EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Kayvon Thibodeaux is always thinking big, and sometimes that requires thinking small.
On Wednesday, the New York Giants’ second-year pass rusher proclaimed his intentions to be a general manager in the NFL after his playing days are over, before pulling back from the world he dreams of and the world he operates in right now.
Thibodeaux is using the Giants' organized team activities to start building upon a successful rookie year for the former fifth overall draft pick. New York brought in Thibodeaux to be a force off the edge, but after 4 sacks during his first year in the NFL, the big-pictured Thibodeaux is focused on the minute details to achieve one of his biggest goals for the season: finishing more sacks this season.
“There were a lot of times where I had good pass rushes, but I didn’t finish,” Thibodeaux said bluntly. “You start to realize that other guy on that side of the line gets paid a lot of money. They’re not gonna let them get touched.”
The raw stats don’t tell the full story of how impactful Thibodeaux was at times for the Giants' defense, but those are still numbers that he would like to improve upon now that he has a full year of football under his belt.
Pass rushing is one of the few instances in football where the movement and styles of play can resemble a dance more than the gladiator spectacle that the rest of the game is. It requires timing, coordination, flexibility and an array of maneuvers to master. There are plenty of guys in the NFL who can jump a snap or get a step on an offensive tackle, but the great pass rushers are the guys who can consistently finish a move and get a quarterback to the ground.
“I’m just continuing to sharpen the end of my rush, that third phase and making sure I finish.” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux has spent a lot of time this offseason watching his lowlights and plays he wishes he could have gotten back in an effort to improve during this time when players aren’t wearing pads.
“The first game, I think we played Washington, it was a second-guess, kind of a step that threw me off even though I was unblocked,” Thibodeaux explained. “There were a couple of snaps in the first Eagles game we played where I could have had an impact at the top of my rush. I know there was even one in the Texans [game] going against Laremy Tunsil.”
Rushing the passer is the biggest reason why Thibodeaux was taken near the top of the 2022 NFL Draft, but he also has enough perspective to know that pass rushing is only a part of what makes a complete player — and the sack droughts can create moments for unexpected bits of wisdom to come to a young player.
“I figured out the season is so long, you have to do it by game,” Thibodeaux said on the expectations for his own sack production. “If I can make impactful plays like I was able to do and continue to win, I mean no one will ever remember that.
“When you go four or five games without no sacks, I mean, you start to realize, ‘Wow, f*** that number. What can I do to just make a play?’ Come the Baltimore game, it was like, ‘Yo, I gotta make a play. I don’t have time to think about the goals I have. I gotta go for something now.’”
“When you go four or five games without no sacks, I mean, you start to realize, ‘Wow, f that number. What can I do to just make a play?’ Come the Baltimore game, it was like, ‘Yo, I gotta make a play. I don’t have time to think about the goals I have. I gotta go for something now.’”
For now, Thibodeaux is taking the time to focus on the details on his longer path toward NFL stardom, which may wind up helping him if he’s running his own team some day.