Why Kafka is a Seahawks coach candidate despite poor Giants offense

Jan 24, 2024, 5:44 PM

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Kafka...

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka of the New York Giants on Aug. 21, 2022. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks continue to search for their next head coach, and one of the coordinators they’ve spoken to multiple times is a bit of a polarizing candidate.

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That would be New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, who is 36 years old and just finished his second year as a play-caller.

Kafka and the Giants made the playoffs and even won a postseason game in 2022, but New York went 6-11 in 2023 and ranked 29th in yards and 30th in points scored.

So why is a coordinator of one of the NFL’s worst offenses under consideration for the Seahawks’ head coaching vacancy? ESPN New York Giants reporter Jordan Raanan joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday and shared his insight into Kafka.

“Look, Mike Kafka is a smart guy. I’m sure if you talked to people in the organization, that’s why they’re bringing him back for a second interview,” Raanan said. “He’s a good football mind. Very smart guy. His X’s and O’s are solid. But let’s be fair, a lot of the Giants’ problems weren’t necessarily Mike Kafka.”

The Giants had a number of injuries to key players on offense and also had one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. That was on full display when the Seahawks recorded 11 sacks in a Week 4 win at New York.

“It’s not like (quarterback) Daniel Jones was going back there and chucking the ball deep. No, no, no. That offensive line really made it untenable to run an offense,” Raanan said. “So I get it, you look at the numbers and the numbers look bad. He did a pretty good job in his first year (in 2022). The second year, the offense didn’t really do much – it was actually bad most of the season. So I think you could look at and kind of chalk it up to what was he supposed to do?”

Kafka, a former NFL quarterback, spent five years on Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City, including four years as quarterbacks coach.

Raanan said that Reid, a legendary coach with two Super Bowl rings, thinks highly of Kafka, and the NFL respects Reid.

“Andy Reid has a huge, very successful coaching career and Mike Kafka is kind of just the latest of that coaching tree. And I think that’s the reason (Kafka is a head coaching candidate) is Andy Reid and company think really highly of him,” Raanan said. “That makes people look and say, ‘Hey, if Andy Reid likes this guy and thinks he’s super smart and is a really smart offensive mind, maybe we should look at him, too.’ And that’s why Mike Kafka right now is out there as a very strong candidate to possibly land a head coaching job.”

Because Kafka is just 36 years old, you may think his youth makes him one of the more outgoing coaches in the NFL. That’s not the case at all, Raanan said.

“He’s not this like super new-age hippie kind of coach,” Raanan said. “… Pete Carroll is a ball of energy. I actually view (Carroll) as almost more hip than Mike Kafka. Mike Kafka, he earns the respect of his players because of the smarts that he brings.”

Kafka, at least with the media, is hardly the vibrant personality Carroll is, Raanan said.

“I’ve never been to more boring press conferences, to the point where he like wore you down and you just didn’t even have anything to ask because he was so dry,” he said. “But he has led a room. And when you talk to players, they like him. He’s football, he’s all business.”

In interviews, Kafka comes across “as a smart football guy,” Raanan said, and that’s why he’s an intriguing candidate. But his personality may not be what teams want from a head coach.

“My biggest question with him is probably does he have enough personality to really be the CEO of the entire team? Because I think you do need some of that,” he said. “You become the face of the franchise. And if anything, to me, that’s the bigger question with Mike Kafka than the football side, even though the results this year weren’t great with the Giants.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full conversation with ESPN’s Jordan Raanan at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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