Giants Fans, We Have Hit Rock Bottom

New York Giants / NFL

When determining the state of the New York Giants franchise, I keep returning to a quote from Netflix’s hit teen show, Outer Banks. The show’s protagonist, John B, recalled an old saying that his father told him as a kid.

John B said, “My old man used to tell me it’s best to never say you’ve hit rock bottom. Trust me, he said, ‘you can always go lower.'”

After Sunday’s 34-10 loss to the Eagles, the Giants have hit rock bottom. The loss perfectly outlined the Giants’ problems since 2017. Inconsistency at quarterback, below-average offensive line play, unoriginal offensive gameplans, a nonexistent pass rush, and an uninspiring coaching staff top the list of deficiencies for Big Blue. These are some of the many reasons why the Giants are tied with the Jets (go figure) for the worst record since 2017 (22-57).

Before diving into Daniel Jones’s tenure, let’s talk about Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon. Fromm gave one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in the NFL, finishing the day 6/17 for 25 yards with 1 INT and a QBR of 19.5. Mike Glennon, who was benched last week, took over for Fromm in the second half and went 17/27 for 93 yards with 1 TD, 1 INT, and a QBR of 65.8.

Full disclosure, I wanted Fromm to start over Glennon to see if the former Georgia QB could be a future backup for this team. The answer is no.

It’s not that the Giants just lost to the Eagles. They were embarrassed. The offense scored 3 points for three and a half quarters and accumulated just 192 total yards. The stunning part is the Giants won the time of possession battle and ran more offensive plays. But when your offense is more basic than vanilla ice cream, it’s not hard for opposing defenses to prepare.

On the defensive side, the front-7 couldn’t sack the quarterback even if the offense used tackling dummies to block. The saving grace all year has been Patrick Graham and the secondary. At least Graham’s playcalling and the back four give the team a chance to compete on a weekly basis.

The once-proud organization that won two Super Bowls in four years now fosters a system of losing and dysfunction. The blame starts at the top with John Mara. The Giants’ owner is reportedly tired of losing and wants to get a team on the right path again, but he’s failed to recognize the mistake that put the team in this very situation.

The day Mara hired Dave Gettleman to be the general manager will go down as one of the top five worst decisions in franchise history.

For every good decision from Gettleman, and it’s only a few, five bad ones follow. It all started when the team drafted Saquon Barkley with the number two pick. I know not to draft a running back in the top 5. You know not to draft a running back in the top 5. Even my mother would never make this mistake and yet, the Giants took Barkley instead of choosing Eli’s successor. Now, Barkley looks like a shell of himself and remains the furthest thing from a team leader.

After signing and then trading Odell Beckham Jr., Gettleman drafted Daniel Jones to take Manning’s place at quarterback.

There’s a popular video where a middle-aged man walks up to the camera and says, “You’re not that guy, pal. Trust me. You’re not that guy.” That’s the best way to describe Jones. At times, Jones will flash his athletic prowess and scramble for a 50-yard run. He’ll typically then follow it up with an overthrow on a check down. That’s the DJ experience. He’s average at best with a low ceiling and severe limitations on what he can do in terms of throwing the ball. Jones also smears his hands with popcorn butter before every possession as he leads the NFL in fumbles since 2019 with 36 (!).

Do you know who else isn’t “the guy?” Joe Judge. After every Giants game, I ask myself one question. What is Joe Judge good at? Judge was a former special teams coach, and yet that unit only ranks 14th in the NFL. The Giants are ATROCIOUS (deserved an all-caps) in the last two minutes before the half, having been outscored 68-0. I joke that Judge is the biggest “undisciplined disciplinarian” because the team continues to falter in big spots especially in close games. I spoke more about my problems with Judge, who owns a 10-21 record, after a Week 2 loss against the WFT.

I can go on and on about Gettleman’s acquisitions. For every Blake Martinez and James Bradberry, there’s a Golden Tate, Nate Solder, and Will Hernandez. Despite all of these mistakes, Mara still deserves the most blame because he empowered Gettleman.

Losing organizations build teams the wrong way. Yesterday’s report that Judge and Jones will be returning for 2022 appears in the first couple chapters in the book on how to build a losing team.

I’m upset, but I’m not furious that the Giants decided to run it back with Judge and Jones. I don’t agree, but there are arguments to be made to keep both. However, all signs point towards Gettleman being fired at the end of the season. The right move would be to bring in a new GM first to discuss the future of the coach and QB with ownership, two of the most important aspects of a winning team. If you take away that decision from the GM, what is the point of hiring an outside voice? No GM wants these decisions made for them, which leads me to believe the Giants may promote an executive within the organization to GM. Why get a new voice to build a team the right way when you can promote someone who has been a part of the losing culture? In other words, it’s the worst-case scenario.

John B was right. Giants fans, we might go lower than rock bottom.

Do you agree that this is rock bottom for the Giants? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

NBA Christmas Wish Lists For All 30 Teams

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns

Christmas Day is the unofficial start to the NBA season. It’s great exposure for the league as each game features a popular team or superstar player. That’s been the case in years past, but 2021 is different.

Many star players are in health and safety protocols due to COVID, jeopardizing their availability for Christmas games. These stars include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young. As appetizing as a Cam Thomas versus Isaiah Thomas matchup might be, I, along with the rest of the world, wanted to see LeBron James square off against Kevin Durant.

Regardless, the season will (hopefully) go on, and every team needs something for Christmas – good health, more shooting, stars to play, etc. Luckily for these organizations, I’m here to write their wish lists.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: 1) The “Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can’t play together” narrative to end. 2) A point guard that can shoot.

Brooklyn Nets: 1) Kevin Durant stays healthy. 2) Kyrie Irving plays basketball.

New York Knicks: 1) Trade for another ballhandler with Derrick Rose out for 6-8 weeks. 2) Trade for a true playmaker that can create his own shot. 3) Evan Fournier to play defense. 4) Pray that a star wants to come to the Knicks via trade or free agency at some point. 5) Play defense like the team did last year. I have a lot more wishes, but I’ll spare you the time.

Philadelphia 76ers: 1) Figure out the Ben Simmons saga. Either trade him or play him.

Toronto Raptors: 1) Realize that Scottie Barnes, not Pascal Siakam, is the player to build around. 2) Trade or buy out Goran Dragic.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: 1) Continue their hot start. 2) Trade for another big. Maybe Jerami Grant?

Cleveland Cavaliers: 1) Make the playoffs. 2) Protect Evan Mobley at all costs.

Detroit Pistons: 1) Compete on a nightly basis, but lose (a lot of) games. 2) Win the Draft Lottery.

Indiana Pacers: 1) Trade Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis. (Or trade both?)

Milwaukee Bucks: 1) Protect Giannis at all costs.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: 1) To remember that they made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. 2) Start playing like they made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. 3) They have too many rotation guys so trade someone like Cam Reddish.

Charlotte Hornets: 1) Try to pry Myles turner away from the Pacers. 2) Let LaMelo cook.

Miami Heat: 1) Load manage Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler. 2) Get a healthy Bam Adebayo. 3) Explore the trade or buyout market for another big man.

Orlando Magic: 1) Keep playing the young guys. 2) See if a contender is interested in Robin Lopez.

Washington Wizards: 1) Face the reality that Bradley Beal needs to be traded.

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: 1) Get the Joker some help. 2) Talk themselves off the ledge after signing Michael Porter Jr. to a max extension.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 1) Give Anthony Edwards the keys to the offense. 2) Leak to Woj or Shams that Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell could want out of Minnesota just to see what their market could be.

Oklahoma City Thunder: 1) Reassure Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that the team will explore trading for an all-star in the offseason. (Ex. The Paul George trade in 2017.) 2) Try your very hardest to move Derrick Favors.

Portland Trail Blazers: 1) Do whatever Damian Lillard wants. 2) Hit up the NBA Trade Machine every day to see potential returns in a trade for Lillard.

Utah Jazz: 1) Identify postseason problems (ex. how to defend a small-ball lineup without Rudy Gobert) now and try to implement solutions during the regular season.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: 1) Get Klay Thompson back. 2) Evaluate James Wiseman. 3) Consider packaging Wiseman and some other players or picks for an all-star caliber player. Looking at you, Sabonis.

Los Angeles Clippers: 1) Talk to Kawhi Leonard. That’s it. I’m not convinced that the Clippers talk to Kawhi daily (look no further than last year’s playoffs after Kawhi’s injury), and that’s very concerning.

Los Angeles Lakers: 1) Figure out what kind of team you are now before it’s too late. Is this a big team? Do they need to be a team of LeBron and shooters? 2) Somehow, bring in a wing that can defend. (Groundbreaking stuff.) 3) Remind Anthony Davis that he’s an All-NBA First Team member and needs to start playing like it when he returns from injury. 4) Stay around .500 until AD comes back. Then, accept the reality that the Play-In game could be their fate once again.

Phoenix Suns: 1) Keep Chris Paul healthy. 2) Explore the trade/buy-out market for another “3 and D” wing.

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks: 1) Work with Luka Doncic on getting into better shape. 2) Get another ballhandler like Goran Dragic or Kemba Walker.

Houston Rockets: 1) Keep losing. 2) See if a team wants Christian Wood.

Memphis Grizzlies: 1) Go out and get more shooting. (15th in 3-point %)

New Orleans Pelicans: 1) Have a long and hard talk with Zion Williamson about the importance of staying healthy.

San Antonio Spurs: 1) Continue to run everything through Dejounte Murray.

Every Single Team: 1) Avoid COVID.

Have a great holiday!

Do you agree or disagree with my wish lists? Leave your answers in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

New York Knicks Report Card: Little Magic, Tons Of Frustration

RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are 25 games into the 2021-2022 NBA season, which is a little less than one-third of the NBA season. With a record of 12-13, it’s a large enough sample size to evaluate the team’s performance and determine the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.

There are a lot of weaknesses. Spoiler alert!

Time to break out my red pen because it might get messy.

Julius Randle – C+

The Most Improved Player from 2020-2021 put up career highs in almost every statistical category during last year’s magical season. Regression was bound to happen, but some of the numbers are alarming. Randle still leads the team in points/rebounds/assists with averages of 19.8/9.8/5.2. Those numbers would be stellar if Randle were the second option on the team. However, he remains the team’s best player, and anything less than 22 and 10 is unacceptable. What’s alarming is the dip in three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Last year, Randle shot 41% from 3 and 81% at the line. This season, it’s 33% and 75%, respectively. Randle will be the first to tell you that he needs to elevate his game because if his play doesn’t improve, the Knicks will miss the Play-In game.

Kemba Walker – D+

This hurts, man. I wholeheartedly agreed with signing Kemba Walker after he took a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder. 2 years, 18m was a good flyer for a player that averaged 19 points a game since 2016. Besides a few scoring outbursts in the first quarters of multiple games, Kemba’s tenure with the Knicks has been a disaster. All of the defensive metrics with Kemba on the court are atrocious. Now, Kemba is out of the rotation, and will probably be traded or bought out at some point aka “The Austin Rivers.” I wish Kemba nothing but the best.

Evan Fournier – C-

Let’s get this one out of the way. I stand by my “Fournier is a solid player” take. His play will never live up to the contract, but I believed he could be the second-best player on this team. As of Dec. 10, I’m wrong. Fournier is Murphy’s Law. For every 20-point performance, there has to be a <10-point performance where he sits on the bench during the fourth quarter. Plus, Fournier is a liability on defense. If Fournier can’t make shots, he’s unplayable at the end of games.

RJ Barrett – C+

It’s been a roller-coaster season for RJ Barrett. He started the season with a bang, averaging 19 points per game with the highlight being a 35-point performance in New Orleans. Then, he forgot how to shoot especially from behind the arc. It’s actually painful to watch at times. I’m convinced he’s the best guy in the NBA at hitting the front end of the rim. However, Barrett has been more aggressive over his last two games including a 32-point performance in San Antonio. I like RJ a lot, but he’s been way too inconsistent for a guy that many believe should be the second-best player on the team.

Alec Burks and Derrick Rose – A-

The two most consistent players on the Knicks are Alec Burks and Derrick Rose. That is a real sentence I just typed. Both of these guys can create their own shot on the offensive side of the ball, which can’t be said about 80% of the roster. I hate to bring up “manalytics,” but as someone that’s watched every game, Burks and Rose never hide from the moment. They continuously want the ball in their hands at the end of games. Without these two, the Knicks would have less than 10 wins.

Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin – B

Bench mob, stand TF up! Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin have been godsends off the bench all season long. The duo are plus/minus standouts with IQ at +97 and Obi at +88 (second and third on the team). These young guys are both gym rats, and both improved on both ends of the floor especially Obi, who doubled his points per game from 4 to 8. Thibs has to consider giving more minutes to both IQ and Obi going forward.

Tom Thibodeau – B-

It’s unfair to put the team’s disappointing start solely on Thibs. This is a severely limited roster with no true closers at the end of games. However, the rotations to start the season did the team no favors. The defense is nowhere to be found at times. After ranking third in defensive efficacy last season, the Knicks are 23rd. The Knicks still play hard on a nightly basis, but the team has gotten exposed in the third quarter and at the end of games especially in close losses. That’s on Thibs.

Team Grade – C

Did I expect the Knicks to be the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference again? No. Did I expect the record to be over .500 at the one-third mark of the season? Absolutely. It’s been a disappointing start to the season so 12 wins feels like a blessing with how poorly they’ve played at times. The Knicks will need to make a few trades to compete for a playoff spot. I still think this is a Play-In team, but the idea of returning to the playoffs will evoparate quickly if this doesn’t change over the next month. I believe in the Knicks, but I’m worried.

What are your grades for the Knicks? Leave them in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

The Cleveland Browns Continue To Mismanage The Baker Mayfield Situation

Baker Mayfield

Love him or hate him, Baker Mayfield moves the needle. Win or lose, the Browns’ quarterback will be a topic of discussion on every sports talk show come Monday morning.

Entering the 2021 season, the Browns picked up Mayfield’s 5th-year option for 2022, but could not reach a long-term extension. Due to his subpar performance this year, deciding not to extend Mayfield may have been the smart decision in the long run.

Mayfield has done nothing this season to convince the Browns to give him an extension. Mayfield deserves a lot of the criticism thrown his way. The 6-6 Browns boast a roster that could make a Super Bowl, but a quarterback with 2400 yards, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs won’t lead to a Lombardi Trophy.

Coming out of Oklahoma, Baker’s biggest strength was his accuracy, compiling a completion percentage of 70.0 or better in his final two seasons. 70% would be hard to replicate in the NFL, but in his four years with the Browns, Mayfield has a 61.9 completion percentage. This year, Mayfield ranks 27th in completion percentage for quarterbacks who have started at least four games.

No quarterback other than Lamar Jackson receives more criticism than Mayfield. If players don’t get the ball, it’s always Baker’s fault. Just look at the Odell Beckham Jr. saga as an example. At least Lamar is criticized by personalities that cover the sport. Mayfield has to deal with the parents of his teammates making Facebook statuses and IG videos. If you thought helicopter parents disappeared in professional sports, just ask the fathers of OBJ and Kareem Hunt what they think of Mayfield.

Baker Mayfield is a problem on the field, but the Browns did him no favors whatsoever. The majority of the blame should be pointed at Kevin Stefanski, Andrew Berry, and the Cleveland Browns front office.

Mayfield is not fully healthy. The Browns’ quarterback has a torn labrum and fractured humerus bone in his non-throwing shoulder. It will require surgery at the end of the season with a recovery period of 4-6 months. On top of these injuries, Mayfield also has dealt with a knee contusion and a bruised heel.

As a fierce competitor, no one can question Baker’s toughness. He’s playing through a lot of pain, and you can see his grimaces during the games these past couple of weeks.

Despite these injuries, the Browns decided to still trot Mayfield out at less than 100% health. Baker might say he’s good to go, but he continued to limp after every big hit or scramble this past Sunday night. Why was he playing in the first place?

The Browns had a chance to rest their quarterback after suffering a knee contusion in a blowout loss against the Patriots. Instead, Baker hobbled his way to a 16-13 victory over the winless Lions and a 16-10 loss to the Ravens. Ask yourself this question: If Case Keenum started the past two games, what would the results be?

I’m a gambling man, and I bet 90% of people would say the team would go 1-1 with Keenum, which is exactly what Baker did. Had the Browns elected to sit Baker the last two weeks with a bye this week, he would’ve had three full weeks of rest. Instead, he has one week to deal with his lingering issues before facing the Ravens at home on Dec. 12.

Here’s the bigger problem with what the Browns have done to Mayfield. With extension talks expected to restart in the offseason, how can they fairly evaluate their injured quarterback for the rest of the season? If Mayfield struggles the remaining five games, he will blame his injured left shoulder for his poor play, which is a valid reason. The Browns had a chance to sit Mayfield for three weeks and give him the best chance at a fair evaluation for five games. Instead, Baker will have one week of rest before facing the same Ravens team that held the Browns to a season-low 40 yards rushing.

The Browns had a chance to get Baker as healthy as he’ll be all season with multiple weeks of rest. By skipping over this opportunity, it could cost them not only their quarterback’s trust in the organization but more importantly, a playoff berth.

Do you agree with the Browns’ handling of Baker Mayfield? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Thanksgiving: Things I’m Thankful For In Sports

Happy Thanksgiving! Before we all sit down to enjoy a great meal, I wanted to take a few moments to discuss what I’m thankful for in the world of sports.

Things I’m Thankful For In Sports

– The Giants fired Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator. I’m happy that Garrett will not be calling plays for a bottom-10 offense.

– The Giants firing Dave Gettleman. (Calling my shot.)

– The Giants moving on from Daniel Jones. (Calling my shot. Sorry kid. It’s not entirely your fault, but you’re still making rookie mistakes in Year 3 as the starter.)

– The Knicks are relevant again.

– March Madness, the best tournament in sports. Specifically, the first two days of the tournament are on Mount Rushmore for Best Days in Sports.

– The DH. If you like when pitchers go up to bat and strike out on three pitches, then you need to get your head checked.

– The Chargers powder blue jerseys.

– Eli Manning and the New York Giants defeated the Patriots in two Super Bowls.

– Jon Rothstein’s Twitter Account.

– Madison Square Garden, the best arena in the world.

NBA Christmas Day Unders.

– Football. That’s self-explanatory.

– Gambling (even though I lose most of my bets).

– Playoff games at Yankee Stadium.

– NFL Redzone.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

2021-2022 NBA Week 5: Fair Reaction Or Overreaction?

Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors / NBA

Welcome to the second edition of “Fair Reaction or Overreaction.” We’re about five weeks through the NBA season, and some teams are starting to rise to the top. For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that reaction is known as the Houston Rockets.

Sorry, Houston. Let’s get into the article.

Are these fair reactions or overreactions?

Fair Reaction: The Wizards Are A Playoff Team

I have a working theory called “The Island of Misfit Toys That Come Together.” There’s value in a group of unwanted or undervalued NBA players coming together to play basketball. They remind me of last year’s Knicks. For the first time in half a decade, the Wizards have a roster full of legitimate NBA players. Bradley Beal finally has help.

Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are playing like guys who don’t have the pressure of playing for LeBron. Spencer Dinwiddie has been a nice addition, averaging just under 16 points. The Wizards stand atop the Eastern Conference at 10-4, and Bradley Beal has been average compared to his standards (23 PPG this year). I don’t think the Wizards are the best team in the East, but I’m convinced they could be a playoff team. Once they get Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant back, this team could be a darkhorse top 6 team.

Overreaction: The Lakers Are Not A Top 4 Team

Stop this nonsense. The Lakers are only 8-8 and yet you would think hell froze over with the hot takes being thrown around by fans and the media. “Russell Westbrook sucks,” “Anthony Davis will get hurt,” and “Frank Vogel doesn’t know how to coach” are some of the insults being thrown around in La La Land. Are some of those true? The AD one is a stone-cold lock. Westbrook doesn’t suck, but he’s flawed. Vogel can coach, but he needs one man.

LeBron James.

If there’s anything we know about the King, it’s that he can right the ship when he’s healthy. Health is the Lakers’ biggest advisory. If LeBron and AD are healthy, the Lakers are at worst the fourth-best team in the best.

Fair Reaction: The Warriors Are The Best Team In The NBA

After destroying the Nets, 117-99, the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA. At 12-2, this team is ahead of schedule. The plan was to hover around .500 until Klay Thompson comes back, and then try to sneak into the top 4. Expectations have changed as the Warriors should have title aspirations

Steph Curry doesn’t miss shots anymore. He’s averaging 28.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 6.6 APG on 45/40/95 shooting splits. Jordan Poole has been a revelation, averaging 17.1 ppg. The most underrated part about the Warriors is the ability to come out of halftime and blitz teams. They are the best offensive team in the third quarter with a +13.6 scoring margin. That’s a testament to Steve Kerr and his ability to adjust.

If Klay can be 75% of the player he once was, the Warriors should cruise to the Western Conference Finals.

What are your reactions towards the NBA season so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.com

The Joe Judge Experiment Has Gone Haywire

Joe Judge New York Giants

When Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in 2020 to be their next head coach, he said all the right things at the opening press conference. Discipline, work ethic, and accountability were three characteristics that Judge prided himself on. Even though he lacked experience as a head coach or offensive/defensive coordinator, Judge appeared to bring a sense of hard work and energy that the Giants desperately lacked under Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.

I wrote this last year after the Judge’s hire.

“From an introductory standpoint, (Joe) Judge hit a home run. It’s clear he wants to turn things around by focusing on the fundamentals, finding well-disciplined players, and playing hard on both sides of the ball.”

Throughout last season, I believed in and defended Judge from a coaching perspective. Although the NFC East was atrocious, the Giants still had a chance to somehow sneak into the playoffs at 6-10. That’s nothing to brag home about, but the team was playing hard especially on the defensive side of the ball.

The bar is extremely low to give credit to a professional team for “playing hard,” but this is the Giants, a team with the 27-54 record since 2016.

The “Ra-Ra, win one for the Gipper” act only works if you win games. Guess what? Not only are the Giants failing to win, but they’re devastatingly losing close games. Saying the right things matters, but actions speak louder than words. I started to sour on Judge after the brutal loss to the Washington Football Team after a mistake on special teams cost the Giants the game.

The Giants followed up that game with three losses in their next four games. The Giants faltered down the stretch to the Falcons, never stood a chance against the Cowboys, and embarrassed themselves against the Rams.

Did I expect the Giants to win all three of those games? No, but the product on the field doesn’t match what Judge is preaching. There seems to be no accountability or discipline as the Giants have the 10th most penalties in the NFL. But hey, at least the team had to run laps after a game as punishment.

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve lost patience with Judge and his shtick. If you have to challenge players six weeks into the season to “join in the fight,” then you’re losing the locker room.

Is Judge the driving force behind the Giants decline? John Mara deserves most of the blame because he continues to trust Dave Gettleman to build a competitive roster.

I would also cut Judge more slack if Jason Garrett wasn’t calling plays for the offense, and Daniel Jones wasn’t playing quarterback. To be honest, Garrett and Jones haven’t been terrible this season, and I’m sure many will say that Jones is not the root of all problems. To be fair, Jones has been good in spots, especially against the WFT and Saints. But anyone who has watched every game with Jones under center knows he’s not “the guy.”

This past Monday night, the Chiefs wanted to give that game away so badly, but the Giants refused to take it. Patrick Graham called a perfect game on the defensive side of the ball, and the defensive line and secondary gave the offense every chance to take the lead. But Judge, Garrett, and Jones did everything they could to make sure the Giants would lose.

One sequence at the end of the first half showed why Judge should not be the head coach next year. The Giants are trailing 14-7 late in the first half, but they’re in the red zone and face a third-and-four from the 7-yard line. Judge calls a timeout, which is fine if they’re discussing a third-down play and a fourth-down play. On the Manningcast, Michael Strahan asked why teams run plays a yard or two short of the first down marker.

We all know how this story goes.

In conservative Giants fashion, the offense ran a passing play two yards short of the first down. Did the Giants go for it on fourth-and-two from the 5-yard-line?

Nope.

There is a time and place to go for it on fourth down, and that was the situation to roll the dice. However, the Giants kicked a field goal, content with going into the half down four points.

The mistakes kept piling up. In the second half, the “Disciplined Giants” were flagged for taunting, which negated a big play, offsides, which took away an interception, and a facemask, which put the Chiefs into Giants’ territory.

To make matters worse, Joe Judge’s clock management makes Andy Reid look like Doctor Strange. Refusing to call the timeout before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter and letting precious seconds go to waste is inexcusable.

After all of this, the Giants STILL had a chance to tie or even win the game, down three points with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter. The four plays went like this:

  • Checkdown for a 3-yard gain
  • Sack
  • Incomplete pass
  • Sack

Game over.

With a pedestrian offense and a hit-or-miss defense, what does Judge exactly do for the Giants? Coach a decent special teams unit? Throw away timeouts like it’s expired Halloween candy? Blame the headsets for his coaching miscues? Post World War II quotes on the locker room wall to inspire the guys to play for him?

The Giants are a mess, and Judge is a big reason why. It’s time for Mara to move on from Judge (and Gettleman and Garrett and Jones).

(But we all know Judge is coming back next season.)

Update: COVID outbreak!

What are your thoughts on Joe Judge as the coach of the New York Giants? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

2021-2022 NBA Week 1: Fair Reaction or Overreaction?

DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls / NBA

After the first week of the NBA season, the Lakers are missing the playoffs, the Warriors are winning the title, and the Timberwolves have the best version of the Big Three.

Are these fair reactions or overreactions?

Fair Reaction: The Bulls And Knicks Can Both Crack The Top 6 In The East

The Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks both have good, competitive teams at the same time. Is this the 1990s? After last night’s 104-103 win, the Knicks moved into a tie for first place in the conference along with the Bulls, Hornets, and Wizards.

Both the Knicks and Bulls have vastly improved on both sides of the ball. The Knicks are now shooting more 3s than last year and it’s paying off as the team is fourth in three point %. For Chicago, Zach LaVine finally has a good supporting cast in Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vučević.

It’s still a long shot for both teams to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament, but it’s not out of the question. If the Bulls and Knicks continue to stay competitive all year, they have a legitimate shot to kick a team out of the Top 6. The two likely candidates to fall out of the Top 6 are the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.

For the Sixers, the status of Ben Simmons puts the Sixers in no man’s land. Simmons needs to play, or the organization needs to trade him because Embiid desperately needs help. Sitting on the sidelines helps no one. For Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are studs, but they lack a true point guard. Have fun taking turns with Marcus Smart and Dennis Schröder running the point. If the Celtics do not trade for a PG, they are in danger of making the Play-In tournament.

Overreaction: The Nets And Lakers Should Panic

We are just over one week into the season, and things could not be any worse for the two finals’ favorites. Brooklyn is still missing Kyrie Irving due to the vaccine mandate, and James Harden can’t get to the free throw line if his life depended on it. In Los Angeles, LeBron has already begun his load management, and the team blew a 26-point lead to the Oklahoma City Thunder in an overtime loss to the fighting Josh Giddeys.

Both teams sit at 2-3 with clear roster problems that need to be fixed. The Nets need another scorer while the Lakers cannot figure out their rotations. (Why does DeAndre Jordan start?) Luckily for both teams, their stars will help right the ship on their way to the playoffs. There’s no need to overreact, but let’s revisit this at the end of November.

Fair Reaction: The Utah Jazz Are A Good Regular Season Team

The fact that the Jazz are undefeated should surprise no one. Utah has all the pieces to be a good NBA regular season. It’s why I picked Utah to be the #1 seed in the West going into the playoffs. Utah is Top 10 in scoring and second in defensive rating. Say what you want about Rudy Gobert, he’s a monster on the glass and defensive end. Gobert is grabbing 17.8 (!!!) rebounds per game. The Jazz will have to conquer their playoff demons in the Spring, but for now, this team should continue to roll.

Fair Reaction: The Golden State Warriors Can Be A Top 3 Team In The West

I predicted the Warriors would hover around .500 until Klay Thompson’s return, and they would end up with an 8-seed. Hand up, I think I’m going to be wrong. The Warriors are 4-1 and look like a completely different team from a year ago. Steph is, well, doing Steph things (43/40/96 % splits), but unlike last year, his teammates are shouldering the offensive load. Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Damion Lee are all averaging over 14 ppg. If the Warriors can stay in the top 3 by the time Klay returns, then championship expectations return to the Bay area.

Overreaction: The Minnesota Timberwolves Are A Playoff Team

Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell are accounting for two-thirds of the team’s points per game. It’s great to see their version of the Big Three healthy. I don’t want to rain on Minnesota’s parade, but can we pump the brakes just a bit? Towns and Russell have played less than 30 games together. Edwards, who is an amazing player and personality, is only in his second year. The Wolves have had one winning record since 2005. Let’s see if all three guys can stay healthy before talking about the playoffs.

Fair Reaction: The Mavericks Should Trade Kristaps Porzingis

I’m a firm believer in players needing a “fresh coat of paint” to revitalize their careers. Kristaps Porzingis looks lost in Dallas. He’s far removed from his “unicorn” days pre-ACL injury in New York. Porzingis is averaging 12.7 ppg, 6.0 RPG, and 0.7 apg. Those are good numbers for a backup, not a top player in the third year of a $158 million contract. The sooner the Mavericks can find an offer for Porzingis, the better.

What are your thoughts on the opening week in the NBA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.com.

2021-2022 NBA Season Preview: Are The New York Knicks Back?

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks

Are the New York Knicks back? Let’s ask Amar’e Stoudemire.

Amar’e might have been 10 years too early on his declaration. But after a 41-31 record that resulted in the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013, the Knicks very well might be back.

In 2020, the Knicks were the scrappy underdogs under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. The Knicks clawed and battled their way to the fourth-seed in the Eastern Conference through the defense (top 5 in defensive ratings) and rebounding (top 10 in rebounds per game).

On the offensive side of the ball, Julius Randle shattered expectations by becoming a dynamic playmaker on his way to a stat line of 24/10/6 and a trophy for Most Improved Player. Derrick Rose was a godsend at point guard, RJ Barrett improved in almost every statistical category including 3P% (32% to 40%), and Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Reggie Bullock all became solid contributed.

Last year was full of surprises. After a successful year, those surprises have now turned into expectations. The days of praying for a 30-win team are over, or at least fans including myself believe those days have passed. Now is the time to build on the momentum from last year and grow into a consistent playoff team.

Things That Must Happen For The Knicks To Take The Next Step

– The Knicks must make the playoffs: I can’t stress this point enough. If the Knicks don’t make the playoffs, then last year was a fluke. All of the building blocks put into place last year mean nothing if this team can’t play meaningful basketball in April. I don’t expect the Knicks to be the four-seed again, but if they don’t make the Play-In Tournament, then the season will be a failure.

– RJ Barrett must become a playmaker: If RJ Barrett wants to become a star in this league, then he must become a playmaker on offense. What do I mean by playmaker? Throughout last season, the go-to play for the Knicks was a Randle isolation. That either lead to a tough make, a missed shot, or a pass for a three. While Jules was amazing for most of the year, his playmaking was nowhere to be found in the Atlanta series. This is where RJ comes in. RJ needs to be able to take his man off the dribble and either get to the rim, pass for an open three or hit a pullup jumper. His 2020 game averages of 3 assists and 3.8 free throws are not going to cut it. Those need to get to 4.5 and 5 at the very least.

– Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier must ease the offensive load for Randle: It sounds obvious, but Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier were paid to play offense. They were brought in for their ability to create offense, especially off the dribble. As I stated above, the go-to play was a Jules-iso. Kemba is the best opening day point guard for the Knicks in over a decade. If he stays healthy, the Knicks have a true starting point guard. With Fournier, he must shake off his preseason shooting woes and become a threat from behind the arc. Anything less than 40% is a failure and I’m being generous with that number.

The Bottomline

Superstars win championships, and right now, the Knicks don’t have any superstars. That’s ok for now. The Knicks must return to the first round of the playoffs and play a competitive series. If the team ends up playing the Nets or Bucks in the postseason, then their season will most likely come to an end. However, if they run into a team like the Hawks, Heat, or Sixers, then the Knicks must last more than 5 games. If the Knicks win a playoff series, I’m doing cartwheels outside of MSG. I’m expecting 42-45 wins.

It’s time to take the next step towards becoming a winning franchise once again.

Playoffs or bust.

What are your predictions for the Knicks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

2021-2022 NBA Season Predictions

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

In my best Daniel Craig voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back.” The 2021-2022 NBA Season begins tonight when the Nets take on the Bucks and the Warriors face the Lakers. After an offseason full of vaccine questions, trade requests, and unhappy stars, I’m glad to put that all behind us and watch some good basketball.

Oh, wait. All of that stuff is still happening because the NBA continues to be dramatic!

Sigh.

Last week, I described all 30 teams in one sentence. This week, it’s time for my predictions.

Key Storylines

The Ben Simmons saga is on a highway to hell: Seriously, what the hell is going on in Philly?

Countless NBA players have demanded a trade, but have we ever seen a player deliberately sabotage a team? I typically favor player empowerment, but this is where I draw the line. I applaud the Sixers for fining and suspending Simmons because what he did was bullshit. However, Daryl Morey had a chance to trade Simmons for James Harden. There have been conflicting reports as to who, Morey or the Rockets, sunk the trade. I look at it this way: if Morey truly wanted to give up Simmons and trade for Harden, he could’ve pulled it off. That’s on Morey.

Now, it’s a waiting game. Morey has to realize that he won’t get a star in return for Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Simmons trade can’t happen. Would the Blazers be willing to part with McCollum? Would the Kings give up De’Aaron Fox (probably not) or Buddy Hield (probably yes)? Could the Spurs package multiple young players like Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson? Trade Simmons now or play hardball and wait. It’s time to shit or get off the pot.

Will Kyrie Irving Play: While the Sixers must make a decision on Simmons sooner rather than later, the Nets can show a little more patience in their approach due to the fact that the team can get by with Kevin Durant and James Harden. Whether or not you agree with the vaccine mandate in New York City is irrelevant. It’s the rule and it’s not changing anytime soon. It’s possible things change when a new mayor takes office, but are the Nets willing to wait until the end of winter/early spring to welcome back Irving? If the Nets are at the top of the East during Irving’s absence, then they’ll continue to wait until the mandate changes. If Durant or Harden get hurt and the team stumbles, then Sean Marks will have to consider trading Irving.

Will The Two Storylines Listed Above End So We Can Talk About The Other 28 NBA Teams: We need something else to discuss.

Eastern Conference

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Boston Celtics
  7. New York Knicks
  8. Chicago Bulls
  9. Indiana Pacers
  10. Charlotte Hornets

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks over Nets

I would pick the Nets to win the East if the Big Three were guaranteed to play together in the playoffs. However, it’s far from a lock. I’m picking the Bucks over the Nets simply because I can’t trust Brooklyn’s Big Three to play every game. I will believe it when I see it.

Western Conference

  1. Utah Jazz
  2. Phoenix Suns
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. Golden State Warriors
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. San Antonio Spurs

Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Jazz

I realize I’m a hypocrite for not trusting Brooklyn’s Big Three to stay healthy, but then believing LeBron and Anthony Davis will play every game in the NBA playoffs. LeBron only gets hurt via freak accident so as long as that doesn’t happen, he’ll play every game in the postseason. AD is a HUGE question mark, but if Frank Vogel load manages Davis throughout the season, there’s a chance he doesn’t get hurt come next Spring. It’s a huge “if,” but I’ll bet on that over Brooklyn finishing the season with their three stars.

NBA Finals: Lakers over Bucks

I truly believe LeBron has one more title in him. Year 19 is when he wins his fifth and final championship.

NBA Awards

MVP: Kevin Durant

Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham

Coach of the Year: Quin Snyder

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Ja Morant

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson

Here’s to a successful (and healthy) NBA Season.

Leave your NBA predictions in the comments or tweet us, @danny_giro