in the modern NFL. But the Jets have somehow earned…yes, earned…a scoreboard goose egg in each of the last three seasons, a dubious distinction that continued in Denver.

The best thing that can be said about Sunday’s offensive performance was that Zach Wilson mostly fulfilled head coach Robert Saleh’s requests to play boring football. He also took care of the ball until two final desperation drives that ended in interceptions. His final pass went through the hands of Braxton Berrios, capping off an afternoon where Wilson’s receivers failed to come through for him.

Corey Davis (5 receptions, 41 yards on 10 targets) had two drops (one would’ve put the Jets in the red zone) while Michael Carter had another with room to run. Carter was particularly disappointing after serving as a silver lining against New England, earning only 24 yards on nine carries. New York earned only one of its already abysmal 11 first downs via the ground and that was earned by Wilson on a two-yard rush in the third quarter. The blocking once again provided no assistance, a fact Wilson learned the hard way through five more sacks.

Defense: C-

It certainly wasn’t a shutdown effort by any means (allowing 344 yards, 22 first downs, and just over five yards a play), but the Jets’ defense mostly kept its cool when the offense kept setting them up in awkward situations. C.J. Mosley continued his comeback tour with a game-best 10 tackles, the most famous of which was a goal-line takedown of Melvin Gordon that briefly kept the game scoreless.

Quinnen Williams also managed to get back in the swing of things through his involvement in two sacks of Teddy Bridgewater, sharing one with Bryce Huff. Williams also had two further quarterback hits, one of only four hurries New York had on the afternoon (Huff and Sheldon Rankins had the others).

Saleh’s oft-spoken “All Gas, No Brake” philosophy has gone by the wayside in the early going but the defenders at least help partly personify it in the dying stages of a lost contest. As Denver embarked on another would-be scoring drive (set up by Wilson’s first interception), Quincy Williams forced a fumble from Javonte Williams (no relation) that ended up in Del’Shawn Phillips’ possession, leading to a 34-yard return.

The Jets’ red zone defense has been a bittersweet gift to the metropolitan area: they’re allowing four such possessions per game (only Kansas City, Jacksonville, Washington, and Seattle have let up more) but have let up touchdowns on only a third of them. That percentage is good for the best in the NFL, tied with New Orleans and Sunday’s adversaries at Mile High.

Special Teams: C-

The Jets’ special teams endeavors on Sunday ranged from average (Morestead placed the Broncos inside their 20 twice on six punts) to frustratingly distressing (a delay of game penalty on a 56-yard field goal erased what would’ve been the only green points of the afternoon), though a game desperate for silver linings did manage to find two.

Though not officially credited with a block, Phillips was able to carry over some momentum to his punt rushing duties, tipping a Sam Martin boot that went just 26 yards and situated the Jets at their own 41. Also, considering the team’s struggles with finding a consistent kicker, watching Matt Ammendola manageably boot a 56-yarder had to be satisfying, even if it didn’t count.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Chicago Bears: Examining who really failed the offense in week three

justin field, bears, matt nagy

It’s been just over 48 hours since the Chicago Bears lost to the Cleveland Browns in week 3 but debates continue among the Bears fanbase and the NFL community about who was really at fault for Chicago’s offensive woes: Head coach Matt Nagy or rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

Talk to Bears fans and they’ll tell you Nagy was at fault. Listen to some in the national media, and two groups will emerge: Team Nagy and team Fields. Then there’s a third group that is willing to blame both, citing Nagy’s poor game planning coupled with Fields’ inability to get the ball out quickly as a reason for the Bears debacle on Saturday.

The answer is simple: Nagy. Three full seasons and three games into year four as head coach, Nagy has cycled through five starting quarterbacks and has yet to put together a consistent offensive. The Bears have struggled on offense and limped to the finish line each of the last two seasons, which has led to questions about Nagy’s ability to be a head coach.

From Fields’ perspective, there isn’t much that could’ve changed Sunday’s outcome. As a rookie, mistakes are expected, especially from the quarterback position. Smart coaches are able to minimize those mistakes by putting young quarterbacks in a position to succeed. Whether or not you believe that Fields was fully prepared to start, Nagy failed to put Fields in a position to succeed by not game planning around Fields’ strengths.

Considering Nagy was a catalyst behind the Bears’ decision to move up and draft Fields back in April, the fourth-year head coach needs to take the most blame for Fields’ failures. Fields arrival in the Windy City sparked newfound hope throughout the Bears fanbase, as many felt that Fields was as close to a franchise quarterback as the Bears franchise had seen in its 102-year history.

Negative narratives will continue to surround Nagy until the much-lambasted head coach can design and flawlessly execute an offense that fits Fields’ skillset. Nagy’s seat may not be hot but back-to-back losses could make his seat lukewarm, beginning the end of the Nagy era in Chicago.

Mets’ Noah Syndergaard returns with a bang; hopes to be back in New York next year

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2020, and encountering several setbacks along the way, New York Mets’ pitcher Noah Syndergaard made his long-awaited return to action at Citi Field on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins.

It was his first start in 730 days, so you would imagine there was some adrenaline in his body when he took the mound. The Mets are out of the race, so the crowd was evidently not the biggest, but those in attendance cheered as “Thor” threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

In total, he threw 10 pitches: only fastballs and changeups, as advised by the Mets’ medical staff because sliders and curveballs would result in additional stress for his elbow. But his stuff was impressive: the heater reached 96 mph with plenty of carry, and the change was nasty, too.

“When I was walking out of the dugout, hearing the fans, I almost had to shed a little tear,” Syndergaard said to MLB.com. “I’m not really an emotional guy, but it definitely got to me.”

Will he return to the Mets next season?

Even the opposing manager was happy to see the Mets’ star pitching after such a long layoff. “It was good to see Noah get back out there, honestly,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You hate to see guys go two years battling that.”

Syndergaard plans on pitching another time over the weekend against the Atlanta Braves. After that, he will be a free agent, but hopes to be back next year.

He will likely get a one-year qualifying offer from the Mets, and there is a good chance of accepting it, like Marcus Stroman did this year, to show he can throw breaking balls and rebuild his arm to suit a regular starter’s workload. Then, if everything goes according to the plan, he could re-enter free agency after the 2022 campaign.

“It would be something I would be extremely grateful for,” Syndergaard said of the qualifying offer. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s definitely something I’m hoping for.”

“I’m pretty confident that we’ll reach an agreement, and I’ll be pitching here next year. I’d love nothing more than that. New York has a special place in my heart, and always will.”