Giants’ new DC Shane Bowen has high expectations for star linebacker in new system

New York Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke (58) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants defensive coordinator Shane Bowen will have big shoes to fill in 2024, as he will be replacing Wink Martindale, who led very strong defensive units during his Giants tenure.

The former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator has already begun plotting his schemes for the 2024 season. He told Shaun O’Hara for about his lofty goals for this upcoming season.

“Regardless of scheme – everybody’s going to have scheme, we’re going to have plenty of scheme – but I want to make sure our guys are lined up, they know what to do, and they can play fast and aggressive ultimately. I want to maximize their abilities,” said Bowen.

The Giants have promising young talent for Bowen to work with

Bowen will already be able to work with guys who excel at being fast and aggressive, with young blossoming stars Kayvon Thibodeaux and newly acquired Brian Burns expected to lead the charge. Thibodeaux, the Giants’ 2022 fifth-overall draft selection, had his best season as a pro in 2023, as he recorded 11.5 sacks and 50 combined tackles. Burns also had 50 combined tackles and recorded eight sacks with the Panthers last season.

In 2023, Bowen’s Titans ranked eighth in passing touchdowns allowed and fourth in rushing touchdowns.
The Giants, meanwhile, struggled to contain the run, as they allowed 24 rushing touchdowns and 4.7 yards per run, which ranked 30th and 31st in the NFL last season, respectively. With Bowen, the Giants will be looking to change those misfortunes defensively and turn that group into an outstanding unit all around.

Bobby Okereke is crucial to the Giants’ success

Bowen also mentioned the importance of linebacker Bobby Okereke, who endured a breakout season in his first year with the G-men in 2023. According to, Bowen believes Okereke’s leadership will be the catalyst for his defensive unit in 2024.

“The thing I’m most encouraged by right now is everything I’ve been hearing about the leadership,” said Bowen via “That’s something that is huge at that position, having the green dot, making the calls, more so than even the great play that he’s going to put on the field and has put on the field. But leadership is number one for me right now.”

The Giants will look to build off of a solid defensive performance last season under the new leadership of Bowen. If his envisioned goals come to fruition, New York could have a top defense next season and beyond, which could help them find their way back into contention in the years to come.

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