Eli Manning outshines Sam Darnold as Giants topple Jets 22-16

The New York Giants played visitor in their own house on Friday night against the New York Jets in their annual preseason “MetLife Bowl.”

Out of the gate, the Jets and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold looked dominant, driving the ball 75 yards down the field with relative ease for an opening-series score.

However, that would be the extent of Gang Green’s offense on the night, as the Giants’ first-team defense buckled down and held them out of the endzone for the remainder of the first half. That carried over into the second half as Giants reserves came up big, stalling a late-fourth quarter drive at the goal line.

Darnold finished the game going 8-of-16 for 86 yards and one touchdown — almost all of which came on the game’s opening drive.

On the other side of the field, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, whom many wanted Danold to replace, looked like a two-time Super Bowl MVP despite being without running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who each failed to take a single snap.

Manning finished the game going 17-of-23 for 188 yards and no turnovers.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard accounted for most of Manning’s yards, hauling in seven receptions for 78 yards. Fellow wide receiver Cody Latimer also hauled in a big pass off of Manning’s arm, gaining 54 yards on a deep pass in the first half.

The only Giants touchdown of the game came courtesy of punt returner Hunter Sharp, who returned one 55 yards for a score. It was a much-needed boost for the struggling young wideout and the first touchdown the Jets surrendered this preseason.

Defensively, the Giants held the Jets to 230 total yards, including just 66 yards on the ground.

Kerry Wynn continued his strong preseason with another sack, while Olivier Vernon accounted for a pressure or two. Landon Collins also made a few standout plays, which comes as little surprise at this point in his career.

Meanwhile, Aldrick Rosas likely put the finishing touches on the kicking job, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts and converting the Giants’ lone point after attempt of the game.

The Giants will wrap up the preseason next Friday night against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium.

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John Elway’s Comments Could Prove Problematic for the NFL in Colin Kaepernick’s Collusion Case

John Elway was right to wonder if he could legally discuss his deposition from Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case. In hindsight, he should have refrained from the topic altogether.

Stewart love Friday August 17th, 2018

During a press conference on Thursday, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was asked if his team—which is exploring the possibility of signing a veteran free-agent quarterback—regards free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a “viable option.” Keep in mind, the Broncos’ quarterback situation is in flux. Paxton Lynch, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, was recently demoted to the No. 3 on the depth chart behind Case Keenum and rookie Chad Kelly.

Elway responded to the question as follows:

“You know what, and I said this a while ago: Colin had his chance to be here. We offered him a contract. He didn’t take it. And as I said at my deposition—and I don’t know if I’ll be legally able to say this—but he had his chance to be here. He passed it.”

Elway’s reference to “my deposition” concerns when he gave sworn testimony in May. With Kaepernick in attendance at Elway’s deposition, the 58-year-old GM responded to questions posed by Kaepernick’s attorneys. Members of Kaepernick’s legal team, which includes Los Angeles attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas, have deposed more than two dozen NFL owners and team executives as part of the grievance process. Kaepernick’s attorneys believe that some combination of NFL officials, NFL owners and team executives have conspired to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL, and that they are animated by fear of President Donald Trump—one of Kaepernick’s sharpest critics.

As explained below, Elway’s comments do not undermine Kaepernick’s grievance. Just the opposite, actually, they could prove problematic for both him and the NFL.

Kaepernick being offered a contract in 2016 doesn’t disprove collusion in 2017

For two important reasons, the Broncos offering Kaepernick a contract in 2016 in no way negates the possibility that Kaepernick later experienced collusion.

First, Elway’s reference to an offer concerns a situation in April 2016—long before the relevant time period for Kaepernick’s grievance. Kaepernick was given the opportunity to facilitate a trade from the 49ers to the Broncos. A precondition to the trade was Kaepernick agreeing to sign a new contract. The new contract, however, would have reduced the guaranteed portion of Kaepernick’s contract from $11.9 million to $7 million.

Unsurprisingly, Kaepernick refused to accept a reduction of approximately 42% in guaranteed money. He instead remained with the 49ers through the 2016 season, during which time Kaepernick began to kneel while the national anthem was played. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers on March 3, 2017. It’s now 531 days later. The 30-year-old Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to a division championship in 2012 and a Super Bowl appearance in 2013, remains unsigned and unwanted.

Whether Kaepernick’s NFL career would have been better off had he joined the Broncos in April 2016 is an interesting football question, but it is immaterial to his grievance. Under Article 17 of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA, collusion concerns actions that occurred, or were reasonably discoverable, during the preceding 90 days. Kaepernick filed his grievance on October 15, 2017. This means the alleged collusion took place, or could have been discovered, at point(s) between mid-July and mid-October 2017—in other words, long after Kaepernick declined to take a massive pay cut to join the Broncos.

Second, even if Kaepernick had rejected an opportunity to join the Broncos within 90 days of his collusion filing, that decision wouldn’t have disproved collusion. A finding of collusion doesn’t require a league-wide conspiracy. It only takes two or more teams, or the league and at least one team, conspiring to deny Kaepernick of the collectively-bargained right to sign with a team. There are 32 NFL teams. Taking one team out of the equation doesn’t change much. There remain numerous combinations of 31 teams that could lead to two or more teams (or one team and the league itself) conspiring against a player.

Elway’s comments could prove problematic for the NFL both procedurally and substantively

In his statement, Elway wondered if he was “legally able” to reveal his deposition testimony. Elway was right to wonder. In hindsight, he should have refrained from the topic altogether.

First, those who partake in Kaepernick’s grievance do so under a protective order. The order forbids disclosure of any sensitive information contemplated in the grievance. The order governs all players, team executives, team owners, league officials and anyone else who participates in the grievance. The grievance’s arbitrator, University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Burbank, issued the order—possibly at the behest of the NFL, which (like other businesses) normally prefers confidentiality in arbitration. Elway openly discussing his testimony would appear to violate the protective order. Such disclosure is also at odds with the CBA, which requires confidentiality of collusion grievances.

Burbank could conceivably sanction Elway and the NFL for the disclosure; separately, the NFL could consider fining Elway. Regardless, this is an inopportune time for the NFL to annoy Burbank. He is currently deciding whether to grant summary judgment in favor of the NFL. Under Section 7 of Article 17, Burbank is considering whether the evidence Kaepernick has offered thus far is sufficient enough to raise a genuine issue of material fact. This consideration occurs after the two sides completed the discovery process, which involves witness testimony and release of physical and electronic evidence. In order to prevail in his grievance, Kaepernick must show, by a clear preponderance of the evidence, that he experienced collusion. Such evidence could include testimony, texts, emails and other materials and correspondences.

If Burbank finds that Kaepernick has already shown enough evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, he would deny summary judgment. Such a move would concern NFL officials and could lead them to worry that Burbank is inclined to rule in favor of Kaepernick. Such anxiety might propel the NFL to seek a financial settlement with Kaepernick.

It is also worth noting that Kaepernick’s attorneys only targeted certain team owners and executives. It stands to reason that they pursued Elway in hopes that he might offer the very comments he spoke on Thursday. With that in mind, Burbank almost certainly wants to know the answer to the following question: If Elway wanted to sign Kaepernick in April 2016—before the kneeling began—why would he not want to sign Kaepernick in 2017 or 2018?

If the answer is Elway felt that Kaepernick’s play in the 2016 season had revealed a regression between the player he sought in April 2016 and the one that became available in March 2017, Elway would seem to possess a meritorious reason. One problem with that explanation, though, is that Kaepernick played better in 2016, when he threw for 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions, than he did in 2015. In fact, his QB rating in 2016 was 90.7 whereas it was 78.5 in 2015. Also, if Kaepernick was worth $7 million to the Broncos in April 2016, was he not worth engaging at all when he became available in March 2017 and remained available thereafter?

Burbank could conceivably sanction Elway and the NFL for the disclosure; separately, the NFL could consider fining Elway. Regardless, this is an inopportune time for the NFL to annoy Burbank. He is currently deciding whether to grant summary judgment in favor of the NFL. Under Section 7 of Article 17, Burbank is considering whether the evidence Kaepernick has offered thus far is sufficient enough to raise a genuine issue of material fact. This consideration occurs after the two sides completed the discovery process, which involves witness testimony and release of physical and electronic evidence. In order to prevail in his grievance, Kaepernick must show, by a clear preponderance of the evidence, that he experienced collusion. Such evidence could include testimony, texts, emails and other materials and correspondences.

If Burbank finds that Kaepernick has already shown enough evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, he would deny summary judgment. Such a move would concern NFL officials and could lead them to worry that Burbank is inclined to rule in favor of Kaepernick. Such anxiety might propel the NFL to seek a financial settlement with Kaepernick.

It is also worth noting that Kaepernick’s attorneys only targeted certain team owners and executives. It stands to reason that they pursued Elway in hopes that he might offer the very comments he spoke on Thursday. With that in mind, Burbank almost certainly wants to know the answer to the following question: If Elway wanted to sign Kaepernick in April 2016—before the kneeling began—why would he not want to sign Kaepernick in 2017 or 2018?

If the answer is Elway felt that Kaepernick’s play in the 2016 season had revealed a regression between the player he sought in April 2016 and the one that became available in March 2017, Elway would seem to possess a meritorious reason. One problem with that explanation, though, is that Kaepernick played better in 2016, when he threw for 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions, than he did in 2015. In fact, his QB rating in 2016 was 90.7 whereas it was 78.5 in 2015. Also, if Kaepernick was worth $7 million to the Broncos in April 2016, was he not worth engaging at all when he became available in March 2017 and remained available thereafter?

Will Carson Wentz be ready for Week 1? ‘It’s going to be close’

It’s going to be close.

That was the most telling part of Carson Wentz’s interview on WIP this morning before the final training camp practice of the summer.

Wentz was asked by Angelo Cataldi how important it would be for him to start the season:

I obviously would love to be out there. That’s been my goal all offseason ever since the injury. It’s going to be close. It’s going to be close. I’m still eyeing that date. At the end of the day, it’s not just my decision. There’s coaches and doctors that really have the final say. I really like where I’m at and time will tell here. 

Of course, we all probably knew it was going to be close, but here’s Wentz saying it just 3 1/2 weeks before the opener against the Falcons.

Wentz began training camp a few weeks ago working in full-team 11-on-11 drills, but the Eagles have backed off of him some since then. He’s done just 7-on-7s for most of training camp. Head coach Doug Pederson said they saw enough from Wentz in those early sessions and didn’t want to risk further injury. Pederson claimed there was no setback.

While Wentz hasn’t been in full-team drills, his footwork and arm strength have been on display during individual drills and in 7-on-7s.

“My knee feels really good,” Wentz said. “Rehab and everything has been going great. Every day it feels a little better out there. I really like where I’m at so it’s just a be patient thing.”

When asked just how tough ACL rehab is, Wentz flatly said, “It’s no fun.” There was a lot of pain early in the process but going through rehab with some big-name players like Jason Peters, Chris Maragos, Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks helped.

It’s still pretty amazing that the Eagles were able to win a Super Bowl without all those guys playing by the end of the season.

Cataldi described the grim scene on his flight back to Philly from Los Angeles after Wentz went down at the LA Coliseum on Dec. 10. He told Wentz that everyone thought the season was over.

And then he asked Wentz if what happened after amazed him.

“I wouldn’t say it amazed me,” Wentz said, emphasizing the word amazed. “It was kind of expected. It’s one of those things to the outside, it seemed like the world was ending and we didn’t have a shot. That’s when people started to write us off, but we knew what we had. We knew the guys we had. We knew we had Nick, who would be more than ready to go. Obviously, he stepped in and not only finished that game the right way and got it done for us but obviously finished the year unbelievable. I wouldn’t say it surprised any of us at all. But probably to the world, it did.”