A New York Giants’ Coach is Under Fire, But Here’s Why Blaming Him is Wrong
As the calendar hit the month of December, a heavy dose of reality was hitting the New York Giants.
Once the darlings of the National Football League, the Giants have turned back into a metaphorical pumpkin in the back half of the season. Yes, New York still clings to a playoff spot, but the team is 1-4-1 in its last six games. The offense has been pedestrian throughout the season, but the difference between the first seven games and the most recent six, has been the play of the battered-and-bruised defense.
Let's focus on the offense for a moment, though. New York fans have been increasingly critical of the team's play-calling on offense, a job handled by offensive coordinator, Mike Kafka. Even head coach Brian Daboll seems to be a bit frustrated, as he articulated to the media last week:
Kafka Has Next-to-Nothing to Work with on Offense
The New York Giants don't have a plethora of elite options on offense in any position, and that's something that Kafka has had to work around all season long. The previous front office regime spent major dollars on wide receiver Kenny Golladay to be the "No. 1 option" on offense.
Not only has that not happened, but Golladay has been a source of constant frustation for the coaching staff, and especially, the fanbase.
The team's first round pick last season, Kadarius Toney, was becoming such a constant problem that GM Joe Schoen was forced to move him out-of-town for a lesser draft pick than was used to select him. Wan'Dale Robinson was showing promise as a rookie before getting hurt, as was Daniel Bellinger at the tight end position.
Oh, and long-time Giant Sterling Shepard got hurt for the season, too.
Saquon Barkley can only do so much, when every person on Earth watching the game knows New York is going to try to run it with him, or throw to him. Daniel Jones has made progress in certain areas, but still hasn't earned enough trust for Kafka to enable him to "air it out" in the passing game.
Plainly and simply put, it's hard to get aggressive as a play-caller when you can count on one hand the number of players who you can trust to make a play.
Statistically, The Giants' Offensive Line Gives Kafka Limited Options
I give Joe Schoen a ton of credit for the work he did in a short amount of time to improve the New York Giants' offensive line. Multiple head coaches have been hired, and fired, while the O-line has been the biggest problem for this team, and still, nothing was done about it until 2022.
That being said, the offensive line is far from a "finished product" right now, and the statistics show it. The Giants rank 31st in the NFL in Team QB Sacked Percentage, with the Chicago Bears being the only team worse. Also, the Giants are the fourth-worst team in terms of Pressure Percentage, which measures the percentage of a team's quarterback dropbacks that lead to them being pressured.
The run blocking has been improved, but the pass blocking hasn't matched that progress on a consistent basis. Here are a few examples of the offensive line limiting what Mike Kafka can call on offense:
The rest of the thread by Dan Schneier is actually very poignant, and he brings up solid points that critique the entire offense as a whole. The original point of the embedded tweets, however, is to show that Kafka's play-calling has to allow for limited time to pass, and limited room to run, at all times.
Changing Course Now Goes Against the NY Giants' Long-term Plans
I understand the frustration of Giants' fans who want to see their offense begin to take more chances. Believe me, Mike Kafka has been anything but perfect in his first season as a play-caller in the NFL.
Wait, let me repeat something that I feel is important to remember. Mike Kafka is in his first season as a play-caller in the NFL. He was the passing game coordinator, quarterbacks coach and held a few other positions in his time with Kansas City, but never called plays for Patrick Mahomes and company; that's been Eric Bieniemy's job since 2018.
It's going to take a bit of time before all of his plays begin to look like this:
The turnaround that has taken place with the New York Giants so far this season is bordering on the miraculous given how little time its taken, but fans have to try to keep expectations limited. Re-building a franchise is a long process, and rushing to decisions on personnel after 2/3 of one season isn't the right thing to do.
If, after more time, Kafka shows that he can't operate the offense at a level suitable for Brian Daboll's New York Giants, then a change should absolutely be made. That time has not come yet, so for now, I'm Team Kafka all-the-way.