Giants planning to play more conservative on defense in 2024

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants deployed an aggressive, blitz-heavy defense for the past two seasons under the direction of defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. But in 2024, the defense is prepared to undergo significant changes following the departure of Martindale and the subsequent hiring of new DC Shane Bowen.

Giants expected to take a more conservative defensive approach in 2024

Bowen takes a very different approach than his predecessor. Rather than running a defense fueled by risk-taking and an aggressive mentality, Bowen will run a more straightforward, conservative system that relies on its players’ individual talents to get the job done.

General manager Joe Schoen shared some insight on the Giants’ plans on defense for the upcoming season on Tuesday:

“We’re probably not going to blitz as much as we did in the past,” Schoen said on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “But we’re going to be very sound, it’s going to be very similar to what they did in Tennessee. I think the up-field pass rush is going to be more of a premium versus the read and react. Maybe a little bit less man coverage, but we are going to be physical, fast and we’re going to be sound in our assignments.”

Under Martindale, Big Blue ranked near the top of the NFL in blitz rate. They blitzed 45.4% of the time in 2023 (the second-highest rate in the NFL), which was a slight decrease from the 39.7% blitz rate they had in 2022 (ranking first in the NFL).

Comparatively, the Tennessee Titans blitzed at a much lower rate while Bowen was their defensive coordinator from 2021 to 2023. The Titans sent extra pressure only 22.0% of the time in 2023 (ranking 23rd), 18.1% of the time in 2022 (ranking 26th), and 21.3% of the time in 2021 (ranking 28th).

Despite the lower blitz rate, Bowen’s defenses have been more productive than Martindale’s in generating pressure. The Titans totaled 45 sacks and a pressure rate of 18.8% in 2023. The Giants only totaled 34 sacks, however, with a 20.9% pressure rate.

In 2024, the Giants will be taking a less aggressive approach. Rather than spending much of their time blitzing and playing man coverage, Bowen will ask his players to drop back into zone coverage while his front-four rushers get after the quarterback. This simplified approach could result in more production out of the Giants’ edge rushers, such as Kayvon Thibodeaux.

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