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Giants prepared if Mike Kafka, Wink Martindale leave

Brian Daboll did such a good job hiring Giants coordinators last offseason that he might have to do it again sooner than later. 

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka interviewed Sunday to be the head coach of the Colts, Texans or Panthers, while defensive coordinator Wink Martindale interviewed with the Colts. Because the Giants are out of the playoffs, the stocks of Kafka and Martindale could heat up as searches become more urgent and openings get filled. Teams cannot interview coaches of the four remaining playoff teams until Jan. 30 at the earliest. 

If Martindale was to be hired, the Giants could turn to an in-house candidate in hopes of running the same blitz-heavy scheme. Outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins would be a top candidate to coordinate for his mentor Martindale unless he wants to create his own identity, and defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson is overdue an opportunity after 16 years as an assistant. 

“Being around Wink, if a player shows up, he’s going to feel like an All-Pro. Well, as a coach, if you are around Wink long enough, you feel like Bill Parcells,” Wilkins told The Post. “He inspires that confidence in everybody. So, I do feel like I’d be ready for an opportunity. But I absolutely love the Giants, and the way the Mara and Tisch families take care of your family and make this place feel like home.” 


Mike Kafka has interviewed with other teams about their head-coaching opportunities.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Giants are less likely to turn in-house if Kafka is hired, though Daboll’s other two finalists in last year’s search could be available: Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton could be replaced by a new head coach, and Browns wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea just interviewed for the Jets coordinator vacancy. Daboll’s influence on the playbook and game plans also helps on that side of the ball. 

“You always have to have a plan because you never know what’s going to happen if Wink gets a job, if Kafka gets a job,” Daboll said. “So, you have to go through the whole process.” 

Martindale told Daboll about Wilkins last offseason that “if it doesn’t work out with me, you need to hire this guy. He is a special talent in this league.” They spent nine seasons together on the Ravens’ staff and outside linebacker Jihad Ward, who played under Wilkins in both places, refers to Wilkins as “Wink Jr. — a good teacher who wants to see everyone win and get better.” 

“This is New York — this is where you want to be,” Wilkins said. “This is a spot I always wanted to live, and coaching at the Giants is prestigious. I probably wasn’t going to make it on Broadway, so this is my best opportunity. From a fantasy football perspective, you look at it like, ‘This guy goes there and this guy goes there,’ but there’s a very real-life element to it, all of my family truly loving it here.” 

Martindale repeatedly called Henderson “the best secondary coach in the league.” Henderson, who was retained from Joe Judge’s 2021 staff, worked with Daboll at other stops. 

“What a difference a year makes in that last year all of us in the building were wondering what was going to happen,” he said. “To be in the playoffs a year later is phenomenal.” 

What would he take from Martindale if he gets a shot to call plays? 

“Everything, hopefully,” Henderson said. “A lot of people are playing checkers and he’s playing chess.”

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