Giants’ 3rd-year pass rusher eyeing breakout 2024 season

Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were proactive in reinforcing their pass rush this off-season, acquiring Brian Burns from the Carolina Panthers and immediately securing his talent with a five-year, $141 million deal, including $87.5 million guaranteed. This significant move underscores their commitment to strengthening their defensive line.

Giants’ Dynamic Duo: Burns and Thibodeaux Set to Dominate

Brian Burns is expected to lead the pass rush, but he’s not the only player the Giants are counting on. Third-year outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux is also poised to make significant strides this season.

Now 23 years old and with two years of NFL experience under his belt, Thibodeaux is positioned to exploit more favorable matchups, thanks to Burns attracting attention from top pass protectors. This strategic pairing allows Thibodeaux to target opponents’ vulnerabilities more effectively.

Oct 29, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0) react after a sack in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

“Resiliency. Physicality. Speed,” Thibodeaux told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero. “We’re gonna play with all the things we played with back in the day. This is the 100th year anniversary of the Giants, so hopefully we can let those superpowers from our ancestors come and take over.”

Kayvon Thibodeaux’s Progress and Potential

Thibodeaux’s performance last season included 981 snaps, where he produced 43 pressures, 13 sacks, and 25 tackles, though he had a 14.3% missed tackle rate.

Notable performances against the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets highlighted his capabilities, where he accumulated seven pressures and five sacks. However, these impactful displays need to become more frequent. Thibodeaux faced challenges against some of the more formidable offensive lines, notably failing to pressure the Dallas Cowboys and only managing six pressures with no sacks against Philadelphia.

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) reacts after sacking New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during the second half at MetLife Stadium

Enhancing NFC East Competitiveness

For the Giants to assert dominance in the NFC East, maintaining a strong pass rush is crucial. The addition of Brian Burns is expected to significantly benefit not only Thibodeaux but also Dexter Lawrence, who will have more opportunities to dominate the interior.

The synergy between Burns and Thibodeaux will be key, with Thibodeaux eager to learn from Burns’s experience and similar play style. This mentorship and partnership are anticipated to elevate both their games and enhance the Giants’ defensive strategy.

“It’s exciting, man,” Thibodeaux said about Burns’ arrival. “It’s exciting. Me and Brian, we have a similar body type. We have a similar style of play. But he’s a little bit different. He’s faster, he’s quicker. He’s obviously farther in his career than I am, so there’s a lot of gems he’s been giving me. And he’s been able to help up my game a little bit, and I’ve been competing with him, giving him a few things I know, and it’s been great so far. I’m excited to see what’s all to come from that.”

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