New York Giants: Kadarius Toney’s season will end on an injury

kadarius toney, giants

Anyone hoping to see Kadarius Toney return to the New York Giants for their final game of the season will be disappointed. The wide receiver is one of the players listed as out on the injury report, and will miss the division game against Washington. Toney is one of three players already marked as out, alongside Mike Glennon and John Ross.

Toney appeared in week 16’s loss to Philadelphia but overall has been inconsistent when it comes to staying on the field. Before that game, his last appearance was in week 11. It’s a shoulder injury this time, but Toney has dealt with multiple injuries since coming into the league and will finish the season having played in 10 games compared to the overall 17 games on the schedule.

Statistics wise, the stats he’ll finish the year with are 39 receptions and 420 yards. The performance from this season that will be remembered the most is the one against Dallas where Toney had 10 receptions and 189 yards despite being ejected in the fourth quarter.

That performance wasn’t followed up by a comparable one later in the season, but the reasons are somewhat understandable. Not only was Toney dealing with injuries for much of the year, even in games that he did play in, but the late season injury loss of Daniel Jones has hurt all aspects of the passing game. And even when Jones was still playing, a poor offensive line has led to less time to get the ball to open receivers.

This season might not have gone the way many hoped it would after witnessing Toney’s performance against Dallas, but it’s definitely intriguing to see what Toney will be able to do in 2022 in a more competent offense after adding blocking and moving on from Jason Garrett at offensive coordinator.

FOCO releases Brooklyn Nets 75th anniversary collection

FOCO released an exclusive Brooklyn Nets 7th anniversary bobblehead collection on Friday.

Whether you are an OG fan who rooted for the New Jersey Nets in East Rutherford or a new breed of a fan when they moved to Brooklyn, there is a bobblehead collectible for you.

The collection features past and present stars Jason Kidd, Kevin Durant, and James Harden.

A 10-time NBA All-Star, Kidd spent seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets and led them to two NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. Durant and Harden are part of the team’s current superstar trio. Oddsmakers have installed them as the favorites to win the title this season.

All three Nets players were recently named to the NBA’s 75 greatest players.

Each bobblehead stands on a diamond-themed base with the Nets logo front and center and an NBA 75th logo behind them while holding a diamond basketball.

Kidd’s bobblehead sport the throwback Nets home jersey of the 2000s. Durant and Harden are clad with the classic black and white Brooklyn jersey.

They are being sold on FOCO’s official website for only $75 each. The bobbleheads are limited to just 275 individually-numbered units making them a sought-after collectible.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Should the New York Giants pursue Ed Dodds for GM position?

The time has finally come. The New York Giants are expected to move on from General Manager Dave Gettleman this offseason. According to Chris Moore of CBS Radio Sports Network, Dave Gettleman will retire on Monday. Since 2018, the Giants have gone 19-45 under Gettleman’s management. Fans are eager to see who the Giants will hire as their next GM. Among the many candidates, Indianapolis Colts Assistant GM Ed Dodds is one of the favorite names.

Ed Dodds career history

Ed Dodds might be the top general manager candidate on the market this offseason. Dodds has had a long and wildly successful career in the NFL.

Before joining the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, Dodds spent 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks as a national scout and senior personnel executive. He is considered to be “one of the architects that helped build Seattle’s roster into a Super Bowl winner.” Ed Dodds was responsible for evaluating both college and pro talent during his time in Seattle as a senior personnel executive. With the Seahawks, Dodds was part of six winning seasons, five NFC West titles and 10 playoff wins in addition to two Super Bowl appearances (one win).

Ed Dodds is also considered by many to be “one of the best scouts and talent evaluators in the NFL.” For this reason, Colts GM Chris Ballard poached Dodds from Seattle in 2017 and made Ed his right-hand man in Indianapolis. Ed Dodds has been the Assistant General Manager of the Colts since 2017 and has continued to establish himself as one of the brightest minds in football. Dodds has collaborated with Ballard and built one of the best rosters in the NFL. Indianapolis led the league in Pro Bowl selections this season.

Ed Dodds strengths and weaknesses

Strength: Talent evaluation and career history

The New York Giants have struggled to build a winning roster in recent years. Much of the Giants’ struggles have occurred in the NFL Draft. New York has had a difficult time identifying college talent and developing players in the pros. Dodds’s biggest strength is arguably his history scouting both pro and college talent. Ed Dodds is a top-tier talent evaluator. If hired by the Giants, Dodds would likely drastically increase the quality of the team’s draft classes.

Ed Dodds’s career history speaks for itself. He has worked in two of the best front offices in the NFL (Seattle and Indianapolis) and helped construct two elite NFL rosters. He has a proven history as a scout and assistant general manager. Being around great programs, Dodds is sure to install a successful program as a general manager once he makes the leap with a new team.

Weaknesses: Media discourse and availability

If there is somewhere that Dodds falters, though, it is his personality with the media. Ed Dodds is not the most media-friendly front office executive. He prefers to work in the shadows and stay behind closed doors. This might make him an easy target for the New York media to pick on when things get tough.

Dodds is another candidate that is not so forward facing with the media, though, and that leads to little understanding of who Dodds is as a person and what role he’s played within the organization. – via Pride of Detroit

There are also questions regarding Ed Dodds’s desire to become a general manager. Dodds withdrew from the Carolina Panthers GM job last offseason when he was considered a top candidate. Ed Dodds has rejected GM jobs in the past and it seems possible that he could continue to decline these positions and remain in Indianapolis. After all, the Colts’ organization is one of the best in the NFL. Ed Dodds could continue a comfortable career with his current team.

Dodds has the talent and expertise to turn the Giants around. But if he is up for the challenges that come along with being a general manager, then Dodds should be one of the top candidates on the New York Giants’ list.

Knicks fans’ boos, criticisms light up fire under Julius Randle’s belly

NBA stars love to play in Madison Square Garden because the New York Knicks fans bring out the best in them. They relish silencing the crowd.

Ask Trae Young.

Knicks’ All-Star Julius Randle had his love-hate relationship with the New York fans since his arrival as the consolation of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes in the summer of 2019.

Just as when he thought he’s become the city’s new conquering hero after an All-NBA year and carrying them back to the playoffs in a strange season, Randle is back to ground zero.

A sloppy start to this season has earned him the ire of the seemingly impatient fanbase. There was some celebration from some quarters when he tested positive COVID-19, much to his consternation.

Since his return from the health and safety protocols, Randle’s interviews were reduced to expletive-filled clipped comments.

It became his crusade to ‘shut the f–ck up’ his critics.

It spilled over to Thursday night’s game against the Boston Celtics. He heard boos from the crowd when they trailed by as many as 25 points.

The heated exchange with the crowd could be worrying to some but not to Evan Fournier, who had his fair share of harsh criticisms from the fans.

“He puts emotion into everything he does,” said Fournier reflecting on the short time he’s got to know Randle. “He probably wasn’t happy about [the booing]. Honestly, no big deal. If I were him, playing hard as hell and [playing] well … when you give everything you have into something and you give so much into something and it doesn’t work out or you’re being called out, it’s frustrating.

“But it’s the business we’re in. And Julius is the image of the franchise. He’s the star player, so of course, he’s going to get more criticism. And I think he understands that.”

Lately, Randle’s candor and demeanor may look petty, but he’s feeding off the hate and doubts and channels that frustration into motivation. Like his mentor, the late Kobe Bryant, Randle seems to play better when he’s mad.

Randle has been playing on fumes in the Knicks’ twin wins over Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, averaging 26.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 3.0 assists against only 1.5 turnovers. While his three-point shooting (26.7 percent) is still a work in progress, his change in approach — attacking the rim more and setting hard screens — had made him more efficient on offense. And on defense, too. The poor body language and lifeless jogs on the floor have turned into diving for loose balls and crashing the paint with more fervor.

While Evan Fournier (career-high 41 points and franchise record-tying 10 triples) and RJ Barrett (buzzer-beating game-winner) emerged as the heroes of Thursday night’s epic 108-105 win over the Celtics, Randle served as the catalyst of the Knicks’ third-quarter surge, which set up the dramatic finish. He unloaded 10 of his 22 points in that pivotal quarter that turned the chorus of boos into cheers leading to the chaos that rattled the Celtics in crunch time.

Randle’s thumbs-down gesture was unwarranted. But he’s relishing his new villain role to motivate himself whether he admits it or not.

Some may say he waged a war that he couldn’t win. But it’s not just a war with the fans. It’s a war against the doubts that robbed him of his All-Star form.

Some fans made it personal. Randle took it personally. And so far, he’s walking the talk. Because he knows there’s only one way to win this war.

By embracing the villain role on the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden that made visiting players play their best, Randle essentially accepted the challenge.

Win or shut the f–ck up!

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC books headliner between Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev

Well, it looks like we are going to see who the best ‘Rafael’ is in the UFC‘s lightweight division after all. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported this afternoon that the promotion has finalized a big time lightweight matchup between former champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) and Rafael Fiziev (11-1).

The matchup will headline a UFC Fight Night on February 19th. This is the fight that Rafael Fiziev wanted and it’s the fight that he’s going to get. Fiziev gets the biggest opportunity of his UFC career and he’s going to be looking for his sixth straight win.

Fiziev didn’t get off to the best start with the promotion dropping his first fight. However, he’s been perfect since that loss. He’s currently riding a five-fight winning streak and his last win came against Brad Riddell back in December.

If Fiziev is able to pickup the win next month, he will vault straight into contention. This is the moment that Fiziev has been waiting for since he joined the UFC and he’s finally getting it. However, he’s going to have his hands full in this matchup.

RDA’s UFC Title Hopes

Back in 2016, Rafael Dos Anjos lost to Tony Ferguson which was his second straight loss. The first loss is where he lost his UFC lightweight title. After that fight, he decided to move up to the welterweight division. He won his first three fights at 170.

However, once he reached the guys at the very top of the division, he ran into some issues. He went 1-4 in his next five which prompted him to reconsider his options. The former UFC champion decided to return to the weight class that made him a champion.

In November of 2020, RDA returned to lightweight where he was supposed to face off with Islam Makhachev. However, due to a last minute injury, RDA fought Paul Felder instead. He put on a great performance and won a decision.

We haven’t seen the former lightweight champion since that fight as he’s had a number of injuries. Now, he’s been cleared to compete and he’s ready to make another run at the UFC lightweight championship.

Max Holloway out of UFC 272 title fight

Well, the UFC was riding high this week with big fight announcements. Another huge announcement came just today when we learned that Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis would be fighting next month in Houston.

One other fight that was announced this week was the UFC 272 title fight between Max Holloway (23-6) and Alexander Volkanovski (23-1). The trilogy was going to take place in March and was set to settle the debate on who is truly the best featherweight in the world.

However, days after the fight was announced, the fight is off. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that Max Holloway has reaggravated an injury and has been forced to pull out of the UFC 272 title fight. The injury occurred in one of Holloway’s first days back in camp.

Last year, Holloway was supposed to fight Yair Rodriguez in July. However, he sustained an injury which pushed the fight back later in the year. Supposedly, this same injury is why he’s had to pull out of his UFC 272 title fight.

The UFC’s Plan

This is a big blow to UFC 272 which was planning on this title fight headlining the card. Holloway informed the promotion that he had to withdrawal yesterday. The promotion is currently trying to figure out the next steps. Apparently, there is no current timeframe on Holloway’s recovery.

More than likely, you’ll see this fight stick together but be pushed back. Outside of Holloway, there’s not really a contender that would make sense to take on Volkanovski. For that reason alone, I don’t see the UFC slotting someone else in that spot.

The hope is that Holloway can bounce back quickly from this injury and the fight can be rebooked. Word is that a timeframe if the injury is minor would be around May or June for the trilogy. I would expect the UFC to try and add another title fight to the March card with this fight falling out.

UFC books Derrick Lewis – Tai Tuivasa

The UFC has finalized a huge matchup in their heavyweight division featuring two of the biggest knockout artists in the promotion. MMA Junkie was the first to report this afternoon that “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis (26-8, 1 NC) will be taking on Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa (14-3) next.

The matchup will take place in Lewis’ hometown of Houston, Texas at UFC 271 on February 12th. This is a huge opportunity for Tuivasa to make the jump towards the very top of the heavyweight division. The last time we saw Bam Bam was back at UFC 269 when he took on Augusto Sakai.

Tuivasa was able to secure the knockout win which he followed with his signature shoey. The win was Tuivasa’s fourth straight win and all four of those wins have come via knockout. Three of the four wins came in the first round.

After starting out his career unbeaten, Tuivasa went through a UFC rough patch in 2018/2019. He lost three straight and looked like he was going to get cut from the promotion. However, he started taking things more seriously and the results have been incredible. Now, he’s a win away from being in UFC title contention.

UFC Houston return for The Black Beast

Last month, Derrick Lewis made a massive statement when he returned to the UFC’s APEX. Lewis was coming off of a heartbreaking loss against Ciryl Gane where he came up short in Houston at UFC 265. The loss to Gane snapped a four-fight winning streak.

He was so gun-shy and tentative in the Gane fight that many were picking against him when he fought Chris Daukaus. In fact, Daukaus was the betting favorite. However, Lewis shut everyone up when he stormed Daukaus and knocked him out in the first round.

Now, the UFC’s knockout king is ready to make another run at the title. That run features another stop in his hometown against Tai Tuivasa. I don’t know who is going to win this fight, but I do think someone is going out. This should be a matchup that you don’t want to turn away from.

Should the Yankees go after former Red Sox slugger?

New York Yankees, Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

The New York Yankees’ offense was extremely disappointing in 2021, and everybody in the organization is aware of that. So far, the primary measure taken to change this situation has been dismissing former hitting coach Marcus Thames and replacing him with analytics-driven Dillon Lawson, who oversaw the Yanks’ minor league hitting from 2018 to 2021.

That’s a good start, for sure, but the Yankees also need fresh faces. Sure, they are betting on Lawson to help DJ LeMahieu (100 wRC+), Gleyber Torres (94 wRC+), Joey Gallo (95 wRC+), Gary Sanchez (99 wRC+), Gio Urshela (96 wRC+) and other struggling performers regain their best form, but the team could certainly use another powerful slugger.

Pat Ragazzo of SI.com offered the idea of entertaining the signing of free agent thumper Kyle Schwarber, who player with the Boston Red Sox during last year’s second half after coming over from Washington via trade.

A questionable fit on the field, but a perfect one for the Yankees’ lineup

It’s evident that there is no clear defensive fit for Schwarber on the Yankees, because he is primarily a left fielder, and not a very good one. Ragazzo thinks, however, he can split time with Giancarlo Stanton between left field and the designated hitter spot.

With the bat, he is clearly a difference-maker, and since he is left-handed, he would fit in nicely in the lineup and take advantage of the short porch at the same time. Last season, between the Nats and Sox, he slugged 32 homers and had a .928 OPS.

The writer also recommends the Yankees re-signing Anthony Rizzo if they can’t lure Freddie Freeman. “Regardless, by signing both Schwarber and Rizzo, the Yankees would be creating much-needed balance in a right-handed heavy lineup. And these two lefty hitters would bolster their offense by providing a pair of dangerous power bats in the middle of the order,” he stated.

Do you like the idea of Kyle Schwarber playing for the Yankees?

Giants’ Joe Judge and Saquon Barkley defend each other despite growing criticism

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are on the brink of collapse, having lost their last five games and headed toward a potential sixth against the Washington Football Team this upcoming weekend.

Big Blue hasn’t only dropped their last five games, they’ve been absolutely demolished in each, scoring just one touchdown in their last three games combined.

With the team falling apart at the seams, the Giants could go in a number of different directions, especially with general manager Dave Gettleman expected to retire on Monday post Week 18. A new GM could elect to keep Joe Judge and his coaching staff for one more season, but if ownership chooses to bring in a fresh face with a new ethos, they could fire Judge and move forward with a new staff and philosophy.

However, there are still players within the organization who are willing to speak to the media about Judge’s positives and his passion for the team, notably star running back Saquon Barkley. Judge himself had great things to say about Barkley and the adversity he’s overcome after being played by injuries this season.

“I know this guy has worked through a lot of things,” coach Joe Judge said of Barkley, via Jordan Raanan of ESPN. “He has dealt with different injuries throughout the year. He’s played hard through a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of toughness and grit from him this year.

Barkley has been a shell of his former self, recording his first 100 yard game against the Chicago Bears in Week 17 over 21 carries. The Giants only completed four passing attempts on 11 tries. The game plan heavily revolved around running the football, as Devontae Booker also picked up 18 carries in the process but averaged half the yardage  Barkley managed.

Given Saquon’s rookie deal is quickly coming to an end with his fifth-year option commencing in 2022, it is possible to Giants look to trade the running back and acquire draft capital while alleviating themselves of his cap hit. Barkley will be the ninth highest-paid running back in football, preparing to earn $7.2 million in the final year of his rookie deal.

Judge was noncommittal toward Barkley but did come to his defense about putting forth another quality season similar to his 2018 campaign, where he collected over 2000 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns.

“In terms of what next year brings, we’ll have to see when it comes, but I know he’s going to work, train and put himself in the position to have the best year possible.”

After Judge’s words of optimism, Barkley responded with positivity of his own, defending his coach’s confidence in the team in the process going on behind the scenes.

“It may not look like it right now from the outside looking in, but internally we know what we have here. We know what we’re doing in the locker room — meaning the characters that we have, the personalities that we have, the work ethic that we have.” – Via Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post.

Unfortunately for Judge, the results on the field are all that matters as he continues to rely on an argument that isn’t visible. For fans, though, “behind the scenes” isn’t a tangible result that can be measured. In fact, the team looks more lost than during Ben McAdoo or Pat Shurmur’s tenure.

Fortunately, fans have a bit of hope resting on the shoulders of a new general manager, but it is entirely possible ownership looks to an internal candidate as a stopgap solution.

Knicks News: Fournier shows his value, Barrett earns much-needed confidence boost

knicks, rj barrett

The New York Knicks are coming off a 25 point come-back win against the Boston Celtics on Thursday evening, stringing together two consecutive games after the return of Julius Randle.

Randle will plaster the headlines with his crude remarks after the game, displaying hostility after fans unleashed criticism over the past few weeks as a result of inconsistent performances. However, Randle finished the game with 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals. This is his second consecutive game with 20+ points, earning 30 and 16 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

While the star power forward contributed heavily in the win, it was sharpshooter Evan Fournier who stepped up to the plate and delivered arguably his best performance of the season.

Fournier contributed 41 points and eight rebounds and shot 10 of 14 from the three-point range. He’s been widely unpredictable this season, but his resilience led him to a dominant outing against his former club.

“When you go through a season like that where there’s a lot of inconsistency…you start the day with a fresh attitude,” Fournier said. 
Mental strength is an essential part of being a player in the NBA, shaking off poor performances like Fournier’s evening against Indiana where he scored zero points over 22 minutes, and coming back fresh the next day.
Most would agree that the French native isn’t living up to his four-year, $73 million contract he signed this past off-season, averaging just 13.5 points per game and shooting 38.1% from three-point range. While his conversion rate from deep is slowly climbing, especially after shooting 40% over his last 10 games, they need more consistency from him moving forward, as the offense lacks efficiency when he’s not at the top of his game.
Aside from his incredible game, it was third-year guard RJ Barrett that stepped up and delivered the most crucial basket of the evening, a buzzer-beater with 1.5 seconds left on the clock.

When Barrett was asked if he thought the ball would go in when he heaved up a shot with 1.5 seconds left, he said with confidence: “Of course.”

RJ is another player that has experienced ebbs and flows of production the season, averaging 15.6 points per game over 31.3 minutes. Last season, Barrett set the stage for a hopeful lucrative third season, averaging 17.6 points and shooting 40% of three point range over 34.9 minutes.
RJ has seen a steep drop off in three-point efficiency — 7%. His field-goal percentage has dropped 4%, and his assist numbers are down nearly one pregame. While these regressions could result from strategy change and flow given the new additions on the team, Barrett showcased why the Knicks are so high on his capabilities.
RJ is one of those players that feed off confidence, and hitting this game-winner against Boston should give him a significant boost heading into a second game against the Celtics on Saturday night at the TD Garden.