ESM EXCLUSIVE: Justin Tuck comments on the 2021 New York Giants

The Big Blue legend spoke to ESM about the modern New York Giants’ endeavors as a showdown looms in Arlington.

As he proved over 11 NFL seasons…all but the final couple spent with the New York Giants…Justin Tuck is a man of many talents. For his next trick, Tuck hinted that he’d like to prove he’s capable of a skill many Twitter users have bestowed upon him.

Similar surnames have led some football-minded users to believe that Tuck is not only still an active NFL participant but is also making gridiron history: some have credited Justin Tucker’s league-record 66-yard field goal earned during Week 3 action to Tuck, apparently missing the final two letters attached to the Baltimore kicker.

Tuck believes he’s capable of such a triple…but he’s going to need some help.

“60-mile an hour wind behind me? Absolutely, I’d kick it,” Tuck told ESM with a smile.

Tuck returned to New Jersey this week for a charity golf tournament hosted by former New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation. The two-time Super Bowl champion was one of many New York legends, including former blue teammate Victor Cruz, ready to take a few swings at Alpine Country Club in Demarest, but the happenings of the current bearers of blue weren’t far from Tuck’s mind.

By the time Tuck hit the links, the Giants (1-3) were hours removed from their first win of the season, a 27-21 overtime triumph over the New Orleans Saints. Though New York has struggled in the early stages of the season, a prime opportunity to reinsert themselves into the NFL playoff conversation awaits in the later portions of this Sunday afternoon’s action in the form of a divisional showdown with the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).

New york Giants, Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan
 Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

While the idea of the Giants’ win in New Orleans launching a playoff push is far-fetched to some, Tuck knows how one game can change the course of an NFL season: the 2007-08 Giants began the year with losses in their first two contests before erasing a two-possession deficit en route to victory in Washington. The Giants would wind up with 10 wins before shocking the world with their magical run to Super Bowl XLII, which yielded the first of two Super Bowl rings for Tuck.

Tuck felt it was hard to compare the modern Giants’ endeavor in the Big Easy to that fateful afternoon in Landover 14 years prior. He did, however, notice the missing ingredient on display against the Saints that allowed a struggling franchise to finally take a step forward.

“There is some measure of change that happened this week that wasn’t necessarily (there in) what happened weeks before that,” Tuck said. “The coaches and the players know what that is: that might be how they practice, that might be how they watch film, that might be just the thought process that they were going into this game with or kept throughout the game. In other games, they might have been like oh, we’re down again.”

“That mental capacity just decreased throughout the game. When they kept a level head and just said, listen, let’s just finish this in the fourth quarter you typically play well right?” Tuck continued. “I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but you know that team knows it, that coaching staff knows it, and hopefully we can find a way to recreate that weekend (in New Orleans) week in and week out.”

To Tuck’s point, the Giants trailed by as much as 11 last weekend against the Saints before ending the game with 17 unanswered points. It was the Giants’ first win after trailing by multiple possessions since September 2019.

Though Tuck won’t claim to know or understand the current mindset of the Giants’ players and coaches, he appears to have faith in what head coach Joe Judge is building. Tuck revealed that he has been in contact with Judge, who has called upon Big Blue alumni to assist in the current build.

“He wants us in the building, he wants us to be involved. He wants us to kind of continue to showcase what we did and the things that our players did, to have a successful team,” Tuck said of his relationship with Judge. “I think that’s smart on his behalf because we have a lot of knowledge. You think about the guys who’ve come before this team and the success that we had and the failures that we learn from. I think it’s important for us to kind of showcase that.”

“What you need to know about Joe Judge is that he’s a worker…He’s not going to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. He’s going to go do his job every day and just become like that blue-collar coach that has normally had success with the Giants.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees Analysis: One problem to fix and one to get rid of

The New York Yankees are licking their wounds after another early exit from the postseason. Even the most ardent Yankee fans looking deep into their souls knew that this team, with the way it played all season, didn’t deserve to be in the postseason as much as they wanted them to. The Yankee organization has many problems to address and decisions to be made. Here are two areas that they must examine.

Yankees need to rid themselves of Marcus Thames

It’s time for the Yankees to part ways with hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pelilttere. After losing in the postseason again, it’s effortless to start the blame game this time of year, but these two guys who coach the hitters have to go. They have not done their job. If one or two hitters weren’t hitting, you could blame those hitters, but when the problem is team-wide, you have to look to the coaching staff.

If there was one glaring deficiency with this team all season long, the Yankees did not consistently hit the ball, going through prolonged droughts that resulted in far too many games that the Yankees only scored three runs or less. At the end of the season, that stat stretched to 67 games with many when the Yankees only scored one or two runs. But, again, we are not talking about a low talent team; these are quality players that are not performing.

I can’t speak to the details of what’s wrong in the hitting department because I am not privy to what goes on in the coach’s room, but there is certainly something wrong. It could be that the coaches can’t motivate the players, or it could be the hit for the fence’s mentality. You can indeed win games with home runs, but you will win many more if there are men on base.

These coaches can’t seem to get hitters to hit for contact; the home runs would follow if they could do that. Again, if it was one or two players, you can blame the players, but you can’t blame all the players and not hold the coaches responsible. Even hitting stars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton had doughts in their hitting between long balls. DJ LeMahieu, who led all of baseball in 2020, dropped 100 batting points this season, and the coaching staff in 162 games couldn’t resolve that problem. Gleyber Torres, who hit 38 homers in 2019, could only muster up 12 long balls in two years. The coaching staff has not been able to solve his lack of power.

All season long, Yankee fans kept saying what’s wrong that this powerful lineup can’t hit the ball. Even manager Aaron Boone couldn’t come up with any answers, constantly saying we have to get better. You also have to consider that neither of these coaches have particularly distinguished hitting careers in their own right. This writer doesn’t have the answers, but a shakeup of the coaching staff seems in order.

The Yankees significant defensive deficiencies

The principal defensive deficiencies actually are only one. The New York Yankees, compared to other teams, are center-soft. Center soft means they don’t have star players playing up the middle; they have no shortstop, an error-ridden second baseman, and no dependable center fielder. Compare that to the rest of the AL East. You have stars like Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Kevin Kiermaier for the Rays. The Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts, Christian Arroyo, and Kiki Hernandez. The Blue Jays have Bo Bichette, Marcus Seimen, and George Springer.

This discrepancy is not only in the AL East either; every other strong contender has star players up the middle, but not the Yankees that keep moving players unfamiliar with those positions around. The Yankees need to move Gio Urshela back to third base and DJ LeMahieu back to second before they ruin those players as they have done with Gleyber Torres.

Lastly, New York Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner has to open up the funds to get a star center fielder. Although I love veteran Brett Gardner, his time has passed. Although his baserunning and defense are as good as ever, his arm has not been as good, and he is a liability at the plate. And if the Yankees think that Aaron Hicks will ever be a healthy, dependable option in center, they are living a pipedream. I am clueless as to why they ever extended his contract. Hicks stinks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

Knicks: 2 standout players in pre-season win over Wizards

knicks, jericho sims

The New York Knicks overcame the Washington Wizards on Saturday evening by a score of 117–99. Without All-Star power forward Julius Randle, who was ruled out due to personal reasons, the Knicks featured Obi Toppin as their primary PF. Toppin recorded 13 points, eight rebounds and earned two blocked shots. He shot over 50% from the field and hit on two of six attempts from three-point range.

With another stellar preseason performance under their belts, the Knicks will take on the Detroit Pistons at MSG in their final game before the regular season commences.

Two standout Knicks players in win over Washington:

1.) Derrick Rose

Veteran PG Derrick Rose played in just 19 minutes in the win over Washington, but he posted 15 points, 8.0 assists, and four rebounds during that time. He shot 4-of-7 from the field and connected on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. He also and 4–4 from the free-throw line.

Rose has started his 2021–22 campaign on a high note, and despite offering up the starting job to Kemba Walker, Rose projects to man the second unit, where he can make an impact while helping some of the younger guys develop.

Unfortunately, Derrick picked up a left foot injury toward the end of the game, sitting for the majority of the 4th quarter. He spoke with trainers on the bench before heading to the locker room early to try and work out the issue. Given this concern, I wouldn’t expect to see Rose in the final preseason game as the Knicks prepare for an October 20 opener against the Boston Celtics.

2.) Jericho Sims

Rookie center out of Texas, Jericho Sims, looked stellar in the victory. While he certainly has to work on his defensive spacing and positioning, he posted a game-high 13 rebounds over 26 minutes. Ten of the rebounds were defensive, and three were offensive, enjoying a few putback jams, recording seven points on the evening. He also tallied three steals, leading the team in the category.

Sims is already impressive as a rookie, and with Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel dealing with individual injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sims start the season on the active roster. The plan is for Jericho to continue developing with the G-League squad, as he signed a two-way contract with the team as the 58th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft.

It is clear that Sims plays at 100% and can fill the backup center role adequately, but he has plenty left to learn, and spending time at a lower level where he can continue growing and earning minutes could be very beneficial. If any injuries arise during the season, Sims will be the first one to earn an opportunity.

Giants’ Kadarius Toney already showing insane qualities with one stat

kadarius toney, new york giants

The New York Giants unleashed rookie receiver Kadarius Toney against the New Orleans Saints, and he ended up being one of the catalysts that fueled the offense to a victory in Week 4.

With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton out with hamstring injuries, Toney will once again be a priority for the Giants in the passing game against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend. Last week, Toney enjoyed 50 total snaps, 40 of which came on passing downs.

His snap count increased to 78% with the injured receivers, but that number will likely hover in that area if not increase as the season progresses. The Florida product tallied 78 yards on six receptions, being targeted eight times by quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants even tried a trick play where Toney threw the ball downfield, attempting to exercise his former quarterback lineage.

The Cowboys are riding a three-game win streak as they prepare for the Giants, and one of their young cornerbacks has recorded five interceptions this year, Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys sit just behind the Giants in points allowed per game at 24.3 but are doing a great job of limiting opposing rushing attacks, simply because their offense is so potent, teams are passing as they trail behind by multiple scores.

Dallas’ passing defense ranks toward the bottom of the league, giving up 315.3 yards per contest, but again that correlates with opposing teams passing the ball frequently to maintain pace with their offense. The Giants will be tasked with slowing down a red hot unit. They must control possession and milk the clock for as many minutes as possible. The goal is to sustain long drives while scoring touchdowns and not field goals.

Getting the ball into their playmaker’s hands is essential, which is where Toney makes his presence felt. Against the Saints, Toney forced five missed tackles, being tackled six times in total. If you factor that into his numbers, his performance is far less effective and productive without his shifty abilities and quick-twitch movements.

Toney gave some insight into how he approaches making tacklers miss, and he’s going to have to exercise that attribute against Dallas if the Giants want to have any chance at emerging victorious in Arlington.

“The process is really just more of, if he goes left, I’ve got to go right,” Toney said Friday. “It’s just kind of like playing freeze tag, something like that. It’s that kind of feel when you’re out there.”

Kadarius was known for his insane center of gravity and effort at Florida, and those characteristics haven’t dwindled at the NFL. In fact, it seems as if they’ve been maximized.

New York Giants try out two kickers, including Aldrick Rosas

New York Giants, Aldrick Rosas

Strangely, the New York Giants might have a new face at kicker soon.

The team has held tryouts for two different players at the position, Michael Badgley and Aldrick Rosas. The latter name will be familiar to Giants fans, of course, because of a previous stint for the Giants where he was a solid starter and had a Pro Bowl appearance.

Despite that success earlier in his career, Rosas ended up off the team last year after being sentenced to three years of probation for a hit-and-run incident.

Rosas had stints with the Jaguars and the Saints before ending up released once again on October 5th.

Michael Badgley also played for three teams before most recently being waived by the Titans on September 13. He has an 80% made field goal rate through his career and his longest field goal was 59 yards.

It remains to be seen why the Giants are looking for kickers at the moment. Graham Gano has played fine for the team, and has made all but one of his field goals this season as well as every extra point.

It’s possible that the Giants are looking into other kickers because of a health concern that just hasn’t come up in the public eye yet. Because Gano has mostly performed up to standard this season, it seems likely that the answer in this situation is somewhere along those lines.

With that being said, Gano hasn’t appeared on the injury report yet so if there is a problem, it isn’t a large enough one to immediately show up on the report.