After it finally appeared that the New York Giants were out of the nearly decade-long woods that saw the franchise struggle to finish with winning records, the 2022 season, which ended with a 9-7-1 record, seemed to give everyone a renewed sense of hope that better days were ahead of the franchise.
Ah, but talk about a false start. The 2023 Giants season, admittedly besieged by injuries, saw the club limp to a 6-11 finish. It also resulted in a significant shakeup of a coaching staff that looked like it had the magic touch a season prior.
To recap, special teas coordinator Thomas McGaughey, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins were all relieved of their duties, replaced by Michael Ghobrial, Carmen Bricillo, New York Giants fans have been burned before by the franchise, Charlie Bullen and Zak Kuhr, respectively.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, running backs coach DeAndre Smith, strength and conditioning coordinator Craig Fitzgerald, and tight ends coach Andy Bischoff all took on other roles at the college or pro levels, replaced by Shane Bowen, Joel Thomas, Aaron Wellman, and Tim Kelly, respectively.
And if that isn't enough of a shakeup, head coach Brian Daboll "promoted" three returning assistants, granting defensive passing game coordinator duties to defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson, offensive passing game coordinator duties to quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney, and assistant head coaching duties to offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.
That's quite the staff shakeup, and understandably, 55.7 percent of those who took part in our recent poll regarding these changes have mixed feelings about the changes and new hires.
Poll time! What are your thoughts on the #giants coaching staff changes?— Patricia Traina (@Patricia_Traina) February 8, 2024
While it is too soon to say for sure if the coaching will get better results out of a team that struggled to stay healthy, leading to the likelihood of the coaching staff having to adjust on the fly, some of the decisions made by Daboll are of notable interest and could indeed provide some insight into what the team might be planning regarding its future personnel.
Specifically, we're talking about the offensive side of the ball, where there's been a slight shift in duties. With Tierney taking on the primary role of passing game coordinator, that potentially frees up some of Kafka's time to assist Daboll (as assistant head coach) with the minutiae a head coach normally deals with during the week and on game day.
And that raises the question of whether Daboll made these moves in anticipation of the team's hopes to bring in a rookie quarterback acquired via the draft who, if they do, will draw more of Daboll's time than a veteran might.
The theory, as crazy as it might be, makes some sense. With Daboll and company on the hot seat this coming year, if he's going to sink or swim, it only stands to reason that he'd want to do it not just with his guy at quarterback but also in having had a heavy hand in the direction last year's 29th ranked offense is headed.
Daboll hasn't spoken to the media since his year-end press briefing the day after the Giants' season ended, and it's unknown if he will do so at the scouting combine that starts on February 26. Thus, it's unknown exactly what he expects Kafka to do as part of his "promotion" (or if the additional title is simply for show, something Daboll probably wouldn't admit to).
But it's certainly worth watching for any clues that might develop once the Giants return to work in April if there's any noticeable change in how the coaches interact with the players once offense and defense can go against each other in Phase 3 of the off-season program.
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