Why it was important for Giants to promote, retain Mike Kafka

Giants Mike Kafka
Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.

The New York Giants did just about everything they could to keep offensive coordinator Mike Kafka around the Meadowlands a little while longer. It worked. 

The team announced on Wednesday that they promoted Kafka to assistant head coach — a role he’ll take on while continuing his duties as offensive coordinator for the 2024 season. 

It’s a move that shuts the door on any chance of the 36-year-old jumping ship. There was heavy interest looming from the Seattle Seahawks, who interviewed him for their vacant head-coaching role after parting ways with Pete Carroll. 

This has already been a season of significant transition for head coach Brian Daboll’s staff, which suggested that things were not kosher within his ranks following a 6-11 campaign.

Of course, that notion was fueled by a messy split with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who stormed out of MetLife Stadium following a reported profanity-laden tirade after Daboll fired his two top defensive assistants. The duo’s relationship had suffered throughout the 2023 season with cracks along the foundation being reported as early as Thanksgiving. 

Martindale’s departure, though, was a part of a mass exodus of Giants coaches. Running backs coach Jeff Nixon, strength and conditioning coordinator Craig Fitzgerald, and tight ends coach Andy Bischoff resigned — the latter to take a job with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins all were fired.

Those positions have since been filled, most notably with former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen taking over for Martindale.

Keeping Kafka, though, was important — not just for the sake of continuity, which is now as foreign a concept as ever within the Giants’ coaching ranks. 

In what is expected to be Daniel Jones’ last shot at proving that he can be the Giants’ franchise quarterback, keeping the coordinator who oversaw his best season as a pro in 2022 was vital. 

Daniel Jones Giants
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Jones’ 2023 season was an unmitigated disaster as injuries limited him to just six games. When he was under center, the league’s worst offensive line did nothing to protect him. 

General manager Joe Schoen has to make the protection unit a top priority this offseason. Not just for Jones, but for an uncertain backfield that could see Saquon Barkley depart in free agency. 

Kafka showed what he could do with a semi-competent offensive line two years ago and a healthy Jones. It helped him build a reputation as one of the best young coaching minds in the NFL. 

With him at the helm of the offense — even with the collaborative play-calling responsibilities alongside Daboll — the Giants will be able to get the answers to vital questions in 2024. With that, it will only strengthen Kafka’s resume for the NFL’s next coaching cycle in 2025, because he’ll likely be in even higher demand.

For more on the Giants and Mike Kafka, visit AMNY.com