Giants’ pass-rush could be among the league’s best in 2024

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

The New York Giants made a blockbuster move to improve their pass rush this offseason, trading for Carolina Panthers star edge rusher Brian Burns. Now, Burns will combine with All-Pro DT Dexter Lawrence and third-year EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux to perform a pass rush that could be among the league’s best in 2024.

The Giants’ pass-rushing trio combined for an impressive statistical total

new york giants, dexter lawrence
Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) celebrates a defensive stop during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

With the addition of Burns, the Giants’ new defensive line combined for 24 sacks and 149 pressures last season (PFF):

  • Kayvon Thibodeaux: 11.5 sacks, 44 pressures
  • Brian Burns: 8 sacks, 40 pressures
  • Dexter Lawrence: 4.5 sacks, 65 pressures

Burns was handed a massive, five-year, $141 million contract upon joining New York. The 26-year-old is considered one of the best young pass-rushers in the NFL, having totaled 46 sacks over the first five seasons of his career. His presence in the Giants’ defense instantly upgrades their unit in dramatic fashion.

Lawrence has established himself as one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He’s totaled 135 pressures across the last two seasons combined, developing into a dominant force as an interior pass-rusher.

Thibodeaux took a big step forward in 2023, improving his sack total from 4.0 as a rookie to 11.5 last season. The Giants need him to play with more consistency in 2024, as Thibodeaux only racked up 44 pressures. But playing second-fiddle to Burns should make life easier for Thibodeaux and allow him to continue his development into one of the NFL’s premiere young pass-rushers.

The presence of Brian Burns should open up more opportunities for other pass-rushers

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

Burns’s presence in the lineup should open up more opportunities for other Giants pass-rushers. Burns will command double-teams from opposing offensive lines as they gameplan to slow him down. As a result, Thibodeaux should face more one-on-one pass-rushing opportunities on the edge.

Furthermore, Big Blue’s No. 3 edge rusher, Azeez Ojulari, will play a reduced role in the defense, which could actually serve to benefit the fourth-year pass-rusher. Ojulari has been hampered by injuries the past couple of seasons while playing as one of New York’s two starting edge rushers.

With less playing time should come less risk of injury, hopefully leading to more production from Ojulari. He had 5.5 sacks in just five starts back in 2021. The Giants will hope to get a similar level of production out of Ojulari in his reduced role this season.

The ceiling is high for this Giants pass-rushing unit in 2024. If their trio of pass-rushers stay healthy and continue to produce, the Giants could wind up having one of the best pass rushes in the NFL this season.

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