Giants’ new defensive coordinator candidate could indicate a significant scheme change in 2024

Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (7) catches the ball as he is hit by linebackers coach Bobby Babich (New York Giants defensive coordinator candidate) during interception drills on day nine of Buffalo Bills training camp
Shawn Dowd / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have added another candidate to their list of potential defensive coordinators. According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the Giants requested permission to speak with Bills linebackers coach Bobby Babich for their vacant defensive coordinator job.

Following the tense departure of Wink Martindale this offseason, Big Blue is on the hunt for a new coordinator to man their defensive unit. Babich could create a change of pace on the defensive side of the ball, as the team’s interest in him potentially indicates a significant scheme change forthcoming in 2024.

The Giants could change their scheme significantly by hiring Bobby Babich as DC

Babich has a connection to the Giants as he knows head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen from the trio’s shared time in Buffalo. Babich has been the Bills’ safeties and linebackers coach in recent years and does not have experience calling plays for a defense. He has only been an assistant coach to this point in his career.

The Buffalo Bills run a defensive scheme that differs significantly from the one the Giants deployed under Martindale over the past two seasons. Hiring Babich would likely result in the implementation of a scheme more similar to Buffalo, resulting in major schematic changes on the defensive side of the ball for New York.

Deploying a less aggressive defensive scheme

Martindale is known for his aggressive style of defense. The Giants had the second-highest blitz rate in the NFL this past season, blitzing 45.4% of the time. The Bills, however, sent extra pressure only 23.5% of the time in 2023, ranking 18th in the NFL in blitz rate.

The G-Men’s blitz-heavy defense resulted in a pressure rate of 20.9% this season (ranking 17th) and 34 sacks, the fifth-lowest total in the NFL. Inversely, the Bills’ less aggressive style of defense earned a pressure rate of 23.1% this season (eighth-best) and 54 sacks, the fourth-highest total in the NFL.

Hiring Babich could result in a less aggressive defensive scheme that generates less pressure through blitz packages and more through one-on-one pass-rushing opportunities. This could result in increased production from edge rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari.

Playing more zone coverage

Another area in which the Bills’ defense differed significantly from the Giants in 2023 was the coverage scheme. Martindale, in addition to being known for his blitz-heavy system, is also known for running a lot of man coverage. The Giants’ top cover cornerback by total snaps played (496 snaps), Deonte Banks, was in man coverage for 39.1% of his coverage snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Other Giants corners, like Adoree’ Jackson (43.9%), played even more man coverage on even fewer snaps (451 snaps).

Comparatively, the Bills’ top cover cornerback, Taron Johnson, played man coverage on just 22.0% of his 654 coverage snaps. He played zone coverage on 59.5% of his coverage snaps, per PFF.

Hiring Babich would indicate a significant change forthcoming in the Giants’ defensive approach. Their new coordinator would likely be implementing a brand new style of defense that features far less man coverage, far less blitzes, and far more zone coverage and conservative pass-rushing. Babich would be an intriguing hire for the Giants as they could aim to overhaul their defense this offseason.

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