New York Jets: The true culprit of the Sam Darnold era was…

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Adam Gase is far from innocent, but he’s not the primary reason why the New York Jets’ Sam Darnold era didn’t work out.

There’s no use in crying about the past, especially when the prior affairs are only three weeks old. But social media’s stranglehold on society and the NFL stretching its news cycle from eight hours on Sunday to 365 days a year have seemingly done away with rationality.

If invitations to Canton were granted through 280 characters or less, for example, the construction of Sam Darnold’s bust would not only be underway but his 2021 season might have its own wing. It’s easy to see why Darnold’s modern endeavors have earned their share of headlines: he’s the quarterback of one of five undefeated NFL teams and his redemption story is compounded by the fact his former employers, the New York Jets, serve as a running gag amongst professional and amateur football comedians alike.

The Jets’ reunion with Darnold was crossed off of their bucket list on kickoff weekend. It’s way too early to fully grade the trade that sent Darnold to Charlotte, especially considering two of the metropolitan spoils garnered (second and fifth-round picks next spring) don’t even have names yet. Realistically, the Jets shouldn’t worry about Darnold again until 2025, the next scheduled meeting between Gang Green and Carolina.

Yet, the omnipotent nature of modern NFL football doesn’t allow the Jets a moment’s peace (Carolina’s nationally televised win over Houston on Thursday hasn’t helped stop the spread). The fact that Darnold is playing an active role in the Panthers’ success…he’s responsible for six of Carolina’s eight touchdowns while the Jets have scored two over their first three games under Zach Wilson’s offensive watch…is placing only a bigger spotlight on both Gang Green’s past, present, and future blueprints.

As their team continues to sputter sans Sam, Jets fans have sought a main villain, a living, breathing entity whom they can blame for their predicaments. Former head coach Adam Gase has been the primary target as Darnold joins a list of breakthrough stars that have flourished upon his departure (joining names like Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, and Laremy Tunsil).

Such fingering is misdirected.

The Jets’ modern struggles obviously do not fully exonerate Gase. Surely the post-Gase success list (which has also welcomed the fortunes of Gase’s collegiate and professional teams) isn’t a matter of coincidence and, traumatizing as this season has been so far, his weekly denials that he was fighting with the faces of the franchise haven’t been missed. Besides, the obvious suspect, as so many other murder mysteries have proven before, is more often than not the one who did the deed.

Gase will require some extra supervision when he inevitably gets yet another NFL job (because the modern NFL loves, if anything, coaching retreads), but he’s shielding the real culprit: it was ex-general manager Mike Maccagnan, in the front office, with a misguided sense of roster management.

 Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The jury is still out on Maccagnan’s successor Joe Douglas, especially with the poor early returns of the Wilson/Robert Saleh era. But one thing Saleh knew what Maccagnan was doing wasn’t working: as of Sunday’s Week 3 contest (a garish 26-0 loss in Denver), only three players from Maccagnan’s last contest as the metropolitan decision-maker (Foley Fatukasi, Marcus Maye, Nathan Shepherd) remain on the modern roster. Half of Maccagnan’s ill-fated final class (in the ensuing 2019 draft) is already gone.

Douglas’ pruge of the Maccagnan is a microcosm of what Darnold had to deal with. The Maccagnan era was one of negligence and ill-advised splashes, one that tried to cover inefficiencies at the supposedly “boring” positions with high-profile signings.

From the get-go, Darold was mostly left to fend for himself. Maccagnan’s strategy seemed to be an incomplete cause-and-effect chart whose profits and yields relied on Darnold becoming an MVP candidate. The offensive cabinets assembled by Maccagnan consisted of the aforementioned big-ticket free agents equally saddled with big baggage (Le’Veon Bell) and that was just the beginning of the team’s issues.

In his all-too-brief time as the Jets’ thrower, Darnold was also stuck with first-round washouts (Breshad Perriman), former stars past their prime (Demaryius Thomas, Frank Gore), flash-in-the-pan breakthrough candidates that wilted under a brighter spotlight (Chris Herndon, Quincy Enunwa), and undeveloped projects that either didn’t work out (Terrelle Pryor, Jermaine Kearse) or remain a work in progress (Braxton Berrios, Denzel Mims).

All the while, Maccagnan almost completely ignored construction of the wall in front of Darnold. Save for some desperate moves late in his tenure…the ill-fated trade for Kelechi Osemele and drafting Chuma Edoga in the third round of his final draft…Maccagnan opted to go with blockers made of inconsistent one-year failed fixes. Darnold, for example, worked with three different primary centers (Spencer Long, Jonotthan Harrison, and Connor McGovern), an inconsistency set forth by Maccagnan’s failure to find a long-term solution.

It was a stark departure from predecessor Mike Tannenbaum’s finest hours: during his first draft in 2006, Tannenbaum chose Virginia tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, passing (pun intended) on touted quarterback prospects like Vince Young and Jay Cutler. When they had a chance to take touted collegiate, skill player heroes like Joseph Addai, Sinorice Moss, and LenDale White, they instead opted to bring in Nick Mangold. Not only did those two blockers headline the closest things the Jets have had to recent glory days, but they also became two of the most beloved figures in franchise history. Tannenbaum surrounded his homegrown talents with accomplished veteran strengths like Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. Carolina had already restocked its blocking cupboard with Taylor Moton and Matt Paradis.

Compare that to what Darnold has to work with in Carolina: the Panthers found a way to unite him with Robby Anderson, one of the few things that were working with him in New York. Anderson was one of two four-digit yardage receivers Darnold now has to throw to, the other being DJ Moore. Of course, no one in Jets circles needs to be reminded about the impact Christian McCaffrey can have, as the returning running back served as the 187-yard difference in Carolina’s 19-14 triumph on opening weekend. Carolina’s defense has also come up huge; through a majority of Week 3 action, the Panthers are the only team in the league that has let up less than 200 yards a game (191).

Rather than the hapless Gase, Darnold is also working with accomplished offensive minds Matt Rhule and Joe Brady. The former is all too familiar with raising lost causes from the football abyss, taking downtrodden college programs at Temple and Baylor to unprecedented new heights.

Carolina is in the midst of working with a new general manager, having brought in former Seattle scouting expert Scott Fitterer last winter. Adding Darnold is by far his most impactful move to date, a trade that open a new chapter in the book of the Panthers, one that officially allowed them to move on from the Cam Newton/Ron Rivera glory days.

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few months into the job, Fitterer has done more Darnold than Maccagnan ever did.

Darnold is no longer being relied upon to be the sole source of offensive sparks. Many of those pieces arrived before Fitterer, but also spent valuable offseason funds on the aforementioned defense: former Temple linebacker was reunited with Rhule and now leads the team in sacks (4.5). They used their first pick on South Carolina shutdown corner Jaycee Horn (though he’s set to miss some time due to a non-contact foot injury). The Panthers are only poised to upgrade further after Week 3’s events: according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, they’re close to picking up former Jacksonville cornerback C.J. Henderson for tight end Dan Arnold and a third-round choice…a move the Jets, frankly, should’ve investigated further into.

Simply put, Fitterer appears to know the impact of surrounding a franchise quarterback with reliable help on all sides of the ball…a lesson the Jets are learning the hard way. Douglas at least appears to understand that on paper, having added accomplished veterans and using expanded draft capital on assistance in protection. There’s plenty of time to develop past the Darnold era and get things back on track. It doesn’t diminish, however, the progress Carolina has made with the former green thrower.

There’s no use in looking back on the Darnold era, at least not at this point on the NFL timeline, but that’s not the nature of modern football. If a (premature) culprit must be found, the Jets must start at the top. Blaming Gase is popular…but putting on Maccagnan is may be right for now.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Yankees: The Main Concerns Heading into October

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees just came off a huge statement series win against the Los Angeles Dodgers where they took two out of three games from them. They proved that they really are the best team in baseball. However, there are a few lingering concerns heading into October.

Injuries

Not a surprise here, but the injuries have been apparent all season long. It’s gotten to a point where it’s expected to have at least one player go down every series. The New York Yankees will want their guys Edwin Encarnacion, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit consistently in their lineup. Luis Severino’s return would be huge for the Yankee pitching staff, regardless of what role he falls into. Dellin Betances’ return would also give the already-strong Yankee bullpen even more depth.

The lineup

There have been so many players who have contributed this year that making a lineup for the postseason will be a challenge for manager Aaron Boone. Guys like Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman took the team by storm this season where they showed out offensively. It’ll be tough getting those guys at-bats while keeping the stars and veterans in as well.

Triple-A callups

Yes, basically the whole current team is triple-A call-ups due to injuries. However, the New York Yankees will be allowed a 40-man roster once September 1st passes so that means they’ll have to analyze more potential callups. Guys like Clint Frazier, Deivi Garcia, and Kyle Higashioka are some of the big names for a possible September promotion. Take a look at this article, where I evaluated two players who I think should definitely be on the roster come September 1st.

New York Yankees: Two Players Who Should Be Called up for the Postseason

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

The New York Yankees are winding down their season and there’s been talk of who will be called up heading into the postseason. September 1st allows MLB teams to carry a 40-man roster which means the Yankees will be calling players up from triple-A to assist them heading into the playoffs.

Clint Frazier

One of the more obvious players on this list, Clint Frazier is believed that he should be on the active roster already. Already had spent 53 games in the major leagues this season, Frazier has batted .262 with 11 home runs and 34 runs batted in. His controversial demotion to triple-A took many fans by surprise.

With the already-solid Yankee outfield, Frazier could be utilized as a DH alongside teammate Edwin Encarnacion. Frazier promises a strong at-bat with power.

Deivi Gacia

The New York Yankees held onto Deivi Garcia this year during the trade deadline and rightfully so. The 20-year-old stud was promoted to triple-A this season after dominating in the double-A Trenton. He flashes a fastball up to the mid-90s with an arsenal of pitches. He started the MLB Futures game this year where he dominated there as well.

If Garcia is chosen to be brought up, I think he’ll be utilized as a reliever to the give the bullpen even more depth. With the struggling Yankee rotation, having a starter in the bullpen could help the Yankees eat up innings. The only concern with Garcia is he hasn’t stepped on a major league mound. He’ll need to be brought up soon to get some major league action before heading into the crazy postseason play.

 

New York Yankees Take a Shot on Former All-Star Trevor Rosenthal

New York Yankees take shot at Trevor Rosenthal.

New York Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman took some heat after he didn’t make any moves before the July 31st trade deadline. After that date, teams can no longer trade for another player, however, teams can sign players to minor league contracts or sign free agents.

On Tuesday, Cashman was busy and the New York Yankees signed former All-Star free-agent Trevor Rosenthal to a minor league contract, per John Heyman of MLB network.

Rosenthal was designated for assignment earlier this season by the Detriot Tigers where after he decided to enter free agency. He began the 2019 season with the Washingon Nationals where he signed a one-year $6 million dollar deal (Spotrac). He racked up a 22.74 ERA in 12 appearances with the Nats and was released in June. Then picked up by the Detriot Tigers, Rosenthal posted a 7.00 ERA in ten appearances.

So… what’s he got?

Once one of the hardest throwing relief arms in the league, Rosenthal earned an All-Star spot in 2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He runs his fastball up to the high 90s and flashes a curveball at around 87-88. He also uses a slider around 89-91 and a curveball from 80-83. This arsenal of pitches is perfect for what the Yankees look for in a relief pitcher.

Even though Rosenthal has been lousy recently, this was a good pickup from the Yankees. Hopefully, he’ll figure it out in the minor leagues and then be a useful arm in the bullpen heading into the postseason. We remember Chad Green’s awful start to the year, being sent down to triple-A and now being dominant for the Bombers. Hopefully, Rosenthal can do the same.

New York Yankees: Will Deivi Garcia be Seen in the Postseason?

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

Deivi Garcia is currently ranked the number one prospect in the New York Yankees organization and there has been talk if fans will see him in pinstripes this upcoming postseason.

After being promoted to triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, Garcia is currently 1-3 where he’s credited to a 5.93 ERA in 27.1 innings pitched (Baseball Reference). Clearly not great numbers, but Garcia has electric stuff. His best pitch, a curveball, has the spin-rate consistent with some of the premier pitchers in the major leagues. He also flashes a fastball at 91-95mph.

The Yankees signed Garcia from the international market in 2015 for $200,000. At the age of 19, he went from low-Class A to double-A in only three months. This season, he was promoted to triple-A where he also started the 2019 MLB futures game.

Postseason on the horizon?

Garcia’s possibility of being added to the postseason roster would be decided based on Luis Severino’s return or not. I believe if Severino returns healthy and back to his ace-like stuff, Garcia won’t see the major leagues this season. However, if Severino and Delllin Betances don’t return there potential that Garcia could find himself suiting up in a bullpen role.

Only being 20 years old, the Yankees aren’t afraid of bringing up young talent. Fans saw this when superstar Gleyber Torres made his MLB debut at 21 years old and has dominated the league ever since. Miguel Andujar debuted when he was 21 years old as well.

By not trading him away during the July 31st deadline, the New York Yankees definitely like his stuff and know his potential. If Garcia doesn’t make his major league debut this season, he’ll definitely be a candidate for next season.

What Should The New York Giants Do At Quarterback In 2019?

Eli Manning may have just pulled off his 36th career game-winning drive in San Francisco on Monday night, but there are a few undeniable truths that the Giants fan-base and organization need to recognize and consider:

  1. Manning is 37 years old and will be 38 at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
  2. Manning’s quality of play has declined over the past few seasons.
  3. The Giants are 5-20 over the past two seasons.
  4. Cutting Eli Manning this offseason will save the Giants $17 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap.
  5. The Giants do not have an heir apparent at the quarterback position.

With that being said, what options do the Giants have?

Current New York Giants Quarterbacks:

Eli Manning: Despite his declining and consistently lackluster play over the past two seasons, there are a few reasons why the Giants might want to keep Eli Manning in 2019. For one, he is a Giants legend and they may fear facing fan-base backlash from cutting him, similar to the back lash they faced when benching him last season. Letting him play an extra year gives him the chance to retire and go out with a season long send-off.

Furthermore, if they do decide to draft a quarterback this year, they could sit him behind Manning for a year and let him learn from the veteran, similar to what Kansas City did with Patrick Mahomes. In addition to this, it can be argued that Manning is not playing as bad as the media says he is.

Manning’s completion percentage this season is the highest it has ever been at 67.6 percent, he is ninth in the league in passing yards so far this season, and he has been sacked a league high 32 times. These statistics can draw a few key conclusions.

First off, the Giants have an awful offensive line and it would be difficult for any quarterback to play behind it. Secondly, Manning has shown that he is capable of playing well when given time in the pocket. Finally, Eli’s 11 touchdowns in 9 games but 2,565 yards demonstrates that he and the Giants offense are good until they get into the red zone. This can be attributed to player execution and even coach Shurmur’s play calling.

Kyle Lauletta: Giants fans are eager to see what the team has in the 4th round rookie out of Richmond, but he has yet to even be activated for a regular season game. Coach Shurmur should definitely look to see what the team has in Lauletta sometime this season with some regular season playing time. However, his recent arrest and Eli’s magical win against the 49ers might delay the Kyle Lauletta show.

If he gets to play this season, the team can assess him and plan ahead accordingly. Best case scenario: they hit big-time on a 4th round quarterback and found their heir apparent. Worst case scenario: Lauletta has a maximum potential that most would expect out of a 4th round quarterback and he ends up being a backup for the future. The only way for the Giants to know the answer is to give Lauletta a chance in the 2018 season.

Current NFL, Non-Giants Quarterbacks:

Teddy Bridgewater: The 2014 first round pick out of Louisville for the Minnesota Vikings has had a rocky career. In his rookie season, Bridgewater showed great potential and won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore season, Bridgewater progressed further and was selected to his first pro bowl. At this point, it looked like there was a promising career ahead for the young quarterback, until he suffered a devastating knee injury that would sideline him all of 2016.

In 2017, Bridgewater still was not healthy enough to be a starter again, but he managed to remain on the roster. In the 2018 offseason, Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets, played well in the preseason (one might even say well enough to start for another franchise with a 73.7% completion percentage and 104.7 QBR), but was then traded to the New Orleans Saints to backup Drew Brees.

Teddy Bridgewater will be a free agent again this offseason, and he is expected to draw interest from around the league if he is not retained by New Orleans. Being that he is a former Minnesota quarterback, Bridgewater has a connection with Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, former offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Shurmur is familiar with Bridgewater and knows his potential.

If the Giants are willing to cut ties with Manning, Bridgewater could be a great developmental option for the Giants if they feel like they can maximize his potential. Additionally, signing Bridgewater does not mean that he needs to be the future of the Giants. Theoretically, they could sign him the same way that the Jets did, if he agrees to it. The Giants could try to get Bridgewater on a one-year deal and draft a quarterback, just like the Jets did.

Derek Carr: Raiders coach Jon Gruden began a fire sale in Oakland during the 2018 season, trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. According to Oakland’s general manager, Reggie McKenzie, no one is untouchable. That would seemingly include Carr. Derek Carr has been selected to a pro bowl each of the last three seasons and he lead his team to a 12-3 season before breaking his leg in 2016, a season in which he was an MVP candidate.

However, this season Carr has looked like somewhat of a shell of his former self. The former gunslinger now settles for countless check downs, as documented by NFL Next Gen Stats’s passing charts, and has a 10 to 8 touchdown to interception ratio through nine games.

This begs the question: what happened to Derek Carr in 2018? These issues could be attributed to his putrid offensive line, a lack of weapons, a fear of reinjuring himself, or the new coaching staff. These issues could potentially all be solved with a change of scenery for Carr, and that could just bring him back to his 2016 playing level.

If the Raiders end up with the first pick and decide to move on from Carr, they could select Herbert and put Carr on the trading block. If that happens, the Giants would need to consider trading for Carr, since Herbert would no longer be an option. The trade would be costly (potentially one first, one second, or maybe even two first round draft picks) but if the Giants are confident they could get Carr back to playing to his full potential, they should make the move and acquire the three time pro-bowler.

College Quarterbacks

2019 Draft Class: Last year’s draft class was considerably loaded. This upcoming year’s class? Not so much. The consensus for the top signal-caller of the 2019 class is Oregon’s Justin Herbert (and there are rumors that he might not even declare this year).

It is also well-documented that the Giants are heavily interested in Herbert. They have attended six of his ten games so far this season. He’s a big body, strong arm quarterback with a good personality. He’s had a good, but inconsistent junior year, thus far. He has games with a completion percentage as high as 78% and as low as 47%, so there is still much work to be done with consistency if he wants to be a star in this league. His 25 touchdowns and 2,621 passing yards in ten games are impressive, however, his accuracy can be inconsistent (as displayed in the Oregon vs. Arizona game in October).

Even with his high ceiling, when compared to the 2018 class, it would be hard to rank Herbert inside the top three prospects. Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen would likely all rank higher than Herbert if they were a part of the same draft class. That being said, he could be a franchise quarterback with some development, but he’s not as close to a “sure-thing” as anyone in the 2018 draft class.

Other notable quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class include Will Grier (West Virginia), Drew Lock (Missouri), Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), and Daniel Jones (Duke). All of these players have potential to be first and second round quarterbacks and, with the right development, maybe even starting quarterbacks in the NFL. However, none of these guys are considered to have the same potential as the 2018 draft class by sources such as Pro Football Focus and Bleacher Report.

2020 Draft Class:

A lot of fans believe that Monday night’s win has ruined New York’s chances at the top pick in 2019 and, subsequently, their chances at drafting Justin Herbert. If that is the case and the Giants are unable to secure the Oregon quarterback, they might look to trade back, accumulate more picks, and draft someone from the 2020 draft class. 2019 Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa has been lighting it up in his sophomore year for Alabama, drawing comparisons to Russel Wilson. He will be every quarterback-needy team’s dream choice in 2020 and, with an accumulation of picks from trading down in 2019, the Giants could possibly have the first pick, or enough draft capital to move up to the first pick and select Tua Tagovailoa.

The Giants have tons of options for their future at quarterback. Being that they have so many options, it is too soon to say that passing on a quarterback for Saquon Barkley in 2018 was a mistake. After all, Saquon Barkley truly has hall of fame potential. Could this have been New York’s plan all along? Draft Barkley and secure a quarterback the following season? Possibly. Time will only tell. The New York Giants need to make the right decision this offseason in order to avoid what general manager Dave Gettleman would consider to be “quarterback hell.”