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Mailbag: Expectations for Connelly, Peppers


Bobby in New York: One player, who I believe if healthy can lead the team defensively, in several categories, tackles, sacks, QB hurries, and interceptions, is second year linebacker Ryan Connelly. How is he coming along with his torn ACL? I anticipate him being a perpetual pro-bowler, if he can remain healthy. Will he be ready?

John Schmeelk: I think you need to slow your roll a little bit, Bobby. I was as impressed with Connelly as anyone last season, but he only played in four games and was on the field for 224 snaps. I think he can be a starter in the league, but it is far too small of a sample size to make such sweeping judgments. Inside linebackers will never lead a team in sacks or hurries due to the nature of the position. His first interception last year came on an errant Jameis Winston pass that was well behind a wide open receiver. Connelly was in the right place at the right time. The second interception came off a deflected pass. I do not know how healthy Connelly is since there has been no offseason program at the team's training facility. Given the history of ACL injuries, he could be ready to go when players report. Take it one step at a time. If he is healthy enough to play, see if he can earn the starting job next to Blake Martinez and then go from there before making him the best defensive player on the team.

Danny in Florida: Fan since '63 and YA Tittle at Yankee Stadium. Why are the Giants constantly underrated? They have the youngest team in the league, great skill position players, and clearly an up and coming top new head coach! They've had great drafts the last three years and play in a lousy division. They've filled need positions in free agency & draft. What am I missing?

John Schmeelk: Danny, your points are valid. This team has a ton of potential and is filled with a lot of talented young players with a chance to take a huge step in the right direction. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic.

To play devil's advocate, those same arguments can be used to make a contrary point. In a year where limited offseason work will hurt player development, the Giants are a young team that needs it. They have a new head coach with new schemes on both sides of the ball and have not had the opportunity to install with the players on the field. Joe Judge is a first-time head coach. This is the year the organization will learn if the drafts of the last three years were great or not depending on how those players develop. The Cowboys and Eagles are both talented teams that have won the division each of the last four years and six of the last seven. The Giants have not won the division since 2011 and have only finished with a winning record once since then. In today's world, a team has to win games and accomplish significant achievements before they are given credit and are rated as highly as you want them to be. It's about the results and once the Giants start to get them, outside perception will change.

View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.

Bill in Pennsylvania: What are the plans for Jabrill Peppers? He was an outstanding athlete at Michigan. It seems to me he could be more involved up front.

John Schmeelk: Very good question, Bill. At this point, we just don't know. Peppers is a great athlete, but we have no indication on how the team plans to use him. With no practices or workouts, we haven't been able to see where he lines up or how he is used in coverage. I agree with you that his natural position would seem to be closer to the line of scrimmage, but we just won't know Patrick Graham's intentions until training camp opens.

Kevin in New York: Dan Orlovsky suggested that Daniel Jones needed to increase his arm strength to improve defeating zones, yet there are quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Philip Rivers who are not known for arm strength who win with anticipation. So how valid is that?

John Schmeelk: Would Drew Brees be better if he had a stronger arm? Would Rivers? The answer is obviously yes. Orlovsky's analysis didn't imply that if Jones doesn't increase his arm strength, he is doomed to failure. It simply means he would be better if he can increase his velocity a bit, which might cut down on his interceptions. I agree with your broader point that arm strength is overrated, and Jones has good enough velocity to be successful. His arm strength is not something I see as a huge problem. Would a little more zip help on those passes 20 yards down the field and outside the numbers? Yes. It also wouldn't require him to play with the type of anticipation that Rivers and Brees do. Those two are Hall of Fame level in that regard.

View photos of every roster addition made by the Giants this offseason.


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