EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Giants head coach Brian Daboll today announced the team's three coordinators for the 2022 season, including two highly-regarded newcomers and one accomplished coach who has been with the team since 2018.
Mike Kafka is the team's new offensive coordinator, while Don "Wink" Martindale will coordinate the defense. Thomas McGaughey remains the special teams coordinator for a fifth season in his second stint on the Giants' coaching staff.
"What we were looking for was intelligence, good communicators, good teachers that understood and were experts in their respective areas, and good teammates," Daboll said.
Daboll did not have a relationship with any of his coordinators before he hired them.
"I've known them, but I wouldn't say a relationship," he said. "I've known them throughout the years just being in the league."
Kafka, 34, spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach on Andy Reid's staff with the Kansas City Chiefs, the last two as the team's quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator.
During Kafka's tenure in Kansas City, the Chiefs were one of the NFL's most successful teams and deployed one of the league's most prolific offenses. Patrick Mahomes became an NFL most valuable player who is included in any discussion of the league' best players.
In 2021, the Chiefs advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the fourth consecutive year, a streak in which they won Super Bowl LIV and advanced to the final game again last season. Kansas City finished fourth in the league in scoring (28.2 points a game), third in total yardage (396.8) and fourth in passing yardage (281.8). Mahomes threw for 4,839 yards and 37 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions.
The previous year, Mahomes threw for 38 touchdowns and just six picks and the Chiefs' passing game ranked first in the league in yards-per-game (303.4), third in average gain per pass play (7.48) and tied for third in passing touchdowns (40).
Mahomes concluded the 2019 season by rallying the Chiefs from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat San Francisco for their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years. At 24 years and 138 days old, Mahomes became the third-youngest player and youngest quarterback in NFL history to be named Super Bowl MVP
In Kafka's first year coaching quarterbacks in 2018, Mahomes was voted the league's MVP after he became only the second quarterback to pass for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season.
Kafka served as an offensive quality control coach in his first year in Kansas City in 2017.
"Mike obviously comes from (Chiefs coach) Andy Reid and a good system at Kansas City," Daboll said "He was part of a winning program and culture. He did a great job in helping Patrick Mahomes develop. Played the position. Very smart, very thorough, very level-headed and a good teammate."
With Daboll, who helped Josh Allen develop into one of the NFL's very best quarterbacks in Buffalo, and Kafka, who worked daily with Mahomes as he became an MVP and Super Bowl champion, the Giants have two excellent teachers to work with Daniel Jones. Does Daboll concur with that theory?
"I think everything we do on offense will be a collaboration," he said. "I think we've hired good coaches, put together a good staff and now – I can't compare either one of those quarterbacks or what they've done with the job that we have to do. We have a lot of work in front of us, and we look forward to building the New York Giants offense."
View photos of the three Giants coordinators - OC Mike Kafka, DC Don 'Wink' Martindale, and STC Thomas McGaughey.
Prior to joining the Chiefs, Kafka began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Northwestern University, his alma mater.
Kafka was a fourth-round choice in the 2010 NFL Draft by Philadelphia, then coached by Reid, who has held the same position with the Chiefs since 2013. He appeared in four games, all with the 2011 Eagles (he completed four of seven passes vs. the Giants on Sept. 25). Kafka also had stints with New England, Tampa Bay and Minnesota, where he spent his final season in 2015.
In 30 games at Northwestern, Kafka completed 408 of 637 passes (64.1%) for 4,265 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Martindale, 58, is a 35-year coaching veteran, including 17 in the NFL. He spent the previous 10 seasons on the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff, the last four as defensive coordinator. He joined the team in 2012, the season Baltimore won Super Bowl XLVII, and was the team's inside linebackers coach through the 2015 season. He was the team's linebackers coach from 2016-17. Martindale was also the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator in 2010.
"Wink is a very good communicator, has a good personality, is energetic and very passionate about the way his defense needs to play," Daboll said. "Another good teammate."
Martindale's defenses are known for their aggressive disposition and frequent and creative blitzing. His unit ranked in the top three in the NFL in points allowed each of his first three seasons, and first, fourth and seventh, respectively, in yardage yielded while never finishing higher than eighth against the run or the pass.
In his first season as coordinator in 2018, the Ravens yielded an NFL-low 292.9 yards-per-game and established a modern-era mark by not allowing a second-half touchdown in the first six games. The last team to do so was the 1934 Detroit Lions.
Martindale's 2019 defense ranked fourth in the league by allowing 300.6 yards a game and the unit's six touchdowns tied for the second most in franchise history and tied Tampa Bay for the NFL's highest total that season.
The 2020 Ravens allowed the NFL's second-fewest points (18.9 a game) and seventh-fewest yards (329.8).
In 2021, the Ravens defense was decimated by injuries. Despite that, Martindale's unit still led the NFL against the run, allowing 84.5 yards a game. But with a ravaged secondary, the Ravens were 32nd in pass defense, giving up 278.9 yards a game. Overall, Martindale's first defense out of the top seven finished 25th, allowing 363.4 yards a game. Baltimore was third in the league in third down defense, as their opponents converted only 34.8% of their opportunities (70 of 201).
In Martindale's first three seasons as coordinator (2018-20), Baltimore permitted both the league's fewest points (18.2) and total yards per game (307.8) and tied the Los Angeles Rams with 12 defensive touchdowns.
Martindale entered the NFL in 2004 as the Oakland Raiders' inside linebackers coach, a position he held for two years. He was the team's linebackers coach from 2006-08.
In 2009, he joined the Broncos as their linebackers coach and was their coordinator the following season.
Martindale began his coaching career in 1986 at Defiance College, his alma mater. He coached at the high school level from 1988-93 before joining the Notre Dame staff as a defensive assistant. He also coached at the University of Cincinnati, Western Illinois and Western Kentucky.
In 2020, Martindale interviewed for the Giants' head coach vacancy that went to Joe Judge.
McGaughey, 48, is entering his fifth season as the Giants' special teams coordinator. He was also the team's assistant special teams coach from 2007-2010. Daboll will be the fourth Giants coach for whom he has worked, following Tom Coughlin, Pat Shurmur and Judge.
McGaughey has also been a coordinator for the Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers.
"I was very impressed with T-Mac's overall knowledge of the kicking game and the things that we need to do to execute in that part of the game," Daboll said. "He's had a lot of experience, good evaluator and I would just say the same thing that I said about Mike and Wink – good communicator, detailed and a good teammate."
In 2021, Giants opponents averaged an NFL-low 17.8 yards per kickoff return. The longest runback they allowed on 37 returns was 32 yards. Graham Gano extended his franchise record to 37 consecutive successful field goal attempts and made 29 of 33 tries. Gano kicked a Giants-record seven field goals of 50+ yards and after just two years with the team, he holds the team's career mark with 12 field goals of 50 or more yards. Since joining the team in 2020, Gano has made 60 of 65 field goal attempts, a .923 percentage that is a Giants record for kickers with at least 50 attempts. Keion Crossen led the Giants with 11 special teams tackles in his first season with the team.
In 2020, Gano made 31 of 32 field goal attempts, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in Giants history. Gano's predecessor, Aldrick Rosas, made 32 of 33 attempts, a success rate of .9696, in 2018, McGaughey's first season as coordinator.
Gano's .9687 percentage was the highest among the 21 NFL kickers who attempted at least 25 field goals in 2020. His only miss was on a 57-yard try in Chicago in Week 2. Gano followed by making his next 30 field goal attempts that season and the first seven in 2021.
The Giants finished sixth in the NFL with an 11.4-yard punt return average. Safety Jabrill Peppers had 15 of the Giants' 20 punt returns and averaged 12.5 yards with a long return of 20 yards.
In 2019, the Giants' kickoff coverage team led the NFL and finished in the top two for the second straight season by allowing an average return of just 18.1 yards. The punt coverage team was tied for fifth as opponents averaged only 5.7 yards a return. Conversely, the Giants were fourth and 10th, respectively, in the NFL in punt (9.8 yards) and kickoff (23.5 yards) return average.
In McGaughey's first season leading the Giants' special teams in 2018, Rosas was selected to the Pro Bowl and named second-team All-Pro after missing just one field goal attempt and one PAT. His 32 field goals were the fifth-highest total in Giants history.
Michael Thomas led the Giants with nine special teams tackles (six solo) and was the NFC special teams player in the Pro Bowl.