New York Giants: Patrick Graham could listen to head coach offers in 2022

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

With the current state of the New York Giants, it’s not surprising that the team’s most valuable coordinator could jump to greener pastures. The Giants managed to avoid that last season, when Patrick Graham turned down the chance to interview for the Jets head coaching job, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case this year. According to Dan Duggan of the Athletic, the current outlook is that Graham will at least listen to offers.

What are the chances that Patrick Graham leaves?

Out of the head coach and both coordinators this season, Graham is the only one to not receive significant pushback from the fans and experts. Jason Garrett is out of a job for his performance, and Joe Judge has recently added press conference controversies to his record which also includes poor on-the-field results. It’s not very controversial to say that Graham is the best part of the staff right now, and will almost certainly return if he doesn’t take another job.

With that being said, it’s unclear if there will be any offers that could lure Graham away. It looks like only a head coaching job could do the trick, and Graham isn’t as much of a hot commodity as he was last offseason. That’s not to say that it’s entirely Graham’s fault. While the Giants defense has taken a step back this year, the entire roster has also been performing worse and injuries have taken out several key players.

And with quite possibly the worst offense in the NFL, you can’t really blame the Giants defense for not carrying the team further. Even with a great defense, the offense still has to put up points to secure a win.

Graham’s name might not be circulating around the league as much as it was in 2020, but at the end of the day, his track record is still intriguing enough that it’s not impossible for him to emerge as a candidate with a team willing to look past this season’s drop in performance.

After all, it’s easy to see that a defense run by Graham would be more effective if not tied to an offense that can’t score points or stay on the field and provide time to rest.

Rangers G Igor Shesterkin enters Covid protocol, Alexandar Georgiev starts against Vegas Golden Knights

The New York Rangers will not have Igor Shesterkin as he was placed in Covid protocol prior to the start of their game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

The New York Rangers received some bad news before the start of the game against the Vegas Golden Knights as Igor Shesterkin was placed in Covid Protocol.  Alexandar Georgiev was to start the game and Keith Kinkaid was recalled from the taxi squad to back up Georgiev.

BUFFALO, NY – JANUARY 26: Alexandar Georgiev #40 of the New York Rangers before the game against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on January 26 , 2021 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

With the new NHL Covid rules, Shesterkin will be out of the lineup for the next five days.  Following tonight’s contest, he will miss Saturday night’s game at Anaheim and Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.  He will be eligible to return, as long as he has no symptoms, next Thursday when the club visits the Saan Jose Sharks.

Shesterkin has last played in the team’s 4-0 shutout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden on Jan. 2.

RJ Barrett strikes gold as Knicks stifle Boston in dramatic comeback

immanuel quickley, knicks

The New York Knicks stifled the Boston Celtics in a dramatic comeback on Thursday evening led by Julius Randle and Evan Fournier. However, there was no bigger moment than RJ Barrett heaving up a shot with 1.5 seconds left on the clock to win the game, using the backboard as his best friend.

The very moment Barrett’s shot careened off the backboard and into the net, MSG erupted into a frenzy of excitement and energy. Despite the Knicks struggling at home this year, the crowd willed them back into a game they were down by double digits at one point, fighting back from 20+ points down in the second half.

The Knicks heavily relied on Randle and Fournier, who combined for 63 points. Randle posted 22 on his own, picking up eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the win. Fournier was electrifying, though, splashing contested shots one after another, finishing with 41 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. He shot 10 of 14 from three-point range, his best mark of the season despite displaying wild inconsistencies this year.

RJ Barrett contributed 13 of his own, including the game’s most important shot, picking up six assists in the process. Off the bench, Immanuel Quickley recorded 16 points, three assists, and two rebounds, hitting 3 of 5 shots from deep.

Altogether, New York shot 50% from three-point range while Boston hit 37.8%. While they shot just 66.7% from the free-throw line, they managed to get the job done, scoring 108 points compared to Boston’s 105.

Representing one of the team’s most resilient comebacks of the season, the Knicks have now strung together two consecutive wins since Julius Randle bounced back from the NBA’s health and safety protocols last week.

The Knicks will take on the Boston Celtics once more on Saturday evening at 7:30 PM, but they will travel to the TD Garden after hosting at MSG.

Tom Thibodeau desperately needed his team to overcome a tough squad and showcase their quality. While the Knicks did struggle at times defensively in the win on Thursday night, their offense carried them to victory, attesting to why Fournier was given a four-year, $73 million deal this past off-season. They still need the French native to be more consistent moving forward, as he can be the catalyst to winning games, especially when the team is fighting back from a deficit.

UFC books Bobby Green – Nasrat Haqparast

The UFC has finalized a barnburner in the lightweight division. MMA Reporter Walter Salcido was the first to report earlier this afternoon that the promotion booked a lightweight matchup between Bobby “King” Green (28-12-1) and Nasrat Haqparast (13-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC 271 on February 12th. For Haqparast, he will be looking to bounce back after his last performance. The last time we saw him in the octagon was back in September at UFC 266 when he took on Dan Hooker.

Now, it was a very unusual circumstance for both men who fought that night. Both men had troubles getting back into the United States due to restricted traveling. Both men arrived just in time to cut the weight they needed to, weigh in, and fight.

Haqparast had a good showing, but couldn’t match Hooker’s overall game that night. The loss snapped a two-fight winning streak which featured wins over Rafa Garcia and Alex Munoz. Overall, Haqparast is 5-3 since joining the UFC.

UFC’s King Returns

While Haqparast will look to bounce back, Bobby Green will look to pick up his second consecutive win. The last time we saw Bobby Green was back at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden when he welcomed Al Iaquinta back to the octagon.

Green dished out a very poor homecoming party for Iaquinta by knocking him out in the first round. The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Green. Granted, one of those losses came against Rafael Fiziev in a very entertaining fight that could’ve gone either way.

Prior to that two-fight losing streak, Green had won three straight which included wins over Clay Guida and Lando Vannata. Green has looked sensational over his last few performance and I’ve really been impressed with his striking.

This is going to be a fantastic matchup at UFC 271. If you like to watch two guys with good hands stand and trade, this is going to be the matchup for you.

New York’s own Daylon Swearingen rides into MSG this weekend for the PBR’s Monster Energy Buck Off

Daylon Swearingen, currently ranked #2 in the world, comes back home this weekend as the PBR visits Madison Square Garden for the Monster Energy Buck Off.

Daylon Swearingen is one of the grittiest, hardest-working athletes in pro sports. After taking the western sports world by storm in 2019, driving more than 30,000 miles across North America en route to the 2019 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Bull Riding Championship, 2019 PBR Canada Championship, and qualifications to both the PBR World Finals and NFR, Swearingen continued to excel in 2020 and 2021, proving he would be a force for years to come.

The 22-year-old native of Piffard, New York has been riding since he was a kid. Swearingen is the son of barrel racer and trick rider Carrie, while his father Sam created the prominent Rawhide Rodeo Company, which produces more than 100 events a year and is known for its top animal athletes. Swearingen’s career began aboard the back of sheep and calves, with the New Yorker steadily advancing to bulls by the time he entered high school, where he also competed in bareback. 

Once graduating from the high school ranks, Swearingen began competing at the collegiate level for Panola College in Carthage, TX. pursuing a degree in Land and Ranch Management. Part of the 2019 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) National Championship team at Panola College, Swearingen also claimed individual success, capturing the NIRA National Championship in bull riding. 

I had the opportunity to speak with the 2021 PBR Touring Pro Division Champion, in a fun Q & A ,to discuss his accomplishments, his hip and shoulder surgery at the end of the 2020 season, and eventual comeback that vaulted him to a #2 world ranking.

Q & A With Daylon Swearingen

When the phone rings, it’s a representative from the PBR and she asks if I am ready to speak to Daylon to which I respond absolutely, he comes on and you can hear the kindness in the 22-year-olds voice. We had a slight issue as he kept calling me sir, I am not that old, am I?  This kid was a pleasure to talk to and you can hear the passion he has for this sport in everything he spoke about.

When you were young and riding sheep and calves in Piffard, NY was becoming a professional bull rider something you always wanted to do?

Yes, I always wanted to rodeo and always wanted to PBR and I knew it was pretty cool.

How great is it to ride at Madison Square Garden this weekend?

Madison Square Garden already has a lot of history and normally the PBR season is the first event of the year so it kind of starts the year and I always wanted to be at the start of the year beyond the tour and carry on through it. I think it was in 2018 and 2019 we brought bulls here. I didn’t compete but I brought bulls here and then in 2020 I rode here.

Do you have a lot of family coming to the event this weekend?

Not as much as because with everything going on,  most of my family is from upstate New York, right between Buffalo and Rochester and it’s just kind of a little long [to travel to NYC].

You began your PBR career in 2018 and today you are ranked #2 in the world, how does that feel?

I just want to stay there, it’s the beginning of the year and just need to stay there and move forward. We’ve gotten close up in there in 2020 and then had some injuries and I look forward to being up in the top this year.

Daylon Swearingen 2020 World Finals Studio. Photo by Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

We discussed his injuries that required surgery following the 2020 season. I asked if his rehab was harder than he expected?

I wouldn’t say it was harder, I just kind of maybe didn’t come back cool. I came back good, but then I just kind of stayed level. I had a second at my first event [back from surgery].

What is your favorite arena you have appeared at?

It would definitely be Madison Square Garden or AT&T Stadium.

I asked him if he could explain how the rating system works at a PBR event along with the breakdown of this weekends event at MSG?

This weekend here in Madison Square Garden, there’ll be two rounds and a short round. So the shorter round will be the top 12 guys from over the two days. So the first two bullls will be drawn [by] random computer draw. So I don’t get to pick the first bull I get on, but then the short round will pick on the order we’re coming back in. So that’s kind of when you want to be on the top. You want to get a bull that you want to get on and it’s 50 points for us and 50 points for the bull so you don’t want a bulll thats too nice to ride and then you have a low score. You want to have a good bull and a good ride and that makes good score.

They [the bulls] get scored on how high they jump and the extension of their kick, and  if they switch. There’s a lot of variables to it.

Daylon ,moved to Texas after he finished high school. I asked what he missed about New York?

Texas gets pretty hot in the summer time, New York has pretty good summers but I don’t I don’t miss the snow, I miss skiing a little bit. I miss the brisk air in the morning.

What’s harder, staying on the bull for 8 seconds, or getting off the bull once the eight seconds has expired?

I mean, they’ll definitely get you off, you don’t have to worry about the choice at the end of the day. Getting off safely, now that’s what you got to work on,  that’s what I need to worry about (laughing).

We ended our Q & A discussing how much he likes this sport.  His answer was short, but displayed the love he has for being in the PBR.

Yeah, I love this sport. I’m very thankful to have it in my life.

 

Event Details

For the 15th time in history, PBR (Professional Bull Riders) will buck into “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” as the toughest sport on dirt holds one of the initial events of the 2022 season for the elite PBR Unleash The Beast, invading the Big Apple on Jan. 7-8 for Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, presented by Ariat. For two nights only, 40 of the best riders in the world will square off against the rankest bucking bulls in the nation, the ultimate showdown of man vs. beast, seeking to be crowned the event champion and earn crucial points towards the world standings. (courtesy MSG Networks)

The New York City event will also be one of three Majors this season, giving riders the chance to earn increased world points and their share of the augmented event purse.

The event will be held on Friday, January 7 at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday, January 8 at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets are available through the Madison Square Garden Box office, MSG.Com, and Ticketmaster.

 

 

 

UFC Predictions: Women champions after 2022

2021 was an incredible year for the women’s divisions in the UFC. We saw some tremendously dominating performances and some historic upsets. In thinking about the year, the first fight that comes to mind is the bantamweight title fight that took place at UFC 269.

The fight took place just weeks ago between Julianna Pena (11-4) and Amanda Nunes (21-5). Nunes was a monster favorite given her status at the two-division UFC champion. Nobody was really giving Julianna Pena a chance outside of Julianna Pena herself.

Well, Pena did exactly what she said she was going to do and shocked the world to become UFC bantamweight champion. 2021 also saw the return of “Thug” Rose Namajunas (11-4) to the top of the mountain. It happened back at UFC 261 when she knocked out Zhang Weili to regain the strawweight title.

She affirmed her status at the top of the mountain by defeating Weili in an immediate rematch in November. Then of course, 2021 featured the pure brilliance and dominance of the queen, Valentina Shevchenko (22-3). Shevchenko defended her title twice and won both fights by dominant stoppage.

2022 is shaping up to be another big year for the women’s divisions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the four divisions and make predictions for who will be UFC champion at the end of the year.

UFC 2022 Predictions

Strawweight

The first division we are looking at is the strawweight division. Currently, Rose Namajunas is on top of the division. She has her first opponent lined up for the year, we just don’t know which date they will be fighting. Up first for Namajunas is Carla Esparza (18-6).

These two met in the first ever strawweight title fight with Esparza getting the win. However, both of these fighters are much different now and I truly believe that Namajunas is on another level. I think she’s going to easily retain her UFC title in the rematch.

Then, Namajunas will have her toughest test in my opinion. I believe her second title fight is going to come against Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2). Rodriguez is setup for a title eliminator in the first part of the year and I believe she’s going to get the job done.

After that, I’m expecting her to get a title fight. Given her style, she can really give Namajunas problems. However, I still really like “Thug” Rose’s overall game and I think Trevor Wittman will figure out a game plan to keep her UFC title.

Champion: Rose Namajunas 

Flyweight and Bantamweight

Next up, I believe we are going to see another two-division UFC champion rise up in 2022. That champion will be Valentina Shevchenko. Let me get this out of the way quickly, nobody is touching her at 125 pounds. Nobody will come close to dethroning her at flyweight and there’s really nothing to discuss.

My bold prediction is her capturing the bantamweight title. Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes are expected to run things back sometime in late spring. I believe that Nunes is going to regain her bantamweight title. However, I’m not sure she’s going to fight at 135 pounds again after beating Pena.

If she stays at 135, I think the UFC will finally do the trilogy with Shevchenko. If they do, I expect Shevchenko to get the win. Now, let’s say that Nunes vacates the bantamweight title after winning it back. If she does, I think the UFC does the rematch with Pena and Shevchenko at 135 pounds.

Just like the first time, I expect Shevchenko to get the win. Obviously if Pena wins, I still see the Shevchenko fight happening. This will be the year that Valentina moves up and captures a second world title.

Champion: Valentina Shevchenko

Featherweight – Amanda Nunes

The last division to discuss is the featherweight division. Let’s be honest, there’s no competition for Amanda Nunes currently at 145 pounds so by default, she’s going to be my pick for the featherweight division. Now, the potential add of Kayla Harrison (12-0) could make things very interesting.

The two-time PFL champion and Olympic Gold Medalist is being courted by all the major promotions. She’s Nunes’ teammate but has already said that she would fight Nunes for the UFC title to further her legacy. While not confirmed, the UFC’s original plan was to have Harrison face Nunes had Nunes won at UFC 269.

Of course, all that went out the window after Nunes lost. That said, if Harrison signs with the UFC, she will be getting a title shot in 2022. Her skillset and strength could give Nunes a ton of problems especially if Nunes isn’t in peak cardio shape.

However, with so many questions surrounding the free agency of Harrison, I’m still going to go with Nunes as the featherweight champion.

Champion: Amanda Nunes

Knicks officially sign Ryan Arcidiacono but debut delayed by injury

After a few days’ delay, Ryan Arcidiacono officially became a member of the New York Knicks on Thursday.

But after signing a standard 10-day contract, the Knicks have listed the newly-acquired point guard in the official NBA injury report as out with sprained left ankle.

It is unclear if Arcidiacono sustained the injury at practice or before signing. New York coach Tom Thibodeau is expected to update the severity of Arcidiacono’s injury before Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Arcidiacono will receive $102,831 from the Knicks that would account against their salary cap. He temporarily fills the Knicks’ 15th roster spot.

Arcidiacono can sign another 10-day contract after his first one expires on January 16 before the Knicks have to decide on retaining him for the rest of the season or waiving him.

The former Villanova star earlier signed a 10-day hardship contract, but the NBA rescinded it after several Knicks players cleared the health and safety protocols earlier than expected.

Arcidiacono has built a reputation as a high-energy and smart backup point guard in the NBA. He is viewed as insurance after the Knicks lost Derrick Rose (ankle surgery) and Kemba Walker (knee soreness).

Rose won’t return until late February while Walker is day-to-day. Walker will miss his fourth straight game Thursday against his former team, Boston Celtics.

Arcidiacono spent training camp with the Celtics but got cut. He played for the Celtics’ G League affiliate, Maine, as a starter in six games. He averaged 12.7 points, 8.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals over 32.2 minutes.

Arcidiacono spent his first four seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 4.8 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in 17.6 minutes over 206 games, including 37 starts.

Arcidiacono played four seasons at Villanova, capping his stint with the Most Outstanding Player award in the Wildcats’ 2016 NCAA title run. He was also named First-Team All-Big East and Big East Co-Player of the Year as a junior in 2015. But despite his accolades, he went undrafted in the 2016 class headlined by Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.

Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel remains questionable as he continues to ramp up his build-up for competition after spending more than 10 days in the health and safety protocols.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Former Mets GM Zack Scott learns his fate after conclusion of DWI case

New York Mets

The New York Mets had moved on from general manager Zack Scott in November after his DWI arrest in August. They were eager to wait until the results of the legal process were ready to make a decision on whether or not to keep him, but once it was postponed, they opted to fire him and eventually replace him with Billy Eppler.

Scott’s fate was announced on Thursday: he was found not guilty of his DWI charges, and he was also deemed not guilty of driving while ability impaired. Instead, he will need to pay $100 in fines for stopping on a highway and disobeying a traffic control device.

The former Mets’ GM said the following, via a statement:

“I am thankful for today’s verdict. Nonetheless, I regret choices I made on August 31, resulting in circumstances that led to my arrest.

Thank you to my attorneys, friends, professional associates, and most importantly, my family for supporting me through this process.

Professionally, I’m grateful to Sandy Alderson for the opportunity to lead baseball operations for the Mets and wish my former teammates nothing but the best going forward.

I believe this humbling experience will make me a better husband, father, son, friend, and leader, and I look forward to what the future holds.”

Bruce Bendish, Scott’s attorney, also released a statement:

“Today, after hearing and seeing all the evidence against our client, a judge in the White Plains City Court acquitted Zack Scott of all criminal charges against him. We are grateful for the judge’s diligent attention and consideration of the evidence, and believe he arrived at the only conclusion possible. While we understand and appreciate the reasons why the police officers suspected that Mr. Scott was driving while intoxicated, and respect their decision to place him under arrest, the simple fact was that Mr. Scott was not intoxicated or impaired by alcohol that evening. Rather, the evidence showed conclusively that Mr. Scott’s ability to operate a car was in no way impaired by alcohol.”

Mets’ president Sandy Alderson had referred to the team’s decision to dismiss Scott, saying:

“Just the general uncertainty around the situation that he faced, and not knowing how that uncertainty would be resolved in December. I think we felt that it was just best for us and potentially for him as well that we made that decision. I’ve talked to him, wished him well. He’s a good man.”

New Mets’ hitting coach has a lot of work to do to fix a struggling offense

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets made yet another addition to their organization on Thursday, in an offseason full of them. They offered Yankees’ assistant hitting coach Eric Chavez, who had been recently appointed by the crosstown rivals, the hitting coach position, which he will reportedly accept.

Andy Martino of SNY reported the news. The Mets have been busy this offseason, replacing Zack Scott with new general manager Billy Eppler, bringing in Buck Showalter as the new skipper, and signing four major free agents: center fielder Starling Marte, outfielder Mark Canha, infielder Eduardo Escobar, and star pitcher Max Scherzer.

Chavez, currently 44 years old, knows Eppler, for his stint with the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, when the current Mets’ baseball decisions chief worked in the Bronx. Then, Chavez worked, per SNY, as a special assistant during Eppler’s tenure as the GM of the Los Angeles Angels.

A surprising move by the Mets

The move is certainly a surprise, but the Mets didn’t operate outside the rules: they asked the Yankees for permission to interview Chavez, and they granted it because it was for a higher position.

Chavez doesn’t have any experience as a hitting coach, but was an above-average hitter back in the day. He played for the Oakland Athletics, Yankees, and Arizona Diamondbacks between 1998 and 2014, so he certainly knows a thing or two about hitting, as his 260 home runs and 113 wRC+ suggest.

Chavez will have his hands full with the Mets’ offense. The unit scored only 3.92 runs per gameand were 20th with a .238/.314/.390/.705 line and 176 round-trippers in 2021.

Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, James McCann, and Michael Conforto all struggled with the bat last season at different levels, and Chavez will try to revert the situation with all of them except for Conforto, currently a free agent. The Mets’ offense needs a jolt, and they are hoping this hire will provide it.

Chicago Bears: Ownerships reaffirms commitment to Ryan Pace

Ryan Pace, bears

LAKE FOREST, IL.– The 2022 offseason has yet to officially start for the Chicago Bears but the talk has never really stopped. Since the end of the 2020 season, questions have lingered about the future of general manager Ryan Pace. When Pace first stepped to the podium eight years ago after being hired by the Bears, his energy and commitment to being great was apparent.

It could be argued that one simple quote from Pace has been the exact opposite of how his tenure has gone. Fast forward seven seasons later and Pace has missed on two head coaches, drafted two quarterbacks in the first round, one winning season, and two playoff appearances with zero wins.

“The recipe to winning Super Bowls is stringing successful drafts together again and again,” said Pace via the Chicago Tribune in 2015. “We are acquiring football players that fit the Chicago Bears. There will be a major emphasis on character, toughness, instincts, and intelligence. Guys, it’s all about winning games and that’s what I’m here to do. Every decision we make goes back to what’s best for this organization. It’s as simple as that. Our plan will start being put into place to get the Chicago Bears back to the sustained success this city deserves.”

When the Bears season ends on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, it’ll be the sixth time in seven seasons that Pace has had a losing record. When Monday rolls around, expect head coach Matt Nagy to be fired, and when Pace returns, the Bears will allow him to hire a third head coach.

Pace returning isn’t about Chairman George McCaskey reinforcing who’s really calling the shots at Halas Hall. It’s about McCaskey’s own confidence and belief that Pace can live up to what he said eight years ago: Building a long-term and sustainable winner.

The ship for Pace to turn the Bears into a winner hasn’t necessarily sailed, especially with rookie quarterback Justin Fields now the future of the franchise but it’s hard to ignore Pace’s first seven seasons with the Bears. A new head coach essentially means Pace’s window will reopen for however long McCaskey sees fit. Fields too guarantees Pace some additional job security. In what is quickly turning out to be the most anticipated offseason in franchise history, the Bears are confident Pace can deliver despite a tumultuous tenure so far.