The Cuts Start

The Giants cut three players today, Will Beatty, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Beason. The moves add $12-million to their cap space which should bring it to about $55-million. They can free up more cap space by cutting or renegotiating Victor Cruz’s contract. Cruz is set to make almost $8-million next year, which is ridiculous for a player who hasn’t touched the field in almost two seasons.

The Beason cut makes great sense, he couldn’t stay on the field. The other two are interesting. Erik Flowers wasn’t a good LT last year, but he might be a better RT. Beatty’s return could have allowed that to happen. Schwartz was very good before getting hurt, and there is not an obvious replacement right now on the roster. The Giants have spent two #1 and a #2 pick in the last three drafts on offensive linemen, are they really going to do that again?

I suppose they could spend money to fill the holes these moves created, but what about all the other holes? Right now they need a #2 WR, a RG, a RT, two DE, a CB, and a FS, plus some linebackers. And that list is just starters. They will need to add some depth as well. It’s hard to see how draft picks and $60-million can fill all of those holes.

Firing The Coach

It isn’t really a surprise that the Knicks fired Derek Fisher. I actually was more surprised they hired him in the first place. Five years and $20-million seemed a ridiculous price to pay for someone who had never coached basketball, but for whatever reason, the Knicks paid it. Fisher didn’t cover himself in glory as a coach on, or off the court.

But honestly, I think everyone knew Fisher was a place holder at best. He was the guy the Knicks gave too much money to in order to try and turn the franchise around. I don’t think anyone thought he would be the coach if the team actually became a title contender down the road. Now the Knicks are going to go with Kurt Rambis as the interim coach for the rest of the season. That’s a smart move. They shouldn’t rush things, and they should take the next logical step- trading Carmelo for future assets.

That’s the way to kick this rebuild into high gear and get the Knicks where they need to be. We all know that Pozingis is the future, but Carmelo will be well past his prime when that future arrives. The Knicks need players to surround Porzingis with and using Anthony to accomplish that is the smart play. Unfortunately, Phil Jackson doesn’t seem to agree, and for now he is the only one who matters.

Super Bowl 50

Let’s start off with the best thing about this Super Bowl, the lack of Roman numerals. Because the NFL realized that a graphic of “Super Bowl L” would simply confuse people, they went with “Super Bowl 50” instead. I don’t think “Super Bowl LI” looks any better, so let’s hope this becomes a permanent change. The Roman Empire folded about 1,500 years ago, or about 700 if you want to count the Eastern, non-Roman, part. so I think we can let go of their numerals. (But not Latin, they should still teach Latin for a year in schools everywhere because it teaches kids how English grammar works. However, I digress.)

As for the game itself, ugh. That was an ugly, ugly, football game. Denver won and didn’t even get 200 yards of offense. If you liked punting, this was your game. Peyton Manning wasn’t very good, but he managed to avoid making huge mistakes- something Cam Newton did not. Newton was terrible, and his postgame performance will hurt him in the future.

And now football goes away for six months. I predicted in my New Year’s column that the NFL would make radical changes in the game to address head injuries, and I still think that will happen but not in the way I envisioned at the start of the year. The missed extra point which ultimately cost the Patriots a tie in the AFC Championship doomed my prediction that the league will eliminate that play. But, I still think something radical will happen this offseason that will change football more than we have seen it changed in years. Time will tell.

And tomorrow I will talk about Derek Fisher and the Knicks.

 

 

Another One Bites The Dust

Louisville took an unusual step today and self-imposed a one year postseason ban on its mens basketball program. I say unusual, because while this happens frequently in Division 1 basketball, I can’t recall it happening when a team actually had a shot at winning a title. Louisville is 2nd in the ACC right now and #19 in the country. They beat #2 UNC Monday night, snapping a 12-game winning streak in the process with a dominating defense. This is a good team, unlike Syracuse last year, which did the same thing. Now, this may be because the allegations are disgusting-using prostitutes to entice players to come to Louisville. And the timing is interesting. I can’t help but notice that the biggest sports event of the year is Sunday, so dumping this news on the Friday before it seems like smart PR, but it is still a notable event.

But this is merely a band-aid in the sham that is major college recruiting. The vast majority of these kids are getting taken by a system which chews them up and spits them out. The idea that coaches and administrators are interested in educating their players is laughable. They want players to stay eligible and provide them with A-level effort on the field/court. That’s it. Oh, and those coaches and administrators make a bundle off of those efforts.

Here’s a fun little exercise. Who do you think is the highest-paid employee of most states? In almost all of them it isn’t the governor. It isn’t the governor in almost every case, it’s a coach for an athletic team. And, they don’t really even need to be a powerhouse. Here’s Massachusetts’ data which shows that in 2014 the two highest paid state employees were the UMass Basketball coach and the UMass football coach. Your tax dollars at work!

It is time to abolish the NCAA, pay the players their share of the profits and get rid of this absurd idea that this is amateur sports. College sports are the minor leagues for basketball and football. Let’s stop pretending they are anything else.

A Smart Choice

The reports are that Ben McAdoo will be the next Head Coach of the Giants. This is smartest choice for the current organization.

That’s because McAdoo has already been the Offensive Coordinator for two years and he has installed an offense that has been very good. Furthermore, Eli is 35. Starting over with a new offense would cost probably half of the productive years he has left.

But the thing is, this move is probably meaningless without a major talent upgrade on both sides of the ball. They need a bunch of linebackers, more defensive line depth, at least one more wide receiver, and more help on the offensive line. They also need to find some depth all over the place.

All of that falls on Jerry Reese. And while the Giants have only had three GM’s in the last 36 years, I don’t think Reese can survive another bad season.

 

End Of An Era

Tom Coughlin lasted 12 seasons as Giants head coach. How unique is that? Consider the fact that since he was hired, 45 people have coached the other major teams in the area. Here’s a breakdown of those numbers:

Devils-10

Islanders-7

Knicks-7

Nets-7

Rangers-4

Jets-4

Mets-4

Yankees-2

(And this means that Joe Girardi now has the longest tenure among NYC coaches.)

Over on ESPN, Dan Graziano has a nice column that reflects how I feel about his move. I can’t believe Jerry Reese isn’t following the coach out of the door. He points out that this is a systemic failure, simply not enough talent being drafted and developed.

The key thing is what happens now? Reese is staying, hopefully with a different approach, but who will be the next coach? I would put two names at the top of the list. The first, and more likely one, is Ben McAdoo. The positives for his candidacy are the fact that he is the Offensive Coordinator and would not require Eli to learn a new offense. He is also considered one of the better young coaches in the league. The knocks against him are no head coaching experience, and while the Giants like to promote former coordinators to Head Coach, the last one who went directly to Head Coach was Ray Handley.

The other name is Sean Payton. Payton is a former assistant and has gone on to become one of the best coaches in the game. His tenure may be over in New Orleans, and if it is, expect the Giants to aggressively pursue him.

And this will be the first Head Coach that Wellington Mara won’t be a part of hiring since the Giants hired Steve Owen in 1931!

If This Is It

Before the season, I predicted the Giants would finish 6-10. I also predicted this would be the end of the Giants’ careers of Coughlin, Reese and JPP. Check mark on the first part, I got the record right. TBD on the rest, but it sounds like this might be it for Tom Coughlin- reports are that he is going to resign tomorrow as Head Coach.

That would be a honorable gesture by a coach who has been nothing but a gentleman in his tenure. But it wouldn’t be enough. Coughlin didn’t have a great year, too many questionable decisions and the OBJ debacle, but apart from the Minnesota game his team played hard all year. This was a club that simply wasn’t talented enough to win on a regular basis. The offensive line was patchwork. The defense was a joke.

If Coughlin goes, and I am not entirely sure he should, the Giants have to fire Reese as well. He put this club together, and should answer for it. Too many draft picks have been busts or total wastes under Reese. Yes, there is OBJ, but there are also guys like Hankins, Austin, Moore, and Robinson. But here’s the thing, I wouldn’t fire either of them. Couhglin has one year left on his contract. Reese is about to get a ton of salary cap space to work with. Bring them into a room and explain it is a package deal, playoffs or bust for both of them.

The alternative is to start over, and I think that is foolish with Eli Manning entering the twilight of his career. Eli had a great season, possibly his best ever. He has mastered this offense and switching coaches and coordinators on him will only complicate things. Stay the course one more year, and then reassess.

Or Tom Coughlin could make this all moot and retire. We will know it all in 24 hours.

Bet It All On MSU Tonight

For an explanation, see the post below.

Here’s To 2016!

2015 was a bummer for too many reasons to mention, so I am glad to turn the page to 2016. Being an optimist by nature, I predict a much better year. I am also going to make some sports predictions- some serious, some less so.

Tonight (Close enough to 2016 for me)

Alabama and Oklahoma advance to the title game. So-so TV ratings and the fact that the MSU-Alabama game ends after the ball drops, lead to college football changing the date of the semifinals to New Year’s Day permanently.

January

I’ll take Oklahoma to win it all. That’s right, the team that lost to Texas wins the National Championship.

The Colts don’t make the playoffs, the Jets do, and we have a Super Bowl of Arizona and New England.

Yankees sign Justin Upton and trade Brett Gardner.

February

Arizona wins the Super Bowl because Bill Belichick elects to kick every time he touches the ball. When questioned after the game, Bill tells the press they don’t understand defense

March

There are a few upsets in the NCAA Tournament.

April

North Carolina cuts down the nets and wins its 7th NCAA Championship. Kennedy Meeks dominates throughout the Final Four.

Jordan Spieth wins the Masters.

The Knicks are the 8th seed in the NBA Playoffs and actually win a game in Round 1 before bowing out.

May

Rangers go down in flames to Washington in the second round of the NHL Playoffs and the rebuild begins.

June

A horse wins the triple crown for the 2nd-straight year.

Jordan Spieth wins the U.S. Open.

The Capitals win the Stanley Cup.

Golden State goes back-to-back.

July

MLB holds an All-Star Game and nobody seems to notice.

Jordan Spieth wins the British Open.

August

Tiger Woods wins the PGA Championship for his 15th, and last, major.

Mark Teixeira is ruled out for the rest of the year.

September

The NFL season starts with massive rule changes to prevent head injuries. Among them, no more extra points as touchdowns are automatically seven points unless a team goes for two.

The U.S. wins the Ryder Cup.

Serena wins the US Open and retires on the court.

October

The Cubs win the World Series. The World ends.

November (If there is a November)

 

Jerry Jones fires himself as GM after the Cowboys stumble to a 2-8 start.

The Giants, under new coach Jon Gruden, end November with a winning record for the first time in years.

December

The Jets wrap up the top seed in the AFC. The Giants are winners of the NFC East.

A blogger looks back at his failed predictions for 2016 and vows to do better in 2017.

 

Happy New Year to all!

 

 

 

So You’re Saying There’s A Chance!

I think the Colts might have the greatest playoff clinching formula I have ever seen.

Start with the fact that they needed Denver to win last night. (Check)

Then, like most teams in their position,  they need to win next week.

They also need the team ahead of them to lose (Houston)

But here is where it gets nuts. They need to tie the FIFTH tiebreaker with Houston and pass them on the SIXTH tiebreaker. (Strength of victory and Strength of schedule) That means they need seven, yes SEVEN, other things to happen beyond the above.

Those are wins by the following teams- Ravens, Bills, Falcons, Broncos, Dolphins, Steelers, and Raiders. ESPN put the odds at 3,326-to-1.

But at least I know what will keep my attention in Week 17.

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