Brian Daboll will be the next head coach of the New York Giants, according to numerous media reports. In the modern NFL, the adaptable, innovative offensive coach is an attractive archetype. With the growing number of young quarterbacks in the league, teams are always looking to add coaches who can not only develop those quarterbacks but cater their offense to the signal-caller’s strength. This is a foundational aspect of offensive success, and it’s one reason why Daboll will now lead the Giants.
Brian Daboll’s coaching history
Unbeknownst to some, Brian Daboll is actually a member of Bill Belichick’s coaching tree. After spending his first three coaching years at the college ranks, Daboll joined Belichick’s coaching staff in 2000 as a defensive coaching assistant. He’d then spend time as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach from 2002 to 2006, before moving on to the next chapter of his NFL coaching history.
Tutelage in Foxborough
In Daboll’s first stint with New England, the Patriots won three Super Bowls. The dynastic success made teams across the league covet Patriots coaches, and Daboll rode that wave. He became the New York Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2007. Then, in 2009, he made the leap to offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns.
A lack of security at his early coordinating spots forced Daboll to hop around a bit. After two difficult years in Cleveland, he’d join Tony Sparano’s Miami Dolphins in 2011, overseeing modest improvement for the Miami offense. Then, in 2012, Daboll joined Romeo Crennel with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Daboll was familiar with Crennel, who’d been New England’s defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2004. But, the familiarity did not equate to success. Done in by the underwhelming quarterback duo of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, Daboll was let go along with the rest of Crennel’s staff at the end of the year.
After his tumultuous tour around the league, Daboll returned to Belichick’s staff in 2013, taking on a role as an offensive assistant. He’d win two more Super Bowls with them from 2013 to 2016. He’d then join the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2017 and help them to a National Championship as offensive coordinator. It looked like Daboll was starting to near his peak, but his best performance was still yet to come.
Daboll’s time as Bills offensive coordinator
After coaching up Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa at the college ranks, Daboll went back to the NFL. In 2018, Bills head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane searched for an offensive coordinator. They hand-picked Daboll and officially announced his addition on January 14, 2018.
The Bills were clearly a team starved for playoff success, but the true stakes of Daboll’s latest NFL gig became clear months later. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills traded up into the top 10 to select Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. The move was met with criticism from many. Allen was viewed as an extremely raw prospect, and he was taken above Josh Rosen and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.
Daboll’s work with Josh Allen
Daboll’s first season as Bills offensive coordinator didn’t inspire much confidence. Allen’s offense, still without a complete supporting cast, struggled to attain consistency. At season’s end, Daboll’s unit was 30th in total yards and 30th in points per game. Entering the 2019 offseason, many of the same questions remained: was Allen the franchise quarterback, and could Daboll elevate his play?
In 2019, the Bills improved. Although the offense was boosted by an elite defense, Daboll’s influence started to make inroads in its performance. The team’s total offense improved to 24th, and the team’s rushing offense became a top-10 unit, using a diverse cast to chip away at opposing defenses.
Josh Allen and the Bills offense continued to evolve
The progression from Josh Allen was now tangible under Daboll. In 2020, the Bills went all-in, trading for Vikings star receiver Stefon Diggs. The addition of Diggs put together the Buffalo offense, and in 2020, Allen ascended to a new level. The Bills finished 13-3 and won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
In 2021, Allen threw for 4,407 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He led the Bills to an 11-6 record and another AFC East title before losing in an instant classic to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round.
Daboll, who engineered it all, is now finally getting the recognition he’s been working toward. His success with the Bills as their offensive coordinator has earned him prestige. But not only that — Daboll’s success also proves he’s a coach who can adapt and innovate according to his personnel. That’s a coveted trait in coaches today, and why Daboll is the new head coach of the Giants.
Daboll’s potential strengths as a head coaching candidate
Brian Daboll is just 46 years old. He’s been coaching in the NFL since his mid-twenties. Thus, he has a good mix of pre-existing experience and long-term potential as a head coach. Teams want hires to last for a long time. That’s the ideal outcome, and Daboll’s age helps with that.
Success as a coordinator
The Bills’ cast of weapons has improved in Daboll’s stint as offensive coordinator. However, Daboll’s work has played a large role in making that cast successful. Daboll is an analytically-driven play-caller whose understanding of game scripts has served his team well. That analytic acceptance indicates an ability to learn and evolve continuously.
Success as a developer
Some of the credit here goes to Ken Dorsey, who joined Buffalo as quarterbacks coach in 2019. But Daboll has undoubtedly had a powerful impact on Josh Allen’s career trajectory. One could argue that Allen wouldn’t be where he is now if he hadn’t been matched with Daboll.
Experience with exceptional coaches
Daboll has a surprising amount of experience with championship-winning coaches. Thus, he might have the inside track of composing his coaching staff, especially on defense. Daboll spent over a decade total with Bill Belichick. He’s coached under stellar defensive mind Sean McDermott for three years. His year with Nick Saban might also prove beneficial.
Brian Daboll’s potential weaknesses as a head coaching candidate
Brian Daboll is unproven as a motivator. At the same time, he’s a personable coach, and Josh Allen has called Daboll “a competitor.” But there’s a difference between competing on a staff and being tasked with catalyzing energy in a locker room.
Just as much as they need to be able to scheme and game plan, head coaches have to motivate and lead players through both success and adversity. We don’t know if Daboll can do that at the head coaching scale yet.
First-time head coach
This is a concern with every first-time head coach that goes through the process. But with Daboll, it’s slightly more worthy of attention.
Daboll first became an offensive coordinator way back in 2009, and he was just getting some head coaching buzz as early as the last offseason. Although instability played a role in his initial lack of success, the fact that he wound up being demoted after putting more on his plate is notable. Most first-time head coaches need an acclimation period, but will it be extended with Daboll? Or is he finally ready to take the next step?
Questions will remain with Brian Daboll as coach, as they do with all candidates. But looking at his resumé as a whole, he might be one of the best options out there. He’s experienced and battle-tested. Yet, he’s still relatively young and innovative. He worked under numerous legendary coaches, and he may soon follow in their footsteps.
And for a team like the Giants looking to hit the reset button with a new regime, Daboll makes a whole lot of sense to lead with new general manager Joe Schoen.