New York Giants: Joe Judge continues to defend team going in “right direction”

new york giants, joe judge

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge doesn’t seem too worried about losing his job. At least, that’s the perception that he would seemingly like to give off. Despite the Giants being on their way to a fifth straight losing season, Judge insists that they organization is moving in the right direction and doing things “the right way.”

Judge’s statements about the future of the Giants

The subject came up when the media questioned Judge’s future and the current direction of the team – reasonable topics considering the recent uncompetitive losses and the general state of affairs. But Judge hasn’t commented on if he’ll be back next year. He’s only said that the Giants are still headed in the right direction, in spite of all the evidence otherwise.

His reasons for believing this? Young players turning the corner, having the right kind of players, developing a culture, and the way the team fights and prepares.

This, of course, isn’t going to win Judge any fans at this point.

The Giants indeed have some young players turning the corner, such as Azeez Ojulari and Xavier McKinney. But currently, their talent is wasted in losing efforts because the team overall isn’t talented and well-coached enough to compete. They may have team-first players, but that hasn’t been enough to make up for lack of football talent compared to other teams.

And the only culture to develop under Judge has been one of losing. The team’s current standing of 4 wins is far from good enough to talk about building a culture this season.

It’s understandable why Judge is making statements like this, of course. He’s pitching his narrative to ownership, that he should keep his job after this season.

But, as the wheels fall off more and more in 2021, it looks less and less likely that a future GM after Dave Gettleman will see it worthwhile to keep Judge around.

After shocking loss at UFC 269, what’s next for Amanda Nunes?

This past weekend at UFC 269, Amanda Nunes (21-5) returned to the bantamweight division. She was defending her title against Julianna Pena (12-4) who most people weren’t giving a chance.

Admittedly, I was not giving Pena a chance on Saturday night. Nunes is considered to be the greatest female fighter of all time and for good reason. Once she hit her stride, she’s defeated all the greats at both 135 and 145 pounds.

Not only that, but nobody has been competitive with her. For that reason, UFC 269 was expected to be another cakewalk for the champion. However, it turned out to be anything but.

Nunes opened the fight strong and sat Pena down with a big jab and a leg kick. Immediately, I started thinking that it was just a matter of time before Nunes stopped Pena and retained her UFC title.

However, the second round proved to be a round that would be remembered forever. Pena stood toe to toe with Nunes on the feet and actually got the better of the champion. Pena’s jab was sharp and she was hurting Nunes.

Nunes looked incredibly discouraged and exhausted after these exchanges. She desperately clinched with Pena which resulted in Pena taking her down. Once there, Pena immediately took the back of Nunes.

Pena locked up a choke and Nunes tapped almost immediately. Julianna Pena shocked the world and became the UFC bantamweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 269?

I’m still stunned by the result days later while typing this out. I can’t believe that Amanda Nunes is no longer the UFC’s bantamweight champion and I’m sure she can’t believe it either.

When the shock is gone, the question then becomes what’s next? Well, the UFC had the plans mapped out for a Nunes win, but I don’t think they envisioned a Nunes loss.

Amanda Nunes has already made it clear what she wants next. The former UFC bantamweight champion has come out and said that she wants the rematch with Pena and that is what the promotion will move to make.

Had Nunes won, the plan was for the UFC to make the superfight with Kayla Harrison (12-0) at 145. However, the Nunes loss through a wrench into everything. While some might think this throws a wrench in the plans to sign Harrison, I think the UFC will push forward with those plans.

Now, the UFC can establish Harrison while Nunes prepares to rematch with Pena. Should Nunes run through Pena in a rematch, you can still build the superfight and chalk Nunes’ loss as being unprepared and overlooking Pena.

I expect the UFC to make the rematch pretty quickly perhaps around March or April. Don’t expect a big break before we see the rematch between the new champion and Nunes.

What does the UFC do with Cody Garbrandt?

cody garbrandt

This past weekend at UFC 269, Cody Garbrandt (12-5) made his highly anticipated flyweight debut. On the main card of the PPV, the former bantamweight champion took on contender Kai Kara-France (23-9).

Originally, Garbrandt was supposed to make his flyweight debut last year. However, the former bantamweight champion came down with Covid and also suffered a bicep injury that delayed his flyweight debut.

In that original debut, Garbrandt was set to get a UFC title shot. However, after the dust had settled, Garbrandt stayed at bantamweight for a fight with Rob Font. He lost that fight by decision.

With the title tied up, Garbrandt took a fight at 125 to get settled in his new weight class. That fight was with Kai Kara-France at UFC 269. Well, if you watched, you know the fight didn’t go well for ‘No Love’.

After a feeling out process to start the round, Kara-France blasted Garbrandt with a right straight that floored him. Ultimately after a few more exchanges, Kara-France put away the former bantamweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 269?

Nobody would have ever predicted the fall from grace that Cody Garbrandt has had in the UFC. Just a few years ago, he was crowned bantamweight champion after he dethroned Dominick Cruz.

Garbrandt was a perfect 11-0 and looked like he was well on his way to becoming a superstar. He then faced off with former teammate turned rival TJ Dillashaw. When the two fought, Garbrandt looked sensational early and dropped Dillashaw.

However, Dillashaw would finish Garbrandt in the second round of their fight. The two would rematch where Dillashaw would once agains stop Garbrandt this time in the first round.

In his first non-UFC title fight in a few fights, Garbrandt was knocked out in the first round by Pedro Munhoz. He then bounced back by knocking out Raphael Assuncao. However, since that win, he’s now lost two in a row.

Garbrandt is now 1-5 in his last six fights and he’s been dropped a total of seven times in those six fights. The UFC now find themselves in a very delicate position.

Garbrandt is not the cheapest fighter on the roster. The former champion gets paid well, but the performance has to merit the pay and it just hasn’t over the past few years.

I think the UFC will give him one more chance at 125 pounds. However, the next time we see Cody ‘No Love’, his job will likely be on the line.

How the New York Giants can create cap space this offseason

new york giants, sterling shepard

The New York Giants‘ season is all but over. After a miserable loss to the Chargers on Sunday, the Giants fell to 4-9. They currently hold two first-round picks, both of which are projected to land inside the top ten. All eyes are on the offseason at this point for Giants fans. However, this upcoming free agency period is bound to be far less exciting than the last as the Giants are projected to go into 2022 with only $3.5 million in cap space (OverTheCap).

The Giants currently hold eleven total picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. This should bring some excitement to the Big Apple. But as things currently stand, the Giants do not even have the money to afford a draft class that large. With only $3.5 million in cap space, the Giants are going to need to make some serious moves to afford a draft class or any free agent acquisitions.

It will not be easy, but there are ways for the New York Giants to create cap space this offseason.

How the New York Giants can create cap space this offseason

The New York Giants are strapped for cash and projected to have only $3.5 million in cap space this offseason. However, there are ways that the team can increase that number by over $40 million:

Making the following moves would clear over $42 million in cap space for the Giants this offseason:

  • Releasing James Bradberry: $12.1M
  • Releasing Blake Martinez: $8.5M
  • Releasing Sterling Shepard: $4.5M
  • Releasing Kyle Rudolph: $5M
  • Releasing Riley Dixon: $3.25M
  • Releasing Devontae Booker: $2M
  • Trading Saquon Barkley: $7.2M

Of course, featured on this list are some of the Giants’ best players. New York is bound to cut some fan favorites this offseason if they want to stay afloat financially. But a new general manager is likely to take over the Giants’ front office. Whoever succeeds Dave Gettleman will have a tall task ahead of them. But the new general manager will be faced with and forced to make some difficult decisions in order to create some cap flexibility for the Giants.

Is Kayla Harrison UFC bound?

MMA, PFL

We are getting closer and closer to finding out where Kayla Harrison (12-0) will be fighting next and it could be the UFC. Harrison attended UFC 269 this past weekend where she watched Amanda Nunes take on Julianna Pena.

While Harrison is teammates with Nunes, the general thought was that Harrison could face Nunes at featherweight should Nunes get past Pena. This would be a superfight for women’s MMA and the UFC was very interested in making it happen.

Harrison was in the front row and even received camera treatment from the promotion. However, a giant wrench was thrown into the plans when Julianna Pena did the unthinkable and submitted Amanda Nunes in the second round of their fight.

A visibly upset Kayla Harrison was seen in the front row following the result. After UFC 269, Dana White said that a potential matchup between Harrison and Nunes would’ve been a massive fight that they were interested in making.

However, given the result, the fight has lost a little luster. Now, Nunes is going to be faced with some questions. Dana White acknowledged that the UFC was in talks with Harrison and he acknowledged it with a smile.

Harrison also said at the MMA awards last week that the UFC took her out to dinner and was recruiting her over.

Is she UFC bound?

Harrison became a superstar under the PFL banner. The former Olympic Gold Medalist has spent the majority of her career with PFL and she is a two-time PFL champion. The promotion is desperately wanting to bring her back.

However, the competition is stiff. Bellator is also interested in bringing Harrison in for a potential superfight with Cris Cyborg. When Cyborg won her last fight, Harrison was in the front row and also got the camera treatment from Bellator.

At first, the UFC seemed on the outside in terms of the interest in Harrison. However, that has changed dramatically over the last week or so. The UFC now appears to be going after Harrison hard and it’s clear why.

Kayla Harrison has superstar written all over her. The UFC is the biggest stage and they can take her to the next level in terms of her career. However, the biggest money fight isn’t as big as it was just days ago.

Nunes is likely going to face off against Julianna Pena again. Perhaps the UFC signs Harrison and books her on the undercard of that PPV. If they both win, people can chalk up this Nunes loss as overconfidence and not being prepared enough.

If Nunes regains her status as double champ and Harrison dazzles in her UFC debut, the fight once again becomes incredibly interesting. While all promotion’s are interested, I definitely think the UFC has the inside track as of now.

Report: Giants lose DL Leonard Williams to ‘significant’ elbow injury

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

In the first half of Week 14 against the Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants interior defender Leonard Williams walked to the sideline and into the tunnel. Williams didn’t have a limp or a ginger step, but held his arm in pain, returning later on with a brace on his elbow.

Williams was eventually ruled out with injury. For the first time this season, the Giants lost their star interior lineman. Having never missed a game of his entire career due to injury, Williams is projected to miss the rest of the season with the elbow issue, which was coined “significant” by NFL reporter Ian Rapoport.

Williams signed a three-year, $63 million deal this past off-season, counting $9.4 million against the salary cap and $27.3 million against the teams salary in 2022. The deal includes an out in 2023 which would count $8.3 million in dead money, a nice parting gift from general manager Dave Gettleman, who is expected to retire at season’s end.

Despite the Giants playing less than adequate football, Williams has tallied 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 10 QB hits, and four tackles for a loss this season. Natural regression affected his play after posting 11.5 sacks, 30 QB hits, and 14 tackles for loss in 2020, but he has still been effective for the most part.

The Giants’ defense doesn’t deserve the brunt of the blame, considering the offense is averaging below 18 points per game for the second consecutive season and once again looking toward a major overhaul this upcoming off-season.

At this point, Joe Judge and the coaching staff are simply trying to press the fast-forward button to the end of the year, with the majority of the team’s playmakers missing significant time.

Knicks showcase Kevin Knox as trade interests pick up steam

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

The writing is on the wall.

Kevin Knox’s failure to crack Tom Thibodeau’s regular rotation speaks volumes of his bleak future with the New York Knicks.

Following Knox’s best game of the season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that the seldom-used Knicks forward is garnering interests from rival executives. Knox is eligible to become a restricted free agent in 2022.

“Sources said teams are inquiring about Knicks forward Kevin Knox, who has played in just seven games this season and has rival executives wondering the plan for the 22-year-old in New York,” Charania wrote.

Knox got his rare chance to play meaningful minutes on Sunday with RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin (health and safety protocols) and Alec Burks (personal reasons) skipping Sunday’s 112-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The former lottery pick did his best to showcase his potential to future Knicks’ trade partners.

Knox knocked down five three-pointers on his way to 18 points in 29 minutes. He grabbed five rebounds and added one assist and a steal off the bench which drew praise from Thibodeau.

“[Kevin] comes in every day. He’s early. He’s part of the early group. A lot of those guys aren’t in the rotation but [their job] is to stay ready so, when you’re called upon that you can perform well. We know he’s got the skill level to shoot and it’s the other things that we need him to do are defense and rebounding also. But I was pleased with his readiness and his ability to shoot the ball,” Thibodeau said.

When the Knicks are at full strength, Knox’s only floor time is during garbage minutes. Sunday’s game was only Knox’s seventh game of the season. He has fallen off since showing promise in his rookie year. The 2018 9th overall pick averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 75 games, including a career-high 57 starts, as a rookie.

The knock on Knox is his lack of motor and defensive skills.

In a one-on-one trade, it is unclear what the Knicks could get in return for Knox. During last season’s trade deadline, the Knicks swapped Dennis Smith, Jr., another former Knick who fell out of favor, for Derrick Rose. But currently, the Knicks rotation is complete. So there’s not a spot for a veteran player to come in unless they also unload a key rotation player.

A future pick is a more likely return for Knox to add to the Knicks’ draft capital for a potential deal for a star down the road.

Knox could also serve as a throw-in in a larger package deal before the trade deadline. The Knicks have been linked to Philadelphia’s disgruntled star Ben Simmons.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

What a Ben Simmons trade could look like for Knicks

The New York Knicks have emerged as one of the several teams interested in trading for disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.

Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the latest intel on Simmons on Monday.

The Knicks are struggling to perform to expectations following their first playoff appearance in eight years. Their offseason acquisitions — Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier — have not panned out well. They will be eligible to be traded starting Wednesday along with several players the Knicks re-signed last summer.

The 25-year old Simmons would fit Tom Thibodeau’s defensive style. But his character, especially his mental toughness, is questionable in the aftermath of his falling out with the Sixers organization. Add to that a shaky perimeter shot that hasn’t improved since his rookie season. But a fresh start in a new environment could reinvigorate Simmons.

However, the big question for the Knicks is if Simmons could not stand Philadelphia’s tough love, how much more in New York where pressure has driven executives, coaches, and players out of the city in the past?

Can Simmons thrive under Thibodeau’s culture of accountability?

The next question is, how can they meet 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s stiff asking price?

Morey is reportedly still eyeing an All-Star caliber player and/or multiple first-round draft picks for Simmons.

The Knicks have plenty of draft capital to move in a potential Simmons deal. They own all their future first-round picks plus future first-round picks from Charlotte (top-18 protected in 2022, top-16 protected in 2023, top-14 protected in 2024), and Dallas (top-10 protected in 2023).

But the Knicks have only Julius Randle as their All-Star. But he is not eligible to be traded until February 3 next year. Walker is two years removed from his last All-Star. But his current benching isn’t helping his value.

The Sixers, though, would be an ideal landing spot for Walker. His veteran leadership and still potent jump shot could spur a better dynamic with Joel Embiid than Simmons. That is if Walker’s balky knees cooperate. Walker has missed two games in a pair of back-to-back sets before his demotion.

Simmons landing in New York is a long shot unless the Knicks find a third team or the 76ers are amenable to getting Walker, one of the Knicks’ young players, and a combination of salary fillers plus future first-round pick/s.

The Knicks have stiff competition from the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers, per Charania’s report.

Most of their rivals have a surplus of All-Star caliber players in their current roster. But the Knicks have the advantage of having a deeper draft capital.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Both the Yankees and Mets have a top 10 one-two punch at the rotation: See the rankings

Having a strong rotation is extremely important in today’s MLB, and both the New York Yankees and Mets know that. Most of their respective failures in recent seasons have been partially caused by a lack of depth or star power in the pitching corps.

The Mets have solved the star-power issue this offseason by pairing Jacob deGrom with fellow ace Max Scherzer, who put pen to paper on a three-year, $130 million contract. Now, they have to bring in at least a couple of extra hurlers for depth, as there is not much behind those two, David Peterson, Tylor Megill, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker.

The Yankees, on the other hand, haven’t done much this offseason. They lost Corey Kluber to the Tampa Bay Rays, yet they have failed to add anyone of note over the winter. Right now, Gerrit Cole leads the rotation, followed by Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Domingo German.

When we talk about rotations around MLB, having a good 1-2 punch is definitely helpful, especially thinking about a hypothetical postseason run. CBS Sports made a ranking of the league’s best pairs of aces.

Here is the top ten:

10) Marlins: Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Rogers

9) Padres: Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish

8) Yankees: Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino

7) Phillies: Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola

6) Blue Jays: José Berríos and Kevin Gausman

5) Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale

4) White Sox: Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito

3) Dodgers: Walker Buehler and Julio Urías

2) Brewers: Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes

1)Mets: Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer

What does CBS say about the Mets and Yankees?

Here is what they said about the Yankees’ duo: “Behind Gerrit Cole it might be Jordan Montgomery, but we’ll go with Luis Severino. Cole carries a ton of weight here on his own as an obvious top-three Cy Young contender. If Severino is finally healthy, he’s a decent bet to pitch like a frontline starter, as he did in 2017 and 2018. He’s still only 27.”

And their writeup about the Mets: “This actually isn’t a no-brainer. Jacob deGrom only managed 15 starts last year and Max Scherzer is 37. Of course, deGrom had a 1.08 ERA and 0.55(!) WHIP with 146 strikeouts against 11 walks in his 92 innings last year. Scherzer had a 1.98 ERA in his 11 starts with the Dodgers and led the majors, among qualifiers, with a 0.86 WHIP. Even better, both are the type of pitcher when taking the mound where everyone knows it’s a must-watch game. While it might not be a sure thing, the best bet as to the top rotation tandem in baseball next season is with the Mets, Scherzer and deGrom.”

Do you agree with the rankings?

2 factors dragging the New York Knicks into the abyss

knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks are currently on a three-game losing streak and have dropped six of their last seven games. Despite benching Kemba Walker on November 26, they still host the 25th ranked defense with a 110.5 defensive rating.

The Knicks have also experienced a significant drop off with their shooting, currently ranking 10th in three-point percentage at 36% after starting the year strong in the category. In addition, they’ve also dropped to 22nd in total points per game at 105.8. Their field goal percentage is 24th in the NBA, landing at 43.8%, and their rebounding has fallen out of the top 10.

Altogether, the team has struggled on both sides of the ball, and head coach Tom Thibodeau is floundering to find a player combination that can pick up the slack. However, he lacks a few key pieces to his team, which have held him back from sustaining his team’s defensive identity. The players have also noted a lack of energy and effort during games, which is an unacceptable justification for poor performances.

Two factors the Knicks are severely lacking:

A true leader on and off the court:

When the Knicks signed Julius Randle to a massive four-year, $117 million extension, they expected him to be a leader on and off the court. Randle has spent more time jarring at the referees than actually leading his team with effort and by example. Randle has seen natural regression take hold of his game, averaging just 19.1 points, and shooting 42% from the field and 32.6% from three point range.

Thibodeau has continued to rely on Randle to be their clutch player at the end of games, but has failed to come through, turning the ball over seven times against the Milwaukee Bucks in the team’s most recent defeat and failing to hit a big shot against the Toronto Raptors to tie the game with seconds left on the clock last Friday.

Randle isn’t known for his outgoing personality, and his constant complaining during games for missed calls has done nothing but harm to his team. The Knicks lack a true leader to help will them out of funks, and after the exile of Walker, one of their more extroverted players, they put themselves between a rock and a hard place.

A scoring big man who can shoot:

The Knicks have relied on traditional big men like Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson for the past few seasons, but it may be time to change up their strategy.

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner has been connected to the Knicks as of late, indicating he doesn’t feel valued in his role with Indiana, making a potential trade all the more likely. If the front office is able to acquire a player like Turner, they would find themselves in a far better position, given his elite scoring abilities at the 5.

With Noel averaging 3.8 points and Robinson contributing 6.9 points this season per game, the team is primarily depending on them to be rebounders and defensive players. Considering the Knicks rank in the bottom-5 in defensive efficiency, it may be time to shake things up, and trading for Turner would be a big step in the right direction.