Giants' Kayvon Thibodeaux 'going for Michael Strahan's record,' sought advice from Lawrence Taylor


New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux has a lofty goal for the 2024 season. Well, really for every season. He wants to become the NFL’s all-time single-season sack leader, taking down the mark held by a former Giants legend. 

“We’re just going to start this off, if you were wondering, I’m going for the record — so don’t ask,” Thibodeaux said, perhaps jokingly, via NJ.com. “Every year I’m here, I’m going for Michael Strahan’s record.”

Thibodeaux elaborated on the goal, noting that he will have a chance to rush the passer more often in 2024 than Strahan did when he set the record all the way back in 2001. 

“Now being here, it’s like he [Strahan] didn’t have as many rush opportunities as I’m going to have,” Thibodeaux said. “The game wasn’t as much passes as it was before. I have an opportunity that people would wish they could be in. It’s only right if I give the people what they want. I honor myself by putting everything on the line, trying to be the best.”

Thibodeaux also apparently got some advice from another Giants legend on how to improve his game. Or at least, he sought that advice. He didn’t necessarily get what he was looking for when he talked to Lawrence Taylor at the Giants’ legends night ceremony. 

“You know what I think is funny? You go into these conversations and you’re always looking for something,” Thibodeaux said, via NFL Media. “If they’re a legend, you’re like, ‘What did you do? What is the secret sauce?’ And I think it was funny, LT, he looked at me crazy when I said, ‘LT, what’s the secret sauce?’ And he’s like ‘Now you know damn well there ain’t no secret sauce.'”

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Joking or serious, with or without secret sauce, Thibodeaux has a long way to go to catch Strahan — even in a league where passing is considerably more common. He notched just four sacks in his first season, but made a jump to 11.5 last year. Even that two-year total leaves him seven short of the record held by Strahan and T.J. Watt. But Thibodeaux’s 11.5 sacks in 2023 also might overstate how effective he was at rushing the passer. 

Those 11.5 sacks tied Thibodeaux with Denico Autry and Aidan Hutchinson for 12th most in the NFL, but his 43 total pressures checked in just 67th in the league, tied with a quarter of interior linemen in Fletcher Cox, Osa Odighizuwa, Jarran Reed and Dre’Mont Jones. Every play in the top 15 in sacks save for one had a pressure rate at least 1.5 times as high as Thibodeaux’s 8.6% mark, which ranked 141st out of the 216 players who rushed the passer at least 150 times last season, via Tru Media. 

Thibodeaux was able to record so many sacks because of his astronomical 26.7% sack-to-pressure ratio, which nearly doubled the league average of 13.5% and ranked eighth among the same group of players. He was down at 10% as a rookie, checking in 142nd out of 221 players. 

Unless you think Thibodeaux really is twice as good as, say, Micah Parsons or Javon Hargrave or Chris Jones at turning pressure into sacks, he’s going to need to be around the quarterback a lot more often in 2024 to match last season’s sack total, let alone get to Strahan and Watt. 

It may be even more difficult because Thibodeaux now has a teammate who may simply reach the quarterback before he does; Brian Burns’ average time to sack last season was nearly 0.7 seconds faster than Thibodeaux’s — which is an eternity in a league where most quarterbacks try to deliver the ball within 2.5 seconds of the snap. Burns’ presence should afford Thibodeaux better matchups, but regardless, he is going to need to step his game up if he wants to come close to reaching his goals. 





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