New York Giants: What does LB Deone Bucannon bring to Big Blue?

New York Giants, Deone Bucannon

The New York Giants signed former Arizona Cardinal and Tampa Bay Cardinals linebacker, Deone Bucannon, on Tuesday afternoon, filling a position of need with a familiar player.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher worked with Bucannon earlier in his career in Arizona, where he enjoyed some of his best seasons. The former first-round pick will pick up the role Tae Davis was supposed to fill this season before being benched and stashed away for a rainy day.

Bettcher utilizes a position called the “money backer,” which is essentially a blend of a tradition linebacker and outside linebacker. It requires a robust and fast player who can rush the passer but also drop back into coverage — something Bucannon has done in the past.

The fifth-year player has played strong safety in the past, giving him knowledge of multiple positions, which is beneficial for Big Blue, who will hope to plug him in right away alongside Alec Ogletree and David Mayo in the middle of the field. His influence can be valuable, but he’s three seasons from a productive campaign. While the Buccaneers cut him, the reasoning will give you more justification for his quality.

Bucannon was cut to enable a third-round compensatory pick selection for Tampa Bay, which was more valuable than the linebacker. Take the tidbit of information as you will, but he can fill a needed role for the Giants and has plenty of experience with Bettcher on defense.

The New York Giants are developing the linebacker position but are ways away:

With Ryan Connelly quickly establishing himself as the top linebacker on the team as a rookie, it puts Ogletree on the trade-block this season and could potentially send him on his way next offseason. Bucannon can help in the middle of the field and create confusion for defenses, and if he can regain his form from the past, there could be an argument to be made for a possible contract extension.

Of course, we need to see what the linebacker has to offer in live-action before we make any judgment calls.

New York Giants news, 10/13 – Giants running out of time to sign veteran linebacker

New York Giants, Deone Bucannon

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The New York Giants enjoyed a surprisingly solid performance from linebacker David Mayo on Thursday night against the New England Patriots, as he recorded several stops on third down and even contributed in two turnovers on downs against Tom Brady.

However, that doesn’t mean the Giants shouldn’t be in hot pursuit over former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defender, Deone Bucannon. The James Bettcher product enjoyed his best seasons with the current Giants defensive coordinator. Bucannon racked up 82 combined tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and two tackles for a loss over 12 games in 2017. That was his final season with Bettcher before the DC joined the Giants.

His familiarity with the system makes him a glaring gem for Big Blue and general manager Dave Gettleman, even after signing running back Javorius Allen. The available cap-space might hinder Gettleman’s ability to sign Bucannon, who was on a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Bucs before being released. The reason he was let go is that the Bucs will now earn a third-round compensatory pick next draft — it wasn’t play related.

With Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and Nate Stupar featuring at the linebacker position alongside Mayo, the Giants are not secure in the middle of the defense whatsoever. They must upgrade the position eventually, which is why taking a flier on Bucannon is a great idea.

The issue is available cap-space, as the Giants are now down to around $2 million and will be reluctant to spend a majority of it on signing a linebacker for half the season. For argument’s sake, giving him a chance is not a bad idea considering the success he has had in the past with Bettcher. If he proves to be successful once again, extending him for next season would be a great move, especially considering how cost-effective he would be for a starter.

Nonetheless–

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New York Giants could snag former 1st round linebacker Deone Bucannon

New York Giants, Deone Bucannon

The New York Giants need all the help they can get at the linebacker position after losing rookie Ryan Connelly to a torn ACL against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Wisconsin product looked stellar in his first season in the NFL, consistently making tackles and showing improvement with every passing game.

We can hope to see him feature in a starting role next season alongside a capable option not named Alec Ogletree or Tae Davis. However, both Ogletree and Davis will return from injuries this week against the New England Patriots in what will be a difficult matchup given the unavailability of offensive studs Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.

On Wednesday, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released former first-round pick, Deon Bucannon, a strong linebacker with experience under Giants defensive coordinator, James Bettcher.

Well-known former Giants player Carl Banks even advocated for Deone on Twitter, stating that Big Blue would be silly not to take a flier on him:

Bucannon could theoretically fill in at the “money backer” spot, a position that Tae Davis was supposed to excel at this season. His demise leaves a gaping hole in the defense, and the former Cardinal could fit the bill nicely. At 6-foot-1, 211-pounds, he’s an agile defender that would bring aggressiveness and athleticism to the middle of the defense.

Bucannon, who’s 27-years-old, enjoyed three stellar seasons with Bettcher in Arizona. Last season, his play fell off exponentially, playing in just six games for the Cardinals, making only 38 tackles. His role with Bettcher seemed to fit his play-style perfectly, and the Giants not kicking the tires on the veteran would be ludicrous.

In his five seasons with the Cardinals and Bettcher, he earned 404 combined tackles, seven sacks, 311 solo tackles, and 27 tackles for a loss. Reuniting the two might be a match made in heaven for a defense that ranks as one of the worst in the NFL. The defensive scheme that helped extract the best out of Bucannon could be utilized once more, and it might give the Giants confidence going into 2020, especially if his cap-hit is team-friendly.

A side not — The Giants did have interest in Bucannon over the offseason.

How the New York Giants can compete against the New England Patriots

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Being threaded for 28 points against a struggling Minnesota Vikings offense doesn’t provide any optimism for the New York Giants heading into a tantalizing matchup against the New England Patriots.

Big Blue will travel to Foxborough to take on the perennially great Pats, led by Tom Brady and his everlasting arm, but their real strength is the defense. The New England offense has been prolific this season, putting up 30 more or points in four of their five contests. The Giants’ defense is facing Goliath, and gaining back linebacker Alec Ogletree, and Tae Davis would go a long way in helping them overcome this challenge.

Losing starting inside linebacker Ryan Connelly for the year due to a torn ACL in his right knee severely damaged the quality of the defense, and that deficiency was on full display last weekend against the Vikings. Beating the Patriots, let alone competing with them on Thursday night football will be difficult, but here are a few ways the Giants can keep it close.

How the New York Giants can stay in the game:

1.) Convert on third downs

Daniel Jones has been far better at converting on third downs than Eli Manning this season, but facing off against a top-5 defense in Minnesota last week showed him a level of adversity he hasn’t experienced before at the NFL level. The Pats are arguably better, but the return of Saquon Barkley is imminent and would provide a considerable boost to the Giants’ chances.

The Giants on third down have been stellar the past three weeks. A success rate of nearly 53% shows why starting Jones was the right thing to do, especially since Manning was converting on a dismal 21% of third downs through the first two weeks. This will be a point of emphasis heading into New England.

2.) Put pressure on Tom Brady

Brady is the best quarterback in the league at surveying the field and finding targets quickly. His lack of athleticism limits him to the pocket, but he rarely makes a wrong decision throwing the ball. The Giants defensive front must get to Brady and force him to make mistakes, but his quick release and receiving running backs make their offense extremely competent in all categories. Good coverage is a must, but beating a solid New England offensive line is where it all starts.

Outside linebacker Markus Golden has been the Giants’ best pass rusher this season with 4.5 sacks and 10 QB hits. He must have an impact in this tough matchup.

3.) Daniel Jones must stay calm and productive

The Giants put up a lousy 10 points against the Vikings, as numerous drops plagued the team throughout the game. Jones stood tall and delivered in the face of pressure on multiple occasions, but his receivers must do more to get open and hold on to passes. Sterling Shepard dropped a potential touchdown pass that would’ve brought the Giants within one score in the fourth quarter, but instead, it forced a field goal attempt that Aldrick Rosas knocked through.

Bill Belichick will undoubtedly put Jones under pressure and expose him to new looks and blitzes. It will be a tough day in Prime Time for the rookie, but the experience is essential, nonetheless.

 

The New York Giants are in trouble on defense ahead of clash against Vikings

New York Giants, Giants, NYG, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants could be in big trouble on defense against the Minnesota Vikings, primarily at the linebacker position where they are down three starters. Ryan Connelly tore his ACL last Sunday against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter, after tallying a sack and interception in the contest.

The New York Giants lost a key contributor on defense:

Connelly has emerged as the team’s top linebacker, and losing him will be significant to the quality of the unit. The Wisconsin product had earned 20 combine tackles, ten assisted, one sack, and two interceptions. He has been stellar in every facet of the game and developed very quickly. His instinctual play and ability to shoot gaps are two attributes that make Connelly a serviceable starter for the foreseeable future.

He will return next season and hopefully be able to pick up right where he left off. In the meantime, the New York Giants have Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis on the roster, both of which will miss Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. That will leave backup David Mayo to be the featured player in the middle of the defense for the Giants. After being cut by the San Francisco 49ers on August 31, Mayo was picked up just three days later.

“When the Giants called, I was pretty excited,” he added, per the NY Post. “It was a good fit and I was happy to come.”

It is expected that Mayo will be the MIC linebacker and controller of the defense. He will be communicating with the defensive coordinator James Bettcher and relaying calls to his teammates, a task that was formally held by Ryan Connelly.

“I’ve done it plenty of times. I’m comfortable with it,” said Mayo, who had eight tackles against the Redskins. “I feel good about calling plays and setting the fronts and all that stuff. If it’s me, I’ll be ready.”

While mayo has experience being the communicator of the defense, he is still new to the unit and is not the first option. This could result in porous play in the middle of the field for Big Blue, and I imagine the Vikings utilizing their talents to expose that deficiency.

New York Giants: Here’s a free agent linebacker that could fit the bill

Could the New York Giants consider free agent, Brandon Marshall?

After the devastating injury to rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly on the New York Giants, the position not only lost its best player, but the alternatives have not performed well this season. Both Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis missed week four with individual injuries, leaving Connelly to lead the defense.

The rookie out of Wisconsin finished the day with one sack and one interception before going down on a non-contact injury. Supplementing his loss will be extremely difficult, even if the two players mentioned return in week five against the Minnesota Vikings. Without him, the task of beating the Vikings will be tall and require a team effort. However, the Giants could look to free agents to compensate for the loss of their best linebacker and new leader.

The New York Giants would need to make some moves to consider signing a player:

The first thing to consider is if there’s available cap space for Big Blue — they are running thin in this facet. They would theoretically have to release some players to open up enough room to sign a capable free agent. They currently sit on $3.12 million of space. That is where the $23.2 million in allocations in the form of Eli Manning might come in handy.

The Giants, however, will not cut Manning before his contract expires after the 2019 season. There are other players that could be on the chopping block to open up space. One player that might be willing to take a loss on his contract would be veteran in linebacker, Brandon Marshall. Drafted in the fifth round by the Jacksonville jaguars in 2012, Marshall has been impressive at times in his career.

Just two years ago, he started all 16 games for the Denver Broncos, recording 106 combined tackles, 75 solo, six tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, 3.0 sacks, and four passes defended.

Last season, he suffered a significant knee injury that limited him to just 42 combined tackles. The Oakland Raiders released him before the regular season began just a few weeks ago, as Marshall essentially used training camp to rehab and work his way back to physical form.

The Giants would likely have to rely on Ogletree and Davis moving forward, two capable options that won’t blow anyone away. They also have David Mayo, a big body that played well at times against the Washington Redskins in week four. Kicking the tires on Marshall might be a decent idea considering his past success, and if he’s willing to take a lesser amount of money to join an NFL team, he could provide value on the defense.

EXTRA:

Keep a lookout for a second article recommending an alternative player, one that would cost far less and has the tenacity to be a physical player in the NFL.

New York Giants: Star rookie defender could be lost for the season

New York Giants, Giants, NYG, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants dominated the Washington Redskins in week four the regular season, beating them 24-3. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones led the team was 225 yards and a touchdown to help secure the win. He also threw two interceptions displaying hit his rookie hiccups.

However, the biggest news comes on the defensive side of the ball, as another rookie, Ryan Connelly, left the game on a non-contact injury that seemed to involve his knee. Connelly has had issues in the past while playing at Wisconsin and this could surely spell trouble for a defense that has relied on his services thus far in the season. He finished the day with three tackles, two assists, a sack, and an interception.

Connelly has been one of the bright spots for the Giants this season after three consecutive weeks of weak defensive play. Against Washington, they were without Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis, two starters. Connelly showed he has the qualities to lead the defense and be a focal point moving forward, which makes his injury even more significant. After the play, he was immediately carted off the field.

Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter also left the game with a neck injury and was previously nursing an elbow ailment before the start of the game.

The New York Giants could be in trouble:

The Giants will take on a better team in the Minnesota Vikings next week. They will need their defense to be at tiptop shape if they wish to compete, as they have a considerably better defense and offense in comparison to Washington. The next few games will present a severe challenge for Big Blue, especially if they’re without several influential players on defense.

If Connelly’s injury ends up being significant, the Giants will have to hope Ogletree and Davis can replace him quickly and recover from their injuries

New York Giants could claim hard hitting safety Malik Jefferson

Could the New York Giants look into Malik Jefferson?

The New York Giants are thin at the linebacker position, which makes former third-round pick from 2018, Malik Jefferson, an enticing option on the market. The Cincinnati Bengals cut Jefferson after appearing in 12 games during his rookie season, but the change in the coaching staff and defensive scheme forced them to part ways with the second-year player.

Jefferson is a hard-hitting linebacker that recorded ten tackles in the 12 appearances last season. So far this preseason, he has tallied nine tackles and has flashed promise.

The Giants currently have Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and Ryan Connelly as their preferred linebackers. They could use the additional support given Connelly’s lack of experience and Ogletree’s inconsistencies. Jefferson being a hard-hitting linebacker with the ability to play well against the run, could make him an influential factor if added to the team.

The most enticing part about bringing the sophomore LB in would be his low price tag. The Giants only have minimal cap space to go and sign new players, which makes him a more attractive option.

How could New York Giants DC James Bettcher help Jefferson?

As just a second-year player, defensive coordinator James Bettcher could help him develop and refine his skill set. He is still moldable, and if Bettcher sees him as a potential fit for the defense, Jefferson could earn playing time during the 2019 season. However, while this is purely speculative and theoretical, Jefferson has the attributes and abilities to be a productive NFL player. The only issue is, does he fit Bettcher’s scheme and does he have the speed/athleticism to cover pass catchers.

He would play a similar role to Alec, standing tall in the middle of the field and playing primarily against the run. The Giants forced Ogletree into coverage far too often last season, which is why Davis is now considered the “money-backer.”

New York Giants could pursue several quality veteran linebackers

Should the New York Giants look into linebacker, Shane Ray?

The New York Giants have a deficiency at the linebacker position. With just Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis locking down the middle of the defense, any injuries or inconsistent play could be detrimental to the success fo the team.

Veteran BJ Goodson has fallen down the depth chart and could be cut due to his inability to fit into defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme. He prefers more athletic linebackers that can successfully blitz the quarterback but also drop back in coverage.

The New York Giants could take a flier on several veterans:

The Oakland Raiders released LB Brandon Marshall on Friday morning, making him an attractive option for team’s looking to add one of the league’s top cover linebackers. Before his injury, he was considered as such, but he’s hit a few snags in his recovery.

Marshall has used all of training camp to bounce back and could be in good shape to join a team looking to utilize his talents. His surgically repaired knee would need to pass medical clearance, but his impact is proven, and the Giants could use a player of his quality.

Also, former Denver Broncos defender Shane Ray could also fit the bill. The former first-round pick is three-years removed from an eight sack, 21 QB hit season.

The Giants could kick the tires on both defenders, but their price tag might hinder the ability for general manager Dave Gettleman to bite. The lack of depth at the position for Big Blue is a cause for concern, and I believe Marshall is the better option here despite both players having their fair share of weaknesses at the moment.

Ray could be a substitute for Kareem Martin, outside linebacker for the Giants, who has failed to make a significant impact since signing with the team last offseason.

New York Giants veteran linebacker saves job with one massive play

New York Giants, B.J. Goodson

While the New York Giants finished off the preseason 4-0 with a victory against the New England Patriots on Thursday night, linebacker BJ Goodson certainly elevated his game.

The veteran linebacker was a fringe-roster player before the matchup but proved he can still be a productive player on the defense with five tackles and one sack in just the first quarter of the game.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher prefers more athletic linebackers that have better instinctual attributes, as Goodson is a slower linebacker that can sometimes take longer to get to the ball-carrier than preferred. However, he made one stellar play against the Pats that might have saved him from being cut.

Some believed that Nate Stupar would earn the nod ahead of Goodson when it came to roster cuts, but it’s becoming clear that both can stick and serve a purpose next season. The experience the Clemson product brings to the defense and the familiarity with Bettcher’s scheme can’t be replaced, despite a faster, more flexible option being more ideal.

On the play above, Goodson shoots through the gap untouched for the sack. He put on the after-burners and reached the quarterback to force a second-and-long play that ultimately led to a punt.

Who else is fighting for playing time on the New York Giants?

The only other legitimate competition at the linebacker position is rookie, Ryan Connelly. The Wisconsin product has made waves this preseason with his quickness and ability to shoot gaps with precision. It will take time for him to adapt to the speed and physicality of the NFL, especially with a lack of size, but he can develop into a quality player that starts regular on the defense.

I anticipate Connelly acting as the reserve option behind Tae Davis (money-backer), due to his ability to operate in coverage but also play close to the line of scrimmage.