New England Patriots Sign QB Cam Newton

The New England Patriots have signed former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton, per Adam Schefter. Newton and the Patriots agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden deal worth up to $7.5 million. According to Ian Rapoport, this deal “has been in the works.”

Cam Newton is 31 years old and ready for a new beginning. The former first-overall draft pick spent the last nine years as a member of the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers released Newton in March after he missed the majority of the 2019 NFL season with a shoulder injury.

Cam Newton acknowledged the news on his Instagram Story Sunday night:

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For the New England Patriots, this signing is a huge victory. If Cam Newton returns to form in 2020, the Patriots could once again make the playoffs, despite the departure of all-time great quarterback Tom Brady this offseason. Cam Newton was playing at a high level prior to his injury in 2018. If the former Panthers quarterback is fully healthy in 2020, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will look to continue their dominance over the AFC East.

However, Cam Newton might not be a long-term solution for the Patriots at quarterback. If Newton plays well in 2020 and leaves New England in the 2021 free agency period, the Patriots could get back a compensatory 2022 third-round pick. This is even more crucial now that the Patriots’ 2021 third-round pick has been stripped away as punishment for the team’s videotape violation. But at only 31 years old, there is always a chance Cam Newton earns a second, long-term contract with the team next offseason.

 

New York Mets: The Randomness of a 60-game Season

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets have started reporting to Citi Field in hopes of Spring Training resuming on July 1. If the players sign off on a 60-game season, with a 10-team playoff, the season will be full of chaos.

The Mets played two different seasons during 2019. Their worst 60-game stretch has them as the fifth-worst team in the NL, and their best stretch has them as the fifth-best team in the NL. The Mets’ best stretch came with their backs against the wall, and every team will have their back to the wall in 2020.

With such a short season, any team can emerge from the pack to surprise the league, and a predicted contender could easily go through a bad stretch they cannot survive.

Win Early and Often

The Mets would benefit from playing with a sense of urgency from game one. Ideally, the Mets would love to have control of their destiny for the entire season. The reason they never made it to the top of the Wild Card picture is that they depended on other teams to lose so they could move up in the standings.

A key emphasis for the Mets is to pitch Jacob deGrom every time he can get at least four days of rest. If all five starters make their start, he will only make 12 of them. Allowing deGrom to pitch after three games of rest and an off day, allows the Mets to squeeze out an extra 2-3 starts. They would push everyone in the rotation back a day, but the Mets need their best pitcher on the mound as often as possible.

The Mets bullpen is set up well for a short season. There are plenty of live arms and pitchers who can pitch multiple innings. In this modified season, relievers will be called upon early, as they would during the postseason. Their closing situation still remains a question because the Mets do not have games to waste if Edwin Diaz cannot figure himself out.

Each team has plenty of questions to answer and holes to fill during a short Spring Training. The Mets’ roster depth sets them up well to find answers to their questions quickly.

New York Rangers can begin voluntary workouts on June 8

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

New York Rangers players will be allowed to have voluntary workouts at their team facility beginning Monday, June 8 with the NHL’s announcement that they will transition into Phase 2.  NHL players have been kept off the ice and in quarantine since the league issued a pause in the regular season on Mar.12.

Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities both on and off the ice.

Per the NHL’s Return To Play guidelines, players will be able to work out in small groups, a maximum of six players at any one time, plus a limited number of team staff. The limited amount of players scheduled to workout is to help keep players safe and healthy.

On Mar. 24, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo authorized professional sports teams to start training in the state immediately. The Rangers and the NHL were not ready to start any workouts at that time.

The Blueshirts training facility is located in Tarrytown, NY. The organization has not made any statements regarding the start of Phase 2 but is expected to be open when players are ready to begin workouts. These voluntary workouts are not considered a training camp.

Players such as Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, and Henrik Lundqvist who are currently overseas are not required to report to New York during Phase 2, but in order for then to return for training camp (Phase 3), they will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival to the United States.

The NHL is not anticipated to begin Phase 3 any earlier than July 10.

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New York Rangers will need 19 wins to hoist the Stanley Cup

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers road to the Stanley Cup will be one of the hardest to achieve in its rich history.

The National Hockey League announced the playoff format should the time come that teams can get back on the ice. It appears the New York Rangers, who will play in a best of five qualifying round, will need to win a total of 19 games to hoist there first Stankey Cup since 1994.

The New York Rangers organization now sees what is in their way of pursuing their first Stanley Cup in 26 years.

The NHL and NHLPA have been working out the details for the playoffs over the last two weeks. The two sides have been on the same page throughout the process and worked out the following details announced on Thursday afternoon.

  •  There will be a Qualifying Round consisting of a best-of-five series.  Following that series, all rounds will be a best-of-seven format.
  • Seeding Format- In each round, the highest remaining seed in each conference will face the lowest seed, the second-highest seed will face. the second-lowest seed on so on.
  • The Round Robin tiebreaker will be broken by the regular-season points percentage. The seeding order for these teams will remain the same throughout the playoffs.

If you add up the wins needed to advance to the next round, which is now at five rounds for the qualifying clubs, 19 is the magic number. The Rangers will have their work cut out for them with this format.

The scarier number is the number of games that might be needed to reach their championship goals. Should the Blueshirts need all five games of the qualifying round and every game of the next four rounds, the Rangers could potentially play in 33 more games this year.

The Rangers may need to use all three of their goalies at one time or another to get the job done.

 

New York Jets: Betty Wold Johnson passes away at 99

New York Jets

Betty, the mother of Woody and Christopher Johnson, was referred to as the “First Lady” of the New York Jets.

The New York Jets announced on Friday that Betty Wold Johnson, the mother of Jets owners Christopher and Woody Johnson, has passed away at the age of 99. The cause of death was not disclosed.

According to an obituary written by Eric Allen of NYJets.com, Johnson often referred to Jets players as her grandchildren. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, her first foray into football was attending University of Minnesota Golden Gopher games with her father Dr. Karl Christian Wold. She was married to Robert Wood Johnson until his death in 1970.

Johnson was also well known for her contributions to artistic and charitable causes. She also served in the United States Naval Reserve after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Numerous Jets took the team’s website to pay their respects.

RB Curtis Martin (1998-2006): She was definitely the First Lady of the Jets. She had such a presence there. And as far as the players being like grandchildren to her, I can definitely see that because she was such a warm person. She had a personal interest rooting for the Jets, but just her energy, she had a younger person’s energy. And she was just very approachable to everyone who met her. I just loved her as a human being.”

QB Chad Pennington (2000-07): “To me, two of her greatest qualities were humility and approachability. Ms. Johnson was such an approachable and humble lady. When I think of her, I think of her as The First Lady of the Jets. I think of Ms. Johnson as nothing but first-class with how she treated people, how she carried herself and how she represented herself and her family.”

QB Josh McCown (2017-18): “She cared and when you have the opportunity to step into somebody else’s story and make it better, it’s an honor. She felt the need to do so in so many areas and she leveraged her influence for good and I think that’s a message for all of us that we can all take with us, to look at where we are at life, wherever walk of life you’re in, and take that and leverage that for good for the world and the community.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Baltimore Ravens Agree to Deal with offensive guard D.J Fluker

DJ Fluker, Ravens

Veteran offensive linemen D.J. Fluker has found a new home in Baltimore after being released on Sunday by the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport. The former member of the 2013 All-Rookie team will most likely be competing for an open spot left by Marshal Yanda’s retirement last season. DJ released this statement on social media after being released by Seattle. Dj kept it professional as he is one of the most respected individuals on and off the field in the NFL.

“Dear 12s,

“I was released by the Seahawks today. Couple of things: I am not upset, or hurt. This is a business and one that I’ve been in for a while. I want to thank John and Pete for their very thoughtful calls.

“Stay safe, be kind and I love y’all.

“Thank you, Seattle.”

D. J. Fluker’s strength and power could be a great fit in Baltimore as they like to run the ball. He will tire out the defensive linemen with his relentless ability, size, and power. It will be a major hole to fill as Marshal Yanda has been a major contributor to the Baltimore offensive line for the last 13 years.

This opens a door and creates an opportunity for Seattle as they are in the market for an edge rusher. This is a glaring need for this team as they had the second least amount of sacks in the regular season last year. This is clearly a big concern and a need they should fulfill as they drafted two edge rushers in the 2020 NFL draft. It is seeming more possible that they may try and re-sign Jadevon Clowney. Additionally, targeting 25-year-old Yannick Ngakoue who has made it very clear he has zero intention of playing for Jacksonville next season.

10 New York Jets “Opening Day” Memories

Baseball’s opening day has sadly gone by the wayside, but, hopefully, these New York Jets gems at least partially soothes the ache. 

Opening day festivities in baseball were, alas, not to be. America’s Pastime’s national holiday was given the worst kind of rain delay, indefinitely put on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled.

We here at ESM’s New York Jets department sympathize with our Yankee/Met brothers and sisters. To help with the baseball blues, we present the Jets’ finest “Opening Day”…or, in this case, Week 1, memories….

1960: Titanic Conquest

The New York Jets’ franchise wasn’t always one of doom and gloom. In fact, their tenure began on the highest of notes, crushing their new American Football League brethren, the Buffalo Bills, by a 27-3 final under their New York Titans moniker at the Polo Grounds.

Buffalo took an early 3-0 lead, but the Titans stormed back with 27 unanswered. Two scores came from the feet of quarterback Al Dorow, while Dick Jamieson found Art Powell for the first aerial score in team history. On defense, the Jets let up only 113 yards and just five combined completions between a pair of Buffalo throwers.

1991: Defensive Struggle, or Anything But

The defensive struggle is a dying art in today’s NFL, but the Jets have managed to come out on the right side of some good ones. One such tilt was their 1991 opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where both Ken O’Brien and Vinny Testaverde had trouble gaining traction. Pat Leahy was the Jets’ biggest contributor on the scoreboard, compiling 10 of the team’s 16 points on the afternoon. His boots, including the de facto game-winner in the penultimate minute, allowed Leahy to move up to sixth on the NFL’s all-time scoring list.

1994: The Bill Stops Here

By 1994, the Bills had been to four consecutive Super Bowls but came up short each time. Some felt a fifth time would finally be the charm, but the Jets hastened the decline of Buffalo at the onset of the 1994 season.

The Pete Carroll era began at Rich Stadium, where the Jets stunned the home crowd with a one-sided 23-3 victory. A pair of second-quarter rushing touchdowns from Richie Anderson and Johnny Johnson erased an early Buffalo lead, while Nick Lowry held off any resistance with three field goals. Jim Kelly was brought down four times on the afternoon, twice by Marvin Washington. The Jets had lost 12 of their prior 13 matchups with the mighty Bills, but the 1994 opener paved the way for a sweep, their first in the series since 1986.

1997: Neil the Power

The Jets were in desperate need of good vibes in August 1997. They had gone 4-28 in Rich Kotite’s disastrous two years at the helm and nursing a streak of eight seasons without a winning record. Former New York football hero Bill Parcells was brought in to drag the team out of dire straights. For at least one weekend, happy times were finally green again.

Visiting Seattle’s Kingdome, the Jets demolished the Seahawks in a 41-3 shellacking. The cause was led by Neil O’Donnell’s career day, as the costly veteran put up a career-high five touchdowns. Wayne Chrebet and Jeff Graham each earned a pair of that tally, while Kyle Brady added the outlier. Defensive, the Jets harassed Seattle tandem John Friesz and Warren Moon, allowing them only 168 yards on 17 completions combined.

2000: Oh, Groh Up

The Jets got the new century off to a good start, as the Jets battled their future single-season thrower Brett Favre in a thriller at Lambeau Field. Despite the defense’s best efforts in holding an injured Favre in check (14-of-34, 152 yards, one touchdown), the Green Bay Packers kept pace with the Jets, even holding a 16-13 lead in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.

After a Ryan Longwell field goal broke a 13-13 deadlock, the Jets got a major boost via a 61-yard connection between Testaverde and Dedric Ward that situated them three yards away from the end zone. It took three downs to pull off the final three, but Testaverde eventually found Curtis Martin for a three-yard score that gave the Jets what they needed. It the final touches on a 144-total yard, two-touchdown performance that got the 2000s rolling. Favre, true to form, nearly pulled off a gunslinging, game-winning drive, but a potential long touchdown pass to Bill Schroeder instead landed in the arms of New York cornerback Victor Green.

2002: Buffalo Thrills

The Jets opened the 2002 season against a familiar foe in unusual colors: Drew Bledsoe. Tom Brady’s emergence the year prior put Bledsoe in a Buffalo Bills uniform, and his first game was a back and forth thriller against the Jets. Buffalo jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the Jets moseyed on back into the game with Chad Morton’s 98-yard touchdown. Despite major problems in the run game (Travis Henry torched the Jets for 149 yards and three scores and Curtis Martin left the game with an injury), the Jets kept pace with Buffalo and took a 31-24 lead via a Wayne Chrebet touchdown pass. Bledsoe, however, forced overtime with a scoring strike to Eric Moulds with 26 seconds to go in regulation.

Morton’s special team heroics, however, created the shortest overtime in NFL history. The veteran returned needed only 14 seconds to go 96 yards, allowing the Jets to escape Orchard Park with a 37-31 win.

2009: Making His Mark

A star was born in 2009, but Lady Gaga was nowhere to be found.

That’s what the cover of the New York Daily News declared after Mark Sanchez earned a victory in his first start, completing 18-of-31 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown in Gang Green’s 24-7 win over the Houston Texans. His first touchdown pass was a 30-yard strike to Chansi Stuckey in the second quarter. Sanchez got the credit, but the defense might’ve been the real heroes at Reliant Stadium. Defenders held the Texans to 183 yards and 11 first downs in triumph, allowing no points as Houston’s only score came on a fumble return for a touchdown.

2011: That’s All, Folk

The 2011 campaign began on an emotional note, as the NFL’s opening weekend coincided with the 10th anniversary of September 11’s tragic events. Many prominent names who helped the country recover were in attendance, including first-responders from the NYPD and FDNY. Former US President George W. Bush helped oversee the opening coin flip.

On the field, the game situated the Ryan brothers, with Rex coaching the Jets and Rob manning the Cowboys’ defense. Dallas led 24-10 at the onset of the fourth quarter, but the Jets inched back into the game with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Plaxico Burress. The Jets failed to capitalize on a Tony Romo fumble forced by Mike Devito, but eventually tied the game when Isaiah Trufant took a punt blocked by Joe McKnight back for a score. Dallas’ would-be game-winning drive stalled when Darrelle Revis intercepted a pass intended for Dez Bryant. Former Cowboy Nick Folk put the finishing touches on a moving, booting a 50-yard field goal in the final minute to secure a 27-24 win.

2013: LD!

We’re used to seeing someone with the shortened name of “L. David” make bumbling mistakes on Sundays thanks to Curb Your Enthusiasm. This time, however, an HBO subscription wasn’t necessary.

Geno Smith’s Jets debut was a sloppy back-and-forth tilt with the Buccaneers. Smith managed the game well enough to earn the Jets a 15-14 lead in the latter stages of the fourth quarter. However, a 37-yard hookup between Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson inside the two-minute warning situated the Buccaneers in Rian Lindell’s field goal range, putting them up 17-15 with 34 seconds to go. With 15 seconds to go and the Jets approaching midfield, Smith successfully scurried out of bounds to preserve what little time was left. However, he gained some assistance from Tampa linebacker Lavonte David, whose late hit on Smith earned the Jets 15 free yards. That allowed Folk to drill the winner from 48-yards out, giving New York an 18-17 win.

2018: Hey, Darnold!

Sam Darnold’s precise Jets debut drew the tired chorus of “same old Jets” at Ford Field. His first NFL play ended in a touchdown, albeit in the most horrifying way possible. An interception to Quandre Diggs went back 37 yards for an early Detroit Lions lead. Fortunately for the Jets, Darnold would make up for it with a 41-yard score to Robby Anderson, part of a back-and-forth barrage that situated the game at a 17-17 standstill early in the third quarter.

New York took over from there on out, causing ED-209 levels of damage to the Lions’ defense in the form of 31 unanswered points. Darnold contributed to the cause with the first part of the carnage, a 21-yard strike to Quincy Enunwa that gave the Jets the lead for good. Notably, Jamal Adams earned his first NFL interception, while Darron Lee took another Matthew Stafford miscue back 36 yards for a touchdown, one of two “receptions” for Lee on the evening.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

BREAKING: New York Giants Hire Marc Colombo As Offensive Line Coach

New York Giants, Joe Judge

Joe Judge has filled another crucial role in his coaching staff. The New York Giants‘ new head coach has hired Marc Colombo to be the team’s next offensive line coach (according to Ian Rapoport). Colombo is a former Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach that worked under Jason Garrett (the Giants’ new offensive coordinator) from 2016 to 2019.

Colombo first held the position of assistant offensive line coach from 2016-2018 before being promoted as the Cowboys’ offensive line coach in 2018. Under Colombo, the Cowboys’ offensive line was one of the best units in the NFL. Dallas finished fifth in Pro Football Focus‘s pass-blocking grade and third in their run-blocking grade in 2019.

Marc Colombo’s Resumé

The Cowboys’ offensive line allowed only 23 sacks this season (second-fewest in the NFL). This improved pass-protection helped quarterback Dak Prescott achieve a career-year.

Marc Colombo is a former NFL offensive lineman himself. He played right tackle for the Dallas Cowboys from 2005-2010. Colombo is a young coach at only 41 years-old. Cowboys players have stated that Colombo’s relatability in his youth helped the offensive line grow and gravitate towards their coach.

Colombo’s connection to Jason Garrett and success with the Cowboys’ offensive line the past two seasons helped him land this job. The Giants have been plagued with poor offensive line play for years and were in desperate need of a new, top-tier coach at that position. Marc Colombo is just what the Giants need. A tough, yet relatable, coach that will mentor and develop the Giants’ offensive line. Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones should be very excited.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being around a lot of people in this game. But Marc is in the front of the class. That’s the ultimate compliment I can give him. You get inspired by Marc every day you’re around him.” – Jason Garrett on Mar Colombo via ESPN