Are the New York Giants finally on the way back up from rock bottom?

Happy Wednesday morning, folks. We have a jam-packed newsletter for you.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS

There weren’t many bright spots for Giants fans in the 2021 season (just look at the photo above). If early returns are any indication, 2022 will be better. The Giants fired head coach Joe Judge on Tuesday after two disastrous seasons in which New York went 10-23 and scored the fewest points in the NFL.

I’m not celebrating anyone losing their job. It’s important to be able to distinguish Joe Judge the person from Joe Judge the coach, as well as Joe Judge the person from the Giants organization.

Having said that, this was the correct move for the franchise.

As the losses mounted, Judge became increasingly bizarre and defensive in his press conferences. Last week, he took shots at the Washington Football Team and said his team wasn’t “some clown show” (it’s probably never a great sign if you have to declare that your team isn’t a clown show, by the way).

The Giants then lost to Washington and ran a ridiculous quarterback sneak on third-and-9.

It was time for a change. Unfortunately for Giants fans, that sentence has become all too familiar. This will be the fifth different full-time head coach in the last eight seasons.

  • 2015: Tom Coughlin‘s last season
  • 2016-17: Ben McAdoo (13-15, did not finish second season)
  • 2018-19: Pat Shurmur (9-23)
  • 2020-21: Joe Judge (10-23)

Firing Judge was the first of NFL expert Cody Benjamin’s five steps to fix the Giants, and now they can focus on finding Judge’s successor. Given the team’s offensive struggles, Benjamin thinks the Giants should focus on that side of the ball in their list of potential candidates. One such option could be in upstate New York:

  • Benjamin: Brian Daboll — The Bills offensive coordinator is already a hot name, with the Bears and Dolphins reportedly set to interview him. For his work with Josh Allen alone, he deserves a look. Daboll is smart enough that he could probably design an offense more befitting of Daniel Jones in 2022, but he’d also be a prime candidate to rebuild the offensive foundation, complete with a new franchise QB.”

Honorable mention:

And not such a good morning for…

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAMS THAT ENTERED LAST NIGHT UNDEFEATED

The best part about college basketball is the madness. And I’m not talking March Madness, necessarily. I’m talking about the madness that happens on a random Tuesday night in January. There are no undefeated teams left in men’s college basketball after both No. 5 USC and No. 1 Baylor fell.

Let’s start with the Bears, whose 21-game winning streak had been the longest in the nation. No. 19 Texas Tech came into Waco and rallied from 15 down to pull out a 65-62 victory. I came away from this game so impressed with the Red Raiders. Five players scored in double figures and the team’s outstanding defensive versatility was evident all night. The win also comes just days after they beat then-No. 6 Kansas.

Texas Tech’s toughness was on full display, writes our college basketball expert David Cobb:

  • Cobb: “After outscoring Kansas 15-5 in second-chance points on Saturday, they bested Baylor 12-6 in second-chance points for the game and 10-2 in the second half. … A 36-22 edge in paint points also showcased TTU’s edge in physicality.”

One more thing about Texas Tech: This team is only going to get better as the roster continues to gel. Three of last night’s double-digit scorers are transfers in their first season with the program, and the win came without leading scorer Terrence Shannon Jr. After Chris Beard left for Texas, one might have expected this to be a rebuilding year in Lubbock, but the last week has proved the Red Raiders aren’t going to take any steps back under Mark Adams.

Earlier in the evening, USC also suffered its first defeat of the season, dropping a 75-69 decision at unranked Stanford. Five-star freshman Harrison Ingram posted 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals, who beat a top-five team for the first time since 2007.

I love college basketball.

Not so honorable mention:

  • Alabama’s Jameson Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game. He’s 18th in Ryan Wilson’s latest mock draft. This is a bummer all around.

Ranking the NFL’s head coach openings 🏈


USATSI

There are seven NFL head coaching jobs available right now, and our NFL expert Jordan Dajani has already done a lot of the work for potential candidates by ranking the openings from first to worst.

I certainly won’t argue with Dajani’s top choice, the Raiders. They’re the only one in the playoffs, Derek Carr has established himself as a very solid starting quarterback, and there’s plenty to like elsewhere on the roster.

But Dajani also brings up another really good point, one I hadn’t previously thought about:

  • Dajani: “This next head coach has a chance to be the face of the NFL in Vegas. The Raiders just wrapped up their first full season with fans present in their shiny new stadium, and this franchise is looking for something positive to feed off of in one of the most fun cities in America. You could be that coach, you could be that leader. That’s enticing.”

On the other end of the spectrum are the Jaguars, and that’s no surprise. In 2017, Jacksonville reached the AFC Championship and very nearly upset the Patriots to go to the Super Bowl. But here’s where the team ranks in the four seasons since:

  • Last in wins
  • Last in points
  • Last in turnover margin

So, the on-field product has been awful, the last full-time coach (Urban Meyer, remember him?) was a disaster and the fans showed up in clown costumes in Week 18 to express their frustration. Other than that, it’s a great job!

Who tops the way-too-early college football Top 25? 🥇


Getty Images

We’re now two days removed from the national championship, and, sorry Georgia fans, but it’s time to focus on next season.

Just kidding, Bulldogs faithful, please keep on celebrating. But we have a job to do, so our college football reporter Dennis Dodd released his way-too-early Top 25 for the 2022 season.

Here’s his top five:

  • 1. Alabama
  • 2. Ohio State
  • 3. Georgia
  • 4. Oklahoma
  • 5. Texas A&M

The Crimson Tide never stray far from the top, and there are two main reasons that’s the case again:

  • Dodd: “The Crimson Tide will be loaded again in 2022. For starters, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young and Nagurski Award-winning linebacker Will Anderson Jr. return. That’s arguably the best offensive and defensive players in the country.

One of the biggest storylines of the season will be Lincoln Riley‘s first campaign at USC. Dodd has the Trojans at No. 14 — but with some major questions to answer:

  • Dodd: “Lincoln Riley needs a quarterback. That problem could be solved as soon as Caleb Williams makes up his mind. If not, Jaxson Dart is capable of leading the offense if he’s pulled out of the transfer portal. Before anything happens, the Trojans have to get tougher up front. Watch Alex Grinch take another step as a defensive coordinator.”

NBA players who are flying under the radar 🏀


Getty Images

I really enjoyed our NBA reporter Colin Ward-Henninger’s piece on five under-the-radar players having great seasons, complete with a ton of stats and video to back it up.

Here’s the list:

  • Pat Connaughton
  • Cameron Johnson
  • Kevin Love
  • Seth Curry
  • Josh Hart

A must-read if you’re an NBA fan.

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

🏀 No. 14 Villanova at No. 17 Xavier, 6:30 p.m. on FS1
🏀 No. 8 Duke at Wake Forest, 7 p.m. on ACC Network
🏀 Mavericks at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Nets at Bulls, 10 p.m. on ESPN

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