Giants, coach, New York Giants
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll (Photo by Jeff Auger - JSN)

Giants Make Big Coaching Changes After Drop Off Year - Who Is In and Who Is Out?

They say that life moves fast in the NFL and the New York Giants provided a perfect example of this as not even 24 hours after their Week 18 victory over the Eagles, Head Coach Brian Daboll fired four assistant coaches. While the Giants have already filled one of the vacancies, three remain open in a big NFL coaching market. In addition to the four firings, the Giants have another spot to fill as Wink Martindale, the defensive coordinator, came to an agreement with the Giants on Tuesday to mutually part ways.

The announcement came about after rumors of disagreements between Wink and Daboll that sparked in season. The rumors of a rift between the two were anything but rumors, as Wink allegedly swore and stormed out of the room on Monday morning when confronting Daboll on his decision to fire Wink's right hand man, Kevin Wilkins.

Wink was also seen fleeing to Florida on Monday after the heated ordeal with Daboll. Wink had yet to hand in his resignation and refused to be in contact with the Giants.

The coaches to get the boot on Monday were offensive line Coach Bobby Johnson, special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins. The firings were expected after the Giants has a disastrous year two in the Schoen-Daboll era, going 6-11, finishing third in the NFC East and missing the playoffs.

Wink Martindale Is Out - Who can take over?

While this firing may come as a surprise since the Giants defense was the teams strong suit, there was many adjustments on and off the field that needed to be corrected. On the field Wink had a handful of blitz and pressure practices that he liked to use that did find some success, but ultimately it was pretty predictable. Wink relied on his players performances to hold their own, which in some games they did and in others they did not (especially in the home opener vs Dallas).

During the 2023 season Wink's defense allowed 407 points (seventh highest in league), 6.149 yards allowed (sixth most), 5.6 yards per play (fifth most), 31 takeaways (tied 1st), 13 fumbles lost (tied 2nd). Against the pass Wink's defense let up 3,898 yards (14th), 21 touchdowns (tied 18th), 18 interceptions (tied third), and 6.3 net yards gained per pass attempt (ninth). Against the rush Wink's defense let up 2,251 yards (fourth), 24 touchdowns (tied 2nd) and 4.7 rushing yards per attempt (tied 2nd).

Off the field Wink was having relationship issues between him and Daboll. Allegedly Wink would hold meetings with his defensive staff and not include Daboll. Wink would also allegedly not listen to Daboll when it came to game plan strategy and just did his own thing. When Daboll confronted Wink asking if he had a problem Wink had nothing to say.

Wink's short time in New York showed some promise, but at the end of the day it wasn't enough to keep him around. Looking towards the future here are three candidates that could fill the spot.

Antonio Pierce - If the Raiders don't manage to screw up hiring their current interim head coach as their permanent one, the Giants need to jump on Pierce asap. The former Super Bowl XLII Winning Giant has helped turn the Raiders into something no one thought they could be once McDaniel was fired, while changing the culture in a positive manner. While taking the defensive coordinator position with the Giants would be a step back, Pierce could flourish in New York and help improve a young and talented group.

Leslie Frazer - The ex-Bills defensive coordinator could call New York home after taking a one year hiatus from coaching. With ties to both Daboll and Schoen from their time all together in Buffalo, the fit just makes sense. In addition to Frazer's age, it would be hard to see the 64 year old take a position with too much responsibility, such as a head coach role, but with the NFL these days you never know.

Jerome Henderson - If the Giants want to keep things in house to smooth over the transition to a world post Wink, there might not be a better guy than Henderson. Henderson was regarded by Wink as the best defensive backs coach in the league and is loved by his players. With over 15 years of league experience under his belt, Henderson might be ready to make a jump to a bigger role.

Kevin Wilkins Is Out - Who can take over?

While this firing was rumored to be the beginning of the end between Wink and the Giants, if the Giants wanted out with Wink from the start then Kevin Wilkins would be on his way out anyway. While Kevin didn't have a crazy impact on the defense since Wink called all the plays and came up with the majority of the pressures and schemes, it is still a crucial role that the Giants will need to fill.

What will most likely happen is that this position won't be filled until a new defensive coordinator is named. Then the new guy on the block will bring in his own guys or coaches that he is familiar with.  So based on the defensive coordinator options listed above, below is their right hand men.

Robert Ryan - While Ryan isn't Pierce's right hand man, he is the Raiders senior defensive assistant making him likely to come over with Pierce. Ryan has 33 years of coaching experience, including 22 in the NFL. Ryan has definitely been around the league, spending time with the Raiders, Browns, Cowboys, Saints, Cardinals, Patriots, Bills, Commanders and Ravens.

Andre Patterson - If Henderson is promoted it would be interesting to see if he would bring his defensive line coach with him or vice versa. Patterson has helped build a stellar defensive front for the Giants, developing stars like Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. Patterson would be a great fit as the main main or the man to the man.

Bobby Johnson Is Out - Who Is In For Him? Get to know Carmen Bricillo

Johnson's exit was no surprise as the Giants had one of the worst offensive lines in the whole NFL. Aside from allowing the most sacks in the league in 2023 with 85, the offensive line has been a problem area for the Giants for years. While management has tried to make right by the issues in the draft, their picks aren't developing the way they should and the team just can't seem to shake the injury bug.

Their 2022 seventh overall pick, Evan Neal has be unable to make a jump in his performance from year one to year two. His progression is seemingly getting worse and it is putting any of the Giants quarterbacks at risk. On top of his development issues, Neal can't seem to stay healthy as he only made seven appearances in 2023 with a fractured ankle. Now the injury issues with Neal aren't Johnson's fault, however, the lack of improvement in Neal's performances is.

The Giants 2023 57th overall pick, John Michael Schmitz started the season off steady but slowly regressed throughout the year. While he was plagued with a shoulder and shin injury throughout the year, his basic knowledge of the game in regards to the shifts and block pickups was missing. His regression and lack of awareness is on Johnson, as a rookie center shouldn't be getting worse as the season goes on, but rather get more confident and knowledgable with the increased experience.

With injuries throughout the year to Schmitz, Neal, Ben Bredeson, Matt peart, Tyre Phillips, Joshua Ezeudu, Shane Lemieux, and Andrew Thomas this group just couldn't catch a break. As mentioned before the injuries aren't on Johnson, but the poor pit together offensive line in. when one guy would go down, Johnson couldn't figure out a good group of guys that could work together, leaving the Giants quarterbacks and running backs scrambling for their lives.

With Johnson finally out the door, maybe fans will finally be able to see something positive out of Neal and Schmitz, while they are still young. The Giants were already in the hunt for a new OL coach immediately after kicking Johnson to the curb, but have quickly found their man in Carmen Bricillo.

Carmen Bricillo - The current offensive line coach for the Las Vegas Raiders is tasked with somehow innovating and improving the Giants OL after he has completely turned around the OL for the Raiders. In 2023 the Raiders only gave up 40 sacks (middle of the league) with no star talent in the lineup including two UDFA. An excellent sign for the Giants, as essentially the whole line (except Andrew Thomas) is either a rookie or subpar and semi washed up league lineman.

Before Bricillo's time with the Raiders he spent three seasons with the New England Patriots where he was an assistant coach for one year and an offensive line coach for two. Before his NFL coaching career Bricillo spent time coaching at Duquesne, Akron, Illinois and finally Youngstown State.

Thomas McGaughey Is Out - Who can take over?

McGaughey's time was sure to end in the near future if it wasn't this year, as his special teams unite continued to be unimpressive. In 2023 the Giants were second worse in the league in field goal percentage with 64% and tied 15th worst in extra point percentage with 96%. The injuries to starting kicker Graham Gano didn't help the Giants case this year, but what did was Gano trying to push through which ultimately hurt the team. Gano was missing field goals and extra points left and right and it was really difficult to watch. Eventually Gano ended up on IR and then the carousel of kickers came in, which injuries proven to knock out, leaving the Giants with veteran Mason Crosby who was decent for the Giants during their time of need.

As for special teams offense, on kick returns the Giants had the third least amount of average yards with 19.2 and were ranked 19th in the league of average punt return yards with 8.9. In the punt return the Giants had seven fumbles (first in league), and only one punt return of 20+ and 40+ yards. The unit scored one punt return touchdown which went for 94 yards by Gunner Olszewski.

As for special teams defense, the Giants caused 16 fumbles in the punt (tied ninth least) and three in the kickoff (ninth overall). The bright side of the Giants special teams this season was "The Scotish Hammer" otherwise known as Jamie Gillan. Gillan had a net average of 42.3 (tied 13th), net yards of 4022 (second) and a long of 74 yards (tied sixth). Gillan also had 35 punts inside the 20, to go with only four touchbacks.

The Giants special teams was extremely ugly to watch, between the missed tackles, the poor approaches the fumbles the missed field goals and extra points. It was very evident that throughout the year these issues were not addressed thoroughly enough by McGaughey or Daboll. Hopefully with someone new in charge the Giants can capitalize on punt returns more and bring in more than one touchdown. On the other side of special teams, hopefully they will learn how to wrap tackle and finish a play out so they don't get burned more yards than they should be. Potential candidates to fill the spot:

Joe Judge - While the Judge head coaching era did not go well in the Meadowlands, the guy does have a knack for special teams. Bringing him back in this role could be a good way to bring in a guy the players are familiar with and know his scheme.

Mike Adams - A guy who is already with the Giants as an assistant special teams coordinator, and knows the personnel very well. While the special teams unite didn't excel under his boss, Adams could take a different approach with the group.

Larry Izzo - Currently Izzo is under contract with the Seattle Seahawks, but has great experience as both a player and coach. Bringing him in could be a solid move as he is considered a respectable coach in the league.

Drew Wilkins Is Out - Who can take over?

The outside linebackers group saw some increased success this year compared to years past, with their young stars in the making showing big promise. Kayvon Thibodeaux shined bright in the first half of the season as he seemingly made plays every other snap. While Kayvon did quiet down as the season went on, he still finished the season with 50 total tackles (26 solo, 24 asst), 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovered and four passes deflected. Micah McFadden on the other hand boomed in production for big blue with 101 total tackles (63 solo, 38 asst), one sack, four fumbles recovered, one interception, and five passes deflected.

Compared to the two second yearers, Azeez Ojulari did not have his best season. Ojulari only recorded 16 total tackles (9 solo, 7 asst), 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovered. Ojulari's slump in performance did not help the outside linebacker group as a whole and didn't represent Drew Wilkins well. Now, despite two young players having breakout seasons, it wasn't enough to save Drew from getting kicked to the curb. The drop off from Ojulari mixed with relationship issues with Daboll was enough for the big man in charge to send Drew on his way.

It is hard to say who will fill in Drew's spot as whoever fills the defensive coordinator spot will bring in some of his own guys. However if the Giants don't do that and Daboll tries to hire himself here are two options.

Bobby Bibich - Joining the Bills in 2017, Bibich and Daboll have crosses paths together in Buffalo, making him a likely target. Babich is new to the linebacker spot as of the 2022 season, but is doing just fine. The Bills have a top 10 defense in the league, so bringing guys into the Meadowlands with experience in winning and success will be key for growth.

Johnny Holland - Holland is in his fourth season as the 49ers linebackers coach position and is doing tremendous things with that talented group. Holland has helped support and maintain the leagues best defense, so being able to bring in a guy of his nature would be a big score for the Giants.

Will there be more firings or spots to fill for the Giants?

There hasn't been any conversation of if there will be any more firings, however, it could be seen that Mike Kafka gets the boot after his atrocious play calling all season long. On the other hand teams around the league seem to be interested in Kafka for their head coaching vacancies despite how the Giants offense produced, so one way or another the Giants might have to find a new offensive coordinator.

As of right now there hasn't been any rumor on the street of any other staff members potentially departing the Giants on their own terms, so it is safe to say that the Giants will just have to replace the ones that they have kicked to the curb.