A decade has gone by since an NFL team has feared the New York Giants defense. Years of ignoring game-changing players at pivotable positions have left the “Big Blue”…not so Big.

Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence have basically been asked to do everything over the last four years including stopping the run, rushing the passer, disrupting the offense, and playing inside and outside without any real help.

IN 2022 the Giants drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux in the 1st round from Oregon. “Thibs” as fans like to call him had a nice season, showing flashes toward the end of 2022; however, started slow after a knee injury from a low block earlier in the season. The player that truly needs to be successful in 2023 for the Giants to dominate on Defense is Outside Linebacker/pass-rush specialist, Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari red-shirted his freshman year at Georgia due to a knee injury his senior year at high school. While that might have caused Ojulari to slide to the second round…the Giants were gifted with a special player.

Azeez Ojulari Chasing Down a Sack

Ojulari ignited the Giants’ defense with a spectacular rookie year as he set the rookie sack record with eight sacks and racked up 49 tackles. While Ojulari wasn’t taking the league by storm, he did have a stellar debut, showcasing the unique ability to bend coming around the end that gave tackles trouble.


The expectations and excitement grew in the off-season for the Giant’s Defense, now run by new Defensive Coordinator, Wink Martindale as they drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux to complete the bookends. Injuries derailed the game plan quickly as a non-football hamstring injury in May sidelined Ojulari for training camp and into the regular season. Throughout the 2022 season, Ojulari was in and out of the lineup, fighting numerous frustrating calf & hamstring injuries.

A healthy Ojulari is trouble for an offensive. He is very quick for a 240 lb linebacker, bends extremely well, and uses his hands to create the space and separation he needs to disrupt the offense. While he only played 7 games for the Giants in 2022…he had 5.5 sacks. Projecting out…like we always like to do, a healthy Ojulari was on pace for a 13+ sack season. Yes, just projections; however, the fact remains that Azeez Ojulari needs to stay healthy for this Defense to thrive.

2022 to 2023:

Ojulari had put 20+ pounds on in the off-season between 2021 & 2022. Perhaps the extra muscle on his frame created less flexibility, creating more tension on joints and ligaments. We will never know. However, in 2023, the New York Giant’s Defense needs a healthy Ojulari to make an aggressive step forward if they want to compete with Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

New Turf:

The Giants are also installing new turf at MetLife. Perhaps this alleviates the long list of injuries the Giants face, year in and year out. In 2023, Thibodeaux will have a second year in the system, a second year of training, and a second year of experience that should allow the game to finally slow down for him making him effective immediately. Offensive Coordinators will finally have to account for both Ojulari and Thibadouex, with Tight Ends and backs. Pressuring the QB is vital for the Giants as the secondary lacks experience, health, and success.

Top 5 teams in Sacks:

The Giants ranked #13th in the NFL (2022) with 40 team sacks.

  • The Philadelphia Eagles – 70 sacks
  • Kansas City Chiefs – 55 sacks
  • Dallas Cowboys – 54 sacks

NY Giants All Time – Double Digit Sack Seasons

  • Jason Pierre Paul – 3 double-digit sacks season
  • Justin Tuck – 4 double-digit sack seasons
  • Michael Strahan – 6 double-digit sack seasons
  • Lawrence Taylor – 7 double-digit sacks seasons