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Getting to know the finalists: Mike Kafka did wonders for the New York Giants offense and comes from a great mentor

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals seem to be entering the final stretch of their latest head coaching search.

For reference, I have been running Revenge of the Birds since 2016 and this is their third head coach search in that time frame. A seven years and three head coaches seems to be... Not ideal.

Anyway, let’s get to know these head coaches a little better so we can complain properly for when they get hired.

As a side note, I am glad Brian Flores dropped out so that is one less deep dive I have to do :).

Mike Kafka, OC - New York Giants

Interesting that Kafka got the nod with the Giants and Brian Daboll, who toiled away for a decade plus as an OC before getting his shot, to call plays in 2022 for the playoff bound Giants.

That is what people in the league think of Kafka, that a guy in Daboll spends nine seasons in the Belichick tree, gets his shot to be an OC at 34 for four seasons and then has to go back to being a tight ends coach in New England before getting another OC shot at Alabama at 42 and another NFL OC shot at 43. So, for Daboll to finally get a head coaching shot at 22 years in coaching in the NFL, and being the play caller for nine seasons, to task Kafka to be the play caller in Daboll’s first season as a head coach says something.

It also says something that Kafka has helped Patrick Mahomes early in his career while helping Daniel Jones get praised for the first time in his career.

So, Kafka’s work is much more auxiliary than what we saw of Lou Anarumo yesterday.

Yet, it is Kafka that seems to be shining the brightest in these opportunities.

Kafka was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, played in four games in 2011 for Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles before he started his NFL journey. He would spend parts of offseasons or time on practice squads with the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals from 2013-2015 before realizing the dream of being an NFL quarterback was realized and it was time for his next adventure in football.

In 2016, at 29-years old Kafka was a grad assistant at his alma mater Northwestern, before getting picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach in 2017 by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kafka would help Patrick Mahomes prepare for his one start in 2017 and would step into his quarterback coach position in 2018 where he would be part of the staff that helped mold Mahomes into the best quarterback in the NFL.

The question always becomes, how much is Kafka involved in that?

Well, I think that was answered this year, as Kafka flew the Reid nest and branched out on his own after working as quarterbacks coach in 2018 and 2019 and QB coach and passing game coordinator for the Chiefs in 2020 and 2021.

Daniel Jones, the much maligned fourth year quarterback for the New York Giants would be tasked with making Jones a viable option at quarterback.

Jones under Kafka put up career highs in completion percentage (67.2%), yards, yards per attempt quarterback rating, QBR, fourth quarter comebacks and game winning drives.

It was a complete 180 for Jones as a quarterback and the Giants offense went from 31st in points per game (15.2 ppg) to 15th (21.5ppg), they went from 31st in passing yards, 30th in passing touchdowns, having the fourth most interceptions, 24th in rushing, 31st in rushing touchdowns and having the highest turnover percentage in the NFL to the following:

  • 31st to 26th in passing yards
  • 30th to 24th in passing touchdowns
  • 4th to 32nd in interceptions
  • 24th to 4th in rushing yards
  • 31st to 4th in rushing touchdowns
  • 30th to 15th in scoring percentage
  • 27th to 8th in time of possession
  • 1st to 32nd in turnover percentage (best in the NFL)

That is an insane growth in one year with little receiving talent to speak of and a quarterback who was looked at as a monumental bust.

Of course, the question becomes would Kafka bring an OC he could defer to similarly as Daboll did or would he want to put his fingerprints on this?

What are your thoughts on Mike Kafka as the next Arizona Cardinals head coach?