Dominating his matchup early put New York Giants’ edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux in a talkative mood against the Washington Commanders in Week 11. Thibodeaux had some “solid trash talk” for Washington left tackle Charles Leno Jr., according to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
The pass-rusher said “thank you” to Leno just prior to halftime. When asked “for what,” Thibodeaux replied, “for the 10 sacks I’m gonna get today.”
Although Thibodeaux backed up his talk by sacking Commanders’ quarterback Sam Howell twice in the second half, he revealed Leno took the chatter in good spirits: “I’m not trying to cause beef. He’s a great player. He laughed it off. Friendly banter.”
Thibodeaux’s two sacks gave him a rare feat for the Giants. He became the first Giants player to record double-digit sacks since defensive tackle Leonard Williams managed it in 2020, per Dan Duggan of The Athletic.
That wasn’t the only notable achievement for Thibodeaux, who is fast dispelling any idea he might be a draft bust.
Kayvon Thibodeaux Makes History for ‘Wink’ Martindale
Aside from breaking the drought of double-digit sack artists for the Giants, Thibodeaux also established a first for his defensive coordinator. Don ‘Wink’ Martindale had never had an edge-rusher reach the 10-sack mark in a season, but Thibodeaux changed all that when he beat Leno cleanly on the outside.
The decisive takedown was highlighted by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants.
Reaching 10.5 sacks is proof of the excellent strides Thibodeaux is making during his second season. The number’s a far cry from the mere four sacks he mustered as a rookie.
Modest production during his debut season in the pros led some to believe the player selected fifth overall in the 2022 NFL draft was a bust. Head coach Brian Daboll wasn’t among the doubters and he feels vindicated by Thibodeaux’s presence in the lineup.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is Silencing Critics
Thibodeaux’s had his critics, prompting franchise greats like Carl Banks to defend the 22-year-old. Daboll also offered a defiant response to any heat Thibodeaux has taken for his performances, per Giants Videos: “I’m glad we have Kayvon. He’s a true competitor, a great teammate, a productive player for us, and I’m happy he’s on our team.”
Thibodeaux is letting his actions speak loudest after leading a swarming, opportunistic defense that embarrassed the Commanders. Howell was sacked four times, while the Giants also forced six turnovers, including a pick-six by linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
Pressure was the key to the turnover-bingeing effort. Martindale’s known for the blitz, and the play-caller lived up to his reputation by sending plenty of extra rushers after Howell, who routinely wilted under the pressure.
Martindale’s plan wouldn’t have worked without consistent disruption up front. That’s what Thibodeaux provided. He showcased a varied rush plan, winning on the edge, but also taking inside moves to disrupt Commanders blocking patterns.
Those things added up to the kind of performance a team expects from its marquee pass-rusher. The Giants invested premium draft capital for Thibodeaux to be a game-wrecker opponents have to make special plans to stop.
It’s taken some time, but Thibodeaux is living up to the billing each week.