What the Giants’ defense could look like under conservative new defensive coordinator

Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen (New York Giants candidate)
Credit: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Over the past two seasons, the New York Giants had a clear-cut identity and scheme under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. His scheme revolved around constant pressure on the opposing quarterback, often utilizing complicated personnel packages, coverage patterns, and lots of bluffing.

Martindale’s defenses have been heralded around the league for years as one of the most complicated and indecipherable by both players and coaches. However, an in-season rift led to head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen ultimately moving on from the 60-year-old Martindale.

Entering 2024, former Tennessee Titans DC Shane Bowen will be leading the charge, taking a totally different approach.

What will the Giants’ defense look like in 2024?

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) celebrates a sack with the defense in the first half at MetLife Stadium

Forget how the defense performed, if you are expecting to see as “fun” of a defense as last year, you are gravely mistaken. The one word defining the changes Bowen will bring about is simplicity.

Rather than trying to constantly confuse opposing offenses, Bowen implements a much more “straight-up” style of defense, with consistent three-, four-, and five-man fronts. Bowen loves to play nickel personnel with three-down defensive linemen in the tackle box, with two wide rushers (outside of the tackle), and bring physical defensive backs closer to the line to help against the run.

Without blitzing, the defense will likely follow suit of the Titans, often using twists and stunts to generate pressure and sacks. This was evident last season, as the Titans only blitzed on 22% of plays, good for 23rd in the NFL.

Although they do not blitz much, Bowen’s defenses have not had issues producing sacks, as they have accumulated 126 over the past three seasons, an average of 42 a year, and approximately 2.5 sacks a game.

Compared to Martindale who led the Giants to 75 sacks in two seasons, 37.5 a year and approximately 2.2 sacks a game, Bowen actually has had more success bringing down the QB without making it the focal point of the defense. Because of this, Bowen’s defenses have been elite against the run, never allowing more than 4.0 YPC in a season. 

Who will be the X-Factor in the Giants’ new defense?

Oct 22, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deonte Banks (25) celebrates after an interception against the Washington Commanders during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

With this style of play, cornerbacks will be left isolated far more often. If the secondary, and specifically Deonte Banks, can perform well enough to give time for pressure to get home, the Giants’ defense will likely be one of the top-performing defenses in the entire NFL, with very few weaknesses left on paper. 

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