Giants hiring Brian Daboll as head coach

·5 min read
HOLD FOR HIRING: Brian Daboll treated image with Giants swap
HOLD FOR HIRING: Brian Daboll treated image with Giants swap

When John Mara cleaned house at the end of the season he promised “no package deals” with his new general manager and head coach.

In the end, he got one anyway – and it’s the one everyone expected all along.

The Giants are hiring Brian Daboll as their next head coach, after he spent the last four years as the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. There, the 46-year-old worked with new Giants GM Joe Schoen, who was the assistant GM in Buffalo, which is why multiple league sources considered Daboll the favorite to replace the fired Joe Judge all along.

He was an obvious choice, too, given the Giants’ biggest issue and Daboll’s area of expertise. In his four seasons with the Bills he helped turn them into one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL, while developing Josh Allen into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Giants, meanwhile, have had the second-worst offense in the NFL each of the last two years and have major questions about their young, franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones.

Daboll, in the last two minutes of his career in Buffalo, watched Allen throw two touchdown passes in a wild playoff game in Kansas City. The Giants had two total touchdowns in their final four games of last season.

“I think teams would be foolish not to offer Brian Daboll a job,” Allen said two days after the Bills were eliminated from the playoffs. “I think he’s one of the best coaches in the league.”

He’s going to have to be, considering the Giants’ problems run far deeper than just their offense. Daboll and Schoen will be trying to fix a franchise that has lost at least 10 games in five straight seasons, seven of the last eight, and has been to the playoffs just once in the last decade. And the resulting turnover has been dizzying. Daboll, the 20th head coach in Giants history, will also be their fifth in the last eight years.

Daboll emerged quickly from a field of six candidates that included former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn (before he decided to return to Dallas), Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The Giants rushed to interview Daboll last Friday, two days before the Bills-Chiefs playoff game, and he was the first to get a second interview, which took place at the Meadowlands on Tuesday.

Flores appeared to be his only real competition for the job. A Brooklyn native who was surprisingly fired by the Dolphins after just three seasons – and two straight winning seasons – Flores was very interested in the Giants job, according to multiple sources, and was one of Mara’s early favorites. But Mara promised Schoen would have control over the coaching search, and it was clear from the start that Daboll was Schoen’s preferred choice.

Daboll, who was born in Canada and raised in Western New York, has a coaching pedigree the Giants obviously love. He spent 11 years coaching under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in New England, and is one of the rare assistants who left and was later invited back. In fact, when Daboll left Belichick in 2007 it was to join ex-Patriot Eric Mangini’s staff as quarterbacks coach of the Jets. And he still was invited back to be the Patriots tight ends coach in 2013.

Daboll also worked for one year under Nick Saban as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017. He left when Schoen recruited him to return to the NFL with the Bills.

Daboll’s stint in Buffalo was actually his fourth as an NFL offensive coordinator. He had previously been the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2009-10), Dolphins (2011) and Chiefs (2012). Those were far less successful, though. In each of those four seasons his offenses ranked in the bottom third of the league.

Everything changed in Buffalo, though, when the Bills welcomed Daboll with an aggressive double move up in the NFL draft to select Allen -- a strong-armed, but wild quarterback from Wyoming -- seventh overall. That was five picks after the Giants took running back Saquon Barkley.

Aug 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gestures during warmups before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Buffalo Bills won 41-15. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gestures during warmups before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Buffalo Bills won 41-15. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants, of course, drafted Jones a year later – and fixing Jones, or at least figuring out if they can win with him, will be Daboll’s most important task.

“Look at Josh’s growth and what he did,” Bills GM Brandon Beane said two weeks ago, according to ESPN.com. “Brian was hands-on (with) that…. That’s what kind of gave us promise (that) ‘Hey, if we could just add some more (offensive pieces), Brian and his staff will be able to help us score more points.’”

That alone would be quite a change for the Giants, who averaged just 16.3 points in Judge’s two years, topping 30 points just once in 33 games. The Bills averaged 29.9 points per game in those two seasons. In fact, the Giants scored 538 total points in Judge’s two seasons. The Bills scored 483 points this past regular season alone.

“I hate to keep giving him so much credit because I don't want anyone to steal him from me," Bills receiver Stefon Diggs told ESPN before the Giants hired Daboll. “He’s a guy that knows what he's doing. He knows the flow of the game, knows when to call what. We just trust him. Whatever he calls, I'm running it. I ain't seen him miss yet."