New York Giants: John Mara doesn’t see Daniel Jones’ injury impacting 2022

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Last season for the New York Giants brought about fears of longer term trouble for Daniel Jones, but the Giants may have dodged a bullet with his injury.

Neck injuries can be pretty serious, and the speculation about Jones’ injury only became more pessimistic when the quarterback was shut down for the season. Not only that, but what was originally written off as a standard injury ended up warranting visits to specialists for second opinions from outside the team medical staff.

In spite of that, John Mara is confident that Jones isn’t going to carry the injury into the 2022 season.

“Yeah, so our medical people are very confident that the neck injury will be a non-factor,” Mara told media after Brian Daboll’s introductory press conference.

If Jones really is fully over the injury by the 2022 season, that’s a major positive for him. He’ll have to put on his best performances this season, as it’s likely he only receives one more year to prove himself as a worthy franchise quarterback going into the future.

Of course, head coach Brian Daboll and GM Joe Schoen have been positive on Jones so far. But with Jones being the last regime’s quarterback, there’s only so much time that the new-look organization can spend evaluating him before deciding to make a decision in one direction or the other on his future.

The Giants have notably been one of the most injured teams in the league over the past decade. With Joe Schoen promising to look into it, maybe this season will be the first where Jones doesn’t miss games with injury.

The Giants could pair an elite coaching tree around Daniel Jones with potential offensive coordinator hire

mike kafka, giants, chiefs

The New York Giants lost out on their favorite offensive coordinator candidate today. Ken Dorsey was promoted to offensive coordinator by the Buffalo Bills. Brian Daboll and the Giants will have to pivot and find a new potential offensive coordinator. According to Mike Garafolo, the Giants have already made a list of three finalists for their OC position: Mike Kafka, Pep Hamilton, and Chad O’Shea. Of those three names, Mike Kafka presents a rare opportunity to unite two of the best passing attacks in the NFL together in New York.

Pairing Brian Daboll with Mike Kafka

Mike Kafka is the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. Kafka is considered to be a rising star in the NFL. He has helped develop Patrick Mahomes into the superstar he is while working alongside Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy. Mike Kafka was hired as the Chiefs’ offensive quality control coach in 2017 before being promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2018, the same year that Patrick Mahomes became the full-time starter.

The Kansas City Chiefs have possessed one of the best offenses in the NFL over the past four years. Their passing attack is elite, and Kafka has played a big role in its development. But the Buffalo Bills have also had one of the best passing offenses in the league in recent years.

Brian Daboll was the architect of Buffalo’s offense that ranked third in points-per-game in 2021. Working in the offense that ranked fourth in the NFL in points-per-game and fourth in passing yards-per-game was Mike Kafka with Kansas City.

Patrick Mahomes on Mike Kafka

Mike Kafka is a former NFL quarterback that transitioned to coaching in his post-playing career. Patrick Mahomes has praised his QB coach on many occasions:

“He came in at the same time as I came into this locker room. Even before he came in as quarterbacks coach, he already had a big imprint on what I did in developing me to be the player that I am. He continues that. He stays on me.” – Patrick Mahomes on Mike Kafka via Chicago Sun Times

The New York Giants are working tirelessly to rebuild their offense. After finishing the 2021 season 31st in scoring, the Giants brought in offensive guru Brian Daboll as their head coach. Daboll helped develop Josh Allen and Mike Kafka helped develop Patrick Mahomes. If Mike Kafka is hired as the next offensive coordinator, the Giants will be setting Daniel Jones up with an elite coaching tree.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin returns to NBA All-Star Slam Dunk competition

New York Knicks‘ high-flying forward Obi Toppin is returning to the NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk competition to claim what is rightfully his.

Though Toppin felt he wasn’t robbed last year, many fans thought the Brooklyn native should have won the crown that went to Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons.

“I didn’t feel like I got robbed at all,” Toppin said after the loss last year. “Anfernee is a great dunker and got all three of his dunks on the first try. The second and third, I had to do it a second time. If I got it on my first, it would’ve been a different result. I don’t think I got robbed at all. He deserved that trophy.”

This early, Toppin is the early favorite to win after Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the Slam Dunk competition cast.

Toppin will face fellow New York-bred talent in Cole Anthony of the Orlando Magic, Mexican-American forward Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Golden State Warriors, and Filipino-American guard Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets.

Toppin will undoubtedly have the crowd behind him to win this year’s Slam Dunk crown with Cleveland just three hours away from Dayton, where he starred as a Flyer in college.

Relive Toppin’s dunks from his runner-up run last year:

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

LeBron James could miss Knicks’ road game vs Lakers

new york knicks, los angeles lakers, lebron james

The New York Knicks‘ upcoming daunting West Coast trip could be softened by the latest injury of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

James, who was scorching hot in January, averaging 30.3 points on 51.6 percent shooting, could be out a few more games due to irritation in his left knee.

The Knicks are scheduled to visit the Lakers on a primetime ESPN game this coming Saturday.

In November, the Knicks beat the Lakers, 106-100, with James sitting out due to a one-game suspension for his role in bloodying Isaiah Stewart’s face in their previous visit to Detroit. Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis combined for 51 points, but it was not enough to counter the Knicks’ well-balanced attack that had six players in double figures.

After Los Angeles, the Knicks will visit the slumping Utah Jazz, who lost key player Joe Ingles to a season-ending ACL injury and are still without Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol) and Rudy Gobert (calf). Mitchell and Gobert have missed seven and four straight games, respectively.

The Knicks remain within striking distance of the play-in teams Atlanta Hawks (24-26) and Boston Celtics (27-25) after their 20-point blowout of the lowly Sacramento Kings Monday night at home. 

The much-needed win that ended a three-game slide pushed them back to 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 24-27 record. 

“We’re in the hunt,” Julius Randle said following their 116-96 win over the Kings. “We’re just still trying to find it, trying to build ahead and hit our strides.”

A Wednesday matchup against the surprising Memphis Grizzlies will serve as another tough test for the Knicks, who have been hounded by inconsistency this season.

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies have jumped to third in the Western Conference overtaking the depleted Jazz. But they are coming off a 122-199 overtime loss in Philadelphia last Monday night.

Per Tankathon, the Knicks have the second-toughest schedule remaining, with 26 of their last 31 games are against playoff teams and teams vying for a play-in spot. But Randle, who played well Monday night, delivering 17 points on 50 percent from the field with nine boards and four assists, remains hopeful the Knicks could still pull through in the end.

“Hopefully, this works out toward the end of the year. All the things that we’ve been through this year, the ups and downs, by the end of the year, we’re clicking on all cylinders. So, hopefully, that’s where we’re headed,” Randle added.

But there’s a big question mark if this current Knicks team will be able to sort it out together in the end.

The next four games before the Feb. 10 trade deadline will be critical for the Knicks, who have reportedly made some of their veterans available.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: Giants down to 3 offensive coordinator finalists, here’s what you need to know

pep hamilton, giants

The New York Giants are quickly looking to make a decision on their next offensive coordinator after hiring head coach Brian Daboll last week. With the Buffalo Bills elevating Ken Dorsey to their offensive coordinator position, Big Blue is boiling down their finalists, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

Three OC finalists for the Giants:

Pep Hamilton:

The Giants are intrigued by former Bears assistant Pep Hamilton, who served as the QB coach and passing game coordinator for the Houston Texans this past season. Hamilton worked for the Bears before under HC Lovie Smith between 2007–2009. He’s worked with a number of quarterbacks, including Jay Cutler in Chicago and Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. He also served as Justin Herbert’s quarterback’s coach during his breakout rookie season, enjoying plenty of success with David Mills in Houston this past year, despite him being a mid-round selection.

Everywhere Hamilton goes, he finds success, which is exactly why Daboll is so intrigued by his services. If the Giants could land Hamilton, they will undoubtedly have a modernized offensive coordinator with a passion for developing quarterbacks and curating explosive plays.

Mike Kafka:

One rising star in the NFL is Mike Kafka of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kafka currently serves as the Chiefs quarterback coach, helping develop Patrick Mahomes into the superstar he is today.

Kafka was hired by the Kansas City Chiefs as the Offensive Quality Control coach in 2017, reuniting with Andy Reid. He was promoted to QB coach in 2018, the year that Patrick Mahomes earned his first Pro Bowl selection and was named the NFL‘s most valuable player just one year later.

The elevation of Mahomes has been incredible, and Kafka played an essential part in his growth. Having Daboll and Kafka on the same coaching staff, developing two of the league’s most prominent passers, would get a Daniel Jones giddy.

Chad O’Shea:

Another name that Daboll is considering as the team’s next OC is Chad O’Shea, a former player.

O’Shea has spent time with the Chiefs, Vikings, Patriots, Dolphins, and Browns during his coaching career. He was most recently hired by Cleveland in 2020 to be the team’s wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

O’Shea worked under head coach Kevin Stefanski, reuniting with him after spending several years in Minnesota together. This past season, Cleveland struggled offensively, averaging 20.5 points per game, but had plenty of turnover and COVID-19 situation arise. Based on success, Hamilton end Kafka seem to be the best options for the Giants.

Yankees News: How will the Yankees use DJ, CBA meeting today, and the Freddie Freeman option

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Questions: What do the Yankees do with DJ LeMahieu in 2022?

The New York Yankees still have many decisions to make once and if the owners and players can come to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The MLB lockout has prevented them from improving the team after doing nothing before the lockout. They still have to get a new shortstop to replace Gleyber Torres at short, an offensive upgrade at first base, another starting pitcher to replace Corey Kluber, and some insurance in center field.

This is so important because spring training and the schedule for pitchers and catchers to report south is just over two weeks. In the weeks since the lockout, the Yankee front office and general manager, Brian Cashman, have had plenty of time to figure things out, but no indication of what they will do has been forthcoming. One caveat that may be front and center in this discussion is what they will do with leadoff hitting and Gold Glove second baseman DJ LeMahieu.

Yankee fans can assume that he has lost his permanent spot at second base to Gleyber Torres, who assumed the mid-infield position at the end of the last season. The Yankees continuing to support their failed shortstop indicated that he would be the second baseman going forward. Last season the Yankees used LeMahieu as a utility infielder playing all over the infield with varying degrees of success. The Yankees know that he will be at least adequate no matter where they put him.

It appears that this season the only place he won’t play is to fill that hole at short. The Yankees are going to have to be creative. They could forget about getting a new first baseman and slot DJ there. That solidifies Torres at second and Gio Urshela at third if they do. The Yankees have the option to resign free agent Anthony Rizzo, use held over Luke Voit, go for a Matt Olson, or even spend big for Freddie Freeman if available. If they chose the put DJ at third, that could move Gio Urshela to short, solving that problem. Believe it or not, not using any of these options could lead to the trade of Voit and even Urshela in the hopes of acquiring a new shortstop. The only thing for sure is that no one knows what the Yankees will do.

Owners and Players meet again today, is spring training in jeopardy?

Today the MLBPA will present another counter-proposal to the owners’ offer that was rejected. They have had two more meetings since then, and although some progress was made, they are still far apart on agreeing, putting the start of spring training in jeopardy and the loss of some major league games.

Today is February 1, pitchers and catchers for most teams, including the New York Yankees, are supposed to report on February 16. Even if unlikely, the sides can come together and form an alliance that will give the Yankees and all the other MLB teams only two weeks to sign remaining free agents or make trades to finalize their teams for the new season. If they can’t accomplish that in that short time frame, the start of spring training will have to be moved back.

Although both sides have already achieved some level of success in the negotiations, there are still some significant issues to be resolved. No analyst believes that a final agreement will arise out of today’s talks, it could collapse entirely, and baseball will be faced with a major disaster and lost games. Today the players union is likely to offer more concessions in an effort to come to an agreement, much of whether they can tie the knot will be up to the owners and if they can negotiate in good faith.

Is Freddie Freeman an option for the New York Yankees?

The short answer is yes, even if doubtful. It was once assumed that Freeman would return to the Atlanta Braves, and that was it. But when Atlanta had the chance to zip up Freeman, they have failed to do that, showing some big cracks in the effort to retain him. Meanwhile, the Yankees and the Braves are weighing their options, including the A’s Matt Olson as a backup plan. The big stumbling block is what Freeman will demand in a contract that will be in the $180 million range. Here is what Ken Rosenthal of the Atlantic recently said:

“Our longstanding assumption — ah, they’ll just work it out — no longer applies. The Braves and Freeman didn’t work it out last spring, last summer, or in November with the lockout looming. They still might work it out, considering that an agreement remains the most sensible outcome. But rest assured, both sides are weighing their options. It would not be a surprise for either, once business resumes, to act quickly.”

 

The Mets aren’t done spending, per reports

New York Mets

The New York Mets are probably one of the most improved teams of the offseason. Yes, they lost some key players, especially pitchers (Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Loup signed with other teams), but they brought in quality and quantity before the lockout.

They inked outfielders Starling Marte (four years, $78 million) and Mark Canha (two years, $26.5 million), while also adding infielder Eduardo Escobar on a two-year, $20 million pact. The coup of the winter, however, was definitely ace Max Scherzer, who agreed to come to New York on a three-year, $130 million deal.

The Mets, however, still have some work to do, and according to MLB Network Jon Heyman, they aren’t done spending and improving their roster. “Have heard Mets might consider signing another significant pitcher and hitter once the lockout ends, on top of Scherzer, Marte, Canha and Escobar,” he wrote.

The Mets’ payroll could approach $300 million

If that’s the case, the Mets’ payroll could certainly approach $300 million. Owner Steve Cohen said when he took over the team a couple of years ago that he wasn’t afraid to spend in order to make the Mets an elite team, and so far, he is delivering on that promise.

He has already given a mammoth contract to Francisco Lindor (10 years, $341 million), plus the mentioned investments on Marte, Canha, Escobar and Scherzer and other expenditures before last season, most notably James McCann.

The 2022 Mets are currently missing at least a couple of starters. Jacob deGrom and Scherzer will lead the rotation, and David Peterson, Tylor Megill, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker are also on the roster. A contender can’t have just six viable starters, though: nowadays, the number is around eight or nine, even ten.

Only time will tell if Heyman’s report is true and the Mets will bring in another top starters, but they do have options via free agency (Carlos Rodon, Clayton Kershaw, Danny Duffy) and the trade market (Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo).

The Knicks are staring special right in the face with rookie Quentin Grimes

quentin grimes, knicks

“He’s good, he’s really good,” Knicks power forward Julius Randle said regarding Quentin Grimes after the team’s win over Sacramento on Monday night.

Randle may not be getting many positive headlines himself, but Grimes has been progressively making a positive impact on the team.

Ranging from his aggressive defense to his shooting capabilities, Grimes is quickly becoming one of the team’s primary scoring options off the bench.

Averaging 5.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, and shooting 40% of three-point range the season, the 21-year-old has made a lasting impact on head coach Tom Thibodeau and his teammates.

Ultimately, it’s all about mentality and what you do off the court to prepare for live action. Grimes takes practice very seriously, working diligently to improve his game so he can earn more minutes on the floor.

“If I’m bs-ing in practice, it’s not going to help me in the game, especially as a rookie.”

In the month of January, Grimes is averaging 21.3 minutes, his highest number since the start of his rookie season. He’s also averaging a season-high 7.7 points per game, 1.4 assists, and 2.2 rebounds in the month of January. His 43% shooting from range has benefited his squad tremendously.

“He competes on the defensive end, but I think he has a lot more to his game other than just shooting the ball,” Julius Randle said. “He can get in the lane. He can finish. He plays at a really good pace. And every time he shoots the ball, it looks like it’s going in.”

When the Knicks initially drafted Grimes out of Houston, they had another player in mind, Chris Duarte out of Oregon. Missing on Duarte, a more prolific scorer, they looked to Quentin to be a reliable defensive option. On the season, he hosts an impressive 101.5 defensive rating, one of the best grades on the team.
Thibodeau has gotten everything and more out of Grimes during his first season in the NBA, helping refine his scoring qualities. As Randle mentions, he’s become more of a playmaker with experience, but his defensive traits stand out the most, especially as the Knicks struggle in that category.
After the departure of Reggie Bullock, the Knicks desperately needed a 3-and-D contributor who can hit consistent shots from deep and play aggressive on-ball defense. He’s connecting on 53% of his three-point attempts from the corners, recording three double-digit games in his last four contests.
Against the Kings on Monday, Grimes recorded 14 points, three steals, four rebounds, and shot 40% from deep over 23 minutes. However, he’s also capable of finishing from inside the arc, recording three field goals from two-point range in the win.
The Knicks are staring quality right in the face with one of their youngest players, providing plenty of optimism and hope he can develop into a legitimate starter moving forward.

Giants are set up perfectly to move on from Daniel Jones if need be in 2023

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

It is no secret that New York Giants ownership is completely committed to quarterback Daniel Jones moving forward, but they will listen to their new general manager and head coach regarding his potential for the future.

Jones has had an up-and-down career up to this point, enjoying 24 touchdown passes as a rookie and just 10 this past season under coordinator Jason Garrett. Jones has also sustained a number of injuries that have disrupted his progress and development, but a poor offensive system and line have doomed him from the start.

At one point, Jones was known as one of the best deep-ball passers in football, so the Giants went out and signed Kenny Golladay on a massive four-year, $72 million deal.

Unfortunately, Golladay was virtually useless this past season, scoring zero touchdowns and making a minimal impact toward the team’s four-win season.

Nonetheless, co-owner John Mara stated that all of their general manager and head coach candidates believe that Daniel Jones is a quarterback they can win with, but the team is set up perfectly to move on if he struggles in 2022.

New head coach Brian Daboll signified that they would build a system around Jones and focus on his strengths as a primary catalyst on offense. Building the foundational pieces he’s comfortable with and adding quality coaches is all part of the equation.

“One of the things I asked him to do — I said, ‘Hey, give me some things that you really liked in your last three years you did at Duke,’ ” Daboll told him. “That’s where it’s gonna start, is some foundational pieces that he feels comfortable with. I think we’ll add good coaches, we’ll have a good support system and we’ll try to bring in the best players we can bring. But I think this is gonna be a day-to-day process, I’m not gonna put any expectations on him. I know he wants to do well, he’s got the right mindset, he’s dedicated, he’s a hard worker and I’m looking forward to working with him. We are looking forward to working with him.”

Mara already indicated that Jones will be the starter for 2022, allowing management to evaluate him under a more refined and modernized offensive scheme.

“I would say yes,” Mara said. “Daniel will get a chance next year and we’ll hopefully be able to get a fair evaluation of him and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll go to plan B. But we have a lot of confidence that it will work out.”

Luckily for the Giants, they had two top 10 picks this upcoming draft, providing them an opportunity to trade back and collect more capital for 2023 as a last resort. It might be advisable to execute a similar trade as they did with the Chicago Bears in last year’s draft.

The Giants will likely be right back at square one if Daniel Jones struggles, especially after roster turnover. It will take time for the rebuild to set in, but if the Giants find themselves with a top pick once again in 2023, Daboll and Joe Schoen have an opportunity to land a quarterback, notably either Bryce Young or CJ Stroud.

In conclusion, even though management and ownership are high on Jones, the team has a sound ‘Plan B’ ready to execute in 2023 if need be. However, the 2022 NFL draft should give us a lot of answers to what they are thinking long-term.

Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau is losing control of Julius Randle on the court

knicks, julius randle

It wasn’t more than a year ago that Knicks‘ All-Star power forward Julius Randle was averaging 24+ points per night on average. Enjoying his best season to date, Randle justified a four-year, $117 million extension, but his fall-off this season has been dramatic.

Ranging from hostile remarks toward the media to a downward pointing thumb as fans questioned his passion for the team, Randle’s pedestal has shrunk to a mere tree-stump.

In fact, rumors have floated that Randle could be on the trade block in the coming days as the deadline quickly approaches on February 10. However, head coach Tom Thibodeau still believes in his star forward, even if he’s had a progressively more difficult time controlling his efficiency and extracting his true potential.

Whether Randle’s ego has consumed his selflessness or he’s simply regressing to the mean, the veteran has been a shell of his former self, putting the Knicks in a progressively more difficult position.

“Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has admitted to associates he’s had more trouble getting Randle to play with a selflessness this season than during last season,” an NBA source told Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Berman also noted that some believe Randle could be trying to justify his massive contract extension with more burdon regarding scoring production. The problem is that sometimes the best way to excrete value is simply playing a complementary role.

With RJ Barrett averaging over 20 points per game to start the new year, Randle has fallen to the No. 2 scoring option, which isn’t necessarily a problem.

The issue lies more in his disdain for not being the top scorer but being the Robin to RJ’s Batman. The roles are reversing, and Randle seemingly can’t handle the downgrade.

Randle is averaging a measly 16.4 points per game and shooting 24.2% from the 3-PT range to start the new year. Alternatively, Barrett is blossoming into the star New York needs him to be, which coincides directly with Julius’s regression, oddly.

If the two can’t find a way to thrive together, the Knicks will have to make a big change, and it might involve sending Randle packing.