Giants’ 2nd year pass rusher brushes off ‘bust’ narrative

nfl: new york giants at washington commanders, kayvon thibodeaux
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Just weeks into the 2023 season, New York Giants‘ second-year pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux faced significant criticism, with many fans and analysts prematurely labeling him a “bust.” Early judgments were based on his apparent lack of sacks and overall production. However, Thibodeaux has effectively used this criticism as motivation, showcasing a remarkable turnaround in his performance.

Eleven weeks into the regular season, Thibodeaux has significantly silenced his doubters. He leads the team with an impressive tally of 10.5 sacks and has generated 32 pressures, including 13 tackles. His performance peaked in the recent game against the Washington Commanders, where he achieved a season-high of eight pressures and two sacks, alongside numerous stops in the run game. At just 22 years old, Thibodeaux has effectively shed the “bust” narrative and proven himself to be a key impact player for the Giants.

A notable highlight was Thibodeaux’s encounter with Washington’s left tackle Charles Leno. Demonstrating both humor and confidence, Thibodeaux jokingly thanked Leno at halftime, hinting at his imminent 10th sack, which he successfully accomplished (Via Pat Leonard for the NYDN). His impressive stats, via Next Gen Stats, including the quickest pass rush get-off recorded at 0.68 seconds and five of his eight pressures within 2.5 seconds, emphasize his exceptional athleticism and edge speed.

Giants’ Broader Challenges Beyond Thibodeaux’s Success

Despite Thibodeaux’s outstanding individual achievements, the Giants continue to face broader challenges as a team. They struggle to maintain competitiveness against stronger opponents and are currently navigating the season with an eye toward future prospects. This focus is especially pertinent considering quarterback Daniel Jones’s recent ACL injury, prompting considerations for new quarterback options.

The Giants’ future, while uncertain in several aspects, certainly includes Thibodeaux as a key defensive asset and cornerstone for the team. However, the need for additional support is evident, particularly with Azeez Ojulari’s injury issues and the recent trade of Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks. This trade, in exchange for a second-round pick next year, reflects the team’s ongoing strategy to build and strengthen for the coming seasons.

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