Giants’ defensive trio have sights set on becoming franchise’s next elite group

Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux of the Giants sack Sam Howell of the Commanders in the first half. The NY Giants host the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium
Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have three standout members of their front seven that are forming a bond they hope will translate onto the football field in the upcoming 2024 NFL season.

The Giants have formed an exciting defensive front

Sam Howell of the Commanders is chased by Dexter Lawrence of the Giants in the first half. The NY Giants host the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford
East Rutherford, NJ October 22, 2023 — Quarterback, Sam Howell of the Commanders is chased by Dexter Lawrence of the Giants in the first half. The NY Giants host the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on October 22, 2023.

Brian Burns, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence will be the engine for the Giants’ pass rush next season. As members of a franchise with a rich history of elite pass rushers, the three defensive talents want to follow in the footsteps of those that came before them.

Per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, Burns had this to say about carrying on a tradition set by Giants greats Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul as well as a pair of legends before that triumvirate:

“That is soon to be found out,” Burns said. “As of right now we’re just trying to get better every day. With our combined status, the sky’s the limit. We can really do anything — and we’re all young, so hopefully it’s for years to come.”

Giants’ Brian Burns, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence will be a nightmare for QB’s in 2024

Carolina Panthers offensive linebacker Brian Burns (0) (New York Giants)
Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Carolina Panthers offensive linebacker Brian Burns (0) against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

The former Carolina Panthers outside linebacker brings 8.0 sacks sacks to the Giants from his 2023 campaign. He would have been second behind Thibodeaux (11.5 sacks) on the Giants last season. That testifies to the potency that both will provide on the outside behind the All-Pro anchor to their four-man rush in Lawrence. The latter’s 92.9 player grade from Pro Football Focus last season solidifies him as a top-shelf defensive lineman that will boost the trio’s productivity next season.

Can the Giants trio rival a pair of elite defensive units that came before them?

New York Giants, Michael Strahan
18 Oct 1999: Michael Strahan #92 of the New York Giants celebrates on the field during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport

New York’s championship front led by Strahan, Pierre-Paul and Tuck spearheaded defenses that finished first and third in the NFL in sacks in their respective 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl-winning seasons. Before them, Lawrence Taylor and Leonard Marshall ran amok on game-changing passing attacks and formidable running games in the 1980s, helping the Giants capture two Super Bowls of their own in 1986 and 1990.

The Giants will need their offense to play like both of those predecessors, or something close to it, in order for their defense to get recognition as a winning unit. Burns, Thibodeaux and Lawrence will likely impress individually and show camaraderie on the field together, but ultimately, their win-loss percentage and playoff success will determine if they get mentioned in the same breath as the greats of yesteryear that they’ve been propped up next to.

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