What has been encouraging and what has been lacking in Kayvon Thibodeaux’s debut season with the New York Giants?

What has been encouraging and what has been lacking in Kayvon Thibodeaux’s debut season with the New York Giants?

Last week, the Giants were exposed to Aidan Hutchinson of the Lions, who demonstrated what a talented rookie defense can do to derail a game.

The Cowboys’ Micah Parsons, the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year this season, will remind the Giants on Thursday what a dominant defender can do to destroy an offensive game plan. Parsons is the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year this season.

The Giants are awaiting Kayvon Thibodeaux’s entrance into the chaos. He is a starter at outside linebacker for a defense that has, for the most part, kept the club in games and, at times, carried the weight for a slow offense. Teammates and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale have praised Thibodeaux for his dedication, maturity, work ethic, and selfless effort on the field. When considered as a whole, this speaks well for his future.

What is lacking are the “wow” moments that come from game-changing plays, hits that cause turnovers, momentum swings, and exclamation marks on a resume. In eight games, Thibodeaux has one sack, zero tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. However, he has made two spectacular plays in the fourth quarter to help the Giants secure victories, including deflecting an Aaron Rodgers pass in London and sacking Lamar Jackson to defeat the Ravens.

Hutchinson, who was drafted three spots before Thibodeaux, has 5.5 sacks, four tackles for a loss, and 10 quarterback hits in 10 games. In 10 games, the Jaguars’ No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker has recorded 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits.

Aidan Hutchinson has compiled outstanding statistics and shown to be a disruptive force, despite the Lions’ defense’s struggles.
Robert Sabo

Thibodeaux is ranked as the No. 61 edge rusher in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Hutchinson is ranked number 41, and Walker is ranked number 72.

Hutchinson has outperformed the competition. Sunday, when dropping into coverage and luring Daniel Jones into his first interception in 153 ball attempts (and then returning the turnover 20 yards to set up a Lions touchdown), he displayed exceptional athleticism and awareness.

“That was a zone pressure, and you’re trying to pound the inside of the offensive line a little more, and if you change up, you’re always anticipating Hutch will come more often than not,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell explained. “Therefore, it was a gamble to go up the middle and then get him out there, because he has become that type of fly and hook hitter. … You don’t always consider if he will be selected, but you want him in the correct window. “He was exactly where he needed to be, and the quarterback believed he could get the ball over him, and he made a fantastic play.”

It is not unusual for a Giants rookie to struggle to generate sacks. In 1993, Michael Strahan had one sack. The same in 2003 for Osi Umenyiora and 2005 for Justin Tuck. Thibodeaux was a high-first-round choice, unlike those other Giants who became elite pass rushers (and in Strahan’s case, a Hall of Famer). An quick effect was expected. Not so with Strahan (a second-round selection), Umenyiora, or Tuck (third round).

It is not as though Thibodeaux contributes nothing. He strives to establish an advantage against the pursuit (though he remains a work in progress as a run defender). Martindale stated that Thibodeaux is “performing the unselfish job” that affords other players opportunity.

Even though Kayvon Thibodeaux only has one sack this season, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale praises the youngster for creating space for teammates.
AP

“You have a single high safety going free to the quarterback,” Martindale explained. “Well, [Thibodeaux] must execute the correct pattern to release that man, and that’s what I like about the man himself. Everyone wants to say’sacks, sacks, sacks’ to him after games, but if we’re satisfied with him in 950 of 1,000 plays, that’s better than a player who has 12 sacks but can’t play the run, can’t do this, can’t do that. I simply think the child is playing well. It’s the same as with takeout or anything else; the sacks will arrive.

There is little doubt that Thibodeaux possesses the initial step and elusiveness to be a successful pass rusher, but his movements have not yet transferred well to the NFL level. Too frequently, he gets overcome by a larger offensive lineman and fails to penetrate the pocket. The lack of pressure from the Giants’ opposite edge has been detrimental. Due to hamstring and calf injuries, Azeez Ojulari has only participated in two games this season, restricting him just one sack after leading the club with eight as a rookie in 2021. In eight games, Oshane Ximines has made two sacks (and has a higher PFF grade than Thibodeaux does).

Dexter Lawrence (five sacks) and Leonard Williams (three sacks) in the interior of the defensive line have led the charge (1.5 sacks). The edge players have been noticeably absent from the celebration.

Williams observed, “It’s a young room.” “There have also been several injuries in the room. We have been without [Azeez] for much of the year.

“I remember what it was like to be a young player; sometimes it takes time to adapt and acclimate to the NFL’s new speed and strategies, among other things. We continue to have faith in those men and are certain that they will succeed. In general, I believe we’ve been doing a satisfactory job with them.

Micah Parsons, who was selected Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021, has 10 sacks through 10 games in 2022.
AP

With so many injuries in the defensive backfield, the Giants will need to apply even more pressure up front in order to cope with whatever comes next. Thanksgiving Day’s matchup with the Cowboys in Arlington, Texas is the first of four consecutive NFC East contests. They will need a strategy to counter Parsons, who is third in the NFL with 10 sacks, if they expect to advance. The 12th overall choice in the 2021 draft, Parsons produced 13 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and 30 quarterback hits as a rookie. In his debut season, Thibodeaux will not come close to matching such productivity.

Martindale stated of Thibodeaux, “I can’t say anything but good things about his performance.” How he pursues the football like a seasoned veteran, studies like a seasoned veteran, and leads like a seasoned veteran. So I am ecstatic that he is a Giant.

And although the remainder of the organization has little cause to be upset with Thibodeaux’s performance, they cannot be overjoyed either. He has seven games to make his first season extraordinary.

Happy holiday

On Thursday, the Giants will play for the sixteenth time on Thanksgiving. All sixteen games have been played away from home. Their most recent victory on Thanksgiving was in 1982, when they defeated the Lions 13-7 at the Silverdome in Detroit. This game is most notable for Lawrence Taylor’s 97-yard touchdown interception return.

The Giants last played on Thanksgiving in 2017, when they were defeated 20-10 at Washington. In 2009, they participated in the NFL’s first primetime Thanksgiving game, a 26-6 loss in Denver. Lawrence Tynes kicked two field goals as the Giants’ only points that night.

The last time the Giants won on Thanksgiving Day, Lawrence Taylor was still directing the defense.

The last time the Giants faced the Cowboys on Thanksgiving came in 1992, when they were defeated 30-3 at Dallas.

Who is the Giants’ most common opponent on Thanksgiving? Why, the Brooklyn Dodgers, who have played six times in that city on Thanksgiving. Next most prevalent? Four times, the Staten Island Stapletons battled the New York Giants.

asked and responded

Here are two recent inquiries that we will strive to respond to as correctly as possible:

Everyone enjoys kicking back on the couch and watching “Thursday Night Football.” How do the players feel about returning to the field four days after completing a game on Sunday?

They dislike it. If NFL players had their way, there would be no Thursday night games. Their bodies endure so much abuse that they are conditioned to require the entire week to recover from the different aches and pains that occur from each game day. Any athlete who sustains a minor sprain or strain will have a difficult time recovering in four days. There is no time for a proper practice, and the players are too banged up to wear full pads, so sessions leading up to a Thursday night game consist of walk-throughs and meetings. After putting the last game to rest, coaches must instantly construct the game plan for the upcoming contest. And for the traveling squad, Thursday night is especially difficult because they must leave their home on Wednesday. The TV numbers are vital, and the games may be thrilling, but the physical strain placed on the players makes Thursday night games a genuine struggle.

What is Jamie Gillan’s situation? As the punter, he does not appear to be performing well.

Jamie Gillian, the Giants’ punter, has been an entertaining but not always accurate presence.
AP

Correct. Gillan is a captivating individual with long hair, a charming accent, and the great moniker “the Scottish Hammer.” The Browns’ decision not to bring him back after three seasons in Cleveland is also becoming clear. Gillian can strike the ball with his strong left leg, but he must improve his touch and positioning. He is comparable to a power hitter who cannot scatter singles over the field. Sunday, he gave the Lions favorable field position with a weak punt that traveled only 25 yards. He is inconsistent with his punting within the 20-yard line.

Coach Brian Daboll virtually seldom publicly criticizes his players, although he did add, “I know Jamie would like a couple of plays back, but he’s working on it. We simply need to do somewhat better in this area.” Gillan, who is only 25 years old, inked a one-year contract with the Giants, but if he wants to return in 2023, he will need to demonstrate greater consistency down the stretch.

 

»What has been encouraging and what has been lacking in Kayvon Thibodeaux’s debut season with the New York Giants?«

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