Thibodeaux would tell you the bright lights of primetime love him, and that proved to be true.
But where is Thibodeaux’s ceiling? Just how good can he become? Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale believes there are no limits.
What, specifically, excites Martindale about Thibodeaux?
“Everything. He’s an exceptional football player and he’s an exceptional person. I really enjoy being around him,” he said.
Martindale also dismissed Thibodeaux’s lack of sacks as a rookie, noting that the Giants faced the most max protections and screen plays in the league a season ago. He also made sure to point out that opponents were getting rid of the football quickly, ultimately limiting Thibodeaux’s opportunities.
“The screens and the max protection I know for sure, we’re No. 1 in the league facing those,” Martindale said. “You’re not gonna get sacks on those plays, and on top of all that, people understand that we know how to beat protections. When you know the team you’re playing against [can] beat protections, your quarterback coach and the offensive coordinator are saying, ‘Get rid of the ball quick.’ So I think you have those three challenges of not just sitting there which a lot of teams just rush four and play one coverage, and then blame the players when it doesn’t work — that’s not how we roll.”
This coming season, Martindale anticipates an improved run defense combined with better play at linebacker in the secondary. That should help provide Thibodeaux with an increased number of sack opportunities and a chance for him to really show the world what he’s made of.