New York Jets: LeVeon Bell to return in week 5

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

The New York Jets have been without their former All-Star running back since week one of the season. In the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Bills, Bell seemed to have an awkward fall in the midst of running a route.

It ultimately ended up being  a hamstring injury that sent him to the IR. Now, before the Jets take on the Arizona Cardinals, Bell will be joining them.

What’s This Mean?

This is great news for the Jets organization for multiple reasons. The first that tomorrow marks the first start for Joe Flacco while Darnold sits with a shoulder injury, so adding a playmaker like Bell back into the fold could ease some of the pressure. Especially with a veteran quarterback who is coming off an injury himself, having Bell can open up things more for him.

The next reason this is so important, is because of the impact Bell has when healthy. Without Bell for the past few games, the Jets have accumulated only 263 yards on the ground from running backs.

Sam Darnold is currently the team’s leading rusher with 117 yards, while Frank Gore sits at 74 yards on 55 carries. It’s safe to say the Jets need a boost out of the backfield and Bell could provide that.

The last reason this is crucial is because of a potential trade. With Bell likely out the door after this season, the team could use the next two or so games as a showcase for what Bell can do. If he’s the key cog in the offense for the next couple of games, don’t be surprised because that may be an order from management. A trade of Bell could shed around eight million dollars of cap space for the organization and potentially nab a mid rounder. It may not be the route the team goes, but it’s certainly a possibility.

One thing is for sure though, the Jets need some kind of fire on offense right now. That’s a fire that Bell can bring. Who knows, his return may just make this offense competitive.

BREAKING NEWS: Brooklyn Nets to hire Steve Nash as next head coach (Report)

The Brooklyn Nets will reportedly hire Steve Nash as the 27th head coach in team history. Interim boss Jacque Vaughn will be retained.

Per ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are set to name Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash the 27th head coach in team history. Nash’s initial contract will be for four years.

Wojnarowski also reports that interim head coach Jacque Vaughn will be retained as an assistant and “become the league’s best compensated assistant coach”.

This will be the first coaching job for Nash, 46, who spent 18 seasons with Phoenix, Dallas, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Johannesburg, South Africa native entered the league as a first-round pick (15th overall) of the Suns in 1996 out of Santa Clara. Nash is generally regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history, winning two MVP awards (2005, 2007) and reaching eight All-Star Games. He also leads NBA players with four 50-40-90 seasons, shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the foul line. Larry Bird is the only other player in NBA history to earn multiple such seasons. Nash was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 alongside fellow former Suns teammates Jason Kidd and Grant Hill.

After retiring in 2015, he took on part-time consultant duties with the Golden State Warriors, partaking in the team’s most recent two championship runs (2017, 2018). He also held a similar role for the Canadian national basketball squad, previously serving as the team’s general manager for nearly seven years. The team earned a silver medal at the 2015 PanAmerican Games in Toronto, their best finish in the tournament’s history.

Vaughn returns to assistant duties after taking over for the fired Kenny Atkinson in March. He went 7-3 during his time at the helm, including a surprising 5-3 mark in the NBA’s Orlando bubble proceedings. Brooklyn was swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

This story will be updated pending further information.

Geoff Maglocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

BREAKING NEWS: Big Ten Conference postpones 2020 football season, fall sports (Report)

The Big Ten Conference has officially shut down activities in the fall, including football. It will attempt to run a spring season.

Due to the ongoing health crisis, the Big Ten Conference has officially postponed its fall sports slate, which includes the upcoming football season. Conference officials confirmed the delay in a statement released on Tuesday and the plan is to push things back to the spring semesters.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

Other sports affected by the postponement include soccer, cross country, field hockey, and women’s volleyball.

The Big Ten was the first of the “Power 5” conferences to officially call off autumn activities, though the Pac-12 followed them shortly after.

This delay pushes back the return of Greg Schiano to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football program. Schiano, who led Rutgers to a program-best 11 wins during the 2006 season, was brought back after Chris Ash was fired last fall. Conference officials unveiled a plan to play only conference games earlier this summer, with Rutgers poised to open on September 5 against Nebraska. Players have also expressed a desire to play, accompanying the social trend “#WeWantToPlay” with desires to create a stable, healthy environment, as well as a players’ association.

Several players from the fallen conference have expressed their displeasure with the news, including Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Justin Fields.

The ACC, Big 12, and SEC are currently still on pace to open their seasons. Independent programs Connecticut and Massachusetts have likewise canceled their own campaigns.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Tests Positive for COVID-19 a 2nd time, Will Not Travel to Orlando with team

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

You ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go your way, and you find yourself asking, how can today possibly get any worse? And then low and behold, something else terrible happens and it immediately gets worse? That has been the last several months for our Brooklyn Nets.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who was hopeful to travel with the Nets to Orlando despite being infected with COVID-19 and showing symptoms, tested positive for a 2nd time on Monday, thus ending any hopes of returning to the hardwood once the season resumes. Dinwiddie updated fans and commended the Nets organization in several tweets earlier on Tuesday afternoon:

Dinwiddie is the 6th player on the Nets roster to have tested positive for COVID-19 since March and the 2nd Net in the last two weeks, as DeAndre Jordan also tested positive for the virus. Unlike Jordan, who immediately stated he would not be playing in Orlando, Dinwiddie’s goal was to rehab as much as he can and see where things stood before the team left to Orlando. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie fell short of his goal and will be watching what’s left of the Nets compete from the comfort of his home. The Brooklyn point guard did leave fans on a positive note by tweeting out the following:

With Dinwiddie officially out, the team has some tough roster decisions to make. Who will start at point guard? Which players will step up and attempt to match the production that was given to the Nets on a nightly basis from Dinwiddie, DeAndre, and Wilson Chandler? As NetsDaily pointed out, here is what the remaining roster looks like for Brooklyn:

It seems as though newcomer Tyler Johnson will get big minutes now, paired with the likes of Chiozza and Temple backing up Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. TLC will also be in that mix. Reserves such as Jeremiah Martin and Dzanan Musa could see an increase in playing time if there is any injury to the guards mentioned previously.

It will be interesting to watch how interim HC Jacque Vaughn handles this new roster and what lineups he decides to use in Orlando. There are several fans out there (myself included) that believe Vaughn is coaching for the Nets HC job next year, which could be a motivating factor for this team to perform well and exceed expectations. The Nets may not be the team they were when the season ended in March, but this team still has some fight left in them.

Check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your latest Brooklyn Nets news and listen to the Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick podcast!

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.