The New York Giants didn’t intend to undergo drastic changes this offseason, but they are now. On the same day that head coach Brian Daboll said he expected both offensive and defensive coordinators to return, the latter reportedly went scorched earth on his boss before storming out. With Wink Martindale gone and god knows who’s in, New York can add “Hiring a DC” to its growing to-do list.
The alleged reason Martinndale became irate was Daboll firing outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins. The two brothers came to the organization with Martindale from Baltimore, and as the 2023 season spiraled with the head coach and DC at odds, the defensive staff partook in a game of office politics that ultimately put them all out of a job.
Reports say Wink and Kevin Wilkins progressively spurned direction from Daboll, whose primary focus is usually on the offensive side of the ball, and felt they’re only beholden to ownership. Fissures between offense and defense aren’t uncommon in football, but it’s on the head coach to make sure the two are copacetic.
Daboll clearly felt the locker room slipping away because his offense wasn’t carrying its weight. That’s why he inserted himself into OC Mike Kafka’s business midseason, which apparently didn’t sit too well with Kafka either. Thus the reason Daboll specified that he expects Kafka to return in that same news conference Monday.
This is what a lack of organizational control looks like. Staff turnover is inevitable, especially in the NFL, so if Daboll wanted to ax a subordinate who was underperforming, that’s above board. The difference between McGaughey and Johnson getting the boot and the Wilkins brothers is the defense wasn’t really the issue.
If Daboll and Martindale were already at odds, firing his right-hand man, and then speaking for Wink, before speaking to Wink, was amateur hour. To recap, less than 12 months after winning Coach of the Year, Daboll is looking for defensive and special teams coordinators, offensive line and linebackers coaches, and also has to fix an offense that was never truly working to begin with and will be without its starting quarterback until midseason next year at the earliest.
Oh, also, Saquon Barkley sounds despondent about the potential of another stint under the franchise tag, and the Giants have the sixth pick in a draft heavy on QB talent. General manager Joe Schoen isn’t free of blame either as it was his decision to tether the franchise to Daniel Jones following an above average, likely outlier of a season.
Unfortunately, antics like these are becoming all too commonplace for the Giants. The franchise likes to tout itself up there with the Pittsburghs and Green Bays of the NFL, yet there’s no direction, little patience and the only recent constants are drama and losing.
The Giants needed to ace last offseason to keep up Daboll’s momentum. That didn’t happen. Now, they face another crucial few months with considerably less flexibility and twice as many questions.