The Giants need their star edge rusher to play with more consistency in 2024

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) reacts after sacking New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during the second half at MetLife Stadium

The New York Giants’ defense has been the strength of the roster this season, far outperforming the offensive unit throughout the year. The defense has enjoyed breakout performances from a number of rising players, including second-year edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has totaled 11.5 sacks this season.

However, despite his double-digit sack totals, it has not been a perfect season for Thibodeaux. The 23-year-old has lacked consistency this season. With just one game left on the schedule, the focus for Thibodeaux will be gaining more consistency in 2024.

How impressive is Kayvon Thibodeaux’s sack total?

Thibodeaux is the first player to ever crack double-digit sacks under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. But a closer look at these sacks suggests that Thibodeaux’s numbers may have been inflated by a lack of strong competition.

Brett Kollmann, the Creator of “The Film Room” on YouTube and Co-Host of the Bootleg Football Podcast, made some eye-opening observations while studying Thibodeaux’s film this week:

According to Kollmann’s research, only two of Thibodeaux’s sacks came against starting offensive tackles this season, with those two starting tackles being Charles Leno and Zach Tom.

Pro Football Focus has given Thibodeaux a 58.6 overall grade this season — a significant fall off from his 71.9 overall grade last year. Thibodeaux’s missed tackle rate has gone up from 8.5% to 15.4% this season and his pressures per game have fallen from 2.85 in 2022 to 2.56 in 2023, per PFF.

Thibodeaux needs to generate more consistent pressure

Thibodeaux has only totaled 41 pressures in 2023, ranking 46th among NFL edge rushers, per PFF. Kollmann’s research found a shockingly low pass-rush win rate for Thibodeaux this season (and his pass-rushing partner, Azeez Ojulari):

Both Thibodeaux and Ojulari have struggled to win their one-on-one reps against offensive tackles this season. The two edge rushers need to play with more consistency and win more pass-rushing reps in 2024 if they want to maintain their status as the Giants’ starting edge duo.

What does this say about the Giants’ coaching staff?

Thibodeaux is still a young, raw player who is growing into his own at the NFL level. In just his second season, Thibodeaux still has much to learn before he can establish himself as one of the league’s top pass-rushers.

Becoming the first player to ever record double-digit sacks in a Wink Martindale defense is an impressive accomplishment for Thibodeaux. However, what does it say about Martindale?

Martindale was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 2018 to 2021 before taking over for Big Blue in 2022. In these six years Martindale has coordinated a defense, Thibodeaux is the only edge rusher to rack up over 10 sacks in a season.

Edge rushers just don’t seem to develop well nor find great success under Martindale’s tutelage. Martindale and his unit have been bright spots for Big Blue this season, but his inability to maximize the talent of his edge rushers throughout his coaching career is a major cause for concern.

Martindale should be back with the Giants in 2024 after coaching a solid unit this season. However, if Brian Daboll does decide to make a change at the defensive coordinator position, he will need to target a coach that can maximize Thibodeaux’s skillset and help develop the Giants’ young pass rushers.

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