What can the Giants expect from key linebacker in 2024?

Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden (41) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Much attention will be placed on the New York Giants’ defense in 2024, and one of their linebackers could rise to the occasion or fall victim to it.

Micah McFadden is set to man the starting outside linebacker spot next season. As a result, he’ll be positioned to get after the quarterback with ample help in front of him and at his side. However, the same way his star teammates like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Brian Burns, and Bobby Okereke will make life easier for him is the same way that his shortcomings could quickly make him a scapegoat for any slump that the linebacker unit or entire defense goes through.

Giants: Does Micah McFadden have question marks surrounding his name for next season?

Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) eludes the rush of New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden (41) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Valentine of Big Blue View addressed the few question marks surrounding his name, saying this in part:

“McFadden will be a starter at linebacker next to Bobby Okereke. Can he improve his tackling, a key attribute for a linebacker? McFadden was often in position to make plays last season, but too often failed to make them,” Valentine wrote.

“The other question is how much the change in scheme with Shane Bowen replacing Wink Martindale as defensive coordinator will impact McFadden.”

The 6-2, 232-pound LB notched one sack in 2023 along with 101 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and six quarterback hits. He solidified himself as the starter over last season’s marquee summer addition Isaiah Simmons. McFadden was also named to PFF’s Team of the Week for Week 9 of last year.

Valentine suggests that there are concerns about McFadden’s tackling ability. Yet, Pro Football Focus gave the Florida native a 76.1 run defense grade midway through the previous campaign, and was named the team’s most-improved player on the year. As for the shift in defensive coordinators, McFadden will be expected to handle that change like a pro, and the lack of friction that once emanated within the Giants’ ranks in 2023 due to Martindale and Giants head coach Brian Daboll’s rift throughout the season could help the Indiana product blossom next time out.

McFadden’s 2023 tape shows a gifted athlete whose feel for the game can increase in 2024

Nov 19, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden (41) at the line of scrimmage against the Washington Commanders during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

On the Giants’ “Inside the Film Room” show, Super Bowl champion Shaun O’Hara beautifully analyzed McFadden’s skills against the run, pass, and in blitz opportunities, calling him a player with “great instincts” while pinpointing his strengths including his impeccable hands, elusiveness in evading offensive linemen and his coachability.

The Giants will need him and their heavy hitters to do just that in the trenches in 2024. McFadden will be responsible for giving support to nose tackle Dexter Lawrence and the four-man rush and may even have a heightened role in pass defense with New York’s secondary taking a step back following the departure of safety Xavier McKinney last winter. McFadden’s raw talent should be enough to help him perform well next year, but he’ll be looked at to showcase polish and refinement in his third season come September.

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