Giants offense: Will Mike Kafka call plays in 2024? Brian Daboll hasn’t decided

ORLANDO, Fla. — Brian Daboll could take over offensive play-calling duties in 2024. The New York Giants coach disclosed Tuesday at the NFL owners’ meetings it’s something he’s “looking into.”

It would be a major change for the franchise, as offensive coordinator Mike Kafka primarily handled those duties during Daboll’s first two seasons in New York.

“We’re going through a lot of things with our process,” Daboll said. “Long way to go until the season. We’ll talk about that.”

Daboll spoke publicly for the first time since the end of the 2023 season. A lot has happened since then, of course, with multiple coaching changes, including the hiring of two new coordinators after their predecessors were fired.

Ex-defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s messy and public divorce from the franchise grabbed most of the headlines, but the team also parted ways with special teams coordinator Thomas McCaughey, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins. Meanwhile, running backs coach Jeff Nixon, tight ends coach Andy Bischoff and assistant offensive line coach Chris Smith left for other jobs.

Through the upheaval, Kafka remained on staff, though even that wasn’t a sure thing with Kafka interviewing for a head coaching role and reports of a potential departure for a different offensive coordinator job. However, Kafka wound up staying in New York with the Giants adding assistant head coach to Kafka’s title.

Before Daboll arrived in New York in 2022, he was a highly successful offensive coordinator and play caller for the Buffalo Bills. Upon his hiring, he kept the option of calling plays on the table throughout training camp and the preseason until he formally handed those duties to Kafka — who had been calling plays throughout the 2022 preseason — before Week 1.

Amid last season’s downturn, Daboll reportedly took play-calling duties away from Kafka multiple times. When asked Tuesday why he took those duties away from Kafka, Daboll refused to answer, saying he’s moved on from last season.

However, Daboll did concede he’s considering taking over Giants play calling next season. He went as far as citing the number of head coaches who do it for their teams.

“I think there are 20 head coaches at this point in time who call plays (on offense or defense),” Daboll said. “I’ve been doing a bunch of research. But no decision has been made. I’m still going through that process and thinking about what we need to do.”

Given Daboll’s history as an offensive-minded coach and the dismal offensive product the Giants put on display last season — they had the fourth-worst scoring offense in the league (14.0 PPG) — it makes sense as a consideration. Daboll also admitted Tuesday that he misses calling plays.

So where would that leave Kafka if Daboll does take over as play caller? Daboll wasn’t specific, but suggested that Kafka’s role with the team would be expanding given his new title as assistant head coach. Kafka, of course, would still be part of putting together the offensive game plans throughout the week.

Martindale out, Bowen in

Daboll had little to say about Martindale’s departure. When asked about it, he instead talked about being excited for new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen’s arrival.

Daboll declined to say if he regretted how things ended between him and Martindale but was a little more forthcoming when asked about his often animated sideline interactions with staff, which was an element of the dysfunctional relationship between him and Martindale.

“I’m a very passionate person, but yeah, there are times where I wish I handled things a little bit differently,” Daboll said, echoing similar comments made by team co-owner John Mara on Monday.

The topic of passion came up again when asked if he feels any pressure to win in a critical third season at the helm.

“I’m passionate about winning, passionate about our organization,” Daboll said. “I’m passionate about our team. When we lose, I’m very passionate. So my focus always is, ‘What can I do better? How can I be a better coach? How can I be a better leader?’

“I don’t necessarily focus on what you’re asking. … (I want to) do everything I can to help us win. And that’s the joy I get out of it, is winning football games. That’s why we all do this.”

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(Photo of Brian Daboll: Chris Pedota / / USA Today)

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