Dolphins’ Head Coach Search: Momentum growing for Brian Daboll

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll might have his pick of head coaching jobs, as the Dolphins and Giants are both interested.

The Miami Dolphins’ coaching search could soon be wrapping up. Multiple sources tell Pro Football Network that Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has emerged as a top target — and potentially the top target — but work remains. PFN’s reporting mirrors that of the New York Daily News, which earlier Wednesday linked Daboll to the Dolphins.

Brian Daboll is the leading contender to become the next Miami Dolphins head coach

Hurdles remain for the Dolphins in their head coach search. Mainly, Daboll needs to take the job, and that is no sure thing. The New York Giants remain in the mix for Daboll as the NFL’s coaching search slogs on.

The Dolphins and Giants are two of nine teams in need of a head coach after firing Brian Flores and Joe Judge, respectively. Both have interviewed Daboll for their openings. And each team’s general manager has long ties to Daboll.

Dolphins GM Chris Grier worked with Daboll, 46, when the latter was Miami’s offensive coordinator in 2011. New Giants general manager Joe Schoen has worked with Daboll in Buffalo for the past four seasons. Schoen previously was part of Grier’s staff in Miami.

The Dolphins may want a veteran head coach

Sources tell PFN that there’s a difference of opinion within the building over what to prioritize — hiring someone with head coach experience (like Dan Quinn or Vance Joseph) or a star offensive mind who can develop quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ three head coach hires have all been first-time head coaches. All three were gone within four years of their hire.

Still, Ross is very much open to trying again — if the fit is right. Daboll is held in high regard within the Dolphins’ power structure for the job he’s done developing Josh Allen over the past four years.

The Dolphins have seven known candidates for their head coach vacancy: Daboll, Joseph, Quinn, Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

The Giants have at least five candidates for their opening: Daboll, Flores, Frazier, Quinn, and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Anarumo worked with Schoen in Miami last decade.

Brian Daboll’s coaching history

After his playing career concluded, Daboll spent three years as an assistant in the college ranks, first at William and Mary and then Michigan State. With the Spartans, Daboll worked under head coach Nick Saban, embarking on what would become a lengthy history with the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

In 2000, Daboll joined Belichick himself as part of his inaugural New England Patriots coaching staff. Daboll worked as a defensive assistant for two years before being promoted to wide receivers coach for the 2002 campaign. He’d hold that title for the next five years. During his time in New England, Daboll won three Super Bowls.

Daboll left the Patriots in 2007, but he didn’t drift far from the Belichick school. He joined former Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini with the New York Jets, working as the club’s quarterbacks coach. When Mangini moved to the Cleveland Browns in 2009, Daboll once again followed, this time as offensive coordinator.

Daboll bounced around for the next few seasons, acting as offensive coordinator for the Dolphins (2011) and Chiefs (2012) before finding his way back to the Patriots in 2013. This time around, he coached Rob Gronkowski and the rest of New England’s tight end group. Daboll won two more Super Bowls with the Patriots during his second stint with the team.

Daboll spent one season at Alabama before coming back to the NFL

In 2017, Daboll went back to the college ranks to reunite with Saban, this time at the University of Alabama. Daboll worked with current NFL quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa and won yet another championship in his sole season in Tuscaloosa.

In 2018, Daboll returned to the NFL after accepting the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator position. Through four seasons, he’s developed Josh Allen from raw prospect to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Daboll has crafted an explosive offense that’s ranked inside the top three in scoring in each of the past two years.

This offseason isn’t the first time Daboll has been interviewed for vacant head coaching positions. In 2020, Daboll was considered for the Cleveland Browns job before it ultimately went to Kevin Stefanski. In 2021, Daboll interviewed with the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets but lost out to Brandon Staley and Robert Saleh, respectively.

Adam Beasley is the National NFL Analyst and Insider for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.