The New York Giants are undoubtedly very excited about rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, especially after he led a game-winning drive to cap off a 336 yard, four score performance. Jones won the Offense of Player of the Week for the NFC after just one start in the NFL, which not only provides optimism but excitement for the future.
While the offensive side of the ball seems to be in good hands with Jones, the defense has been lackluster this season. However, one rookie has stood out and is beginning to make a name for himself within the Giants fan-base.
Wisconsin product Ryan Connelly has been stellar at times for the Giants and is proving his worth quickly. After recording five assisted tackles and two solos against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Connelly showed why he could be a starting linebacker for the future.
He also picked up an interception in the win, which helped flip the momentum in the Giants favor and gave them a fighting chance at extracting their first victory of the season. The defense struggled in the first half of the game, allowing 28 points. The second half was far better for New York who seems to elevate their game after making mental and physical mistakes early in contests. They allowed just three points the entire second half, showing their resiliency and ability to overcome adversity.
“This feeling, you got to hold onto this feeling,’’ Connelly said after the game. “And we also got to hold onto the feeling of getting off on those third downs, the short drives we were able to keep them to.’’
Interestingly enough, the Giants defense improved after they lost Alec Ogletree to a hamstring injury on what ended up being a dead play. With Ogletree likely out against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Connelly will be the MIC linebacker, shuffling play calls and coverages to the defense.
As just a fifth-round pick, Connelly’s emergence as a starting player is significant. The Giants managed to secure a quality player later in the draft without having to allocate a premium pick to the position.
One of the positive aspects Ryan brings to the table is his tenacity and confidence. He’s hugely versed in shooting gaps with speed and can get into the backfield in a hurry. His short-area burst is excellent and gives him an advantage in the run game. Also, he’s instinctive in coverage, allowing him to cover running backs in the flat and cross tight ends (not ideal).
Connelly is a player to keep an eye on and watch his development. He’s quickly becoming a favorite for defensive coordinator, James Bettcher.