New York Giants: Replacing Ryan Connelly After Strange Cut Decision

New York Giants, David Mayo

The New York Giants made their cuts to reach their 53 man roster recently, and Ryan Connelly isn’t on the list of players being kept. It’s kind of a strange decision, because Connelly was expected to compete for a starting spot next to Blake Martinez. And last season before his injury, it looked like Connelly was going to be a top defensive name on the team in his rookie year.

However, all that went up in smoke when the Giants made their cuts and decided Connelly wasn’t good enough. Perhaps it’s because of taking too long to bounce back from the injury properly, but it seems quick for the Giants to give up on a promising player like this. Especially when David Mayo’s injury brings uncertainty to the position.

Who exactly will fill the role that Connelly may have had if his recovery was successful?

Last year’s option, David Mayo

It looks like the Giants are going to rely on one of the players that manned the position last season, David Mayo.

But things are a bit more complicated because Mayo is out with a knee injury right now. That’s one of the reasons it’s so surprising the Giants moved on from Connelly very quickly. Mayo, however, may have gotten lucky with the injury and could make a quick return rather than miss a long period of the season.

Mayo isn’t exactly a bad option, and while he doesn’t look like a player with the breakout potential Connelly showed, he did have 82 tackles last season and isn’t going to actively hurt the Giants at linebacker.

The other option, however, is less certain.

The newcomer, Devante Downs

There’s some talk that Devante Downs was one of the players in direct competition with Connelly, and that the Giants must favor Downs if they cut his rival.

That may be the case, but it’s hard to put too much stock into Devante Downs just yet. Likely, the team isn’t thinking of him as the main option either. Maybe a stopgap before Mayo is back, but not a primary option after that.

That’s not because Downs is a bad player, but because he’s simply inexperienced. He only has 3 total tackles in the NFL. With no track record like this, it’s kind of asking a lot to throw a player like Downs right into the middle of things.

If he’s performing well in camp, Downs should get some kind of shot. But it’s a safer bet to give him time in the rotation first and let him gain some experience while others do the heavy lifting as starters.

With that being said, it’s not uncommon for linebackers to substitute often, so we might see Downs get a decent share of time on the field.

New York Giants Shockingly Cut Second-Year Linebacker Ryan Connelly

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants made a surprising cut today as the team trimmed its roster down to fifty-three players. Inside linebacker Ryan Connelly was released after one season with the team.

Connelly was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Early on in the 2019 season, Ryan looked like one of the best young players on the Giants’ poor defense. In the first four games of the season, Ryan Connelly recorded 2 interceptions, 1 sack, and 20 combined tackles.

But this great season was brought to a screeching halt. Connelly suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season. Many. Giants fans expected Connelly to be one of the Giants’ two starting inside linebackers this season, which is why this roster move is so shocking.

According to the New Jersey beat writers, Connelly was slow to recover in training camp from this injury. But they were all surprised to find out he was cut. After looking so impressive on the field last season, it seemed like Connelly had a bright future ahead. Maybe he does, but that future likely will not be with the New York Giants.

Who Will Replace Connelly?

The Giants drafted four linebackers in 2020. Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, and TJ Brunson will all be on the Giants’ roster, fighting to replace Ryan Connelly. Additionally, DeVante Downs is another young linebacker on the roster who will have a chance to fill Connelly’s role.

Many expected Connelly to start alongside Blake Martinez in 2020. Realistically, that was never going to happen, even with the injury to David Mayo. Mayo’s injury will not keep him sidelined long, and he will return to the starting lineup when he is healthy.

Ryan Connelly is eligible for the Giants’ practice squad if he is not picked up by another team. Tomorrow, we will find out where Connelly is headed.

New York Giants: Recapping Today’s Practice

The New York Giants practiced today after taking Saturday off. The offense and defense faced off earlier this Friday for the first intra-squad scrimmage of training camp. Today, though, the team had a standard practice. Despite the COVID scare in the NFL today, the Giants still held their walkthrough.

In the NFL, multiple teams had positive COVID tests from Saturday’s daily testing. The Giants were one of the teams that had staff members test positive. But, according to reports, the tests around the league were false positive. There was an issue at a lab in New Jersey. The Giants and all other teams affected took the necessary precautions, but it appears that these tests were inaccurate and there is not actually a spike in COVID cases within the NFL.

Today’s Practice Recap

The Giants had a light practice today. It was an easy Sunday as the players continue to recover from their hard scrimmage on Friday. The team is likely to speed things up again tomorrow, though, after today’s practice was “little more than a walkthrough.”

Two key players did not participate in today’s practice: linebacker Ryan Connelly and fullback Eli Penny.

Quarterbacks coach Joe Schuplisnki offered some praise for the team’s young quarterback, Daniel Jones, today. Schuplinski explained that he worked out Daniel Jones before the 2019 NFL Draft (with the Patriots) and thought his “arm looked good.” But the quarterbacks coach thinks Jones’s arm “looks even stronger now.” Schuplinski said this has been “eye-opening” for him.

Practice Highlights

Second-year wide receiver Darius Slayton made an impressive toe-tap touchdown catch today:

Post-Practice Quotes

The Giants have practiced hard throughout training camp. It has been high-intensity, but there have not been any fights yet. If fights do happen, though, head coach Joe Judge has a response plan:

“If you fight in a game, you get penalized and get ejected. We’ll play nasty, not dirty. If you get thrown out for fighting in a game, you can get kicked out of practice.” – Joe Judge on team fights during practice via Matt Lombardo

Joe Judge is still delivering on his promises: this will be a disciplined, no-nonsense team under his control. Judge has been receiving plenty of praise and criticism for his hard, disciplined practice style so far. But the players and assistant coaches have all had positive things to say about Judge. Outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema said today: “There’s no falseness to it, there’s no just trying to put a certain look. It’s just him being real.” Judge has made an authentic, genuine impression on his staff.

New York Giants: Ryan Connelly Optimistic About Return From Injury

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

It’s been a complicated past year for New York Giants linebacker Ryan Connelly. More specifically, it’s been less than a year since Connelly came in as a fifth round draft pick, took the starting role at inside linebacker, and became one of the top young players on the Giants defense – before being sidelined by an ACL tear not long into the season.

And the league’s response to coronavirus hasn’t made it any easier for Connelly and others to recover from injury. The Giants facilities weren’t even open for most of the offseason. The team had a virtual program, but you can only gain so much without training face to face.

Now that Connelly is back on the field, there’s added competition. Blake Martinez was brought in to play the same position. The other spot on the inside will probably be held by David Mayo or Connelly. Either way, the competition is fiercer than last year. And Connelly isn’t the default starter he may have been before the Martinez deal.

Connelly speaks on his offseason

The offseason wasn’t that bad for Connelly based on what he told the New York Post. While it did make his recovery more difficult, it also meant a chance to connect with family again. In fact, Connelly went as far as calling it a blessing in disguise.

“It was a nice breath of fresh air to be back with family, especially during these tough times. I think it was definitely a blessing in disguise. I know my parents really enjoyed having us all back and one big family again,” he stated. He had to head back to Minnesota once most of the team’s offseason was cancelled, but said the Giants helped with that.

He’s not sweating getting back into action with the team. His focus has been on adjusting to the new staff and their system, mainly. Not so much on the competition for his previous starting spot.

“Everything has to be earned, and I’m just trying learn the scheme one day at a time and see how I fit with that and how I can play fast within it. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Connelly praised Martinez’s knowledge and said that all the linebackers are learning from each other.

The player that’s perhaps his primary competition, David Mayo, started 13 games last season and registered 82 total tackles as well as a pair of sacks. Connelly had 20 tackles last season – but he only played in four games before his injury, getting the start in three of them.

It still remains to be seen who will start at inside linebacker for the Giants. But a the least, it’s safe to say they have better options this year than they did before, at a very important position.

New York Giants: Ryan Connelly returns to compete for starting position

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants’ 2019 5th round pick, Ryan Connelly, has returned from a severe injury. Connelly completely tore his ACL in week four against the Washington Football Team. Connelly was hitting his stride as one of the leaders on a terrible defense.  Despite his efforts in the previous season, Connelly will have to win his spot back, this time from veteran linebacker David Mayo.

2019 Stats

Connelly only started in three games last year, but he made a huge difference on the mediocre Big Blue Wrecking Crew. Connelly recorded 20 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 pass deflections, and 2 tackles for loss. In my opinion, if Connelly had played all 16 games, he would’ve been considered one of the best rookie defenders in the league. Connelly is just a very impressive player; he’s smart, quick, aggressive, in the right spots at all times, and he listens to his veterans. Connelly had a way better season than David Mayo. If you watch the film, you can see that Connelly’s led defense flowed, unlike Mayo’s, who was more a run-stopper than coverage linebacker. The Wisconsin product can do both.

Future

The Giants recently signed Blake Martinez to serve as the number one middle linebacker after they released Alec Ogletree. This leaves the middle linebacker depth chart as such: Blake Martinez, David Mayo, Ryan Connelly, Tae Crowder, and TJ Brunson.

The Giants will most likely have to cut one of these players, and the further you are to the bottom, the better chances you have of being cut. Connelly needs to prove his worth to the new management if he wants to continue his play with the G-men. The new management will really hurt his chances of making the Giants. Joe Judge has no ties to Connelly; he didn’t draft him or sign him. Judge drafted/signed/resigned all the other middle linebackers currently on the roster. Especially with no preseason games, Connelly needs to show his worth as fast as possible.

New York Giants: 3 Players Who Could Surprise in 2020

New York Giants, Julian Love

Every year there are always 1-3 players that surprise fans and go on to have a career year. This new New York Giants team is as young and exciting as it’s ever been.

Here are three New York Giants players who could surprise in 2020:

Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis had a decent year in 2019, backing up the beast Derrick Henry. Lewis recorded 209 rushing yards on 54 carries and had 164 receiving yards on 25 catches. You may sit there and say, “well, we have Saquon Barkley, and he’s better than Derrick Henry, so how would Lewis have a surprising year?.”

In comes newly acquired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett; Jason Garrett loves using his running backs. Ezekiel Elliott has run the ball over 300 times, three times in his 4-year career. I can easily see Dion Lewis commanding 90-100 carries with the New York Giants, and be more of a threat in the passing offense. Lewis is a shifty Darren Sproles type player, Garrett will make sure to use Lewis to his full potential. I predict that Lewis will have 402 yards on 88 carries for three rushing touchdowns, and have 34 catches for 210 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.

Julian Love

Julian Love had a very confusing year last year. Love was told he would be the starting Nickel cornerback when he was drafted. Then he got moved to safety, then back to cornerback, finally, Love was moved back to safety. Even with all of this controversy, Love still recorded 37 tackles, five tackles for loss, three passes defended one interception, and one forced fumble.

Love only started in 5 games last year. Imagine if he had a full season. Assuming there are no positional controversies, Julian Love is set to play as a third-safety in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme. Adding Xavier McKinney will bring changes to the secondary, but Love is a valuable piece on defense who can supplement injuries at multiple positions. I predict that Love will have 79 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.

Ryan Connelly

Ryan Connelly was definitely one of the few bright spots in a very dark year for the Giants. Connelly was one of my favorite players last year. It’s sad that Giants fans only got to see him start three games before tearing his ACL against the Washington Football team. In only three games, Connelly recorded 20 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, two passes defended, and two interceptions.

If Connelly stays healthy, and he starts all 16 games, Giants fans may very well be seeing the next phenom for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. Also, with the addition of Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly is primed to find his groove once more. I predict Connelly will record 90 tackles, five tackles for loss, six sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble, and three interceptions.

Conclusion

There is so much untapped talent on this new New York Giants team; I could probably list 10-15 players who could break out this year. Giants fans should be very excited to see all these young players in action.

New York Giants: Is Ryan Connelly ready to claim a starting role on defense?

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

It is not often that an NFL team starts a fifth-round pick right out of the gate. For the New York Giants, they did just that with Ryan Connelly in 2019. The Wisconsin product was not the fastest, strongest, or highest rated linebacker coming out of the draft, but he did post elite grades in one specific category.

Despite being average in most facets, Connelly is one of the quickest linebackers to enter the NFL since 2010. According to PFF, he ran the third quickest 10-yard split (1.54 seconds) of any off-ball linebacker that weighed in at 240-plus pounds at the NFL combine since 2010.

In addition to his incredible agility, Connelly predicates his game on an elite burst and diagnosing at the line of scrimmage. He’s incredibly talented at reading plays and shooting gaps with lightning speed, attesting to his short-area quickness. Disrupting the backfield is his ultimate goal, and he fit perfectly in James Bettcher’s defensive scheme.

Connelly suffered an ACL year in week four against the Washington Redskins, which severely limited Bettcher’s efficiency on defense.

The New York Giants should benefit from a change in scheme

Moving into a new system under Patrick Graham, the Giants will play a majority man coverage and utilize their safeties and linebackers to blitz and dropping back into coverage. Connelly’s premier strength stopping the run, but he’s also decent in coverage against running back’s and tight end in the flat.

In 2019, he posted 1.0 sacks, 20 combine tackles, two tackles for loss, two passes defended, a 57.1% completion rate against, and missed zero tackles.

Having the ability to attack downhill and find gaps in opposing offensive lines is precisely what the Giants need to create havoc in the pocket. Combining his instincts, quickness, and vision are several traits head coach Joe Judge will be looking to maximize.

However, Connelly won’t be given the starting job. He will have to compete with David Mayo, who the Giants signed to a three-year deal this off-season.

In 13 starts with the Giants last year, he posted a career-high 82 combine tackles, five tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, and 2.0 sacks. He supplemented the loss of Connelly well in the run game, but struggled in coverage, giving up a 65.5% completion rate against and missed 11% of his tackles.

Realistically, Mayo likely holds the advantage over Connelly due to his injury, but if the former Wisconsin standout can return to where he left off in 2019, I believe he will earn the starting job rather quickly. Missing an entire season of essential experience is tough, but he has the potential to be a solid linebacker moving forward.

New York Giants’ LB Cam Brown gearing up to compete for starting reps

New York Giants, Cam Brown

The New York Giants made it a priority to overhaul several positions this off-season, one of them being linebacker, where they replaced Alec Ogletree and spent a bevy of late-round picks to build out the depth on the roster.

While we can expect new signing Blake Martinez to be an upgrade over Ogletree, Ryan Connelly is returning from an ACL tear last season and is an unknown going into 2020. Best case scenario, Connelly emerges as the sure-fire starter and picks up where he left off in 2019 when he had 2 interceptions, 20 combine tackles, 1.0 sacks, and missed zero tackles over four games.

However, the Giants went out and drafted Cam Brown out of Penn State in the sixth round. He was primarily a 4-3 base linebacker from the strong side, which doesn’t match up with new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme.

Despite Graham utilizing a system that doesn’t fit Brown specifically, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a position for him on defense. With his size, there is hope he can develop into a 3-4 outside linebacker who rushes the passer on earlier downs.

It’s possible he could transition to an inside linebacker role and provide depth behind Connelly or Martinez. At 6-foot-5 and with 34-inch arms, Brown should be utilized off the edge.

Taking a look at Cam Brown’s stats from 2019

His numbers from 2019 were solid, as he started 13 games, 12 at linebacker, with 72 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 passes defended, and 16 QB pressures.

Despite Brown’s odd fit on defense for the Giants, he is a high character player that brings fantastic intensity to the game. He was the Penn State leader and Captain, giving the Giants another excellent person and player to mix into the competition.

Even if Brown doesn’t play on defense, he can be a fantastic special-teams player, and I expect him to make an impact right away.

One thing that certainly stands out for Brown is his incredible reach. He reminds me a bit of Lorenzo Carter, given his size and bend around the edge. However, Brown’s athleticism is average, despite his reach and solid explosion from the line of scrimmage. As a sixth-round pick, the Giants are expecting him to be a solid player on special teams and hopefully develop into a rotational player on defense. Of course, the ultimate goal is to find a starting-caliber player in Brown down the line.

The New York Giants are taking a risky approach at linebacker

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants are taking a risk at linebacker in 2020, but the rebuild makes it necessary: 

The New York Giants are still in the middle of a full roster rebuild, and expecting every unit to play at a high-level is unrealistic. With a second-year quarterback and an entirely new secondary, Big Blue will face its fair share of troubles in 2020, but improvement is all we are asking for.

While some positions theoretically got better, the linebacker corps is still very unpredictable and lacks elite talent. The Giants went out and signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez, who brings experience as the MIKE linebacker who can stop the run and contain big plays. Martinez was often utilized in a vilifying scheme, noting that Green Bay didn’t value the middle linebacker position too much. He was forced to play zone coverage, Which affected his pass protection grades and efficiency.

The veteran defender will hopefully be an improvement over Alec Ogletree, but we won’t know until the regular season comes around, and we see his fit in the new defensive scheme, orchestrated by Patrick Graham.

The riskier spot is next to Martinez, where Ryan Connelly and a bevy of other players will compete for starting reps. The Giants seem optimistic that Connelly will return from a torn ACL in 2019 and play at a high-level. In four games, he posted 20 combine tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 passes offended, and 2 interceptions. He looked fantastic in a limited sample size, and if he can return to full health, Connelly will be the favorite to pair with Martinez at weakside linebacker.

Behind Connelly and Martinez is David Mayo, who signed a three year, $8.4 million deal this offseason. Mayo is a solid depth piece who can stop the run efficiently, but he is poor in coverage. Mayo played in 16 games for the Giants last year, tallying 52 solo tackles, 82 combined, 2.0 sacks, and allowed 19 completions on 29 targets, compiling a 65.5% completion rate against. One category he improved significantly in was his missed tackles. In 2018, he missed 26.3% of his tackles, which decreased more than 15% to 10.9% in 2019.

The Giants don’t have elite talent at linebacker — they have serviceable players that can hold down the fort while they continue to rebuild the roster. I anticipate they will look to bring in another player next year in the middle rounds of the draft or free agency, depending on how Connelly turns out. For now, we can expect them to enjoy some improvement after the replacement of Ogletree.

New York Giants: Two Players Bouncing Back From Injury In 2020

New York Giants, Giants, NYG, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants have a very different looking roster than they did last season, with one of the highest rates of player turnover in the league so far, and a number of new additions who weren’t there in 2019 will take the field for the team this fall.

However, those aren’t the only new faces that might show up in the lineup. The Giants have some players who were on the roster last year but didn’t get to play much or at all because injuries took them out early.

Two players in specific stand out a Giants that could make a splash after bouncing back from an injury from last year.

WR Corey Coleman

The team might have a competition at the receiver position if Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate don’t return at the top of their game, and one of the competitors may be Corey Coleman. While Darius Slayton broke out last year and is the obvious choice to have a bigger role in 2020, Coleman is a near unknown factor.

That’s because Coleman didn’t play at all last season, tearing his ACL on the first day of training camp instead.

The 25 year old has three prior seasons before his injury, where his best performance came in his rookie year where he caught three touchdown passes and 413 yards. Not the world’s most impressive numbers, but at this age, there’s still time to improve.

At 5’11”, Coleman doesn’t quite fit the role of a big bodied receiver and is likely to end up in competition with Shepard, who is only an inch apart in height. But this might not be such a bad spot. Shepard struggled last season with concussions, and if he misses time again, the Giants will need further depth to compensate for his absence.

That, of course, is a chance for the previously injured Coleman to play a larger role.

ILB Ryan Connelly

The Giants have another player that didn’t get to do much during the 2019 season before getting put out of action by an ACL tear. That was the fate that Ryan Connelly shared with Coleman, except Connelly was already off to a hot start in the league by the time it happened.

Connelly ended up starting 3 games in 4 overall appearances during his rookie season. He had 20 total tackles and one sack, and it looked like he was set to breathe new life into the inside linebacker position as a recent steal in the draft.

However, the ACL tear ended his hopes of making that kind of impact last season.

Unfortunately for Connelly, he has increased competition now that the Giants have had time to shop in free agency. Blake Martinez is a big name new addition at his position and fans will expect to see Martinez make an immediate and big impact for the cost the Giants are spending on him.

David Mayo also became established in the linebacker group last season, and following the assumption that Martinez is an automatic starter, it looks like Connelly may compete heavily with Mayo for time in the rotation.

Despite this, Connelly still has a chance to make an impact – it’s unknown how fast he’ll get back to his form from the early 2019 season, and it may help to come off the bench this year with others handling the bulk of the snaps at inside linebacker. After all, inside linebacker is known as a position that requires more depth than others.