Giants defense poised to show ‘so much aggression’ led by Kayvon Thibodeaux & Co. – New York Giants Blog
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The New York Giants’ defense will be different this season, which isn’t a bad thing considering they ranked 21st overall last year. When teams wanted – and needed – to score on them, they usually did.
The Giants were outscored 79-0 in the final two minutes of first halves in 2021. They were spared even more embarrassment as the opposition usually didn’t need to do it again in the final two minutes of the game in a 4-13 season. which included 10 double-digit losses.
Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale inherits a group that pressured opposing quarterbacks on just 24.2 percent of the backs last season, fifth-worst by NFL Next Gen stats. General manager Joe Schoen addressed the issue, using the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft over edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to headline what should be an aggressive defense that relies on the perception of pressure from all training to point out opposing infractions.
“You want to dictate on offense instead of just sitting there and letting them dictate to you,” Martindale said last week. “I think it’s a game of adjustments and matchups and all that, but I’d rather they had a headache and stayed awake for five nights before playing them to figure out what we’re going to do and [we will] try to present different looks every time we play, because the pressure breaks the pipes. That’s our philosophy.”
He is adopted by his players.
“Oh, Wink, that’s really fun. I think we all enjoy it,” said safety Xavier McKinney. “You know, so much aggression. It just gives us energy. We’re able to go out there and play without worrying about making mistakes, so it just gives us a lot of freedom to go and play, attack and be the playmaker we have on our defence.”
Martindale blitzed more than anyone in the NFL in his four years as Baltimore Ravens coordinator, when his defenses ranked first (2018), fourth (2019), seventh (2020) and 25th (2021). ) in total. These units led the league in blitz in its first three seasons at 39.6%, 54.9% and 45.3%, respectively, before dropping to sixth last season (31.1%) according to Pro Football Reference.
“Put a lot of people on the line of scrimmage,” is how one scout described a defense led by Martindale. “He is not afraid of the coach.”
Between Thibodeaux, whose first step and speed will be used throughout this defense. The belief is that he is the top pass thrower the Giants have been missing for years, a player who can be Martindale’s centerpiece. New York has only had one true edge rusher (Markus Golden in 2018) record double digits in the past seven seasons. Baltimore also had only one point rusher (Terrell Suggs, 2017) who hit double-digit sacks during that same span, but Martindale had top-10 ranked defenses in three of his four seasons as coordinator.
Martindale and outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins considered Thibodeaux the best edge runner in the draft, in part because they can imagine him rushing from a variety of positions, including inside where they think his speed can be a nightmare against an overmatched inside lineman. .
“He suited us perfectly on Wink’s defense,” Wilkins said. “He has all the skills we are looking for. He can be a dominant passer, explosive, violent, relentless and then anything you can see that is needed.”
Martindale’s pressure often leaves his cornerbacks on an island, and in his four seasons as coordinator, Baltimore played the fifth-most man-to-man defense (39.9%) in the NFL according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
That proved to be a problem last season when an injury-ravaged secondary helped the Ravens rank last in pass defense.
“Don’t go to DoorDash to find a spare corner,” is what Martindale said he learned.
That could get tricky this season in New York, as the Giants recently lost top cornerback James Bradberry as a salary cap victim. Adoree’ Jackson, who has missed 22 games the past three seasons, is their No. 1 corner and 2021 third-round pick Aaron Robinson is the favorite to win the other starting job.
The Giants secondary has 111 career starts combined, making it a serious question mark at the start of the season considering what Martindale wants to do. Jackson accepts the challenge.
“I want everything, it turns into [man-to-man coverage]”, he said. “Whoever goes down and I play anything, zone, I pretty much have them. I end up matching [up]. … It’s third and 5 and he’s running an 8 meter? You’re going to match it… You’re not just going to stay in your third [of the field] because that’s what your task tells you to do. At the end of the day, it’s about being a football player and understanding what’s going on.”
With a reorganized passing rush and questions in the secondary — the Giants signed unemployed former Ravens cornerbacks Maurice Canady and Khalil Dorsey on May 18 — the bar is pretty low for Martindale’s defense this season. He doesn’t seem to care.
“Look, we’ll control the narrative. That’s what I’m going to tell you,” Martindale said. “People can say what they want to say. We’ll see when it’s time to launch it out there in Nashville. [against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1]. We’ll see where we are by then. But we control the narrative in the room, and I’m excited about this season.”