New York Jets: TE Kenny Yeboah to make NFL debut on Sunday

New York Jets

The New York Jets’ undrafted rookie, who will sub in for the injured Tyler Kroft, became a preseason folk hero last summer.

A New York Jets summer hero is about to make his autumn debut.

Tight end Kenny Yeboah will partake in his first NFL regular season game on Sunday as the Jets battle the Atlanta Falcons in London (9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network). Yeboah, an undrafted free agent out of Temple and Mississippi, is perhaps best known as the recipient of a 50-yard Hail Mary at the end of the Jets’ preseason finale against Philadelphia in August. It capped off an evening that saw Yeboah earned 100 yards on four receptions, half of which went for touchdowns.

Yeboah’s debut comes in the absence of primary tight end Tyler Kroft, who is out for Sunday’s contest with a back injury. Safeties Marcus Maye and Adrian Colbert are out with concussions, as is receiver Jeff Smith.

The Jets (1-3) face off against an Atlanta team that will be missing several primary contributors. Top receiver Calvin Ridley is missing the game due to personal reasons as will fellow catcher Russell Gage and defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, each of whom are dealing with ankle issues.

While Ridley (1,374 receiving yards in 2020) is a major part of Atlanta’s attack, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said that his absence won’t make a difference in the metropolitan defensive game plan.

“We may see some different personnel groupings, (but it) doesn’t really affect our game plan, it came in so late,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “Ridley is a heck of a football player. But at the same time, they’ve still got a lot of weapons with (running back/receiver) Cordarrelle Patterson, he’s rejuvenated, (quarterback) Matt Ryan can get the ball to anyone. Their draft pick, (tight end) Kyle Pitts, is pretty freaking good. It’s a challenge, they got a lot of weapons over there.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Knicks add guard Tyler Hall to camp roster, replacing Luca Vildoza

tyler hall, knicks

With the New York Knicks releasing two-way guard Luca Vildoza after he sustained a foot injury that kept him of the Summer League and Training Camp, the team announced a new signing on Friday.

The Knicks will bring in guard Tyler Hall, who spent three games with the Summer League team, averaging 7.9 points per game. He posted two points, shooting 33.3% from the field, and tallied one rebound per game. Spending the last two seasons with the Westchester Knicks, Hall averages 10.1 points last season, including 2.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds. He shot nearly 42% from the field and 41.5% from three-point range, attempting 6.7 shots per game.

Hall is actually a solid player out of Montana State University, and at 6’4″, 209 pounds, he will be vying for a roster spot over the next few weeks.

Hall has a tall task ahead of him to make the roster, and after going unselect in the 2019 NBA draft, his work ethic is proving to present opportunities. While it is unlikely he makes the final cut, he could receive a bonus of up to $50K if he returns to the Westchester Knicks this season and spends at least 60 days with the G-League club.

It’s unfortunate the team had to part ways with Vildoza after offering him a solid contract, but ultimately they had to cut ties with his injury requiring surgery.

“You gotta make roster decisions this time of the year, and so availability is a big part of it,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Sunday. “And we feel that the guys who are here, those are the guys that are fighting it out for that last spot. But he’s a good player and we wish him well.

In the meantime, the Knicks are off to a hot start in the preseason, scoring 125 points against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, led by Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.

The Knicks will take on the Washington Wizards on Saturday evening at 7 PM, and with Randle projected to be OUT of the contest, expect a healthy dose of Obi Toppin.

New York Giants: Joe Judge downplays Troy Aikman’s remarks

new york giants, joe judge

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge isn’t looking to add more narratives to an already important division matchup on Sunday. Despite having a chance to play it up as motivation for the team, Judge had a very Belichick-like response when asked about Troy Aikman’s radio comments about the Giants.

“I don’t think we really need any external motivation to show up and do our jobs and do them effectively, to be honest with you. I think you have to understand the magnitude of every game you play,” Judge told reporters on Friday. “These division games are obviously no different, so if we need somebody else to kind of get us in the mind frame to play, I think we have other issues at hand.”

Aikman made headlines recently for appearing on radio in Dallas and saying that the Giants aren’t in the same class as the Cowboys. While it seems like that statement was true through the first three weeks of the season, the matter is murkier after the Giants upset the Saints in week 4. Some have said that Aikman is providing the Giants with easy ‘bulletin board material.’

Judge acknowledged the players taking note of it, but had a different narrative on the issue.

We don’t even have a bulletin board in there, to be honest with you. Everything’s screens and magnets and stuff now. We’re in the future now, so we don’t have bulletin boards anymore. Look, these guys are all active on Twitter and all that type of junk, so I’m sure they see stuff all the time.”

New York Giants enter week 5 as underdogs

Aside from his generally stern coaching style, it’s easy to see why Judge is downplaying Aikman’s comments – the Giants already have enough pressure on their shoulders without an added narrative about proving someone wrong.

While the Giants did make a big improvement in week 4, they come into the Dallas game affected by injuries on both sides of the ball. Wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are out for this game, and the same goes for safety Jabrill Peppers and guard Ben Bredeson.

Andrew Thomas is dealing with a foot injury, one which may be related to the injury that he had surgery for last season. His status is questionable, and it’s debatable if he can play full speed even if he does make it onto the field.

In other words, this Giants vs Cowboys game isn’t quite an even matchup. The Giants are underdogs both due to their record and their missing players, and it seems wise to avoid adding more narratives and pressure to this game on top of what is already there.

UFC books headliner between Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze

UFC

The UFC has finalized a big time matchup for their first main event of 2022. MMA Junkie was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had finalized a featherweight headliner between Calvin Kattar (22-5) and Giga Chikadze (14-2).

The fight will headline a UFC Fight Night that is currently scheduled for January 15th. This headliner is almost a year exactly to the date from the last time that we saw Calvin Kattar inside the octagon.

On January 16th of this year, Kattar took on Max Holloway in the UFC‘s first headliner of 2021. Kattar was destroyed by Holloway who set virtually every significant striking record there is to set for a single fight in that matchup.

That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for Kattar. Kattar is 4-2 in his last six with his only two losses coming against Holloway and Zabit Magomedsharipov. After his loss in January, Kattar has taken the rest of the year off to recover and improve for his run starting in 2022.

Will Chikadze become UFC champion in 2022?

Getting the first headlining fight of 2022 is big news for Giga Chikadze. In all likelihood, he will be either be next in line for a title shot if he wins or he will be next in line for a title eliminator given the rest of the featherweight division.

Whoever wins the Max Holloway – Yair Rodriguez fight in November is going to get the next shot at UFC gold. That title fight will likely in happen in the spring of 2022. If Chikadze wins in January, he would line up nicely with the winner of that title fight.

Chikadze has been a perfect 7-0 in the UFC. In his last fight, he stopped Edson Barboza in the third round. That was by far the most impressive performance of Chikadze’s career and it came against his toughest opponent.

I’m expecting to see the best of both Chikadze and Kattar in January. This is a helluva main event that fight fans should be excited for.

Knicks’ Thibs raves about Immanuel Quickley: ‘He’s a student of the game’

immanuel quickley, knicks

The New York Knicks are gearing up for hopes to be a big 2021–22 season with elevated expectations after a surprising campaign last year.

With big free-agent acquisitions and developing talent, the Knicks are in good shape for the future, but one of their players has been earning glowing reviews from head coach Tom Thibodeau. Two-way guard Immanuel Quickley is preparing to take on his sophomore season, and if all goes to plan, he will be an essential piece moving forward on both offense and defense.

During his rookie season, Quickley averaged 11.4 points, 2.0 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and shooting 39.5% from the field. He also connected on 39% of his three-point attempts and 89% on his free throws.

Quickley proved that he can be a dominant shooter in the league. His opportunities with the second team this upcoming season will be essential for his long-term projection/trajectory.

“The best thing about Quick is that he’s a student of the game, he’s a sponge,” Tom Thibodeau said a few days ago. “… He’s great at watching film, then coming in the next day and working on (a new move). Then after a short period of time, because of the type of commitment that he’s willing to make … he masters it.

Quickley surprised everybody with his exciting floater, derived from veteran Derrick Rose, who helped him perfect it. The second-year player continues to add different elements to his game, but improving his defensive efficiency is a priority if he wants to earn maximum minutes.

Thibs continued to rave about his qualities, harping specifically on his floater, which he coined as “special.”

“So, that’s what I love about him. His shot-making is special. His floater is special. I think he’s gotten a lot stronger, and I think he understands the league a lot better now. But I think his approach, he’s very open-minded. He wants to learn. He’s got great concentration.”

Quickley seemed like the lottery pick last year over Obi Toppin, but both players have essential traits for becoming solid NBA players. Luckily, the team has so many veterans to go around they don’t need to rush their youngsters into starting roles, allowing them to develop at their own pace with the expectation they will make an impact as reserves in the short term, but starters in the long term.

Having veterans like Rose and Kemba Walker to help him grow is a huge benefit, and the Knicks are confident Immanuel will continue to impress, starting with his work ethic.

Will the New York Yankees resign Anthony Rizzo?

anthony rizzo, yankees

The ending of the New York Yankees season this year seemed incredibly fitting. The team was incredibly frustrating to watch all season long and either looked like the best team in the world or one of the worst teams in the league depending on the game.

This week, the Yankees were embarrassed in the Wild Card game by the Boston Red Sox. Before the season started, the Yankees had World Series aspirations and they failed to make even the divisional round of the playoffs.

While the performance was incredibly disappointing, one of the bright spots from the game came from Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo got what seemed to be a rally started in the sixth inning when he launched a home run off of Nathan Eovaldi to get the Yanks on the board.

We obviously know how that inning ended, however, if it would’ve gone differently, many would be pointing to that moment. Rizzo did his part just like Giancarlo Stanton did his part.

Anthony Rizzo was a splash acquisition by Brian Cashman at the trade deadline this year. He added a much needed lefty bat that added pop to the lineup, an amazing glove at first, and a batter that puts the ball in play which we know the Yankees struggle with.

Time in New York

In 49 regular season games with the Yankees, Rizzo had a slash line of .249/.340/.428 while hitting eight home runs and driving in 21 runs. Of course, Rizzo showed off his incredible defensive skills during that stretch as well.

I will say, the numbers above are a little misleading. After joining the Yankees and getting off to a good start, Rizzo got Covid. When he returned from Covid, his first five games were a struggle and he just didn’t seem right.

However, after those five games, he looked tremendous overall. If you take out his five games post-covid, Rizzo’s slash line was .271/.365/.471 with an OPS of .836. That OPS would have placed him third on the team behind Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

Will the Yankees bring him back?

Now, the big question is will the Yankees try to bring him back? I think it’s safe to say that Luke Voit’s time in New York has come to an end. The team tried desperately to move him at the trade deadline but couldn’t get any takers.

Even when Voit was healthy, his limited playing time spoke volumes. With that in mind, I do believe that the Yankees would love to bring Rizzo back to be their first baseman. Rizzo is exactly what this team needs.

He is a tremendous leader, has World Series experience, plays incredible defense at first, and he’s a lefty bat that puts the ball in play. Every single one of those items is vital for the New York Yankees.

So, will they resign him? It’s clear that the Yankees have a number of problems to address in the offseason. This offseason is going to be incredibly busy for the front office.

In terms of the conversations with Rizzo, I’m expecting the Yankees to offer him either a four or five year deal. Now, the big factor will come down to the dollar amount. New York will not go overboard for Rizzo so if another team will, Rizzo will not be in The Bronx next season.

At the end of the day, I have a sneaky suspicion that they will resign him. Rizzo just makes too much sense as a Yankee and he’s a perfect fit. That said, whoever knows what this front office is thinking.

Sound Off: Should the Yankees bring back Anthony Rizzo?

New York Yankees Analysis: Brian Cashman brilliant? Ah, not so much

Now that the New York Yankees have left the postseason far too early, once again, Yankees fans are again looking for people to blame. There are so many places to look it would make a house mouse dizzy. But looking back to before the 2021 season started on April 1, there were some questionable decisions made; some of those now stink big time.

First of all, we have to look at how those decisions were made. Other than how much would be spent, which is Hal Steinbrenner’s sole judgment, make no mistake about it, general manager Brian Cashman makes them, then, during the season, and now. Anyone that thinks differently doesn’t know how the Yankees operate. Sure there most likely are some discussions held, but Cashman holds the reins.

To further prove that almost all decisions are made by Cashman, you have to look at ownership. Nearly every Yankee fan has said at one point or the other, Hal Steinbrenner is not his father “The Boss,” George Steinbrenner. The father and son are nothing alike. George was every day in your face; you never wondered who ran the Yankees. He was up in his luxury box analyzing nearly every move the Yankees made, on and off the field. If a player made a bone head play on the field, he knew all too well that he might expect a visit from George in the clubhouse.

Hal, the son, is not that man no matter how much we want him to be. He controls the purse strings, and that’s about it. His style is totally different. He relies on Brian Cashman to handle almost everything. As a matter of fact, you will seldom see Hal at a game, never mind in the clubhouse. He isn’t the baseball man his father was. But, unfortunately, this is what Yankee fans have to live with. It also may be why the Yankees haven’t won a World Series since Mariano Rivera laid two single long stem red roses upon home plate in July of 2010.

Today let’s take a look at three decisions that Cashman made before the 2021 season that may have cost the Yankees another trip to the World Series. The Yankees not only haven’t won a World Series since 2009, but they also haven’t even played well enough to appear in one.

Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber, really?

It’s effortless to play Monday morning quarterback, but I’ve selected three decisions that were even questioned at the time. First, before the start of the season, the Yankees traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates to get Jameson Taillon and went out and acquired 2 time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, once one of the best pitchers in baseball. On the surface, they seemed like great add ons, considering they let several 2019 pitchers walk, including Masahiro Tanaka.

The problem from the beginning was that these two pitchers combined for only a few starts in the past two years, one suffering from two Tommy John surgeries and the other from shoulder problems. At the time, the organization promoted these moves as “low risk, high reward” moves. The risk was not getting to a Championship. Did the Yankees (Cashman) believe that either of these two pitchers could get 30 or more starts after pitching so little in the previous two seasons? Although Taillon almost made it, Kluber only pitched in half that many games.

It was not surprising that both of these pitchers had very slow starts to the season, even though they got better as the season progressed; just think if they had won more than 13 starts combined. Could the Yankees have won the division if they did?

Let’s have everyone play positions unfamiliar to them?

It didn’t necessarily start this way, but as the season progressed, the Yankees, more than any other team in baseball, had players playing in positions that they were not familiar with. Examples are natural right fielder Aaron Judge playing in center field, left fielder Giancarlo Stanton playing right field. Second baseman Rougned Odor was playing at third, Gold Glove second baseman DJ LeMahieu at first. None of these moves turned disastrous, but one glowing decision that turned out bad was keeping Gleyber Torres at short.

In recent years, the New York Yankees have a history of making a mistake and then sticking with it no matter how glaringly wrong it was. Think Gary Sanchez. But today, we are zeroing in on Gleyber Torres. When the Yankees let Didi Gregorious walk to the Phillies, they made second baseman Torres a shortstop. It didn’t work out. Nevertheless, they (Cashman) stuck with the decision again this year. Finally, after miserable failure at defense and behind the plate, they permanently moved him back to second base.

Brian Cashman could have resolved the problem before the season but didn’t. He could have gotten any number of free agent shortstops to fill the position, including Marcus Seimen, who has been a Yankees killer all season long. Seimen instead was picked up by the Blue Jays. With them, he has a 7.1 WAR with 45 home runs for the fourth-most in all of baseball and a batting average of .265 and 102 RBIs. Compare that to Torres with .08 WAR, 9 home runs, and 51 RBI.

What makes this mistake all the more glaring is that Cashman could have passed on Corey Kluber, held onto Masahiro Tanaka, and acquired Semien for about the same cost to the franchise.  For more on the future of the Yankee shortstop read this ESM article from fellow writer Alex Wilson.

Bad boy, Frazier the Yankee’s red hope?

The decision to make Clint Frazier the starting left fielder is a little more difficult to dissect. Although some of this decision probably was due to Frazier being nominated for a Gold Glove award, which was a mistake that surprised most Yankees fans, making a few great diving catches does not deserve a Gold Glove nomination.

Frazier was an immediate fan favorite with his floppy red hair and slanted cute smile, but the fact of the matter is that he was never a fit for the Yankees. His attractive look never matched his cry-baby personality. Frazier had bad luck early in his career by crashing headfirst into an outfield wall and getting a concussion. But facts are facts, Frazier has never played in more than 69 games in his five years with the Yankees. Frazier should have been traded years ago. Instead, he got the left-field starting job. He played okay for a while but eventually was replaced by Brett Gardner and others.

Frazier, who was once heralded for his quick bat, that bat has never delivered results. This season he could only hit five home runs and a miserable .186 batting average. His WAR is -1.4, far worse than Torres. Then as July approached, mysterious dizziness and vision problems cropped up that had never been fully explained. Is it due to his earlier concussion or the start of the Ellsbury effect? Whatever the case, he never played another game in the 2021 season, and this writer believes you will never see him in Yankee pinstripes again.

One mistake finally corrected

For far too many years, the New York Yankee lineup has been either totally or heavily right-handed. This scenario makes it much easier for opposing managers to set up their rotation. This season at the trade deadline, Cashman finally fixed the problem by acquiring lefties Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo. Gallo, the home run hitter (39), will be with the Yankees in 2022. Rizzo will be a free agent, and only time will tell if Cashman offers him a contract.

In 2020 the Yankees traded away lefty Mike Tauchman. If Rizzo is not rehired, it will leave only Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade as lefties available to the lineup as many feel that veteran Brett Gardner may have seen his last season with the Yankees. The Yankees realizing their mistake must keep the righty/lefty lineup in place going forward.

 

 

Will the Yankees sign a world-class shortstop or wait for their stud prospect?

anthony volpe, yankees

The New York Yankees are heading into the off-season in desperate need of a new shortstop. With the Gleyber Torres experiment coming to an end, the front office will need to find a supplement, as they utilized starting third baseman Gio Urshela at the spot last year for the second half.

They could carry a lineup that starts DJ LeMahieu at first base, letting Anthony Rizzo walk in free agency, but he was an integral part of the team’s success toward the end of the season, despite being knocked out of the playoffs in the Wild Card game. Theoretically, LeMahieu could start at first, giving Gleyber the second base spot, Urshela at shortstop, and leaving third base as the lone opening.

Alternatively, they could shift LeMahieu to third base permanently and retain Rizzo as a starting first baseman for the foreseeable future. Considering Rizzo hit .248 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs this season, the Yankees could view him as a potential force moving forward. He only spent half the year with the Yankees, if not much less, so a full season in pinstripes could do him well.

The Yankees could go big at SS:

There is a scenario where the Yankees want to spend big money on a free agent shortstop, and there are several big names on the market. Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor story, Javier Baez, and Freddy Galvis will all be available, but it is unlikely the Bombers open up their checkbook on a monster contract.

Typically, you’d see the team target a player like Carlos Correa in the past, but he’s likely going to earn a massive contract after hitting .279 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs this season at just 26-years-old.

Preferably, the team wants to hold the position over until youngster Anthony Volpe is ready to take on the major leagues. In single A-ball with Tampa, Volpe earned 199 at-bats this season, tallying 12 homers and hitting .302. His abilities seem to be phenomenal, and he’s also a strong fielder capable of playing at multiple positions, with his priority being SS. He committed just six errors over 313.2 innings this season in Tampa.

Volpe is likely one or two seasons away from making his MLB debut, so the Yankees only need a short-term solution. Moving Urshela over to shortstop and putting DJ at third base might be a solid move, but they would hate to move Gio from his natural spot where he dominates defensively.

This is certainly an interesting predicament for the Yankees this upcoming off-season. What do you think they will do? Sign a free agent or hold over the position for the next few seasons as they wait for Volpe to reach the MLB? Comment here!

Chicago Bears: Fields endorsement of Bill Lazor speaks volumes

justin field, bears, matt nagy

When the Chicago Bears take the field against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon, quarterback Justin Fields will make his third consecutive start while offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is expected to call plays for the second straight game. Week 4 against the Detroit Lions at home proved that Lazor could be an effective playcaller that could produce efficiently.

While the fear is that Nagy takes over playcalling once again, Fields endorsed Lazor on Wednesday afternoon, citing Lazor’s ability to be an effective playcaller while focusing on the game.

“He calls plays in practice, so I’m just used to hearing his voice,” Fields said via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “Pretty much, like I said, he doesn’t have to worry about the defense, he doesn’t have to worry about special teams. He’s just up in the box overlooking the field and stuff like that so he’s definitely in a calmer setting. That’s kind of his personality, he’s kind of calm and kind of laid back, so I definitely like that about Bill.”

While Fields still respects head coach Matt Nagy, reading between the lines, it’s become clear that Fields seemingly prefers to have Lazor calling plays, rather than Nagy. For many, the belief is that Nagy can still be a good head coach, however, not a good playcaller. 2021 needs to be all about Fields development and part of that development needs to be a solid playcaller in place for Chicago’s coaching staff to fully evaluate Fields as a rookie.

The Bears game plan last week was catered to Fields’ strengths while also putting Fields in a position to succeed. There were multiple times where the Bears trotted out 12 and 13 personnel packages, going max protection, giving Fields an opportunity to push the ball downfield, connecting with wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson.

Fields endorsing Lazor could mean the winds of change are ready to sweep the Windy City, which could rejuvenate the Bears as the 2021 regular season continues to heat up.

 

New York Jets: Sheldon Rankins sees super things on the D-line

sheldon rankins, jets

Rankins, a playoff staple in New Orleans, sees signs that the New York Jets’ pleasantly surprising defense can compete with the NFL’s finest.

Sheldon Rankins goes into the New York Jets’ London excursion as an avenger of sorts. The former New Orleans Saint could make his former comrades proud with a win on Sunday, as the Jets face the fleur de lis’ biggest rival, the Atlanta Falcons, in the NFL’s first international game since November 2019 (9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network).

Tony Stark won’t be available. But Rankins is pleased to say that the Jets’ defense, namely the front seven, has enough “superpowers” to work their way through the trials of the road back to respectability.

“There’s a special thing about the group…everyone has their superpower,” Rankins said on the Inside the Jets show on the team’s official website. “We speak about (Quinnen Williams’) straight-line power to just move people out. Foley (Fatukasi) is a mountain of a man. (John Franklin-Myers) has the versatility to move as quickly as he does. Bryce (Huff) is the Tasmanian devil, that’s what we call him, and he probably got that name 30 minutes ago. Myself? I’m kind of the wily veteran in the room right now.”

The Jets’ defense has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2021 NFL season. Stitched together with additions obtained through the Saturday of draft weekend and decimated by injury, the unit has embraced the challenges inherited by a developing offense. Average defensive possessions start a mere 64 yards away from the end zone, the worst starting situation in the league.

Yet, much like Robert Saleh before them, the unit has been a showcase of adaptability and resiliency. Entering Week 5 action, the Jets have allowed 17 red zone possessions, the worst tally in the league if not for Kansas City and Washington (19 each). The sizable opportunities have been created through eight turnovers, a tally that ranks at the penultimate point of the league’s depths (only Jacksonville is worse at 9).

Fortunately for New York, only six of those possessions have ended in touchdowns, behind only a three-team group of Buffalo, Denver, and New Orleans. The resiliency was prominently on display in the Jets’ first win of the season, a 27-24 overtime triumph over the Tennessee Titans. In that win, the Jets saw the erasure of an early 9-0 lead build solely through Randy Bullock field goals.

The early stages of the 2021 season have also brought back the Jets’ pass rush abilities. Such a revival tour was masked by early losses, but Sunday’s effort was impossible to ignore. The Jets earned seven sacks, their best output in nearly four full seasons, en route to their first addition to the 2021 win column. They’ve earned 16 sacks this season, which once again ranks second, trailing only Sunday’s opponent in that category. These numbers have been posted despite the extended medical leaves of impactful newcomers Carl Lawson (out for the season) and Jarrad Davis (out for at least one contest going into the coming bye week).

In speaking with hosts Dan Graca and Bart Scott, Rankins acknowledged that the Jets’ newfound aggressiveness is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that can let up big plays. But Rankins knows the value of a disturbance in the backfield: New Orleans ranked in the top six of pressure rates in each of the last two seasons en route to 25 wins and the latter half of four consecutive NFC South titles.

Rankins, 27, has posted pedestrian numbers (four tackles and a sack) compared to his young compatriots. He believes, however, that continued collaborative pressure will help bolster everyone’s numbers. To that point, Franklin-Myers has already reached or neared his career-best tallies. His efforts have since been rewarded with a reported four-year extension with his rookie contract set to expire after this season.

Working in such a system has Rankins feeling like another superhero of both the pages and silver screen. Appropriately, this one calls Gotham City home.

“For me, it’s all about being disruptive,” Rankins said on the program. “The numbers are going to come with that. The more that you wreck shop, get off and disrupt the game and cause havoc inside, the numbers are going to come. Once I put the pads on I’m Batman. I feel like I’m going out there and causing damage. I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing.”

Even if Rankins isn’t sending in showstopping stat sheets, head coach Robert Saleh knows just how important he is to the Jets’ defensive revolution. It was Saleh who convinced general manager Joe Douglas to inquire into the former Saint’s services, even as he was coming off a knee injury that relegated him to the injured reserve. Rankins hasn’t played a full NFL season since 2018, when he tallied 15 pressures, 12 tackles for a loss, and eight sacks in his third season in The Big Easy.

Even as Rankins continues to work his way back, Saleh is pleased to see his faith rewarded.

“I have so much respect for his game,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “It was just a perfect match in terms of his style of play (and) with the way we ask him to play. It’s just a perfect match for the way his game is made, and he’s showing it.”

“You could already see, last year, that he was getting back to what he was when he was drafted and then his second year when he was so productive,” Saleh continued. “Then injuries obviously set him back, but when you talk to people around the league, especially in that building, he is an unbelievable leader, he’s got tremendous work ethic, the way he takes care of his body, he’s meticulous in everything he does, and I’m just really excited for him and the success he’s been having so far.”

Rankins is one of the rare Jets with both extensive experience against the Falcons and on the football pitch: the interior threat has earned 16 tackles, eight pressures, and seven tackles for a loss over eight games against Atlanta and was in the Saints’ starting lineup during their October 2017 tilt against Miami at Wembley Stadium.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags