It's impossible to say if Shane Bowen was the NY Giants first choice to replace Wink Martindale as defensive coordinator. Regardless, all that matters is that Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll can put the Martindale fiasco in the rearview mirror.
There's no denying that Martindale did great work with the Giants defense. The unit overcame a personnel disadvantage and tied the Ravens for the most takeaways in the league during the regular season. Despite the success, though, many fans took issue with Martindale's usage of Kayvon Thibodeaux.
In the midst of a breakout sophomore season as a pass-rusher, Thibodeaux dropped back in coverage on a whopping 84 snaps in 2023, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). That's certainly not the role the Giants had in mind for Thibodeux when they selected him No. 5 overall in the 2022 draft.
Thibodeux is motivated to make an impression on Bowen and the 23-year-old revealed his plan to do just that while speaking with FanSided ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl.
Giants' Kayvon Thibodeux revealed his plan under new DC Shane Bowen.
Here's what Thibodeux said after he was asked about adjusting to getting more attention and double teams from opposing offenses.
"You just gotta keep getting better and honing in on your craft. Now you have to work triple moves, quadruple moves, whatever it’s going to take and continuously keep a good motor. It’s all about the scheme too. Hopefully with the new defensive coordinator we have, we can work some schemes and see where I can move around and use my versatility."
That's exactly what Giants fans wanted to hear. Ultimately, Thibodeaux generating double teams will benefit the rest of the defensive line. We all know Dexter Lawrence is a monster, but the added attention will allow for Azeez Ojulari and other pass rushers to create pressure.
The bigger takeaway, at least in our eyes, is Thibodeux's hunger to "move around." That could be interpreted as a shot at Martindale, but it's clear Thibodeaux wants to line up all over the defensive line.
Can you really blame him? Per PFF, the Oregon product lined up on the outside of an offensive tackle on 960 snaps of his 967 snaps played on the defensive line this season. He lined up over an OT on four snaps and played just three snaps as a stand-up defensive tackle.
We've seen other teams, namely the Browns and hated Cowboys, align Myles Garrett and Micah Parsons as defensive tackles from time to time. It's never a bad thing to throw offenses a different look, but Thibodeaux has largely been restricted to one role in his first two seasons.
The fact he has more snaps in coverage than lined up over an OT or as a defensive tackle is befuddling. Hopefully Bowen made note of Thibodeaux's willingness to be more versatile. Who knows? It could be the key to unlocking the Giants defense and Thibodeux's untapped potential.