Big Ben Tuesday: OG Ignites Knicks D, Eye-Opening NFL Free Agency Moves by Steelers, Chargers, Bears

STAMFORD, CT – There is a lot of action on the New York sports scene. We’re actually just one day away from MLB Opening Day, if you count the South Korean excursion, and just over a week out if you don’t. An interesting NFL draft is just over a month away. The Rangers and Knicks both have fourteen games ahead of the playoffs, with the talent to make some noise. NFL Free Agency is going strong, with the Giants and Jets devoting heavy resources to the O-line. And why not, building them through the draft wasn’t working. There’s lots to talk about, but I’m going to focus on the Knicks and some eye-opening NFL free agent moves, featuring the Steelers, Bears, and Chargers.

THE OG

The Russ and Juss Experiment

The Knicks got a step closer to being healthy with OG Anunoby coming back into the lineup last week, and man has he made a difference.  Anunoby is the Knicks‘ most important player not named Brunson. The man can pretty much cover any forward and any two guard. There is not a more versatile defender in the league and it’s no coincidence that the Knicks have not given up 100 points since he’s been back. (Though that streak continues, as the Knicks battled to a win over the Warriors late Monday).

But the Knicks are running out of time to get the band back together. I’m talking about the 14-2 January lineup, plus Burks and Bogdanovic. That would be a squad. Julius Randle is still doing “controlled contact” but has not been cleared to scrimmage. Mitchell Robinson has started running and jumping but has not been cleared for contact. The clock is ticking, and the Knicks need these guys.

The Celtics are the biggest threat in the East, and maybe the league. The additions of Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, as well as the improvement of Derrick White, to go along with the two superstars, has taken them to the next level. In the old glory days of the ’90s Knicks or the Detroit Bad Boys, you could never get away with skinny Porzingis at Center and Tatum as your power forward. But in the modern era they’re deadly.

At full strength, I think the Knicks could give them a run. The Knicks match-up pretty well defensively on paper. Robinson and Hartenstein could slow down Porzingis, OG could contain Tatum, Josh Hart and OG could defend Brown, Brunson could cover Holliday, and DiVincenzo could take White. Randle might be a liability on D, but Thibs would make it work. Easy, right? No, it would obviously be tough for the Knicks but that would be a hell of a chess game, if all the pieces are on the board.

Plenty of weapons

Free Agency Eye-Openers

The Bears began to screw up their envious situation by getting a bag of potatoes for Justin Fields. They said they wanted to do right by him and send him to a good situation. More likely they just overplayed their hand, his market dried up, and they tried to play the good guy. Either way they’re idiots. They did have Keenan Allen fall into their lap. Caleb Williams will be walking into a solid situation with DJ Moore, Allen, and Kmet as his top weapons. And they have the number nine pick to get him more help.

Getting Fields right after bringing Russell Wilson (“Steel country. Let’s weld.“) on board was an eye opener, for sure. If he sits behind Wilson for a year and then turns into a stud, the Steelers will look pretty smart. Give them credit for not being stubborn and sticking with their crappy draft pick and getting creative in the search for a solution. Their fan base lives in western Pennsylvania, so you can’t make them watch another season of Kenny Pickett. They’ve suffered enough. Pickett is the only man who can make Mason Rudolph look appealing.

How stoked in Justin Herbert right now? They bring in conservative head coach, cut and trade their two best receivers, and lose their top RB to free agency. They did watch Quintin Williams play last year, right? Could be a rough year for Justin and the boys.

That’s it for me.

Come back tomorrow for a person who hasn’t had a rough year since ’82, the fill-in for a vacationing Angry Ward. 

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About Ben Whitney 402 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.