This week in New York sports we saw Mark Sanchez get benched, David Wright sign a contract extension with the Mets, Robert Griffin III beat the Giants and Mark Sanchez get his job back. The Knicks and Nets are doing well in the early season and they have a couple games against each other in the coming weeks. We want your feedback on all of these issues and more. Leave a comment and tell us what you think. Let’s get on with it!
Question of the Week:
Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins with whom he has a 3-month-old daughter Zoey. Belcher fled the scene and eventually shot himself in the head. Some believe Belcher was simply upset beyond reproach, possibly imbalanced and wasn’t thinking clearly. Others feel that Belcher is a monster who does not deserve our sympathy. The opinion that a lack of gun control could be to blame-as Bob Costas suggested during halftime of a Sunday night football game-has also been thrown around.
- Do you feel tighter gun control rules could have played a role in preventing this tragedy? Should laws on handguns specifically be rethought?
Author’s Answer: I believe in the right to bear arms. I believe in the saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. However, I do believe that guns are the easiest way to kill a person and if they were eliminated some deaths would be eliminated. If a responsible man or woman wants to own a gun to potentially protect their family, I believe they should be able to. The problem is, who decides who is responsible enough?
The Jets have an incredibly easy schedule and if they want to fight their way to 9-7 they shouldn’t have a problem doing it. If they win their last four games they have a chance at the playoffs. The problem is Rex has three quarterbacks he “likes” but doesn’t have one who he feels confident in. The question is:
Who should quarterback and lead the Jets for the last four games of the season? Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow or Greg McElroy?
Author’s Answer: I am starting Tebow. However, Rex can’t do that this week. For him to go to Tebow now would be admitting that he has been wrong all season and for the past two seasons that he has been defending Sanchez’s mediocre play. The Jets can still get into the playoffs and because of that Rex can’t go to McElroy. For this week Rex has to run Sanchez out there. If Sanchez doesn’t get it done this week it could mean the end for himself, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum. Well, that might not actually be a bad thing in the long term.
Team by Team:
New York Giants (7-5)
Loss 17-16 at Washington Redskins
Next 3 Games:
- Sunday, Dec. 9 at 4:25 PM vs New Orleans Saints (5-7)
- Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 PM at Atlanta Falcons (11-1)
- Sunday, Dec. 23 at 1:00 PM at Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
- On the season the Giants are allowing 4.6 yards per carry and an average of 121.8 rushing yards per game which has them ranked 21st in the NFL in run defense. Their pass defense is ranked 22nd in the league.
- Monday night was the second time in three years that the New York Giants lost a game that Eli Manning did not throw an interception in. The other was week one this year at home against the Cowboys.
- Hakeem Nicks only has two touchdowns and is only on pace to reach 780 yards this season after consecutive seasons of at least seven touchdowns and 1,000 yards.
Robert Griffin III is a nightmare for defenses to deal with and after Monday night no one knows that better than the Giants pass rush. When RGIII puts the ball in his running backs stomach, opposing defenses are in a very difficult situation. They need to respect Alfred Morris, who is already over 1,000 rushing yards this year, and of course they need to be ready for RGIII to pull it back and run it.
Despite Griffin’s unique ability the Giants gave him too much respect. Eli Manning played very well against Green Bay and was playing well Monday night. Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin were so desperate to keep the clock running and keep the ball out of Griffin’s hands that they actually tied Manning’s.
The Giants have to deal with the Redskins twice every year and you can bet they will be games the Giants circle on their calendar as big ones.
The Giants have a tough three games ahead of them. They host the Saints then travel to Atlanta then Baltimore. If they don’t get a win in one of those games they can very well go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. I wouldn’t expect that to happen and in all honesty the Giants should beat the Saints.
Drew Brees is an elite quarterback but he becomes an all-time great when he has the clever imagination of Sean Payton calling his plays. Payton’s absence has been very hard on the Saints. Brees doesn’t seem to have the same confidence in the play calling and they are much more conservative.
With Bradshaw running well and the Saints ranked 32nd in the NFL against the run the Giants should be able to keep the ball out of Brees’ hands. However, they can’t make the same mistake they made against Washington and tie Eli’s hands. Yes, controlling the clock and keeping the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands is important but not important enough to take the ball out of your best player’s hands.
New York Jets (5-7)
Win 7-6 vs. Arizona Cardinals
Next 3 Games:
- Sunday, Dec. 9 at 1:00 PM at Jacksonville Jaguars
- Monday, Dec. 17 at 8:30 PM at Tennessee Titans
- Sunday, Dec. 23 at 8:20 PM vs. San Diego Chargers
- The Arizona Cardinals had allowed 109 combined points in four consecutive losses leading up to their game against the Jets. That’s an average of 27.25 points per game against the Cards, the Jets scored 7.
- Sunday was the first time in Greg McElroy’s career that the young quarterback has been active on game day and he played and won for Rex Ryan.
- Mark Sanchez and his 12/13 touchdown/interception ratio will start for the Jets this Sunday in Jacksonville a week after being pulled at home against the Cardinals.
There are no positive notes to take from this game other than the Jets winning the game. Honestly, the Jets would have lost to any team other than the Cardinals last week. The Cardinals are the only team that has a worse quarterback situation than the Jets. Only John Skelton has a worse passer rating than Mark Sanchez and Ryan Lindley, the unfortunate rookie asked to lead the Cardinals, is miles away from being quality NFL starter.
Shonn Green and Bilal Powell both had solid performances for the Jets. Neither of them was outstanding but they both moved the ball and combined to average 4.5 yards per carry on 36 carries. The Jets offense is what Rex Ryan wants it to be when McElroy came in. They focused on the run and when McElroy needed to throw he did so without turning the ball over. That is all they need if their defense can limit opposing offenses.
Sanchez is not the answer for the Jets in the long term but this season’s struggles are not all on him. Rex wants to play shutdown defense and control the clock by running the ball on offense. Rex’s defense has allowed at least 23 points in eight of their 12 games this year. That is not shutdown defense.
If Sanchez gets a win this week, he will probably continue to start. If things aren’t going well during the game or if he comes up with a loss, the Jets will turn it over to McElroy or Tebow. I think Sanchez’s time is winding down and only winning out and sneaking into the playoffs can save him. You would think that’s what Jets fans would want, but that could be the worst thing for them. It’s the Tony Romo effect. Everyone (except Jerry Jones) knows Tony can’t get it done in playoff situations but Tony does well enough during the regular season to keep his job. Sometimes it’s better to fall flat and start from scratch than continuing to give a mediocre player chance after chance to get it done.
New York Knicks
Next 3 Games:
- Thursday, Dec. 6 at 8:00 PM at Miami Heat
- Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8:00 PM at Chicago Bulls
- Sunday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 PM vs. Denver Nuggets
- The Knicks are in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. They travel to Miami where they will play second place Heat on Thursday.
- JR Smith had only made 6 of his last 26 shots when he pulled up for a 17 foot jumper as the clock wound down in a tie game in Charlotte. He drilled it and the Knicks won the game.
- The Knicks are ranked 26th in the NBA averaging only 39.75 rebounds per game. Miami, Atlanta and Boston are ranked 28th, 29th and 30th.
- Carmello Anthony received five stitches on his left middle finger after diving for a loose ball against Charlotte Wednesday night.
Knicks really just survived Wednesday night’s game against Charlotte. They missed 11 straight shots late in the third quarter and if it wasn’t for a pair of back-to-back self-inflicted turnovers by Charlotte when they were just distancing themselves from the Knicks the Bobcats could have pulled away. JR Smith was taking every shot that came his way but wasn’t hitting many. Smith kept shooting, he is forever confident, and ended up hitting the game winner.
After winning another four consecutive games the Knicks find themselves in first place and could be winning the respect of the league. The Knicks haven’t lost at the Garden yet this year which is important for a team that is trying to prove themselves as a real threat come playoff time.
The Knicks and Heat play Thursday night. If the Knicks win they will be a game and a half ahead of the Heat and if they lose they will be dead even at 12-5 and will have split their two head to head meetings.
Amare Stoudemire was hoping to be back for the Knicks vs. Lakers on Christmas day but he is no longer confident that he will reach that return date. Iman Shumpert’s injury could keep him sideline past Stoudemire’s return date but the Knicks will definitely see improvement when they return. Shumpert and Stoudemire were doing conditioning drills after practice this week and are both headed in the right direction.
Brooklyn Nets (11-6)
Loss 117-111 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Next 3 Games:
- Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 PM vs. Golden State Warriors
- Sunday, Dec. 9 at 6:00 PM vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7:00 PM vs. New York Knicks
- Brooklyn had a great chance to make a statement to the league and boost their own confidence moving forward when they played the Heat and Thunder last week. Winning one of those games would have meant a lot to themselves and the fans. They lost both.
- Andre Blatche has 19 rebounds and 39 points when filling in for Brooke Lopez over the last two games.
- Brook Lopez and his 7-foot 265-pound frame is greatly missed in the middle on the defensive end of the floor.
There is plenty of reasons to believe in Brooklyn. They are currently ranked 3rd in the Eastern Conference just behind the Heat and Knicks. With Boston and Chicago struggling this year and a Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic, the top of the standings looks very different in the east this year.
The Nets looked awful defensively without Brook Lopez. Lopez has never been considered as an elite defender but he is still only 24 years old and is improving at that end of the floor. Lopez is not just a 7-footer but he is athletic and strong. Any time you have a player of that stature it clogs the middle and makes things difficult on opposing offense, even if just by discouraging them from attacking the basket. Lopez is out of his walking boot and could be returning this week. The fear is that it was a foot injury that limited Lopez to playing in only five games all of last season.
Brooklyn has a stretch of winnable games coming up. nine of their next 13 games are at home and they play the Knicks twice over that stretch. This is a time during the season when teams like the Nets need to win games if they want to make an impact late in the season. If the Nets are content to just simply make the playoffs they may suffer the safe fate the Knicks did last year; playing an elite team in the opening round on their court. The Nets appear to be getting Brook Lopez back in the coming days and if they do, they need to capitalize on this stretch of games at home.
Joe Johnson is averaging less than 16 points, three rebounds and four assists per game which is not enough to keep the Nets at the top of the conference. Johnson is a streaky player and was reportedly not in the greatest shape at the start of the season but the Nets believe he is getting there. They need him to get there if the Nets want to be considered an elite team. Gerald Wallace has done, and will do, a great job, of playing defense and supplying the occasional spurt of offense but the Nets’ only true scorer is Johnson and he needs to get it going.
MLB Offseason Updates:
New York Mets
- David Wright signed an 8-year, $138 million deal that will keep him in Queens through the 2020 season. Wright was beaming today at the winter meetings. Hey, sing me to that kind of deal and I’ll be happy too! When asked Wright said that he was “brutally honest” when speaking with Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons when questioning the Mets’ future. Wright said that he asked those questions before any talks of a contract extension had even begun. So not only did the Mets resign the face of their franchise but they also gave him confidence in their plans for the future.
- Alderson expressed that right now the Mets are more likely to keep RA Dickey for the final year of his contract without signing an extension, than trade him. That’s not the greatest plan. They tried that with Jose Reyes and it resulted in the Mets watching their man hit the free agent market and walk away. If they are going to keep Dickey they need to get that extension done or cut bait. The biggest example of this is LeBron James leaving Cleveland. If Cleveland traded LeBron in his final year they would have brought in some real talent to replace him but they didn’t. They played the wait-and-see game which resulted in Cleveland having one of the worst years in NBA history when LeBron took his talents to South Beach.
New York Yankees
- The Yankees have lost their third baseman Alex Rodriguez for a chunk of next season due to a hip issue. Rodriguez will undergo surgery in January, (don’t ask me to explain why they are waiting another month) to repair a torn labrum. A-Rod is 37 years old and is about to undergo his second hip surgery, one on each hip. Alex has five years left on his contract and is owed $114 million more. He has been declining and many players would consider retiring after finding out they need such a serious operation at such a late stage in their career but A-Rod can’t do that. Yes, he has made a ton of money but could you walk away from $114 million? Neither could I.
- There were reports that Derek Jeter has gained some weight and may not be in shape for the start of the season. I wouldn’t worry about that. When interviewed by ESPNRadio Jeter sounded like his calm, cool self. He had a broken ankle and was off his feet. He is currently in a walking boot when in motion but can take it off when at rest.