By Ryan Dunleavy
It might be Mike Kafka’s voice in Daniel Jones’ ear to call plays, but it was Brian Daboll who gave Jones an earful after a costly interception last Sunday in Nashville.
The Giants head coach was caught by television cameras animatedly scolding Jones on the bench after the quarterback threw away a scoring chance when the Giants trailed the Titans by seven points in the fourth quarter.
“He lit a fire under Daniel and then we came back in the second half, put together a great 12-play drive to go down and win it,” said Kafka the offensive coordinator, who sits in the coaches’ box high above the field during games. “Daniel had a lot to do with that drive. I think it was effective in that respect.”
Daboll explained after the game that Jones told him he saw a window for a back-shoulder throw to Saquon Barkley, to which Daboll replied: “That’s not what I saw, but you got the ball in your hands, so you’re going to get the ball back at some point. Let’s drive down and get it again.”
Kafka, who played quarterback in the NFL and was a passing-game coordinator for the Chiefs, understands the need for the conversation.
“Whatever issue happened, you want to get it solved right away and then be able to communicate what we are going to do next,” Kafka said. “I think there’s always a time and a place for that.”
Despite his struggles through three seasons, Jones rarely — if ever — has been publicly criticized by anyone in the organization. Daboll unwittingly signaled that the kid gloves are off.
“Everyone is accountable to one another on the team,” Kafka said. “That’s how we’ve always been from Day 1. I think we have to have those sometimes tough conversations. Dabes does it in his way that I think makes him special. That’s how Dabes gets the best out of players.”
WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring) was added to the injury report Thursday. A hamstring injury sidelined him during the preseason, and he played seven snaps in the opener. Toney was first in line for an individual drill Thursday, but stepped aside to let two others go first and then the drill ended — perhaps an indication of his limitations.
OL Devery Hamilton (illness) was added to the injury report and did not practice. CB Aaron Robinson (appendicitis), WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), CB Nick McCloud (hamstring) also did not practice.
C Jon Feliciano (lower leg), OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf), S Jason Pinnock (shoulder), OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Toney were limited.
Richie James averaged 12.4 yards on five punt returns against the Titans. After the Giants have cycled through myriad returners for four seasons, James looked like a possible solution.
“I think we have potentially the makings of a really good punt returning unit,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said, “and obviously it starts with the guy with the ball in his hands.”