Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Ass.

There may not have been a better set up team in recent history than the New York Knicks. Not in ownership. That guy is a fucking idiot. But in opportunity? The Knicks may be able to turn a corner, and awfully fast.

What’s the genesis of such a thought? There are four, actually. In no specific order of importance:

  • New team President
  • Upcoming new Head Coach
  • 7 first round picks in the next 4 years, including a guaranteed lottery pick
  • Salary cap flexibility lacking long term deals

First off, the Knicks made a move to add a team leader, which considering the results of the last few leadership groups have been nothing. Not nothing but underwhelming. No, nothing, Absolute zero. Zilch.

But we should look at the sunshine that is behind the dark clouds of this disaster of a franchise run by a micromanaging douche who walked into family money and makes maybe the most compelling argument ever that the inheritance tax is too forgiving. And if Dolan can just keep from being Dolan, there is still a silver lining.

Let’s start with the new Team President, Leon Rose. Rose is a successful player agent, which is a growing trend both inside and outside of the NBA. After all, who can value players while seeing through bullshit inflation better than an agent? Especially in a time where a decrease in the NBA salary cap is expected? So Rose is clearly on board to attract names and to change a culture that looks like a train parking lot carnival, which a $4 billion franchise frankly should not resemble on any level. And a guy known working with players in a time when the cap is decreasing may be able to use his cap space asset now to acquire bad deals from winning teams in return for future assets from winning teams, or to burn off the remaining bad Knick contracts.

Luckily, Rose has a roster that has nothing but short term deal. Only one player is under contract three years from now. And their only buyout will also be burned out by then. So really when it comes to flexibility, outside of the Julius Randle contract- a guy who was almost traded- there is no major money in the Knicks near term future. And Randle may be moved next season if the Knicks are just as bad as the last two seasons.

The choice of General Manager for Rose’s is crucial. Dolan has been a headline grabber for the Knicks when it comes to acquiring mostly washed up names for futures or for burnt draft picks- come on, who from the Carmelo Anthony trade with Denver do you want back? But the GM will be running the draft, and this is a team that should be building through the draft hardcore. Here’s why.

Rose’s GM will have two first round picks in 2020. One WILL be in the lottery. He will have two first round picks in 2021. One will PROBABLY be in the lottery. Add to it that the one from 2019 was in the lottery. That’s three consecutive lottery picks. That should be a core.

Uh oh…

But wait, there’s more. In 2022? One first round pick SO FAR. But in 2023? Two more first round picks. That is 7 first rounders in 4 years in a sport with a 12 man roster. Which gets to the next GM question or two:

Are Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett players you build a team around? Are they parts of a team you build with? Or are they trade bait for different assets?

Let’s start with the veteran Knox. Much like free agent signing Alonzo Trier, Knox has taken a step back with decreased minutes in a year where he should have been playing. But Fizzdale, knowing he was coaching for his career, was absolutely going with his best odds, and not the odds of the franchise. A lot of coaches on the hot seat do that, giving the finger to the fans.

Know inarguable had a huge year over year decline in production. Also, his per minute play was stagnant. Maybe it’s why you don’t draft players as freshmen unless they were dominant in college, as their games are undeveloped. But that creates a different quandary- Is Kevin Knox tradable?

His stats say no. Not for a first round pick, which is the only way to salvage him. Maybe for an expiring, overblown contract with a sweetener. But one on one? Knox will get you nothing, so it’s best to burn a year to blow him up as a focal point of offense, and to create a market for his game. And ideally to ensure another lottery pick in 2021.

Untradeable today

Which brings us to Barrett. Barrett shows flashes of being a well rounded player. But the guy can’t shoot a free throw. I absolutely wait a year or two on Barrett before making a decision, because contractually you can- he has the longest term contract on the team. But also? He seems to fill in what isn’t going on. If he developes a free throw and a 30+% three point shot? He could be a swing piece at shooting guard and small forward that would be worth 36 minutes a night, at a fair price.

But today? Barrett looks like a part, not a whole.

Maybe the biggest deal for the Knicks is a new head coach. You need a coach that will be able to develop but also manage pro egos. I wrote about such here but be sure that you can not underestimate the importance of who the next head coach is. I am happy that David Blatt is in the organization, because in his head coaching career he has been nothing but a winner. Ideally he has input in finding the next Blatt. And let’s not forget it was Blatt who ended the Cav’s franchise titleless streak, not the other guy they fired after.

The takeaway? This will be the best chance for the Knicks to make moves for the next decade. They will need to draft very well in 2020. They will need to consider moving their bad deals in the same year. They can maybe pull off two 1st round picks 4 years in a row with a Randle trade. That along with cap flexibility would be absolute firepower.

They also maybe have to consider changing coaches two years from now, from a developmental coach to a pro coach. Or maybe they find a guy that can do both. No matter how it breaks down, the Knicks are entering a crucial time in the next few weeks, one that will define this franchise for the next decade. Which can either make the Knicks super interesting, or save the Knicks fans plenty of time from having to watch horrible basketball games.

Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament

Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament

I have to give my buddy @AmazingInsights credit for this concept, as anyone who follows his twitter knows his disdain for Josh Bailey. The question he often asks is “How many games does Bailey take off?” He even mentioned the title of the Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament…which with the postponement of the season, I saw it as a challenge to create. So thank you Corona, for making this idea a reality.

OF FUCKING NOTHING!

First off, we needed criteria. What is a night off? And we needed a point system to assess it. The point system came from this- when you screwed up, you were assessed points toward a score. And when you do something good? You get credits against those points. Allow me to present the following:

Points per game:

Zero shots on goal (2)

Zero hits (1)

GWG (-2)

Goals (-1)

The breakdown?

Zero shots on goal is the worst offense you can have if you’re trying to win games. If you don’t shoot at goal, you can not win games. Pretty simple so it’s worth two.

Zero hits in a game? You aren’t physically involved. I understand that there will be discrepancies for such in top 6 and bottom 6 players, so luckily I am only including the top 6.

Game winning goals? A misleading stat, as you may have scored 5 in the first and held on for a 5-4 win. Not a stat of clutch, but a stat saying we scored more than them and this one mattered….as much as the rest of them, just one more.

And goals. The ultimate measure of scoring. Without goals, there are no assists. Without assists? There are still goals.  

Basically, the hockey version of baseballs’ three true outcomes- a walk, a strike out or a home run. Things a defensive player just sort of watches.

Final formula? (Zero shots on goal X2 plus zero hits in an entire game – Game Winning goals X2 plus total goals). That’s the Uselessness Quotient. The higher the number, the more useless you are.

You may have noticed that I did not include assists. You may be wondering why. If you are a Bailey fanatic, you may say that this is biased and on purpose. And I would say yes and yes, except not for why you think.

The bias for including assists for players is that Bailey bias where you talk about total points. I get it. Gretzky had what, 11 seasons with 100 assists? Surely they matter, right? Except Gretzky made Marty McSorley- known for nearly killing a guy on the ice- an annual 11 goal scorer despite 250 minutes a season in penalty minutes. 11 goals per Gretzky season is just 2 why of what Bailey averages.

Untradable

And the “Bailey Boner” that is half a point a game? McSorley did that with Gretzky in 1992-93 on the way to a Stanley Cup finals that the Islanders should have won while racking up 399 regular season penalty minutes. I wish there were capitals for numbers. That’s almost 7 whole games worth of penalty minutes on a season. Also? McSorley was a plus that season, unlike Bailey in his swan song 71 point season. But, assists!

And I’m not counting the Jari Kurri’s and Paul Coffeys of the Gretzky universe, as you’re about to see.

So ask yourself this- who has Bailey made a scorer? It seems everyone prospers without Bailey once you account for removing Tavares from that same line. So I don’t account for assists because they’re Bailey biased, which gets to the on purpose part. Bailey never made Anders Lee as good a scorer as Ryan Strome did, so its unfair to use that against him. Why?

Dollar for dollar better?

Because an assist does not exist without a goal. So any player getting an assist has a minimum of two other factors involved- another guy shooting, and a goalie missing. And maybe a defenseman missing, so maybe three other factors. Oh, and also it could be a secondary assist, so four other factors. Oh oh, and then a forward may have not backchecked, so five other factors. Or a guy took your pass and shot it off a defenseman’s ass and it luckily angled into the net, so six other factors. You see where this is going, no? In short, there is almost nothing in your control when you get an assist.

Also scored against empty nets

Also, a player may make a great, needle threading pass to a guy on the goalie’s doorstep, just to watch him shoot in into the boards, so we won’t count assists because that’s not a passive players fault either.

So with that, lets set parameters. We aren’t going to count guys that aren’t regulars, because I don’t want to do math for everyone. Cya Keifer Bellows and Tom Khunackl, whose name I will never spell correctly. Also, if you are injured, we aren’t going to prorate you. Also also, forwards will be exclusive to this study….maybe. With that, let us analyze who has taken the most games off!

Here are the contenders at Bailey’s Hide and Seek Tournament:

Mathew Barzal                                                  Brock Nelson

Anders Lee                                                         Josh Bailey

Jordan Eberle                                                     Anthony Beauvilier

Derick Brassard

And for shits and giggles:

Ryan Pulock                                                        Devin Toews                                      Nick Leddy

Based on our scoring system, here are the totals, I have to admit, based on manpower stats- things you can do with your own hands productively- they’re surprising:

Player (In order of Best to Worst)                                              Uselessness Score

Anders Lee                                                                                         5

Brock Nelson                                                                                     12

Anthony Beauvilier                                                                          13

Ryan Pulock                                                                                        18

Jordan Eberle                                                                                     28

Derick Brassard                                                                                 37

Nick Leddy                                                                                          38

Mathew Barzal                                                                                  38. Uh oh.

Devin Toews                                                                                      42

JOSH BAILEY                                                                                       63

“I SUCKKKKKKKKKKK”

Just to remind everyone how we got these scores: (Games w no shots X2 plus games w no hits – game winnings goals X2 plus goals).

No shot and no hits are damning. That Nick Leddy- a player many Islander fans call useless, even Beth- has the same uselessness score as the elite Mathew Barzal shows why Barry Trotz sat his ass so much last season.

But it’s hard to ignore the Josh Bailey number. Brassard was almost twice more useful. Lee was more than 12 times more useful.

How did Bailey get there? Easy. 14 goals are a lot by Bailey standards, especially considering that the season was abbreviated. It’s less than half of his 31 goal pace from November 6 2019, or 21 goal pace from December 1 2019, but he was angling at maybe 17 with a hot hand, which would be just about a career year for Bailey goals…assuming he got 3 more. There’s also a good chance he ended the season with 15, in top 6 minutes and top line power play time. Want to know why?

Bailey led the team with 14 games without a shot on goal. In 68 games. That’s a game with no shots on goal percentage of 21%. One out of 5. So in the last 14 games? We can expect 3 without a shot on goal. So to hit 17 he’s need 3 in 11 games, when his average this season was a goal every 5 games. And take away empty net goals? Ouch. 15 was the limit.

No Kool Aid, it doesn’t count

Only two other forwards and one of the defensemen had double digit games with no shots on goal:  Derick Brassard (13) and Anthony Beauvilier (10). We all know how streaky Beau is, which is why he makes around $2 million. And Brassard less.  

The Barzal number was also surprising. Barzal shoots more than ever, but he does not make contact. He avoided contact in 51 of 68 games, compared with Baileys 53 in 68. Bailey takes 78% of games off from physical contact; Barzal a little less. No one is even close to those guys. Even softie Brock Nelson hits about half of his games. Best forward for initiating contact? Brassard, followed by Beau- 3rd liners that floated north on occasion.

And defensemen without grit? Toews. Just saying, when you think of that next contract, think a young Thomas Hickey without the goal scoring touch.

Also? Leddy is totally tradable. He’s a right handed defenseman which is a hot NHL commodity. Time to sell, yo!

Airing his mule

Understand that before I started this exercise, I did not cherry pick these stats with a predetermined end result in mind. I chose stats that someone can control with their own hands. You can choose to shoot or not. You can choose to hit or not. You can score goals or not- usually an indicator of shooting. And you can be clutch or not, which was the only one I was on the fence about weight on, until I saw how many times a player is credited a game winner versus how few we recall happening. But then end result?

Josh Bailey wins the first annual Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Championship! In a blowout! If you added in contract value via cap hit per production? Bailey’s production is worth $84m of the 2019-2020 salary cap. Basically, Bailey has the production of a person versus a carnival barker, or against the house in Vegas.

I invite any fan to use my formula to go over Bailey’s history as an Islander and see if this is a one off…or a career trend. I have my inklings, and they’re that Bailey is a bigger hide and seek dynasty than the one he’s producing with his wife. Or as we often say, more of the same Bailey. Let us know.

Over-Rated!
Pete Rose Time

Pete Rose Time

So since all sports have wisely shit themselves and postponed their seasons, we have a bunch of topics to discuss that really avoid attention once the regular seasons begin. I’m going to touch on as many as time permits, but I plan on starting with the most important one:

It’s time to put Pete Rose in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I can go over his resume, for those that are young and not too familiar with the guy nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” because he’s always play hard, even down to running out his walks. In fact, let me point out a few highlights of a 24 year career:

  • 7x led league in hits
  • 5x led league in doubles
  • 4x led league in runs
  • 3x led league in batting average
  • 2x led league in on base percentage
  • ALL TIME LEADER IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FOR:
    • Games played (3652)
    • Plate Appearances (15890)
    • At Bats (14053)
    • HITS (4256)

So you might be saying- all time leader in hits AND plate appearances? Sounds like a compiler. I can see why you’d say that. But it’s not common for a compiler to do the following:

  • Rookie of the Year
  • 17x all star
  • A Silver Slugger at age 40
  • 13x top ten in batting average
  • An All Star at 3rd base, 2nd base, 1st base, left field, and right field. Wow.
  • 2 gold gloves as an outfielder, then switched to being an infielder
  • Career .321 hitter in the postseason
  • World Series MVP in 1975 for an on base percentage of .485 WITHOUT using a garbage can
  • MVP votes in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s
  • 3 World Series in 6 appearances

Nobody is getting more hits. OK, some would make that the point that Ichiro had more hits. But we have to be fair- Ichiro played a large part of his career facing pitching that is subpar to MLB. In American baseball? Ichiro was not a productive player after age 36. He only hit better than .280 twice over his final NINE seasons. Rose? Over his final 9 seasons, he hit .300 or better three times, and added two more .280 plus seasons, including a season where he hit .365 after a late season trade. At 43. At age 43? Ichiro managed 59 more career hits. Rose? 262. Rose had a batting of .262 in his last 3 seasons to Ichiros 241, except Rose managed 1016 at bats over those 3 years to Ichiro’s 245.

Already washed up

I’m not picking on Ichiro. He is a Baseball Hall of Famer. But so is Pete Rose.

Here are players Baseball Reference compare careerwise to Pete Rose:

Ty Cobb

Paul Molitor

Tris Speaker

Robin Yount

Paul Waner

George Brett

Cap Anson

Derek Jeter

Lou Brock

Johnny Damon

NINE of those guys are hall of famers. Ty Cobb was an asshole, even for his day. And he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Damon’s name is interesting on that list, and may be a discussion on day about does Johnny Damon belong in Cooperstown. My opinion? Close…but no cigar.

“Sliding”

Now, we all know the reason Rose isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame- he gambled on baseball, and then lied about it.

OF COURSE he lied about it. It wasn’t allowed. But…it wasn’t performance enhancing, either. And there is NO evidence that Rose ever bet AGAINST his team….which is extremely arrogant. He just expected to win every time he bet? Which you could argue is an attempt at compensation for a guy ending a career with one $1 million payday in 1986- the only season where he had a 7 figure income- whereas many other players were making millions a season around him that accomplished a lot less. He may have been bitter over not being part of the money era, which only got crazier in later years.

But to ban a guy forever over an issue that wasn’t cheating? Today, baseball lets gambling happen. Rose was a pioneer, not a martyr.

Yes, he lied about his involvement. Sometimes lying is an expected behavior. It’s probably why baseball included a clause for reinstatement in Rose’s ban. Look, in the last two impeachments of presidents? One lied about getting a blow job. One lied about a pandemic. They’ll still both have presidential libraries, both likely filled with issues of Playboy.

Nice flow…

And as far MLB’s hard stand on Rose? Rose’s name is already in the Hall of Fame, in case you have never visited. There’s a list of hit leaders in baseball- Rose is at the top of the list. There’s Reds and Phillies memorabilia from their championship teams. The Cincinnati Reds inducted Rose into their team Hall of Fame. The Phillies almost did the same in 2017 until 1970 called an alleged Me Too into the Age of Unreason, where the good of the many is apparently outweighed by the allegation of just one person from 50 years ago.

One Small Step for Rose…

Companies have policies where they hang individuals out to dry, like Apple did with Steve jobs or some editor did to Walt Disney because his cartoons sucked. Both of those guys ended up having names and careers bigger than their industry. Today, people have a stroke over a guy with 3000 career hits. It’s a benchmark that just about guarantees entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. So what if a guy had, 30% more than that? Rose’s name is like Jobs or Disney- iconic in their field.

And baseball? After the bungling of the Houston Astros cheating like a bunch of scumbags scandal? You have no legs to stand on when it comes to morals. Sure, you’ll ban chewing tobacco, but you won’t ban gambling. Unless it happened before you figured out how to profit off of it, right? So its time to get off of your not so high horse and do something that’s right for the fans, and for the game.

If SHE’s ok with him…

We aren’t asking a guy that cheated on the field to get in. Shit, that won’t even get you suspended. But to ban a guy forever for what you presently do? You’re showing your true colors as a sport, and those colors are all just green in the end.

TOM BRADY IN TAMPA WILL BE FUN, BUT WILL THEY WIN?

TOM BRADY IN TAMPA WILL BE FUN, BUT WILL THEY WIN?

NEW YORK, N.Y.- After months of speculation, Tom Brady made it official on Tuesday morning that his time in New England was done and he would play elsewhere in 2020. The Buccaneers seemed to come out of the shadows and land Brady’s services. The six-time Super Bowl champion taking his talents to Tampa should provide for some high-octane offensive play. While the highlights should be abundant, Brady didn’t sign with the Bucs to only throw touchdown passes and have a good time. His goal of winning hasn’t changed, and he wouldn’t have signed up if he didn’t believe the team that went 7-9 last year were just a few pieces away from being legitimate contenders in a deep NFC. Will Brady be right?

Ryan Hickey lays out the reasoning for the fun to be had in Tampa Bay for Tom Brady and why the winning won’t come as easily

Before we look ahead at what could be in 2020, we must first look back at 2019 to try and figure out what led to the Patriots offense becoming pedestrian, especially in the second half. The final eight games of the regular season, New England averaged just over 21 points per game, compared to 31 points per game they average in the first half of the season. While it’s easy to point to the trigger man as the main reason for the two score drop off, it goes deeper than that. The Patriots offensive system, guided by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, is predicated on reading the defense and adjusting routes based on what they see. Reading the defense doesn’t just start and stop at the quarterback position though. It extends to the running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. Everyone has to be on the same page and the timing must be exact, or else the entire play is thrown off.

The rotating cast at the skill positions, which saw first round pick N’Keal Harry miss the first nine games of the season, Mohamed Sanu traded for halfway through the year and an extra reliance on rookie Jakobi Meyers, not to mention both Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon coming in and then going out, Brady wasn’t able to trust his targets. The lack of trust stemmed from not being on the same page, which led to bad throws and a stagnant offense. Last year wasn’t a hint that Father Time is finally catching up to the ageless wonder, but instead a reassurance that Brady can no longer make chicken salad out of, well, you know.

Looking ahead now to the upcoming season, the new toys Brady has at his disposal jump right off the page. Tampa boasts arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the league, as Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both surpassed 1,100 receiving yards last season. Brady hasn’t had two players both go over 1,100 yards in the same season since 2011, when Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski combined for 2,896 yards. On top of those two on the outside, the future Hall of Famer also has two solid tight end options in Cameron Brate and OJ Howard. While there’s still work that has to be done at the running back position, this is already shaping up to be one of the best supporting casts ever assembled around the soon to be 43-year-old.

Brady also gets the pleasure of working with pass-happy head coach Bruce Arians, whose aggressive mindset allowed former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to create the infamous 30-touchdown, interception club. Arians worked his magic with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer, so it will be intriguing to see what he can do with an all-time great chasing his seventh Super Bowl victory. The biggest question mark with this new marriage is how Brady, who is known more as an underneath to intermediate passer, will integrate into the vertical passing system that Arians runs.

TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 5: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots controls the offense during the second quarter of an NFL football game Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The Buccaneers upcoming 2020 schedule also adds to the fun, as there are a few very sexy matchups that are sure to put Tampa Bay in primetime more than they’ve ever been. The former Patriot (still so weird to write) will go against his former defensive coordinator in Matt Patricia, battle Drew Brees twice and gets a shot against the only other team that made an offer for his services in the Los Angeles Chargers. There are also some awesome quarterback matchups slated for the 101st NFL season, as the Michigan alum will take on Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Patrick Mahomes. These games will bring the most eyes and attention that have been on this franchise since their 2002 Super Bowl season.  

While the weapons, head coach and schedule present some great opportunities for fireworks this upcoming season, the main question surrounding this team is whether they will be legitimate contenders not just in the conference, but in their own division. The Falcons are gearing up offensively to match the firepower of Tampa Bay, signing Todd Gurley to add to the collection of talent they possess that includes Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst and Matt Ryan. The Saints return Drew Brees and most of the weapons that helped power New Orleans to a 13-3 record. Both of those teams already pose bigger threats than most of the competition the Patriots have rolled over in the AFC East for the last 20 years. The Panthers don’t appear to be a pushover either, as the signing of Teddy Bridgewater will keep them competitive in 2020.

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) gestures after a fourth down in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Rams 13-3 to win an NFL record-tying sixth championship. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of just a more challenging division, the NFC poses a deeper road to the Super Bowl than the AFC. Before the breakthrough of the Chiefs this past year, the Patriots controlled the conference for two decades, going to 13 AFC Conference Championship games in that span. While Brady navigated the AFC littered with young, up-and-coming gunslingers, the NFC is filled with established, championship-winning signal callers. Standing in the way of a seventh Lombardi Trophy are the likes of Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

In addition to those star quarterbacks, the NFC also boasts the defending conference champion in a young and physical 49ers team, the Vikings, who pulled off an impressive playoff upset over the Saints, a talent loaded Cowboys team that is armed with a head coach who doesn’t specialize in clapping and the Eagles, who barring catastrophic injuries, will be a tough out.

While the road may be tough, there is promise that the Buccaneers can turn it around from a losing season to right in the thick of it this year. Ironically enough, it’s on the defensive end where the Brady signing could show the biggest dividends. Last year, Tampa Bay’s defense, especially their secondary, struggle mightily. But was is truly all their fault? The answer lies on the other side of the ball. In 2019, the defense was credited with allowing 449 points, which was the fourth most in the league. Part of that was due in part to Winston’s record setting seven pick-sixes thrown that directly added 49 points to their total points allowed tally. You take away those 49 points and while it’s still not pretty, it’s improvement as they move from fourth to 10th worst in total points allowed.

That’s not where the optimism for a defensive turnaround in 2020 ends. Of the 23 interceptions thrown by the former number one overall pick that weren’t returned for touchdowns, 16 occurred in the Buccaneers’ own end of the field, putting the defense in a tough spot to succeed. The overall efficiency numbers reflect the notion that the defense, led by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, was a lot better than the scoreboard indicated. According to Football Outsiders, Tampa Bay was fifth in defensive DVOA, which is a collection of data that measures the overall efficiency of the unit. So, despite the Buccaneers struggling statistically, the simple addition of Brady and subtraction of Winston should automatically give them a boost.

The path to a 10th Super Bowl appearance seems as tough as it’s ever been for Brady. The positive is that despite is age, he’s insulated with a supporting cast that can pick up him in a way the 2019 Patriots couldn’t. Barring injuries, it’s tough to bet against the man who’s only known winning his entire career. The playoffs are very attainable, and frankly expected, especially with the addition of an extra wild card team. 2020 will be simultaneously both the same and different. It will take some getting used to seeing the Boston icon wearing the pewter and red. The quest though, remains the same and the final destination is a familiar one, as Raymond James Stadium will host the upcoming Super Bowl. The end goal of raising that Lombardi Trophy doesn’t change, but for once, the journey will be a fun one.

Joe Douglas’s approach to free agency is all part of the plan

Joe Douglas’s approach to free agency is all part of the plan

When the legal tampering period for NFL free agency started, many expected the New York Jets to be big spenders in free agency with new general manager Joe Douglas in his first free agency period. There was also the factor of Sam Darnold entering year 3 and the fact the team needed to improve the offensive line, the wide receiver core and other positions to compete in 2020. For Douglas, that wasn’t the approach he took.

Jets fans watched as guys like Jack Conklin, Amari Cooper, Kyle Van Noy, and Graham Glasgow, all players the Jets were linked to, go elsewhere. The Buffalo Bills signed Mario Addison and even acquired Minnesota Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, and the Miami Dolphins have been the biggest spenders in the first wave of free agency signing Erik Flowers, Shaq Lawson, Bryon Jones, Jordan Howard, and Emmanuel Ogbah. The New England Patriots lost quarterback Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With that departure, the AFC East is more open than it’s been since 2001, but the signings by the Bills and Dolphins, along with Brady leaving, will never stop Douglas’s philosophy when it comes to free agency because he learned from the best.

In Baltimore, Douglas learned from Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, and Newsome wasn’t the biggest spender in free agency either. Every offseason, Newsome bided his time and wait for the market to come to him. Newsome followed the motto “right player, right price” and he stayed patient throughout the course of free agency. Newsome made his key moves for sure, signing Steve Smith, Vontae Leach, Ricky Williams, Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason, Daryl Smith, Elvis Dumervil, Tony Siragusa, Jacoby Jones, Bryant McKinney, Corey Redding, Sam Adams, trading for Anquan Boldin and more. They were wise, timely moves that helped the Ravens in their success, but not going crazy with big money. Newsome made his name through the draft and Douglas had a hand in drafting some of these players during his time in Baltimore from 2000-2014. Players such as Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jamal Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda, Joe Flacco, Haloti Ngata, Peter Boulware, Chris McCallister, Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley, Todd Heap, Dennis Pitta, and to the present day with Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown, Ronnie Stanley, and Lamer Jackson.

Douglas knows he’s got to build the Jets roster through the draft, and the team already spent big in free agency last year under former general manager Mike Maccagnan signing Mosley, Le’Veon Bell, and Jamison Crowder. Despite that, Douglas was always going to stay patient and let the market come to him, and so far, he’s done just that. He’s brought back offensive guard Alex Lewis and signed offensive tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern. Douglas has made it a point many times that the biggest goal this season was to improve the offensive line for quarterback, Sam Darnold. However, he was not going to rush to the table with big money, he was going to spend wisely, because that’s what he was taught.

Everyone knows teams don’t win championships in the offseason, and a lot of times the biggest spenders don’t end up with the best results. The Jets should know from last year after starting 1-7 before finishing 6-2 to go 7-9 after being big spenders. Many Jets fans may not like the approach from Douglas, especially with the AFC East being as wide open as it is with Brady now leaving the Patriots, but this is what Douglas learned for 15 years under Newsome, and he contributed a lot to their success in those 15 years when they won two Super Bowls. Douglas also contributed to the Philadelphia Eagles first Super Bowl in 2017 as vice president of player personnel. The motto for Newsome was “right player, right price”, and if Douglas follows that motto to the letter, the Jets will be a successful organization in the years to come.