Big Blue Boss: Brian Daboll’s Path to Coaching the New York Giants
In the NFL, teams are often rolling the dice when looking for a new head coach by giving someone a chance that has never been a head coach in the league before. Between 1983 and 2015, though, the New York Giants were never led by someone with zero prior head coaching experience at any level. That changed with the hiring of Ben McAdoo in 2016, but he was relieved of his duties the following year. Nearly five years later, the Giants named another head coach with no prior experience at the position when they announced that Brian Daboll would be the franchise’s 22nd head coach.
Daboll seemed to come out of nowhere leading up to his hiring, too. How did he go from relative unknown to leading one of the biggest sports franchises in the United States? Well, first you have to look outside of the country. Daboll was actually born in Canada (Welland, Ontario), making him the second NFL head coach from the country. Daboll was raised just outside of Buffalo, though, becoming familiar with football at a young age.
After attending the University of Rochester where he played the sport, Daboll’s coaching career got started at the college ranks when he was with both William & Mary and Michigan State University to round out the 1990s. In 2000, the New England Patriots hired the now legendary Bill Belichick, and Daboll was part of his inaugural staff as an assistant.
Daboll was promoted to the position of wide receivers coach for several years before taking on the quarterbacks coach job with the rival New York Jets for two years. Finally, Daboll got a big break when he joined the ranks of offensive coordinators in the NFL. He was first with the Cleveland Browns for two seasons before taking the same position with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs for one season each.
Unfortunately, Daboll’s offenses struggled and changes in head coaching regimes caused him to return to familiar territory. Daboll took a demotion in his return to the Patriots, this time as the tight ends coach. After racking up two more Super Bowl wins, Daboll got back into being an offensive coordinator, this time returning to college with Alabama for one season where the Crimson Tide won a national championship.
In 2018, Daboll returned home to Buffalo where he would finally start getting recognition as a potential NFL head coach. Daboll took the Bills’ offensive coordinator position and was given a project quarterback in the form of Josh Allen. After some growing pains in their first season together, Daboll and Allen found success, with the Bills becoming one of the league’s elite teams.
Following the success of Buffalo’s 2021 season in which they almost reached the Super Bowl, several teams wanted to speak with Daboll about him potentially becoming their new head coach, including the Chargers and Jets. However, it was the New York Giants that interviewed him on January 21, 2022, and announced that he was going to be the team’s head coach exactly one week later.
There were a lot of ups and downs along the way for Daboll in his coaching career. Things looked rather bleak for Daboll’s career after departing from three franchises in three years. During those three years, all three of the head coaches he worked for were fired when the teams had a collective record of 13 wins and 35 losses.
Daboll has learned a lot along the way, as highlighted by Giants general manager Joe Schoen pointed out. “Brian’s ability to develop young players, his leadership qualities, his football acumen, his communication skills, and his ability to bring an organization together were all traits that really stood out,” Schoen said.