New York Giants: Joe Judge on making the right decisions during bye

joe judge, new york giants

The New York Giants are going on a break before their next game, and Joe Judge doesn’t want to see that turn into any incidents.

The Giants have, for the most part, been a quiet team off the field under the watch of Judge.

There’s definitely some reason to criticize Judge’s frequent talk about discipline – on the field, the team has committed a lot of penalties this season for one with a head coach that frequently brings discipline up. But when it comes to off the field matters, the Giants have done pretty well to avoid ending up in the news.

Headed into a bye week where players will have some time off to relax by themselves or visit family and friends, Judge is looking to keep it that way.

Joe Judge’s warning about decision making

“We talked about a few of the instances that happened this year and last year around the league,” the Giants head coach told reporters.

“Look, it’s natural for a lot of guys to kind of let their hair down this time of year. You get a few days off, you step away from a stressful situation for a couple of days, you kick back. You’ve got to make sure that you put yourself in the right surroundings and you make the right decisions.”

The Giants aren’t set to come together as a team together until Monday, leaving the players with a longer than usual amount of time for themselves between games.

For the coaching staff, surely, the bye week will serve as a chance to analyze how the opening half of the season went down and what things the team can do differently going forward. While the Giants are 2-1 in their last three games and have obviously improved since week 1, their 3-6 record still indicates they have some ways to go.

When the Giants do finally return to the field, they have a large challenge in front of them in the form of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. In that sense, it’s good that the bye week is placed where it is. The Giants, after all, need all the time they can get to prepare for this matchup.

Yankees have eyes on All-Star CF as potential trade target

bryan reynolds, yankees, pirates

The New York Yankees are gearing up for an exciting few months during the off-season. With several free agents already connecting with general manager Brian Cashman, we should anticipate the Bomber spending significantly to upgrade several vulnerabilities, notably at shortstop. However, they’ve also been engaged in several trade talks, including for Oakland Athletics star first baseman Matt Olson and now Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star centerfielder Bryan Reynolds.

According to John Marosi of MLB network, the Yankees and Mariners have become potential suitors for Reynolds after the team struggled in centerfield last season due to the injuries of Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier.

Reynolds has four years left of arbitration until he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2026. He is an incredibly valuable player with immense talent at 26-years-old. This past season, Reynolds posted a .302 average with 24 homers and 90 RBIs. He also earned an 18.4% strikeout rate and 11.6% walk rate. He posted a 37.6 offensive WAR, showcasing one of the best batting threats in baseball.

Pairing a player like Reynolds with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would give the Yanks an unbelievable amount of power in the lineup. However, Reynolds is also a quality contact hitter, recording 102 singles, 35 doubles, and eight triples this past season. With a maximum exit velocity of 112.7 mph, Reynolds is also seeing improvements with hard-hit balls. He recorded a 40.8% hard-hit rate and connected on the barrel of the bat 10.4% of the time. Reynolds also posted a career-high .522 slugging percentage and 142 wRC+.

Replacing Hicks with a player like Reynolds would constitute a monstrous upgrade — not even comparable. However, the Bombers are still on the hook for Hicks’s contract, so finding a way to unload it would be advisable in this scenario.

While the Yankees have been brought up in multiple conversations just like this, it is unlikely they strike gold on multiple occasions. With their focus set on acquiring a star shortstop, I believe they will look to get the deal done before any trades go down.

Israel Adesanya – Robert Whittaker 2 targeted for UFC 272

One of the most highly anticipated UFC title fights in the promotion finally has a date. MMA Fighting reported earlier today that the promotion is zeroing in on an event for the rematch between middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (20-1) and former champion Robert Whittaker (23-5).

The event is being targeted for UFC 272 which will take place Super Bowl weekend on February 12th. Originally, the fight was being rumored for the January PPV, however, once the promotion finalized the heavyweight title fight between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane, they planned to move this matchup back.

They wanted Adesanya and Whittaker to headline and they will do that at UFC 272. Adesanya will be looking to defend his title for the fourth time since defeating Whittaker back at UFC 243. Stylebender entered that matchup with Whittaker as the interim champion so he considers that fight to be his first title defense.

Overall, Adesanya is just 1-1 in his last two after suffering his first career loss at UFC 259. Stylebender moved up to try and become a two-division champion and lost to Jan Blachowicz. He bounced back at UFC 263 with a successful middleweight title defense over Marvin Vettori.

Can Whittaker become a two-time UFC champion?

Normally when you have a top-level UFC champion, they get a rematch pretty quickly after losing their title. However, this wasn’t the case with Robert Whittaker. Bobby Knuckles has had to climb his way back up to the title after the first loss to Adesanya.

Since that fight, Adesanya has targeted a few top contenders like Darren Till and Jared Cannonier. However, for those two to get to Adesanya, they needed to defeat Robert Whittaker. Neither man was able to do that.

The former UFC champion has won three times since their first fight. He’s defeated Kelvin Gastelum, Cannonier, and Till since losing the belt. He’s looked better and better each time out and he looks like he’s going to really test Adesanya in this rematch.

UFC books Stephen Thompson – Belal Muhammad

The UFC has finalized an important matchup in their welterweight division for the final event of 2021. MMA Junkie was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-5-1) and Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on December 18th. For Belal Muhammad, he will be making his fourth appearance in 2021. He started the year off by defeated Dhiego Lima in a lopsided fight back at UFC 258.

That win was Muhammad’s fourth straight. He then got a short-notice opportunity against the top ranked Leon Edwards. That fight ended in a No Contest after Muhammad was poked in the eye by Edwards.

After that, we saw Muhammad return at UFC 263 where he defeated legend Demian Maia by decision. Muhammad is ranked ninth in the division and if he’s able to defeat Wonderboy, he will get closer to the top five and closer to UFC title contention.

UFC Fight Night for Wonderboy

Wonderboy Thompson will be making his third appearance inside the octagon when he takes on Belal Muhammad in January. The last time we saw Wonderboy was back at UFC 264 when he took on Gilbert Burns.

Thompson lost that fight, but if he would’ve won, he would’ve likely earned himself a UFC title shot. Now, Wonderboy is looking to reset and get back on track. Prior to the loss to Gilbert Burns, Thompson had won two straight over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal.

A win over Muhammad would keep Wonderboy established near the top of the UFC’s welterweight division. Wonderboy is one of the few top contenders that champion Kamaru Usman hasn’t fought. With that in mind, Thompson is only a couple of wins away from potentially becoming an attractive option to face Usman.

Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau rips starters for ‘jell’ excuse, benches them Vs Bucks

knicks, tom thibodeau

Come the 4th quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, the New York Knicks had pulled their entire starting team.

The starters were simply abysmal in the loss, as the second team climbed back from a 24-point deficit in the second half. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier contributed just four combined points, while RJ Barrett earned nine and Julius Randle 16.

At this point in the season, the Knicks simply need more from their starters, and the excuse of developing chemistry and jelling is simply no longer justified.

“You know what they say: When it’s 10 games, they say you need 20,” Thibodeau said. “When you say 20, they say you need 30; at 30, you say 40.

Thibodeau was critical of his top players after the defeat, indicating they need to be better now and not provide a timeline for improvement.

“And before you know it, the season is over. So that’s a bunch of bulls—.”

Calling them out well hopefully brew a bit of accountability, as the Knicks can’t continue to climb out of significant deficits early in games if they want to be a playoff-caliber team.

“Yeah, just they didn’t play well,” Thibodeau said after benching the starters. “That’s it. We’ve gotta figure it out. And right now we’re playing well on the road and we’re not playing well at home, which is unusual. So we’ve gotta get that straightened out.”

The second team rose to the occasion against Milwaukee, especially Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, who contributed 22 and 18 points apiece. They connected on 12 three-point shots, while the starters only contributed four.

One of the biggest issues in the starting unit has been point guard Kemba Walker, who was shot below 33% from deep over the last four games. At some point, Thibodeau may have to consider starting Rose, so the team can get off to a more adequate start. I would also anticipate Immanuel Quickley earning more minutes in the coming days after posting 18 points and four assists over 27 minutes on Wednesday.

Going into the season, the Knicks were considered to be one of the deepest teams in the league, but they didn’t anticipate the starters playing so poorly at times. Luckily, they have been able to supplement deficiencies at specific spots, but they need their big-money players to step up and produce, otherwise it’s going to be a long year.

Could Matt Nagy return in 2022 for the Chicago Bears?

justin field, bears, matt nagy

The hot seat is a conversation that nobody wants to have in the NFL. Nothing is different for Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears, who currently sit in the middle of a four-game losing streak, having lost the last two games by a total of 13 points.

Much has been made of Nagy’s future with the Bears. Some believe the fourth-year head coach is on his way of Chicago while others see Nagy’s investment in Fields as guaranteed job security in 2022.

Bears ownership doesn’t seem to be overly thrilled that Nagy is likely heading towards another mediocre season however, Fields progression between weeks eight and nine cannot be denied and if Fields continues to progress, Nagy could return in 2022 with a clean slate.

With just three wins heading into week 10, the Bears front office has plenty of time to evaluate whether or not Nagy can rightfully be the guy to lead the Bears in 2022. Fields promising returns likely means the McCaskey family will likely wait until the very end of the season to move on from Nagy.

The Bears’ expectations for 2021 also changed once Fields was drafted. Expectations went from making the playoffs and having a winning season to ensuring Fields would develop properly.

What clouds Nagy’s future with the Bears, even more, is that it’s hard to judge who’s really behind Fields development. Is the so-called plan that Nagy referenced throughout training camp the reason Fields is developing? Or did a change in playcaller from Nagy to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, lead to a more QB-friendly system for Fields, who excels under center and in the play-action game.

What happens over the next eight weeks will be worth monitoring. The Bears are on the outside looking in when it comes to making the playoffs, however, even if Fields continues playing at a high level, ownership could look at 2021 as a positive, giving Nagy one final chance in 2022.

Yankees mock trade package to land Oakland star 1B Matt Olson

yankees, matt olson

The Oakland Athletics seem to be prepared to sell several critical assets, including first baseman Matt Olson. The New York Yankees have had discussions with Oakland about acquiring Olson, according to MLB Network’s John Marosi. While there is still a high probability they retain Anthony Rizzo after a successful season with the Bombers after the trade deadline, Olson is an elite prospect with incredible potential.

Olson has two more years left on his contract with arbitration until he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024 at 30-years-old. Olson is coming off an impressive season, recording a .271 average with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. He hosted a career low 16.8% strikeout rate and 13.1% walk rate.

The star first baseman is one of the most potent sluggers in the game, one the Yankees would love. By all accounts, he is an above-average defender and elite hitter, also posting 79 singles and 35 doubles this past season. A lefty hitter like that in their stadium with a short right porch would be valuable. Defensively, Olsen recorded a .995 fielding percentage with six errors over 1338.2 innings.

Mock trade for the Yankees to land Athletics’ 1B Matt Olson:

-Luke Voit

The Yankees should think about maximizing Luke Voit at this point in time, considering his low cost and solid production. In 68 games this past season, he hit .239 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs. Injuries derailed his campaign after an impressive abbreviated campaign in 2020.

If the Yankees don’t have Voit in mind as their starter, they are better off utilizing him as a trade piece. DJ LeMahieu can fill the1B spot if need be due to injury.

-Deivi Garcia

Garcia still has value as a potential solid starting pitcher in the future, and the Athletics might see him as a respectable name to include in the deal. The Yankees are preparing to spend and have several starting pitchers coming back from injury, so Garcia’s services likely will be needed in the short term.

MLB’s report stated that Garcia has inconsistencies, putting too much effort behind his pitches, which has led to accuracy issues. He fails to accurately throw his fastball, hurting his efficiency. After impressing at the MLB level in 2019, his 2020 production was inferior.

Garcia’s best pitch in the big leagues thus far has been a low-80s changeup with fade. He was more consistent with his delivery and threw more strikes than ever before in 2020, then posted the worst walk rate of his career this summer. He’s just 5-foot-9 and 163 pounds and throws with some effort, so there are some concerns about whether he can maintain his stuff and hold up over 30 starts per season.

-Luis Medina

Another solid prospect for the Bombers is Luis Medina, who was hitting triple digits in his teenage years. His upside is tremendous, but he is still a little while away from making an impact in the big leagues. If the Yankees want to make a run at the World Series now, they need to start cashing in on some of their prospects for players who can make an impact immediately.

MLB’s report of Medina paints a picture of a potentially elite player that struggled with trust, so the Athletics could value him as a developmental player with immense upside.

Medina is athletic and has no glaring mechanical flaws, so there’s no obvious reason he shouldn’t have average control. He has had trouble repeating his delivery in the past, though some observers believe his problems have been more mental than physical and he may be turning a corner as he has matured and learned to trust his stuff. 

What do you think of this perspective trade package? It wouldn’t impact their starting team whatsoever, but it would take a few solid prospects out of rotation. Comment here! [wpdiscuz-feedback id=”du1vt67v1u” question=”Please leave a feedback on this” opened=”0″][/wpdiscuz-feedback]

Chicago Bears: Chemistry with playmakers was prevalent in week nine

Allen Robinson, New York Giants

A lingering issue for the Chicago Bears since naming rookie quarterback Justin Fields the starter in week four was a lack of chemistry with wide receivers. After spending all of training camp as the Bears backup, Fields was forced to learn on the fly with starting wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet.

Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week nine on Monday Night Football, the Bears opted to run a more balanced gameplan, with Fields going 17-for-29 with 291 yards and one touchdown. The 11th overall pick also had a passer rating of 89.9 while rushing eight times for 45 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt.

“As we’ve gotten more reps with Justin and you know kind of having had him at the helm and things and whatnot, things just naturally been getting better and kind of having a feel for each other,” Kmet said via the Bears official YouTube channel. “Not only me but I think the other receivers as well and you know we’re just kind of getting better in that so I think that’s going to keep progressing as the year goes on.”

Much of Fields’ early-season struggles was the result of poor ball placement and timing with receivers. Fields showed the ability to consistently hit the deep ball on Monday, including a 39-yard pass to Robinson on a third-and-two in the fourth quarter. Just one play later, Fields would connect with Mooney for a 16-yard touchdown pass.

“I felt so awesome Mooney made a great catch on that play, we were on the same page so was it was awesome,” Fields said.

For an offense that’s beginning to find its rhythm, Fields and the rest of the Bears playmakers have proven that everyone being on the same page can help the Bears passing game significantly improve. For head coach Matt Nagy, this is a positive step in the right direction as Nagy hopes to develop a pass-first offense.

Giants’ QB Daniel Jones reviews his season through 9 weeks

daniel jones, new york giants

The New York Giants have disappointed through nine weeks as they prepare to enjoy a week off ahead of a big matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensively, they’ve stepped up the plate in their last three games, holding opponents to 20 points or fewer, but their offense remains a liability.

Unfortunately, QB Daniel Jones has been put in a position to fail, hosting a porous offensive line that ranks dead-last in pass protection and a WR core that can’t stay healthy. However, the offense projects to gain by left tackle Andrew Thomas and a healthier receiver core after the BYE.

Up to this point, though, Jones has endured his fair share of struggles, despite showing positive progress with his decision-making and ball security. Jones has completed 64.8% of his passes this season, a career-high, but he’s not taking enough shots downfield, a product of his OL and lackluster receiver talent.

Jones has only thrown passes 20+ yards downfield on a measly 7.4% of his attempts, while a player like Matthew Stafford, who leads a potent Rams offense, has thrown 11.2% of his passes beyond that mark. The truth lies in the trenches — the Giants will never have a competent offense unless they have an above-average pass-blocking OL, which will require them to invest heavily in next year’s draft.

However, Jones believes he’s taken a step forward this year, even if his statistics don’t reflect the jump:

“Overall, I think a lot of the things I wanted to do better, I think I’ve done some of them, and that’s been encouraging,” Jones said via Giants Country. “I think at times I can be better protecting the ball and getting it out quicker, and I think those are things I’m always focused on, so just being more consistent with that and continuing to work to improve.”

Jones puts a lot of responsibility on himself, but if his protection would allow him time in the pockets and his receivers to develop their routes, his numbers might look quite different.

Nonetheless, the Giants still have eight games remaining to show growth with their offense, and they’re getting healthier over the break. Jones is still walking on thin ice, especially if upper management elects to fire GM Dave Gettleman and move in a different direction. He needs to show clear signs of growth not only on the field but on the stat sheet.

3 main takeaways in Knicks’ roller-coaster loss to Bucks

knicks, julius randle

Climbing all the way back from a 24-point deficit, the New York Knicks nearly stole a win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. Losing by a score of one 112–100, New York is now 2–4 at home, just a few days after taking down Milwaukee at their home arena.

The Knicks showed resiliency but were unable to find their way back, losing by 12, mainly as a result of poor starting play.

Three takeaways from Knicks’ loss to Bucks:

1.) Perimeter defense remains an issue

The Knicks’ perimeter defense has been absolutely abysmal this season, allowing the Bucks to shoot 52% from three-point range, connecting on 26 shots. Backup shooting guard Pat Connaughton hit seven three-pointers, and Grayson Allen contributed five. Milwaukee entered the game as the 18th ranked three-point shooting team, showcasing just how poor New York has been on defense.

If Tom Thibodeau’s squad can’t fix these glaring issues, it is going to be a long season for them trying to play catch-up from range.

2.) The starting team was BAD

The Knicks have had serious issues with their starting team this season, as they combined for just 32 points. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier combined for just four points, both logging a -22 +/-.

Julius Randle has been hot as of late but was only able to contribute 16 points, struggling on defense. Despite the Knicks shooting 43.2% from deep, the Bucks simply got hot, despite giving up a 24-point lead at one point in the second half.

The reserves ended up contributing the most, as Derrick Rose posted 22 points and Immanuel Quickley earned a season-high 18.

3.) Kemba Walker is useless when he’s not scoring

Kemba Walker has been a liability for the Knicks over the past few games, recording two points, two assists, and missing all three of his shots from deep. He connected on just one field goal. Walker hasn’t shot over 33% since the Knicks’ loss to the Toronto Raptors, in which he posted 15 points. He hasn’t scored double-digit points since that game, seeing his minutes decrease significantly.

If Walker continues to struggle, expect Quickley to get more active as a point guard supplement, as he earned 27 minutes on Wednesday night, nine more than the big free-agent acquisition.