Saturday, November 18, 2017

Open Mike's NFL Picks for Week 11

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mara and Tisch to Keep McAdoo ... for now

The New York Giants will keep Ben McAdoo around as head coach of the football team.  The Giants are 1-8 and starring at a likely top-5 pick in next spring's NFL draft. The Giants could also be looking at the worst season in franchise history. As poorly as the Giants have played this season, it is not enough for  the Giants to fire McAdoo now.

Plus, this is a franchise that has never liked the idea of firing coaches in-season. They let Ray Handley, Dan Reeves and Jim Fassel all twist in the wind during their final seasons in New York. It will happen again here with McAdoo. The only way the Giants part ways with him is if this team gets totally embarrassed before the end of the month.

Here is the statement below.

Ben McAdoo is our head coach and has our support," the statement reads. "We are in the midst of an extremely disappointing season. Our performance this year, particularly the past two weeks, is inexcusable and frustrating. While we appreciate that our fans are unhappy with what has occurred, nobody is more upset than we are.
“Our plan is to do what we have always done, which is to not offer a running commentary on the season. It is our responsibility to determine the reasons for our poor performance and at the end of the year, we will evaluate the 2017 season in its entirety and make a determination on how we move forward.” 

Ben McAdoo Job At Risk After Giants Plunge to 1-8

49ERS 31 - GIANTS 21 

Put a fork in em. Ben McAdoo's tenure as Giants head coach might be over tonight. In fact, by the time we all wake up Monday morning McAdoo might be cleaning out his office at the Giants Timex Center. Losing is one thing. Losing to a winless 49ers team with C.J. Beathard at quarterback is quiet another.

The Giants once again looked like a team that didn't care. Down 17-13 in the third quarter they played like a team that quit on their coach when he needed them to play at their very best. All of sudden the Giants forgot how to tackle as Beathard did as pleased for most of the day. Later in the third, he sliced and diced the Giants on an 11-play, 61-yard drive that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown run by Beathard himself to give the Niners a 24-13 lead.

Now it was starting to feel like the game was escaping from the Giants. A three-and-out was quickly followed by another Niners score, this one on a 33-yard rush by Matt Berida, who went untouched into the end zone for the score to push San Fran to a 31-13 lead.

Overall the Giants allowed Beathard to tear them apart for 288 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Moreover, Big Blue allowed 186 yards on the ground to a Niners team that was ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing yards. Just embarrassing. Just humiliating.

Want to blame Eli Manning? Go ahead. All he did was throw for 273 yards and two touchdowns inspite of the fact that the team was imploding around him. Yes, Eli had a bad fumble early in the game, but the guy is not the reason this team is playing like a bunch of quitters. He's the only out there trying.

But it doesn't matter who was and who wasn't putting forth the effort on Sunday, because McAoo's time is likely finished.

Principal Owner John Mara was seen pacing back and forth in the owners box. A large scowl could be seen on his face -- as he looked more frustrated than anyone. The Giants are not used to being in this position. Heck when given the chance to fire the likes of Ray Handley and Dan Reeeves, the Giants let them finish out the season first. Firing coaches in season is not the Giants way of business.

But that might change this time. McAdoo is totally lost. He can't motivate his team, his players hate him and bash him in the papers. When asked about Sunday's loss all McAdoo could muster was that he was out-coached and it is time to move on to Kansas City. You're no Bill Belichick, Ben. Give it up.

McAdoo's arrogant personality;
his abrasive way of dealing with players and the media might force Mara and Steve Tisch to make a call they normally don't like making, unless they made that call on the flight back from San Francisco.

If the Giants are to move on from McAdoo after a 1-8 start to the season, who will take over? Steve Spagnoulu has the coaching experience when he was with the then St. Louis Rams, but his defense has been horrible. One could argue that Spags should be fired along with McAdoo. Still, he's the most likely to finish out the string.

Mike Sullivan the offensive coordinator is another possibility. He's been mostly an assistant coach in his career, and has spent all but two years of the past 13 seasons in New York. He jumpstarted the team to its first win when he started calling the offense. Perhaps Sullivan is deserving of taking the reigns should McAdoo be dismissed Monday morning.

We'll find out soon enough.

Bowles back on Hot Seat after Jets meltdown in Tampa Bay


Embarrassing is about the only word that can best describe the Jets 15-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Inexcusable is another one. It is ironic that in a season where there were next to no expectations for the Jets this season, the one week where the Jets actually were expected to win and put themselves firmly in the playoff picture they spit the bit, playing every bit like the team everyone thought would be 1-15 this season.

The Jets played scared and careless on Sunday in Tampa Bay. They made a Buccaneers defense that is ranked 28th in the entire NFL shut them down over 60 minutes of football sans a Robbie Anderson 38-yard touchdown in garbage time.

While the score was 15-10, it wasn't even that close. It was really 15-3, and had the Buccaneers been piloted by Jamies Winston instead of ex-Jet flameout Ryan Fitzpatrick, it would have been more like 35-3.

The Jets stunk. The Jets offensive line couldn't create any holes for a ground game that was grounded, and held to just 56-yards on 19 carries. That is 2.9 yards per carry in case you were wondering. The offensive line couldn't even block, as Josh McCown was treated like a rag doll by his former teammates who sacked him six times and hit him over a dozen more.

This is not to say that McCown is blameless in the Jets loss. He wasn't accurate with his throws, and tossed a horrific interception in the second quarter; a few of the sacks he took were his fault. But consider this was a Tampa Bay front seven that had only eight sacks in nine games coming in, had six on Sunday, the Jets should be embarrassed.

Furthermore, for the Jets to allow Fitzpatrick to do just enough to beat them was a disgrace in itself. While Fitz wasn't good, he was accurate when he needed to be. He was nearly perfect on a 17-play drive in the first quarter that ended in the Bucs first field goal of the day. Later in the game, with the Bucs clinging to a 9-3 lead, he engineered a 15-play, 81-yard drive that ate up seven and a half minutes for Tampa's lone touchdown to make it 15-3 with 6:05 to go in the game.

Fitzpatrick wasn't spectacular, but he was better than McCown and that is all that matters.

The Jets hideous performance Sunday should rest at the feet of their head coach Todd Bowles, who once again showed why he may not be the right guy to lead this team when the stakes are high. The Jets were unprepared; they acted like a team that had arrived all week, and were falling in love with their press clippings of being an overachieving underdog.

Heck, there was even talk just a week ago that Bowles wold be a coach of the year candidate. Now, it is worth asking if Bowles will still have a job in seven weeks.

Yes, the Jets offensive game plan was horrible, they didn't adjust and that is certainly at the fault of offensive coordinator John Morton. But who is the one who should be overseeing all of those decisions? Bowles. Not only did Bowles look disinterested on the sideline, his inability to take responsibility for this team's preparation speaks volumes.

And yes, Bowles did get something out of this team this season. They showed signs of life that they didn't show at all last season, and he united this locker room for the first time since he got here. But the fact is the Jets have to ask themselves at the end of the season, is Todd Bowles the right man for the job in the longterm. Sunday's loss doesn't help.

The Jets came into this game knowing full well a win put them at .500 going into the bye week. Now they stand at 4-6; their highly unlikely shot at the playoffs are now dashed. The Jets should stop kidding themselves and start looking toward 2018 and the draft. That means benching McCown and giving Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg three games a piece to prove who should still be here when the Jets do in fact sign or draft their "franchise quarterback" in the off-season.

The Jets season is over. Let the evaluation process begin to determine what fate awaits Bowles, McCown and the rest of this football team moving forward.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ben McAdoo Era Must End After Gutless Effort Against Rams

RAMS 51 - GIANTS 17 

The Giants played like a team that didn't care. If that isn't an indictment of head coach Ben McAdoo, I don't know what is. The Giants were totally outplayed, outclassed and out-everything as the Rams blew away the Giants 51-17, in one of the most lopsided losses in Giants history.

Think of it this way, it was the worst loss by the Giants at home since 1964 when they got blown out by the Cleveland Browns 52-21 at Yankee Stadium. The lasts time Big Blue gave up 50 points in a game, you'd have to go back to 1999 when the Giants got blown away by Brad Johnson and the Washington Redskins 50-21.

That is how epically and historically bad Sunday's effort was.

Perhaps the biggest microcosm of the day came with the Rams facing a third and 33 from their own 48 yard-line. Rams quarterback Jared Goff dumped off a pass to Robert Woods in the flat on a simple bubble screen, and the wide out did the rest breezing by defenders like a hot knife through butter on his way to the end zone to give the Rams a 17-7 lead with 9:26 to go in the second quarter. That's right, a team not only converted on a third and 33, they scored a touchdown on the same play.

Like I said the Giants played like they didn't care. Before anyone could blink it was 34-10 after Goff led a seven play, 75-yard drive to get Los Angeles into the end zone again to start the third quarter. Blink again and it was 48-10.

There is plenty of blame to go around. The defense showed absolutely no effort against one of the top offenses in the NFL. Eli Manning was dreadful, overthrowing receivers and turning the ball over on multiple possessions. But, the one man who deserves all the blame for 51-17 is head coach Ben McAdoo. The same Ben McAdoo who said that the Giants had a great week of practice leading up to this game.

Most coaches are supposed to have the pulse of their team. McAdoo doesn't know what a pulse is if it hit him in the face and laughed. The Giants had a bye week before this game, more than two weeks to correct the ills of a 1-6 start and get the second half of the season on the right foot. Instead the Giants looked unprepared and unmotivated. What's more this was a week with another distraction as McAdoo suspended cornerback Janoris Jenkins for conduct detrimental to the team. That's right a suspension coming out of a bye week! Jenkins is the second cornerback to be suspended by McAdoo this year, earlier in the season Dominique Rodgers Cromartie was suspended for Week 6.

Yet, McAdoo thinks he's leading great practices.

When asked about what he said to the team at halftime of Sunday's meltdown, McAdoo was speechless. So much for being the fearless leader of the New York Giants.

Later in his post-game presser, McAdoo threw the entire team under the bus, suggesting that he would begin evaluating all the players to see which young players can contribute. When asked if Eli Manning was included in that evaluation, McAdoo emphasized "everybody." When asked about his coaches comments, Manning said he wanted to play. Yes, even Manning has had his issues with McAdoo this season. Sunday was the second time that the head coach and quarterback have publicly gone at it.

While Manning isn't blameless for the Giants 1-7 start to the season, it isn't all his fault. He has a skeleton of a football team around him, starting with a horrendous offensive line and ground attack. I am sure Manning wishes he was in a time machine to 2011 when he had Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw in his backfield. That was only six years ago, but it feels like a century ago with the way this 2017 version has played this season.

If the writing isn't on the wall now for owners John Mara and Steve Tish, it has to be soon. While a lot of fans wouldn't mind seeing the team tank the rest of the season to get a high draft pick, the goal of the franchise should be to win as many games as possible to avoid being in the conversation with the Browns and 49ers as one of the worst teams in football. If the Giants have any humility in them, they would fire McAdoo now, tonight, immediately. He should not be allowed to coach another practice or another game for that matter.

The Giants need to move on from McAdoo, they might as well get a head start on the coaching search before someone else does.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Jets Rumble Past Buffalo on Thursday Night

JETS 34 - BILLS 21

Behind a strong running game and suffocating defense, the Jets finally figured out how to close a game on Thursday against their division foes, the Buffalo Bills by the tune of 34-21.

In all honesty though it really was never that close. Gang Green had a lead as large as 34-7 mid-way through the fourth quarter before Buffalo scored a couple of garbage time touchdowns to make the final score look good.

Still the Jets sit at 4-5, well beyond anyone's expectations for this season, and with the way this team battles and competes every week it is hard not to think that the 2017 Jets could end up 8-8, or dare I say, 9-7. What a miracle that would be considering the talent on this team is not at an elite level.

Quarterback Josh McCown was solid again for the Jets. While his numbers didn't jump off the page, he threw for only 140 yards, he was deadly accurate, completing 70 percent of his passes, and, he continues to show why he is the perfect leader for this ball club. McCown isn't flashy, but the man gets this Jets offense and he has done a fine job making all the pieces come together.

The Jets wanted a quarterback who could help develop some of the young talent on this team, and McCown has done that. Early in the contest when a play wasn't available to him, McCown took off a ran for a 10-yard score to give the Jets a 7-0 lead. Coming out of the half with New York already leading 10-7, McCown dropped a dime to Robby Anderson from 25-yards out for a touchdown to give the Jets a 17-7 lead. The touchdown was the third straight game in which Anderson has hauled in a long touchdown score from McCown. Those two are clicking right now.

But beyond McCown's efforts, Thursday's win was all about the defense and running game. The Jets defense manhandled Tyrod Taylor, sacking him seven times, and forcing two fumbles. One of the fumbles was picked up Demario Davis at the Buffalo 10-yard line, which would turn into a Matt Forte touchdown just a couple of plays later to give New York a 31-7 lead. The seven sacks of Taylor were the most the Jets had on an opposing quarterback all season. The unit had been much maligned for its inability to get to the quarterback all season, that was not an issue on Thursday. The Jets truly exposed the Bills as a complete fraud from the quarterback to the offensive line.

Meanwhile, Forte got his wish. After the Jets disappointing 25-20 loss to the Falcons last week, he told the media, and offensive coordinator John Morton that he wanted the ball. The Jets fed him the damn ball on Thursday, and the former Pro-Bowler had his best game of the season, rushing for 77 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Even Bilal Powell, who had been M.I.A. over the past number of weeks made an appearance Thursday. He gashed the Bills on a handful of big runs, including one that went for 51 yards. Powell finished with 74 yards on nine carries.

The victory now gives the Jets two wins in the division. With some extra time to prepare for their next game in Tampa Bay next weekend, the remaining schedule for the Jets is indeed daunting, but with the way this team has played of late, nothing is impossible for them. That is just the way Todd Bowles had drawn it up all year. Give the man credit, he said he would change the culture of the team, and the man -- thus far -- has succeeded.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Astros Earn History, Capture 1st Ever World Series Title

HOU Wins World Series 4-3

Well, Sports Illustrated got it right three years ago. The 2017 Houston Astros are indeed Wold Champions.

The incredible Astros squad that captured the imagination of the country with their gritty style of play during the early stages of this Fall Classic, earned their place  in history with a dominant 5-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 7. A series with so many highs and lows, and plenty of offense in between, it was fitting that Game 7 went back to the games roots, pitching.

It was the clever managing of Astros skipper A.J. Hinch, combined with a solid effort out of the Astros pen that delivered the first ever baseball world title to the city of Houston, a city that just eleven weeks ago was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

Coming into Game 7, the Astros had a team ERA over 4.5 in the postseason. While Justin Verlander had been brilliant all month, the same couldn't be said for the rest of the Astros pitching staff, particularly the bullpen, but that all changed on Wednesday.

Right from the get-go, the Astros made it clear they would not be denied their place among baseball's greatest teams. George Springer, who had been at the forefront of the Astros rebuild four years ago, got the game started with a hard double down the left field line on the third pitch of the game by Yu Darvish. Springer would later score when Darvish was late to first base on a grounder by Alex Bregman to put Houston on top 1-0.

With momentum on their side, Bregman caught everyone by surprise when he stole third base; he would eventually score on Jose Altuve's soft grounder to the right side to make it 2-0.

Houston was not done playing small ball in the seventh game of a series where they dominated with the long ball.  A lead-off walk to Brian McCann and a double by Marwin Gonzalez was soon followed by a RBI groundout by pitcher Lance McCullers to make it 3-0. Finally, Springer reminded the Dodgers why he is the World Series MVP when he smoked a Darvish fastball into the bleachers in left-center field to make it 5-0.

Springer, who was 2-for-5 in Game 7, absolutely owned the Dodgers in the World Series. He hit .379 with an OPS of 1.471 in the seven game series. Five of his six post-season home runs and seven of his nine post-season RBIs came in this series against the Dodgers. Springer earned the Chevy truck.

Meanwhile, Game 7 starter Lance McCullers really didn't have good stuff. He wasn't giving up any runs, but hit four batters in two-and-a-third innings of work. With a 5-run lead in the third inning, Hinch wasn't going to fool around and wait for McCullers to get on track, not now in the final game of the season with everything on the line.

Hinch went right to the pen and brought out his best reliever, Bradley Peacock, who proceeded to jam Yasil Puig on a fly out to center, and struck out Joc Pederson swinging on a wicked curve ball to get out of danger in the third.

A series that had once been a display of two teams out-muscling each other with home runs, had now turned into a chess match between Hinch and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Hinch knew that Roberts was going to use Clayton Kershaw in this game, and predictably the Dodgers ace came in to settle things down in the third inning, giving Roberts and LA four shutout innings of work. But Hinch was the one who gambled correctly each time.

Peacock gave the Astros two shutout innings, before Hinch gave the ball to Francisco Lirano in a tight jam in the bottom of the fifth against Cody Bellinger. After Liriano got Bellinger on a ground out, Hinch went back to his pen and brought out Chris Devenski, who was able to retire Puig on a hard liner to first.

Fastforward to the bottom of the sixth, and Hinch rolled the dice again, bringing out Charlie Morton who hadn't pitched since Game 4 in Houston. Most would think that Hinch would use Morton for only an inning or two before going to Dallas Kuechle and Justin Verlander to close it out. But, no, Hinch trusted his guy, even inspite of the fact that Morton gave up a RBI single to Andre Either in the sixth inning. And Morton rewarded his manager's confidence. He would retire the Dodgers in order in each of the final three innings of this ballgame, becoming more and more dominant with each pitch. The ninth inning alone, Morton needed only nine pitches. The final out he got on just one pitch.

The Astros poured out of the dugout onto the field to join in the celebration. 55 years in the making for the city of Houston, and for the Astros front office, it was five years in the making since the club's move to the American League West. It was worth the wait and all the losing, because now, anybody who talks about the Astros will refer to them as World Champions. And with so many young guys under control, they might be there for a while.