What happens if Brian Daboll doesn't want Giants' head coaching job?

·5 min read
Brian Daboll Bills salute to service sunglasses on smile
Brian Daboll Bills salute to service sunglasses on smile

Two years ago, everyone was sure that Matt Rhule was going to be the next head coach of the Giants. He was the favorite when their search began, and he stayed that way right up until Joe Judge walked into the room and wowed them with his interview.

And even after that, many still thought Rhule would end up with the Giants, until the moment he called to say he had a seven-year, $62 million offer from the Carolina Panthers instead.

So things can change fast in a head coaching search, as underdogs and longshots can always emerge. And that brings up this question about Brian Daboll, who has long been the favorite to end up as the Giants' coach this time around:

What if he doesn’t want the job?

That is not out of the question for the 46-year-old Daboll, even if he does eventually emerge as the top choice of his former Buffalo colleague, new Giants GM Joe Schoen. Daboll has already interviewed for the coaching jobs with the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bears. And while the Bears filled their vacancy by hiring Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Thursday, Daboll is one of the top remaining candidates in Miami, according to an NFL source.

“He is going to have options,” said a source close to Daboll.

If he does, the source wouldn’t say if Daboll had a preference, but there are people around the NFL who believe he’d choose the Dolphins job. The timing could be an issue, though, since the Dolphins reportedly don’t plan to hold second interviews with their top candidates until next week.

The Giants hope to have their search wrapped up by Saturday, and it’s hard to believe Daboll would pass up an NFL head coaching job he’s long sought if he doesn’t know for sure another offer is coming.

But if he did, that would very likely make the Giants pivot immediately to Brian Flores, the former Miami Dolphins head coach who has told many people he wants the Giants job.

The 40-year-old Brooklyn native still could end up with it instead of Daboll anyway, especially if he nails his interview with the team on Thursday. He’s considered to be Giants co-owner John Mara’s top choice and is high on Schoen’s list, too, according to multiple sources.

But Flores first has to answer some difficult questions about how his relationship deteriorated so fast with Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, which caused a power struggle in Miami and led to his firing. Mara promised on Wednesday that would be a big topic of the interview, especially with the Giants so intent on finding a head coach who can work well with the new GM and not cause any internal strife.

The Giants seem to expect Flores will provide some satisfactory answers, especially since Mara said he’s already spoken to Flores briefly about those issues. But if he doesn’t, that could open the door for a sleeper candidate like Leslie Frazier, especially now that Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has reportedly pulled himself out of consideration for the job and told teams he’s returning to Dallas.

Quinn, one of the hottest coaching candidates in this cycle, had a “great” interview with the Giants on Monday, according to a source, and might have ended up as their top option outside of Daboll and Flores. But a source close to Schoen previously told SNY, “don’t completely rule out Frazier,” adding that there was a strong mutual respect between the two from their days in Buffalo.

There also has been a feeling among some in the league that the Giants would prefer a head coach with experience. The 62-year-old Frazier was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings for 3 ½ seasons from 2010-13, compiling a 21-32-1 record and reaching the playoffs once. Outside of Flores, he’s the only remaining candidate who’s been a head coach before.

The other two candidates – Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo – don’t appear to be a factor. Graham’s interview on Wednesday was believed to be mostly a courtesy, and he has a better chance of staying as defensive coordinator. As for Anarumo, both Mara and Schoen indicated they expect this search to be over by Saturday, which would rule out Anarumo since his Bengals play in the AFC championship game on Sunday night.

There is a small chance the Giants could expand their search if things don’t break right, since Mara said on Wednesday that “I’m not going to rule out the possibility of somebody else entering the mix.” But he added, “Right now, I think we’re pretty comfortable with the group that we have.”

Of course, all of this is likely only in play if Daboll chooses a job other than the Giants. The biggest reason that might happen, according to some sources, is that the Dolphins offer the chance for him to reunite with Tua Tagovailoa, their franchise quarterback.

Tagovailoa burst onto the national scene in 2017 as a freshman at Alabama, when he was a highly-touted recruit and eventually replaced Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national championship game, which he won with a touchdown pass in overtime and was named the game’s offensive MVP.

His offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach that season? Daboll. And according to multiple reports, Daboll had been pushing ‘Bama coach Nick Saban to play Tagovailoa over Hurts that entire year.

There are other reasons Miami could be a preferred destination for Daboll, too. There’s the weather and Florida’s lack of a state income tax. There’s also the fact that the Dolphins are the more ready-to-win situation, with a team coming off back-to-back winning seasons. They also are projected to a have a league-high $70 million in salary cap space to spend on improving their team in free agency, according to OverTheCap.com, while the Giants have virtually none.

In the end, though, it’s up to Daboll – if he ends up getting offered the Giants job, and if he ends up having the other “options” many believe he will.