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Who Should Call Plays For New York Giants?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 20, 2022
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The New York Giants are prepared to usher in a new era of football as we approach the impending 2022 campaign. New head coach Brian Daboll is an offensive-minded leader that’s been hired to predominantly revamp and improve an underwhelming offense that managed to score a pathetic 15.2 points per contest in 17 regular-season games in 2021. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars were worse in that department a year ago. 

Reviving the professional career of Daniel Jones is undeniably at the forefront of Daboll’s to-do list. Daboll has inherited an abundance of underperformers on the offensive side of the ball, a list that also includes Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, and Kadarius Toney. Daboll spent the previous four seasons calling plays in Buffalo as the Bills’ offensive coordinator and was previously expected to serve as the play-caller in East Rutherford. An interesting wrench has potentially been thrown into that expectation with new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka calling plays throughout practice.

“We’re taking things day by day in Phase 3 right now,” Kafka said. “I’m calling the plays for the quarterbacks in practice, and then Daboll will evaluate that. He has every right to evaluate how he wants to handle that,” Kafka concluded.

How Kafka acclimates to the newly-minted responsibility will be a situation worth monitoring, but Daboll still represents the best and most likely option to call plays once the regular season commences. Daboll’s brilliant offensive mind and vast experience as a play-caller are partially what helped catapult him to the top of New York’s coaching wishlist. Daboll has earned critical acclaim for helping develop Josh Allen into one of the league’s premier quarterbacks. 

Allen entered the NFL as a raw and erratic product out of Wyoming and has since taken sizable steps forward under Daboll’s tutelage. In 2021, the Bills’ offense ranked fifth in total yards gained per contest (381.9) and third in points scored per game (28.4). It was the appropriate continuation of a 2020 season that delivered similar results (second in yards per contest with 396.4 and second in points scored per game with 31.3). Allen’s natural athletic and playmaking abilities, paired with an unmatched work ethic deserve credit too, but Daboll clearly provided Allen with an ideal environment to thrive in.

The 2022 iteration of the Giants can ill-afford to tempt the unknown as they prepare to enter a crucial campaign after unfortunately stringing together five consecutive losing seasons. Starting quarterback Jones is especially entering an ever-important season after new general manager Joe Schoen wisely denied an opportunity to trigger Jones’ fifth-year contract option, making 2022 a prove-it contract year for Jones. None of it necessarily means the Giants should get tunnel vision when deciding on a play-caller, but it would qualify as rather surprising if Daboll didn’t reveal himself as the best in-house option.

That brings us to Kafka. Should Kafka impress Daboll throughout his tryout phase, there’s a decent argument to be made in his favor. Kafka’s resume is nothing to balk at despite him never calling plays professionally. Kafka joined forces with Daboll in New York after spending the previous five seasons as a member of Kansas City’s coaching staff in various roles, most recently as Andy Reid’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Reid calls the plays for the Chiefs’ offense, but Kafka has been an excellent influence and resource for Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs offense that has ranked in the top six of points scored and yards gained in each of the past six seasons—five of which occurred with Kafka on staff.

Kafka calling plays would make Daboll more available to focus on other head coaching duties such as time management, crucial fourth-down decisions, and timeouts. Daboll is a first-time head coach after all, and the duties of a head coach quite differ from that of an offensive coordinator and play-caller. Finding the correct balance isn’t always a straightforward experience for first-year head coaches, and how Daboll handles such a transition remains notable to his overall success going forward. 

Plenty of head coaches have successfully doubled as their team’s offensive play-caller, with Super Bowl LVI winner Sean McVay as the shining example. Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan are similar examples who have enjoyed success in Green Bay and San Francisco respectively, but there are also examples of coaches who struggled in that department (Adam Gase immediately comes to mind).

The situation will continue to develop throughout impending OTAs, training camp, and perhaps most importantly, the preseason. Kafka may receive an extended look calling plays during the preseason, as it wouldn’t be the first time a team has experimented with play-calling duties throughout exhibition contests. Daboll and the Giants should evaluate all potential outcomes fairly and honestly, as reaching the correct conclusion is of the utmost importance in relation to the Giants’ offensive success in 2022. 

Ruling out Kafka would be premature given recent developments, but it’s not the expected outcome. Expect Daboll to call plays while simultaneously acclimating to his new role.

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Justin Melo