You can tell something about a first NFL head coach by the composition of his first coaching staff. The group that Brian Daboll has put together is quite an eclectic mix and shows that he is not afraid to surround himself with assistants with whom he has no previous association, in the league or on a personal level.
There’s a certain familiarity to Daboll’s staff, a dash of guys – and a woman – he’s worked with at other stops. There are also a few returnees from Joe Judge’s staff. There are a bunch of newcomers. Here’s a look at the 2021 Giants coaching staff:
The Head Coach: Brian Daboll, 46 years old
This is the first all-level head coaching job for Daboll, who has five Super Bowl championship rings from his time with the Patriots and a national championship ring from his only season at Alabama. He’s developed the Bills’ offense over the past four years and has an ordinary personality and light touch around the building.
Director of Coaching Operations: Laura Young
Young has 18 years of NFL experience and is the first female coach in Giants history. She entered the NFL in 2004 as an executive assistant with the Ravens and followed Rex Ryan to the Jets. She was with the Bills for the past four years, linking her to Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen. The youngsters have helped players and their families acclimate to Buffalo, and the past two years have served as the Bills’ COVID-19 coordinator. Daboll calls him “a rock star”.
Offensive Assistant/Game Manager: Cade Knox
A former wide receiver at Harvard, Knox was hired by the Giants’ former front office 18 months ago as a football data and innovation intern. He is now part of the Daboll team and will work on match days from the coaches box.
Coordinator: Mike Kafka, 34 years old
What an interesting choice, given that Kafka and Daboll have never worked together and have no connection to each other. Kafka was a 2010 Northwestern Eagles fourth-round draft pick — he threw 16 passes during his NFL career, all in 2011 — and his only NFL coaching experience is with Andy Reid and the Chiefs . The next offensive play called by Kafka will be his first. Will Daboll allow Kafka to call the games with the Giants?
Quarters: Shea Tierney, 35
The Giants hope whatever Tierney, another former Bills assistant, has done to help Josh Allen develop rubs off on Daniel Jones. Tierney, a Philadelphia native who came to the NFL as an Eagles intern, has ties to Daboll from Buffalo and also from their one year together (2017) in Alabama.
Running back: DeAndre Smith, 53
This is the first NFL job for Smith, who has 22 years of experience coaching running backs at the college level. Among his many stops on campus: Illinois, Syracuse, Purdue, North Carolina, Utah State and the last three years at Texas Tech. Mr. Smith, meet Mr. Saquon Barkley, who is getting his third coaching job in five years.
Wide Receivers: Mike Groh, 50
The former Virginia quarterback made his NFL debut in 2000 with the Jets, hired by head coach his father, Al Groh – a Giants assistant and defensive coordinator from 1989 to 1991. Mike Groh is a former Eagles offensive coordinator and most recently served as the Colts wide receivers coach.
Tight ends: Andy Bischoff, 51
He won two Gray Cups as an assistant with the Montreal Alouettes and worked as a tight end with the Bears and Ravens. Coached David Culley’s unique staff tight ends with the Texans in 2021.
Offensive line: Bobby Johnson, 48
Daboll thought of Johnson enough in their three years with the Bills to entrust him with overseeing the Giants’ Achilles’ heel position group. In 2019, Johnson helped indoctrinate four new starters on the offensive line at Buffalo, a scenario he could face this season with the Giants.
Assistant Offensive Line: Tony Sparano Jr, 35 years old
The former Albany defensive lineman made his NFL debut in 2011 with the Dolphins, working for his father, head coach Tony Sparano. He interned with the Jets in 2012 and worked with the Panthers offensive line last season.
Offensive Assistant: Christian Jones, 28
He has spent the last three years with the Vikings. The former North West wide receiver (128 receptions in 51 games) worked with Minnesota wide receivers in 2021.
Coordinator: Wink Martindale, 58 years old
The pressure is coming. Martindale likes to bring warmth. He will blitz from start to finish and demand that his cornerbacks resist the coverage of the men. He was with the Ravens for a decade — the last four seasons in charge of defense — but things got stale in 2021 and he was let go. He’s no Rex Ryan, but Martindale brings a big personality to the staff and shapes his unit in his own aggressive image.
Defensive line: Andre Patterson, 61 years old
Patterson is Daboll’s oldest staff member and has 40 years of coaching on his resume — 18 in the NFL, the last eight for the Vikings. He served as co-defensive coordinator in 2020 and assistant head coach in 2021. Patterson inherits a stud in Leonard Williams and will be responsible for helping Dexter Lawrence progress in his career.
Inside linebackers: John Egorugwu, 35 years old
He was at Vanderbilt last season and comes with high-profile Giants staff recommendations — he has ties to Daboll (with the Bills) and Martindale (with the Ravens).
Outside linebackers: Drew Wilkins, 34
For the past decade, Wilkins has worked with Martindale on the Ravens and now has the responsibility of generating a passing rush and further developing Azeez Ojulari.
Defensive backs: Jerome Henderson, 52 years old
Hugely popular assistant for the past two years, Henderson returns from Judge’s staff. He made a strong impression on Daboll from their time together as assistants with the Jets and Browns. Henderson showed an ability to integrate young players in the secondary and helped the rise of Xavier McKinney.
Assistant defensive line: Bryan Cox, 54
A Super Bowl winner (with the Patriots) and three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Cox hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2016 with the Falcons. An energetic personality, Cox will add spice to the staff. This is the sixth NFL team to hire him as an assistant. His first assignment was in 2006 with the Jets, working for Eric Mangini.
Assistant defensive backs: Michel Treier, 31 years old
Trier returns to the role he held on the Judge’s team, working directly with Henderson. This allows for continuity for young defensive backs, including 2021 third-round pick Aaron Robinson. Prior to joining the Giants, Treier spent six years at Marshall University.
Defensive Assistant: Kevin Wilkins, 30 years old
Daboll believes in allowing his coordinators to call on assistants on their side of the ball, and Wilkins worked under Martindale in Baltimore. He joined the Ravens in 2015 as a video intern and is the younger brother of outside linebackers coach Drew.
Coordinator: Thomas McGaughey, 48
This will be the Giants’ fourth different training regimen for McGaughey, who was assistant to Tom Coughlin, and the last four years served as coordinator for Pat Shurmur and judge before being retained by Daboll. It shows just how capable and loyal McGaughey is. Intelligent and insightful, he is an asset to any member of staff.
Assistant special teams: Anthony Blevins, 45 years old
This is the third Giants head coach for Blevins, who arrived in the franchise in 2018 as part of Shurmur’s staff and was retained by Judge – who moved him from special teams to defensive backs. Blevins received his NFL coaching debut with Bruce Arians in Arizona in 2013.
Quality control of special teams: Nick Williams, 31
Hired by Judge as an offensive assistant, Williams gets his third different coaching assignment for his second NFL head coach.