Will Eli Manning Be Benched by Pat Shurmur?

eli-manning-benched-2018Last season, former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo caused a big stir when he benched franchise quarterback Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. While this move was only for one game, it raised eyebrows and contributed to McAdoo’s firing.

This is one reason why current Giants coach Pat Shurmur is having trouble pulling the trigger on such a deal this year. Manning is struggling greatly and looking well past his prime. However, Shurmur seems far from benching his starting QB.

Obviously this isn’t easy decision for him when considering the type of heat that McAdoo received for starting Smith last season. But it also looks like a good point in the season to experiment with another quarterback.

The Giants are currently 1-7 going into the bye week and have virtually no chance of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, Manning is 37 years old and the offense has looked terrible.

Rookie Kyle Lauletta – a fourth-round pick – may not ultimately be the franchise’s answer at quarterback. But it also seems ridiculous to not give him a few snaps when considering that Manning isn’t playing well and doesn’t have many years left in the league.

Shurmur Claims He Will “Look at Everything” – But Not Quarterback

The Giants lost 20-13 to the Washington Redskins in a game where they had major difficulties moving the ball. Manning threw two interceptions and only had one meaningless touchdown within the final minute of play.

“I’m going to look at everything as we move forward,” Shurmur said when asked about his struggling offense.

He was pressed on whether he’s evaluated the quarterback position.

“No, I don’t want to go there, I’m not going to tease that,” he said. “I just want to look at everything and see what we have to do moving forward.”

Shurmur obviously isn’t looking to shake things up at the moment. But it seems that he should keep his options open when considering that the team is losing and Manning is playing some of the worst football of his career.

Manning’s No Trade Clause Makes Things Difficult

eli-manning-future-1Making things harder on Shurmur is the fact that Manning has a no-trade clause in his contract. The long-time Giant also says that he won’t consider waiving this clause.

He claims to not be worried about the Giants potentially trying another quarterback. “I have to worry about just doing my job, trying to play and prepare,” he said. “That is not my decision.”

McAdoo totally botched the decision to bench Manning last season. He ended up starting Smith – a known entity – over then-rookie Davis Webb. The latter has since been cut from the team. But it would’ve made more sense to play Webb when considering that little was known on his NFL potential.

Shurmur obviously doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake as McAdoo. Therefore, he’s playing his cards close to his vest and waiting to see what happens the rest of the season.

Nevertheless, this is obviously a lost season for the Giants. They would have to rip off eight straight wins to close the regular season and possibly still need help to get into the playoffs.

That said, it would be nice if New York gave somebody a chance under center coming out of the bye. But don’t expect Shurmur to be hasty in being the one who ends Eli Manning’s career.

Browns Fire Huge Jackson – Posted 3-36-1 Record

hue-jackson-firedHue Jackson didn’t exactly have much success as the Cleveland Browns coach. He’s gone 3-36-1 in nearly two and a half seasons with the team.

Owner Jimmy Haslam, who’s been more patient with Jackson than other coaches under his regime, has finally decided to give the coach a pink slip.

Cleveland stuck with Jackson through a 1-15 first season, and a 0-16 campaign last year. The hope was that they would take a huge step forward in 2018 after adding more talent through the draft and free agency.

The Browns were more competitive to start the year than they had been in previous seasons. However, they blew a couple of winnable games and have now fallen out of playoff contention after a recent blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At 2-5-1,Cleveland is looking at another losing season. That said, it felt like the right time for the organization to cut ties with him.

The front office reportedly told Jackson “that the team had quit on him and that he wasn’t doing a good job of leading.” He exits Cleveland with a .205 winning percentage in his head coaching career, which ranks second worst in NFL history (40 games minimum) only to Bert Bell, who had a .179 winning percentage from 1936-41.

Hue Jackson Once Seemed Like a Good Hire

hue-jackson-fired-1It’s obvious at this point that Hugh Jackson wasn’t the right man for the Cleveland job. But after a very successful stint as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, he seemed like a solid hire three years ago.

Multiple teams were interested in Jackson as a head coach at the time. The Browns, who’ve gone through a number of rocky times with coaches in the past, seemed lucky to land Jackson.

His first season was bad, with the team producing a 1-15 record. Things only got worse the following year as the Browns became just the second team to go winless in 16 contests.

Some thought that he could be fired in the offseason. This is especially the case when considering that they canned general manager Sashi Brown last offseason and brought in new GM John Dorsey.

Nevertheless, Cleveland gave Jackson one more shot to show that he could guide the team to improvement. The Browns started well enough, going 1-1-1 over the first three games and looking far more competitive. But they’ve since devolved to a 1-4 record in their last five contests.

Did Hard Knocks Lay the Seed for Jackson Being Fired?

Aside from Jackson’s terrible record as the Browns coach, he also indicated friction between he and offensive coordinator Tom Haley in a recent press conference.

This is strange when considering that Jackson actually pursued Haley to be his handpicked offensive coordinator. Furthermore, he promised to be hands-off and let Haley call all of the plays on offense.

The HBO show Hard Knocks created a narrative that Haley was more of an alpha coach, while Jackson was more passive. This may have played a role in Hugh’s recent press conference comments, where he discussed getting more involved in the offense after the Pittsburgh game.

“There’s nothing wrong with my relationship with Haley,” Jackson said.

“I said what I said last week [about wanting to be more involved in the offense] and obviously it had legs. But I’ve never said I wanted to take over play-calling. I said I wanted to help. That’s it.”

Here’s more on the Hard Knocks friction from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:

“Jackson apparently was irritated with some of the perceptions created by the editing of the “Hard Knocks” series. Chief among them was how his coaching style was portrayed against the demonstrative barking storylines of Haley and Williams, who were often framed as the salty counterparts to Jackson’s somewhat less-profane (on TV, anyway) brand of leadership.

“One moment in particular was recalled by multiple sources: a disagreement Jackson had in a meeting with Haley and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens (who has a close relationship with Haley), over the resting of players.

“During that incident, Jackson shut down Haley and Kitchens, who disagreed with resting players to avoid injuries in practice. Jackson then punctuated his authority in the decision, closing the debate by stating “[At] the end of the day, I get to drive this bus, and I’m going to get it the way I want it. That’s it. Period. That’s just how it works.”

For Haslam’s part, he was looking to avoid any knee-jerk reactions. After all, he’s gone through a number of head coaches while owning the Browns.

The owner spoke with Dorsey about the Haley situation and Jackson’s overall resume with Cleveland. It appears that the conversation steered towards getting rid of the head coach, rather than the OC.

Who Could Be the Browns Head Coach?

Cleveland has a few options for how they can go about replacing Jackson. Haley and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams both have head coaching experience.

They could also pull a former head coach off the street who’s interested in guiding a team. Another option includes hiring an up-and-coming coordinator who’d be willing to implement their system mid-season.

Whatever the case may be, things can’t turn out any worse with the next coach than they did with Jackson.

Eric Gordon Would Have to Be Included in Any Jimmy Butler Trade

eric-gordon-rocketsThe Houston Rockets are currently very serious about trading for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler. I recently reported how they offered four future first-round picks for Butler. They’ve also included Brandon Knight and Marqueese Chriss in these talks.

It doesn’t appear that Minnesota is interested in this deal. They instead want all potential offers to include Rockets guard Eric Gordon.

Minnesota General Manager Scott Layden and head coach Tom Thibodeau both want the team to remain competitive if they do indeed deal butler. Thibodeau wants his team back in the playoffs after they grabbed the No. 8 seed last season.

Adding Gordon – rather than just draft picks and role players – would definitely align with this vision. Gordon is one of the best shooters in the NBA and could ease the impact of losing Butler.

Layden Ultimately Responsible for Finding Trade Partner

Thibodeau obviously has a lot of sway in who Minnesota is willing to deal with. But team owner Glenn Taylor wants Layden to focus on the trade while Thibodeau coaches the team.

So far, the franchise has failed to find a deal that interests them. The Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers’ have made offers for Butler. However, like the Rockets, Minnesota hasn’t jumped at their proposals either.

jimmy-butler-timberwolves-rocketsIt’s unlikely that the T-Wolves will ever take the four picks offer from Houston. They especially don’t like this deal when considering that they’d take on Knight’s bad contract in the process.

Again, they’re looking to keep a competitive team around stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This is a big reason why they want to add Gordon in any potential deal.

Of course, the key reason why Houston wants to make this deal is to become better than the reigning conference champion Golden State Warriors.

They’re willing to mortgage their future in order to make this happen. But it’s unclear if they’ll give up a key piece like Gorden.

Did Minnesota Leak the Gordon Trade Offer?

Speculation is that Minnesota has leaked the Rockets’ offer to motivate other suitors to increase their potential deals.

Miami thought they had a deal in place after offering Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and a protected 2019 first-round pick. However, Thibodeau and Layden wanted more at the last second, which caused Miami’s Pat Riley to coll off on the talks.

Philadelphia has quite a bit of young talent, including point guard Ben Simmons, center Joel Embiid, and guard Markelle Fultz. The Sixers are highly unlikely to part with Simmons or Embidd. But they might be willing to include Fultz – assuming Thibodeau would even be okay with this.

Multiple sources claim that Taylor wants to get a deal finished as quickly as possible. But if the team actually wanted this to happen, it would be done already.

That said, expect the Butler saga to continue playing out for more of the season. Minnesota obviously places a high value on their All-Star shooting guard, and they’re not going to give him up for just any deal.

Why Did the Cavs Fire Tyronn Lue? Will Cleveland Be Any Better?

tyronn-lue-cavs-firedCleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman has fired head coach Tyronn Lue after a disappointing 0-6 start. Assistant Larry Drew will serve as the new coach on an interim basis.

Lue took over the Cavs’ coaching job in 2015, after then-head coach David Blatt was fired. Lue led the team to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, including a championship in 2016. He ends his tenure with a 128-83 record as Cleveland’s head coach.

Few expected the Cavs to be good this year after LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason. However, Cleveland was hoping to be competitive once again since they have veterans like Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and George Hill remaining on the roster.

The idea was to revolve the offense around Love, while looking to the other veterans to fill various roles. This plan hasn’t panned out, though, with Love shooting under 35% to start the season.

Overall, the team simply lacks talent without James to carry them. They added point guard Collin Sexton with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. But he’s not quite ready to carry a franchise.

It’s obvious that Lue isn’t the primary reason for the team’s dismal start. Altman and the rest of Cleveland’s front office did a poor job of acquiring more talent during the offseason. Of course, they have it difficult when considering that they’re strapped with bad contracts involving players like Smith, Thompson, Hill, and Jordan Clarkson.

Why Lue Had to Go Now

tyronn-lue-cavs-fired-1The one thing that Lue did have going for him is respect in the locker room. In fact, the respect that players have for him is a big reason why he took over for Blatt three years ago.

Lue spent 11 seasons playing in the NBA. He was also Cleveland’s top assistant before assuming head coaching duties. James was a big fan of Lue being the coach, considering he wanted a former player to lead the team.

The organization still feels that Lue is an “incredible coach.” This makes it all the more questionable why they let him go.

Cleveland.com writer Chris Fedor reports that Altman began to question whether Lue was the right person to coach this particular group. After all, Tyronn was no longer strictly dealing with veterans. Instead, Cleveland is trying to mix young talent into the rotation.

Fedor writes that the organization was also unhappy with the team’s lack of competitiveness through the first six losses. Here’s more on his report:

“According to a source, the Cavs had grown frustrated with the overall lack of competitiveness, believing the roster is more talented than it has displayed. In all six losses, the Cavs have trailed by at least 16 points. They have yet to lead in the second half of a game. Four of the six losses have been by double figures.

“‘We have radically underachieved and it was unacceptable,’ the source said.

“The Cavs rank 29th in defensive rating for the second straight year despite a change in personnel. Lue, who first made his mark as a defensive assistant, implemented an unproductive switch-everything concept to open the season before shifting the last few games. Those continued defensive struggles didn’t help with the evaluation.”

Why Didn’t the Cavs Fire Lue in the Summer?

Given how quickly Cleveland let Lue go, many wonder why they didn’t just cut ties with him during the summer. The simplest answer is that it would be hard to fire a coach who just led them to a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

Much of this has to do with LeBron, who’s often in the conversation for greatest NBA player ever. Nevertheless, Lue was the one making in-game decisions during the last three Finals runs.

The Cavs already raised enough eyebrows after firing Blatt when his team was in first place in the Eastern Conference. It would’ve been even more insane to dump Lue after losing to the Warriors – one of the greatest teams of all time – in the championship.

Will Cleveland Be Any Better Under Larry Drew?

larry-drew-cavsOne solace is that the team has a solid replacement in Larry Drew. When Lue sat out games due to health reasons last season, Drew guided the club to a 9-1 record.

The team doesn’t immediately have a replacement in mind. Therefore, Drew has a chance to win over the organization as interim coach. He also has head coaching experience, going 143-169 with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks.

Of course, Drew has a tough road ahead of him when considering the mess that the Cavs are in right now. Love isn’t panning out as a number one option, while veterans like Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, Smith, Thompson, and Hill are all past their prime.

Sexton has potential. But again, he’s nowhere near the type of player who can lead a team at this point. With Lue gone, he may get more plays called for him.

David Nwaba, who’s been a spark off the bench at times, also hasn’t gotten much playing time or looks. Nwaba is an interesting player who can definitely step into a larger role at some point the season. Cleveland outscored the Indiana Pacers by 13 points when Nwaba was on the floor in a recent game.

Larry Nance Jr., who played with Nwaba on the Los Angeles Lakers, would really like to see his friend get more of a chance.

“I didn’t have to tell him to stay ready or anything like that, because he’s always one of the first ones there and one of the last ones to leave, always lifting and doing extra cardio and stuff,” said Nance. “I would love to see him more. We need his energy.”

It seems Cleveland has given up on the idea of winning immediately after LeBron leaving. That said, Drew will likely devote more time to helping Sexton and Nwaba develop in what’s looking like a lost season.

Rockets Willing to Give 4 First Rounders for Jimmy Butler

jimmy-butler-rockets-four-first-roundersThe Houston Rockets are getting more serious about bringing Jimmy Butler to their team. They’re so serious, in fact, that they’re willing to give up four future first-round picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Butler.

League rules state that teams can’t trade first-round picks in consecutive years. Going further, they’re also not allowed to deal a pick further than seven seasons into the future.

This has required Houston to get very creative in their offer by spreading the picks out every two years, up to seven seasons. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets would deal their first-round picks in 2019, 2021, 2023, and 2025.

This offer is even riskier for the Rockets when considering that the picks come with little protection. Draft selections can’t be protected when they’re dealt in alternating years, unless the protection allows for a pick to roll over to the next season.

Butler Would Need to Commit to the Rockets Long Term

The tricky thing about trading for Jimmy Butler is that he’s a free agent at the end of the season. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that the Rockets would make this trade and risk their future if they don’t gain a long-term commitment from the All-Star shooting guard.

jimmy-butler-2018-injury-returnMuch of this deal will hinge on Butler agreeing to a long-term contract with Houston. They might also have to make additional deals in order to free up cap space for Butler’s impending contract.

The upside, though, is that he would be a third elite player teaming up with Chris Paul and James Harden. This trio might actually have a chance to beat the Golden State Warriors, who’ve dominated the Western Conference in recent years.

They had a chance to get past the Warriors in last year’s Western Conference Finals. But they blew a 3-2 lead after Paul got injured. Furthermore, they lost Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza through free agency this summer.

The team did manage to sign Carmelo Anthony during free agency. But Butler would be a much bigger deal if he’s added to the Rockets.

Houston Must Weigh Future Against Getting Butler Now

Again, there’s incredible risk in Houston trading their top draft selections seven years out in exchange for players who may or may not take them to the next level.

The last time that draft selections were traded in this magnitude was when the Brooklyn Nets made a deal with the Boston Celtics to bring in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

The Nets are still paying for this deal five years later, because they didn’t win a championship with Pierce and Garnett, and they’ve missed out on several high lottery picks in the aftermath. Boston, meanwhile, turned two of these selections into Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – both of whom have All-Star potential.

Morey is certainly no idiot and understands the implications of giving away four first-rounders. Nevertheless, an aggressive move for Butler may be the only way to become a serious threat to the Warriors this season and beyond.

Can Bears Win without Khalil Mack?

khalil-mack-injuryKhalil Mack has played a huge role in the Chicago Bears being competitive in the early going. However, he may have to sit this weekend against the New York Jets.

Mack, who’s already recorded five sacks and four forced fumbles, has been dealing with an ankle injury over the past two weeks. He hurt his ankle in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins and hasn’t had the same impact in the past two games.

With Mack hampered, the team has given up an average of 461 yards to the Dolphins and New England Patriots.

The defense has really struggled with their best player no longer able to push off and explode like he did in the first four games of the season. That said, it’s worth wondering if Chicago can win against New York without their star linebacker.

Bears Need to Decide if It’s Worth Risking Mack’s Health

The Chicago Bears gave up two first-round draft picks along with two more picks in order to acquire Mack. The latter has already proven that he’s worth far more than what Chicago gave up when he’s healthy.

Khalil made game-changing plays in each of the first four games, including an interception that he returned for a touchdown. The problem now, though, is that Mack isn’t healthy anymore.

khalil-mack-bears-mvp-1It’s obvious that he can’t run like he did earlier in the season. While Mack is still a good linebacker even when hurt, he’s not the same game-changer right now.

He’s started 70 straight games. But Chicago really needs to decide if they should keep trotting Mack out when he’s obviously not 100%.

“It’s not easy,” said Bears head coach Matt Nagy. “That’s where the trust level from both ends has to be there.

“The player has to understand where we’re coming from as a team as to (asking) where you’re at percentage-wise. We all know he’s not 100 percent, but where are you at? That’s where we trust him, he trusts us and then we go ahead with the action plan.”

Chicago Needs the MVP Version of Khalil Mack

Earlier this season, I discussed how Khalil Mack looked like a serious candidate to win MVP as a defensive player. Odds are that this is no longer happening due to his slowdown and gimpy angle. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still help Chicago make the playoffs.

They’ve now lost two games with the limited version of Mack on the field. Their 3-3 record doesn’t inspire much trust in a postseason run right now. So why not just sit Mack for one or two weeks and let him return to his dominant self?

As it is right now, Khalil isn’t helping the team win any contests by himself. Chicago really has nothing to lose by sitting him until he’s 100% healthy again. In fact, they’d be better off letting him rest and losing the next two games, then having Mack back at full strength.

Of course, the Bears are actually big favorites against the Jets at home. This makes it seem like an even better idea to let Khalil rest.

Bears vs. Jets Odds

With Mack’s availability up in the air, it’s difficult to handicap the upcoming Chicago vs. New York matchup. But you should currently treat this situation as if Mack isn’t going to play, or at least not be himself.

Regardless of Mack’s situation, Chicago is a big favorite going into tomorrow’s contest (odds here at GTBets):

  • New York Jets +9.5 (-108); +345 moneyline; O 42.5 (-109)
  • Chicago Bears -9.5 (-111); -444 moneyline; U 42.5 (-109)