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2023 Spring Football

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Presser Points: Coordinators talk OTA progress


Due to air quality, Brian Daboll – on advice from the medical staff and people with "all the initials after their names" – cancelled Thursday’s practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

The head coach apologized to the media for driving all the way to East Rutherford and planning their day for what would have been the second-to-last of 10 organized team activities (OTAs) before next week's minicamp. Veterans got the afternoon off while rookies had meetings. But the day wasn't entirely for naught as coordinators took the podium in the morning.

Here's what they had to say:

STC Thomas McGaughey

🔹 At the NFL Spring Meeting, clubs approved a rule that, for one year only, puts the ball in play at the receiving team's 25-yard line if there is a fair catch on a free kick (kickoff and safety kick) behind the receiving team's 25-yard line. Naturally, the special teams coordinator spent most of his media availability fielding questions about how it will affect the game.

"This is uncharted territory. I mean, it's something that we haven't seen before in our league, and it's always going to be something that's going to pop up within a new rule change that they didn't foresee. So, it's one of those deals where you've got to play the games to see what happens. … It depends on what the other team does, like always. If they squib it on the ground, you just have to be able to make those kinds of adjustments. You've got to have something built into your scheme to where you can adjust to it."

🔹 On finding ways to use it to their advantage, McGaughey said, "We're always looking for angles as coaches, right? We're always trying to find competitive advantages. We'll always try and find those. So, we're looking at certain things that we could possibly do, and we'll see what happens."

🔹 McGaughey said they will rethink having kicker Graham Gano land kicks inside the five-yard line.

🔹 McGaughey can't predict if there will be more squib kicks but knows "there are going to be some teams that will be aggressive with it."

🔹 What does he say to players who have made careers on special teams? "It's tough. It's not an easy situation when you know, for the most part, you're going to get anywhere from 25 to 28 plays. Normally, you get really 14 to 15 of those plays, maybe 18, and then half of those might go away. Naturally, you might think, 'Okay, what is my value?' But that's just what it is."

🔹 On bringing in another long snapper, McGaughey said, "It's not so much of a competition. I think it's more of a good, young player that we identified that can develop over time. Obviously, Casey [Kreiter] is a veteran guy. He's been around for a long time, and to be able to save him and be able to develop a guy at the same time as giving another guy some breaks, because he snaps a lot of balls. Casey's a hard worker and he's a great teammate, and a great leader. But Cam Lyons is definitely a very talented young snapper."

🔹 McGaughey, along with running backs coach Jeff Nixon, attended a Coach Accelerator on May 21-23 at the Spring League Meeting in Minneapolis. The program followed the inaugural Coach and Front Office Accelerator and the Front Office Accelerator hosted at previous league meetings in 2022.

The Coach Accelerator aims to increase exposure between owners, executives, and diverse coaching talent, providing ample opportunity to develop and build upon their relationships. In a change to the nomination process this year, clubs were able to nominate those from outside of their organization, which promotes recognition and growth beyond one's current club.

The 40 participants this year attended based on their high potential to be considered for a head coach position in the future. Sixteen of the participants returned from the May 2022 Accelerator cohort, including both McGaughey and Nixon.

"I think the program is an excellent program. I think the exposure to ownership and to be able to develop relationships is paramount to the success of the league, and to making sure that this program is successful. People are going to hire people they're comfortable with. So, if I'm Coach A, and they know Coach B, they feel more comfortable with Coach B, they're going to hire Coach B. I think the relationships that are being built over time with the program and being able to put a name with a face, I think that's important. And then, people doing their due diligence behind the scenes, both coaches and ownership, to learn more about the people that they're dealing with in the program. So, I think it's moving in the right direction. Is it where we want to be exactly? No, but it's moving in that direction."

DC Wink Martindale

🔹 Shortly after the Giants' 2022 postseason run, the Indianapolis Colts interviewed Martindale for their head coach vacancy. But, much to delight of his players, he is back. "They were all happy, I hope. Maybe some of the guys that aren't here. … But they were happy that we're going to keep things the same way, and I am, too. It's fun to build something from the ground up and see it all the way through, and that's what we have the opportunity to do."

🔹 Martindale said it was a great process to go through. "I think anytime you have a chance to talk to a different organization, and especially the owners, it's eye-opening, and you can learn things from it. How they see the game, where they see their organization going, so that part was really fulfilling for me. But I've also said that this isn't a steppingstone job here. This is a destination. And I believe that, or I wouldn't say it. That's one thing that [Colts owner] Jim Irsay and I have in common. I'm as authentic as there is, and he made that comment. He said, 'I just love your honesty.' Really, he's the same way. It was a fascinating conversation that we had. I just love the fans here. I love this organization, the Mara and Tisch family, Dabs, Joe, the leadership of it and the culture that we're building, and we're continuing to build during these OTAs."

🔹 He is "at peace" if it doesn't happen in his career. "I don't have a problem sleeping every night. I'm at peace. It sounds a little dramatic, being at peace, but I'm excited to be the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, and the day that I'm not is the day that they say, 'Hey, you hear Wink retired?' Every day I get up, I can't wait to get to the building to be around these guys. It's always better when the players are here because we find too much stuff to do when the players aren't here."

🔹 Speaking of coaches, Martindale quoted Ted Lasso and said rookie cornerback Deonte Banks, the No. 24 overall draft pick, lives life like a goldfish. "He's got a short memory when things don't go right. He's tough minded, he's physical, he can tackle and on top of that, he can run. So, we're excited about it. He's getting into the groove. There're still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we're really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket."

🔹 How important is it to have a cornerback like Banks in his aggressive scheme? "I think it's important to have a cornerback like that in anybody's defense."

🔹 Quarterbacks get rid of the ball faster against the Giants than anybody else, and Martindale's defense also sees the most max pressures. Why is that? "Because we know how to hit the quarterback. They know it. It's not like I'm being boastful either, they just know that we know how to defeat protections. If you ask any offensive coach in the league, they'll tell you that."

🔹 It's "fun to watch" veteran linebacker and offseason addition Bobby Okereke play "because of his size, his strength, but most of all, he's a good guy. He's a really intelligent kid that knows football, and it's not hard to talk football with him. So, all those things have been great, and we've just got to get ready to take the next step. Which for me is vacation."

🔹 It's a competition right now to start next to Okereke. Darrian Beavers could "possibly" land that role. "We'll see. It's all a competition right now with he and J.D. [Jarrad Davis], and I'll tell you, Micah [McFadden] has really improved."

🔹 Martindale got his favorite "green dot question" in reference to the designation for the player who relays the calls to the field. The Giants currently have five players wearing it, spread across the first, second, and third teams. "We've had great communication. X [safety Xavier McKinney] still has a green dot. Bobby has a green dot with that first group that's out there. We'll just see how that goes during training camp and everything else. All they really are—I know a lot of people look at the green dot as the leader of the defense, am I right when I say that? I don't want to put words in your mouth. It's who communicates the best, who's going to be out there all the time. This is my take on it, and we go from there."

🔹 Martindale is "really happy" with the outside linebacker room and "where they're going led by Kayvon [Thibodeaux]. We got Haddy [Jihad Ward] back, which I was happy about, and I told the whole defense wherever I'm at, Haddy will have a job. If he's done playing, he can hang out with me as a coach. But I really like that room. I like its personality. [Outside linebackers coach] Drew Wilkins does a great job with them. They're leaders in their own right. I just think that if you've seen Zeez [Azeez Ojulari] and are around him all the time you can see that he's, the best way I could describe it, a lot more sturdy this year. We'll see how that translates because it's a crazy league. We'll see how that translates."

OC Mike Kafka

🔹 Everyone knows the skills of tight end Darren Waller, but what Kafka learned is how much "he cares about his guys. He's competitive, which we really like. We value that here. He's doing everything we're asking him. He's working hard, putting in the time and effort to learn the offense and get in sync with D.J. [Daniel Jones] and the quarterbacks. He's done a great job."

🔹 Kafka is another coveted Giants coordinator who received head coach interest coming off last season. "When those things don't happen, it's kind of the nature of the business. If they do happen, they do. If they don't, they don't. You move on past it, you learn from it, you grow. No different than I tell any of our players when things happen."

🔹 When coaches did their scheme evaluation over the offseason, each position group identified several things to improve. While there is nothing he wanted to share in a "public forum" in Year 2, Kafka said they "definitely have a plan" for Daniel Jones. "The coaches are doing a great job of implementing that in the offseason."

🔹 A practice photo of second-year tight end Daniel Bellinger recently went viral as it showed off his biceps. In his defense, the sun was out. "Our strength staff, they do a good job of talking with the players, developing a plan. I'm not sure if with Bellinger the biceps was a major part of that. He's done a nice job of that. He came in great shape. He has done a great job. He's taken a nice step from year one to year two. He's continuing to grow. That's what we're looking for."


🔹 Kafka doesn't have a problem with the snapping styles of his centers, including rookie John Michael Schmitz. "I've been around both, the dead snap, the regular snap, I don't even know what you call it, the laces snap, I guess. In Kansas City we had a lefty snapper. I've been around enough. Just the comfortability and make sure it's accurate. At the end of the day, as long as the quarterback is good with it, that's all matters, that we don't have any of those exchanges. Hasn't been an issue and I think he is doing a good job, nothing that I think is concerning."

🔹 Rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, a third-round selection, is "right on schedule. He's working. He's growing. That's one thing you've seen from him from the first day in rookie camp, to the next day, then you're working through this Phase III part of it, is his growth and his familiarity and comfortability with the offense."

View all the action from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as OTAs come to a close.