New York Giants: Jake Fromm speaks on “not ideal” first NFL start

jake fromm, giants

With a couple of games left in the season, it’s clear that the New York Giants aren’t going to find relief from Jake Fromm. Despite a promising appearance coming in late for Mike Glennon, Fromm had a far worse time when actually handed the reins as the starter. He only threw for 25 yards against the Eagles, managing only 6 completions and an interception.

The performance was enough to earn Fromm a trip back to the bench and another appearance for Glennon, despite the fanbase’s universal dislike of watching the latter play.

Even Fromm himself isn’t trying to put a good spin on this one.

Jake Fromm speaks on disappointing first start

“I would say it’s not ideal. I wish I would have played better. It’s frustrating for myself,” Fromm told reporters after the game. “It’s not the way I wanted to have represented myself, my family, or, of course, this organization. It’s tough, but I’m going to learn from it. I don’t think it gets much worse than that. I’m going to learn from it. I’m going to grind. I’m going to work my tail off to get better and play better like I know I can.”

It’s uncertain whether Fromm will have the next start or whether the Giants will return to Glennon. Glennon had 93 yards with both a touchdown and interception after coming off the bench, but the touchdown came in garbage time in what is becoming a familiar pattern for the Giants.

The alternative option is Brian Lewerke, who was waived by the Patriots last season and picked up in 2021 by the Giants. But Lewerke is hardly a more proven player than Fromm, and until the offensive line is fixed, the Giants can expect some of the same problems regardless of the player at quarterback.

It’s a bleak outlook for now, and if there’s one thing Giants fans shouldn’t expect from the final two games, it’s good – or even average – quarterback play.

Chicago Bears win ugly on snowy day in Seattle

SEATTLE, WA.,—On a snowy day in Seattle, the Chicago Bears managed to come away with a victory after scoring 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. As veteran quarterback, Nick Foles made his first start in nearly 400 calendar days, the Bears offense was putrid to begin the game before Foles completed passes of 30, 10, and 14 yards on a six-play, 80-yard drive that took just under two minutes before Foles connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Foles would follow up his only touchdown pass of the game by connecting with wide receiver Damiere Byrd on a two-point conversion to give the Bears the lead.

Rookie running back Khalil Herbert also helped the Bears in the second half, adding on a 20-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to cut Seattle’s lead to just 10 points. From there, the Bears’ defense would allow Seattle to see the endzone just once more before Seahawks kicker Jason Myers missed a field goal, giving the Bears some much-needed momentum.

Chicago’s defense got involved as well, with pass rusher Robert Quinn sacking QB Russell Wilson just once, inching closer to breaking Richard Dent’s single-season sack record. Rookie cornerback Thomas Grham Jr. had another good showing with three tackles and one pass breakup, despite allowing Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf to score a 41-yard passing touchdown.

As has been a common theme for the Bears over the last few weeks, Chicago had the ball for just over 38 minutes, 26 first downs, and zero turnovers. Matt Nagy has shown time and time again that the Bears are able to sustain long drives, however, the Bears were just 2-for-4 in the redzone, with a key turnover on downs early in the first quarter that ended a 15-play, 71-yard drive that took 8:27 off the clock.

As the Bears get ready to return home for a matchup against the New York Giants in what could be the final game of the Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace era, expect the Bears to get healthier with just two games remaining in 2021.

Knicks: Julius Randle finally learns to co-exist with Kemba Walker

Call it the Knicksmas Day miracle.

The New York Knicks could not have wrapped a perfect Christmas gift for their win-starved fans.

The Knicks’ methodical 101-87 victory over a decimated Atlanta Hawks team can be easily downplayed because of the absence of star villain Trae Young and several key starters. But for those who are wired, the Knicks made a statement win. This is by far their most significant win and could be a turning point of the season marred so far by disappointments.

For the first time, the Knicks’ stars aligned. Their 19-3 start was everything the New York front office envisioned when they’d added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in the offseason.

All five starters scored in that sizzling start on a cold Christmas day. Walker, Fournier, and RJ Barrett each hit a triple while Julius Randle made his first two of a season-high six three-pointers. Mitchell Robinson contributed a slam dunk off Walker’s brilliant playmaking.

Walker capped his best week as a Knick with a triple-double. Randle regained his shooting touch. Fournier got going.

After three weeks of not hearing his name, Walker was serenaded with ‘Kemba Walker’ chants when he checked out with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Randle led the Knicks with 25 points on an efficient 9 of 15 shooting and tied Fournier (15 points on 6 of 12 shots) with a team-best +21 plus-minus rating.

Walker‘s resurgence from the end of the bench is New York’s biggest story. But equally important is Randle’s acceptance of Walker as the central figure that holds the key to this team moving forward.

During the postgame interview with the ABC/ESPN broadcast, Randle acknowledged Walker as the heart and soul of the team.

“I think we’re just feeding off each other,” Randle told reporters in the postgame presser. “I think we were deferring a little too much or trying to figure out how to play with each other, and those things take time. We kind of got a second shot at it.”

It’s been sweeter the second time around.

The Knicks were 1-9 during Walker’s banishment. They have split their four games since his return.

“I’m over it,” Walker said of his benching. “It doesn’t matter anymore at this point. I just take it as a blessing. I think it was a blessing in disguise, to be honest.”

“God just works in mysterious ways, man. He’s blessed me. He’s helped me stay humble, grounded, and he just got me through a tough situation. I just continued to work, and time went on, and guys go down, and I’m back. [The] first game against my old team, I’m back in the starting lineup, and the rest is history from there. Everything happens for a reason.”

New York coach Tom Thibodeau had a different reason when he yanked Walker out of the rotation. Thibodeau said that he only did what he thought was the best for the team, adding that he wanted to add size to the point of attack.

When Randle signed a $117 million extension in the offseason, it was trumpeted as his token to help the Knicks organization maintain flexibility to add a co-star that will make them a contender.

While Walker, with his balky knees, isn’t the co-star he would have expected, the former four-time All-Star represented the dynamic scoring and playmaking they sorely lacked in their first-round exit in last season’s playoffs. Walker’s charming homecoming story was celebrated, but 20 games into the season, his fit next to Randle was questioned as losses piled up.

Thibodeau essentially picked Randle over Walker. And it took a COVID-19 outbreak and a Derrick Rose ankle surgery to give the Knicks a second shot at making the Randle-Walker pairing work.

A move out of desperation has become a source of inspiration.

The Knicks’ image around the league took a hit with every Walker sympathy. It was such a bad look for an organization wanting to attract top-flight stars and to Randle who couldn’t adjust next to a ball-dominant star.

Walker seized the opportunity. Thibodeau noticed that his starting point guard returned with an aggressive approach that wasn’t there in his first 18 games.

“I have,” Walker said. “That’s the exact mindset I’ve had. Just come out and be aggressive. I just have a tendency to kind of not want to step on toes, and I think that’s what I did early on. I was here, and I wasn’t being as aggressive. But I think being out and seeing how the game has been going and flowing put me in a different mindset.”

Walker came back a changed man.

He averaged 26.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and seven assists since Thibodeau re-inserted him to the rotation. He’s doubled his three-point attempts, shooting 39.5 percent of a staggering 10.8 attempts per game. His 5.8 free throw attempts are proof of the change in his mindset. Most importantly, the Knicks have outscored their opponents by 9.3 during Walker’s 40.2 minutes on the floor. 

It was a stark contrast to his career-low numbers in his first 18 games: 11.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 free throw attempts, and the most damning of it all, his -122 plus-minus total. 

“I’m happy for him. As a teammate, as a brother, I’m happy for him that he’s able to come out and be who he is. I’m sure when he signed to come here, this is kind of what he envisioned, playing the type of basketball he’s playing right now,” Randle said of Walker’s remarkable turnaround. “So I think we just honestly feed off each other, and the team will go as we go.”

Randle embraced the opportunity — a great sign of maturity. It was just one game, but the Knicks have finally unlocked how they can make it work. It’s just a matter of consistency.

When that happens, this Knicksmas Day miracle will turn into the gift that keeps on giving.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Two names added to updated New York Rangers COVID protocols

Ryan Lindgren and Alexandar Georgiev have joined Patrik Nemeth on the Rangers’ COVID-19 list as they wait for the green light to return.

The New York Rangers confirmed that two more names had been added to their COVID-19 list, as goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and defenseman Ryan Lindgren joined Patrik Nemeth.

The placement of Georgiev and Lindgren will temporarily deny the Rangers (19-7-4) the services of two major contributors to their hot start. Lindgren (as well as Nemeth) has appeared in all 30 Ranger games this season and leads the team with a plus/minus of 9. Georgiev filled in serviceably for injured primary netminder Igor Shesterkin, amassing a 5-3-2 record with a 2.87 goals against average to go with a .902 save percentage.

In the midst of the ongoing health crisis, namely the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, the Rangers have not played since a shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 17. Two further games at Madison Square Garden (Dec. 22 against Montreal and Monday’s visit from Detroit) have since been postponed as part of a league-wide pause, with games scheduled to resume on Tuesday. New York’s next scheduled game lands on Wednesday against the Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET, MSG 2).

Though the Rangers have not made any announcements, it’s likely that they will recall Keith Kinkaid from AHL Hartford to take over for Georgiev as Shesterkin nears a return. The former New Jersey Devil is in the midst of his second season with the Rangers and made his season debut on Dec. 15, stopping 29 shots in a 3-2 win over Arizona. In terms of blue-line help, Hartford defensemen with notable NHL experience include Zac Jones, Jarred Tinordi, and Anthony Bitetto.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants get blown out 34-10 on the road by Philadelphia Eagles

giants, jake fromm

This weekend, the New York Giants traveled to Philadelphia to face the division-rival Eagles. The Giants came away from the game with another loss added to their record, falling to 4-11 on the season. The Giants split games 1-1 with the Eagles this season. The final score of this blowout Giants’ loss was 34-10.

Jake Fromm started at quarterback for the Giants and was benched midway through the game. Fromm finished with 25 yards on 6/17 with one interception in his first career NFL start. Mike Glennon took over and did not look much better, completing 16 passes on attempts 26 for 91 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

After throwing three interceptions in the last contest between these two teams, Jalen Hurts bounced back with a two-touchdown 0 interception game today. Hurts and rookie wide receiver Devonta Smith connected on a touchdown as Smith totaled five receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley struggled once again, rushing for only 32 yards on 15 attempts, with his longest going for seven measly yards. The Giants totaled 192 yards of offense compared to the Eagles’ 324 yards. Philadelphia won the turnover battle 2-0, interception the Giants twice and committing no turnovers of their own.

Could this loss change the Giants’ future?

Reports came out this morning indicating that the Giants are going forward with Joe Judge as their head coach in 2022. Seemingly, Judge’s job is safe, and so is quarterback Daniel Jones (Adam Schefter of ESPN). After today’s game, John Mara and the Giants’ ownership should reconsider this plan. This putrid performance by the Giants is bound to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Giants fans, giving little hope for the team’s future under current management and coaching. Major changes are needed for the New York Giants to turn this once-proud franchise around.

Kevin Lee – Diego Sanchez booked for Eagle FC event

Kevin Lee (18-7) made headlines when he signed with Eagle FC after his release from the UFC. The former UFC title challenger was introduced by the promotion that’s ran by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Lee is going to be paid in Bitcoin and he is making his Eagle FC debut on March 11th. He’s going to be competing in the new 165 pound division that Eagle FC is putting forward. It was a mystery who Lee would be facing in his debut with the promotion.

We now know that Lee will be taking on the original Ultimate Fighter winner and former UFC title challenger Diego Sanchez (30-13). The fighters announced the fight on social media and it was later confirmed by MMA Junkie. 

Lee is hoping for a bounce back in Eagle FC. Back in 2017, Lee was 16-2 and he was at the very top of the lightweight division. However, he ended his tenure with the promotion going just 2-5 in his final seven fights.

After that rough stretch, the UFC decided to let him go. Eagle FC was interested right away in bringing in Lee. This March event is their first show in the US and they wanted some proven talent.

Eagle FC Fight Night

Now shifting gears to the other Eagle FC addition, Diego Sanchez. Last year was quite the year for Sanchez who was also released by the UFC. However, Sanchez was released after an odd situation involving his former trainer and the promotion.

In May, Sanchez was supposed to face Cowboy Cerrone in his UFC retirement fight. However, the promotion cancelled the fight and released Sanchez. The rest of the year was a wild ride for Sanchez. He ended up getting Covid and spent some time in the hospital.

Now, he’s feeling much better and he’s ready to get back to fighting. With that, Eagle FC expressed immediate interest in bringing him in. They wanted a good name to face off with Lee and Sanchez fits the bill.

Overall, Sanchez closed out his UFC tenure going 3-2 in his last five fights. Granted one of those wins was a DQ win where he was losing the fight. Nevertheless, he’s going to bring a lot to the table in his Eagle FC debut and I’m sure people will be watching.

3 Mets players who could be traded after the lockout

The New York Mets brought several offensive pieces prior to the lockout, including outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Their lineup seems set, but more additions can’t be ruled out.

As a results of the Mets’ spending spree, these three players don’t have a clear path towards regular at-bats and could be used as trade pieces to bring more pitching.

Jeff McNeil

With the arrival of Eduardo Escobar and the potential return of suspended second baseman Robinson Cano in 2022, the Mets could look to trade Jeff McNeil if they find a taker. In fact, multiple sources told Inside the Mets (link to SI.com’s article here) that the intention after the lockout is making him available.

McNeil can play second and third base and carries a plus hit tool, evidenced by his career .319/.383/.501 line with a .884 OPS. The 2021 season, however, wasn’t kind to him, as he only slashed .251/.319/.360 with a .679 OPS in 120 games.

Dominic Smith

After his breakout 2019 and his consolidation in 2020, Smith entered 2021 as one of the top young pieces in the Mets’ roster. Fast forward several months, and now the Mets have a player who struggled mightily with the bat (.244/.304/.363 in 493 plate appearances) and without a clear path towards consistent playing time. He was among the Mets’ least valuable players with -0.5 WAR.

The Mets can use his first-round pedigree and great performances in 2019-20 to shop him around. After all, he is blocked in first base by Pete Alonso and several outfielders are higher than him in the depth chart.

JD Davis

Right now, Escobar, Francisco Lindor, Cano, and Alonso should be the starting infield for the Mets in 2022, barring post-lockout acquisitions. The team is said to be pursuing Kris Bryant, and that could further complicate things for JD Davis.

Davis is very bad with the glove at third base and the outfield, but carries trade value because of his offensive potential. He hit .285/.384/.436 with a 130 wRC+ in the 2021 campaign.

UFC books Askar Askarov – Kai Kara-France

Yesterday was Christmas but there was some UFC news that came out. Some pretty big news as we learned of a title eliminator that’s being booked in the flyweight division.

MMA Junkie first reported yesterday that the UFC was finalizing a matchup between Askar Askarov (14-0-1) and Kai Kara-France (23-9). The matchup will take place on March 26th at a UFC Fight Night that is scheduled to take place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

After UFC 269, Kara-France wanted a title shot. He knocked out Cody Garbrandt in the first round in Garbrandt’s first fight in the flyweight division. The standout performance put a lot of respect on Kara-France’s name.

However, that was only his second win in a row. Overall, he’s just 3-2 in his last five and the UFC didn’t think he was quite ready for a title shot. However, they were comfortable booking him in a title eliminator.

UFC Title Eliminator

Kara-France now gets to take on the man who many think could be the best flyweight in the UFC. That man is the Dagestani flyweight Askar Askarov. Askarov made his UFC debut back in 2019 and he’s been nearly perfect since.

In his debut, he took on current flyweight champion Brandon Moreno. In that fight, the two fought to a very close draw. After that draw, it’s been three straight wins for Askarov in the UFC.

Those three wins came against Tim Elliot, Alexandre Pantoja, and Joseph Benavidez. In the Benavidez fight, Askarov really showed off his dynamic striking. He was able to hurt Benavidez a number of times with long straight shots.

Askarov is incredibly well-rounded and he definitely looks like someone who can become a UFC champion. If he’s able to defeat Kara-France in March, there’s no question that he would be next for the flyweight title.

In January, Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo will be fighting for the third time. Whoever wins that fight will closely be watching this fight with Kara-France and Askarov.

Report: Giants fully committed to another year of Joe Judge and Daniel Jones, but questions loom

daniel jones, giants, joe judge

Rumors have been floating around for several weeks that the New York Giants would retain head coach Joe Judge for a third season despite two consecutive losing campaigns. However, it seems as if the Giants are fully committed to bringing Judge back for another year in conjunction with quarterback Daniel Jones, who is missing the final games of the season due to a neck injury.

The Giants have now lost double-digit games for the fifth consecutive season, turning over coaches every two years. Ownership wants to break that stretch of firings, more-so likely to move on from general manager Dave Gettleman then Judge after the conclusion of the 2021 season.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Giants are committed to Judge and Jones, despite the shortcomings of this year.

The Giants believe both Judge and Jones deserve the opportunity to demonstrate their talents next season, even though New York already has been eliminated from the playoffs and has clinched a fifth consecutive season with double-digit losses.

The Giants have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, averaging a measly 17 points per game, even worse than the 2020 season. Only the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are averaging fewer points than Big Blue.

This upcoming off-season, the Giants have significant changes that need to be made, specifically with the offensive line. Having two first-round picks should help them solve their problems in the trenches, but they need four potential new starters with the exception of Andrew Thomas at left tackle.

One of the biggest questions remaining is, who will take over for Gettleman at the GM spot if he retires following the season?

In that scenario, most have agreed that an outside hire would likely be ideal given the options within the organization. Some have floated the idea of Kevin Abrams, the Giants’ money manager, to become the new GM and assist Judge in building the team.

Abrams has a plethora of experience in cap negotiations and salary workings, spending the last 18+ years as an assistant general manager with the team. There’s always the possibility that Mara surprises and looks to an outsider to help Judge continue the ‘progress’ he’s put forth, preferably a football mind. Many, including myself, have pinpointed Indianapolis Colts vice president of player personnel Ed Dodds as a potential candidate.

Nonetheless, the Giants have more questions this off-season that answers, which is a clear indication of a floundering franchise.

Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau knows the ingredient to winning games: ‘When we have a flow’

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks needed a momentum-shifting win, and they secured that against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, Christmas day. Despite not having Trae Young, who circled the game on his calendar against the Knicks, Atlanta did their best to spoil a big home game for New York.

The Knicks gained back several bodies from the NBA health and protocols list, enjoying play from RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes. All three made a significant impact, combining for 37 points, with Toppin and Grimes coming off the bench for 28.

However, this game had a different feel to it than previous ones, as head coach Tom Thibodeau noted after the victory. He pinpointed a difference in flow and balance, which helped the offense create better opportunities and a focus on more efficient defense.

“Just the start of the game, the unselfishness, how hard we play. Getting some bodies back, but the unselfishness on both sides of the ball. There were a number of really good plays that got people great shots.”

“Unselfishness” seems to be a keyword in his explanation, passing the ball with vision and not thinking about one’s self. Power forward Julius Randle seemed to embody that, allowing Kemba Walker to execute at his peak performance and maximize strength while playing in a secondary role. Previously, Randle was trying to do all the hard work, leaving Walker in no man’s land. The chemistry between those two players is essential, and if they can find a healthy balance, it is clear they are difficult to stop.

“The attack, getting stops, starting with our defense getting into the open floor. Making the extra pass, getting the swing of the ball,” Thibs listed on.

The extra pass is something the Knicks have failed to execute, especially with a myriad of shooters to feed. Evan Fournier launched six three-point attempts, hitting 50% and finishing with 15 points. His flow and rhythm seem to be far more balanced, which Thibodeau noticed considering Walker’s 12 assists.

“The last five of the half, I thought Kemba had control of the game, and I thought he had two or three kick-aheads to Evan that gave Evan rhythm. When you have a flow like that, the balance to the scoring is a lot better.”

Kemba only scored 10 points, but he posted 12 assists and 10 rebounds, good for his first triple-double of the season. The return of Walker has proved to be a significant difference-maker, posting four consecutive games with double-digit points and breaching 40 points against the Washington Wizards in a disappointing loss last Thursday. However, his play has been inspiring, and Randle had nothing but great things to say about Walker after Saturday’s win.

“Man, he’s honestly like, he’s the heart and soul of our team. We talk about it all the time, it’s me and him, the team will go as we go. If we come to the game and bring energy, we fight, we compete, everybody else is going to do it too. He’s been doing a great job every night coming out, leading us, bringing energy, and just going every game. He means a lot to our team for sure.