Bills' Brian Daboll, Giants Agree to Contract as Next HC After Joe Judge's Firing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 28, 2022

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
AP Photo/Brett Carlsen

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has accepted the New York Giants' offer to become their next head coach, the team announced on Friday. 

Earlier in the evening, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the Giants were "working to hire" Daboll as their new head coach and that "the two sides will attempt to do a deal" that would reunite the OC with Joe Schoen, the ex-Bills assistant general manager who took the Giants' GM job earlier this month.

Pat Leonard @PLeonardNYDN

One source told me the other day that Daboll intended to hire recently fired Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale as his Giants DC if he got this job. Pat Graham is under contract, but he is being pursued for DC &amp; HC jobs elsewhere, too. <a href="https://t.co/oF9lSA1Z1M">https://t.co/oF9lSA1Z1M</a>

Daboll was considered a finalist for the open Miami Dolphins' head coaching job, but SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported Friday that the Fins no longer expected the Bills' OC to be available when they begin their second round of interviews.

Daboll beat out a candidate group for the Giants job that included ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and Bills defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier. He replaces Joe Judge, who Big Blue parted ways with after two seasons (10-23).

This move has been a long time coming after Daboll helped transform Buffalo's offense.

The Bills didn't go above and beyond on that side of the ball in 2019. They finished 24th in yards (330.2) and 23rd in points (19.6), and Football Outsiders ranked them 22nd in offensive efficiency.

Still, Daboll was generating buzz as a possible candidate to fill any of the coaching vacancies across the NFL.

Dianna Russini @diannaESPN

Not surprised by this at all. I’ve been told Daboll is exceptionally prepared and clear about his vision when he has interviewed for previous roles. <a href="https://t.co/J4Jk3xvVfy">https://t.co/J4Jk3xvVfy</a>

Robert Mays @robertmays

In my mind, Daboll is the head coach candidate not enough people are talking about. Been around Belichick and Saban to watch program-building. Has smartly shaped this offense around the skill sets of his players. Has helped Josh Allen SO much. And his guys love playing for him.

The 46-year-old stayed in Buffalo, though, which proved to be a shrewd move.

Josh Allen enjoyed a massive leap in his third season and earned his first Pro Bowl nod. He threw for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns as his completion percentage soared from 58.8 to 69.2. Stefon Diggs also led the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535) while hauling in eight touchdown grabs.

"I hate to give him so much credit because I don't want anyone to steal him from me," Diggs told reporters of Daboll in December 2020.

As a team, the Bills tied for second in yards (396.4) and had sole possession of second in points (31.3).

They fell back to earth a bit in 2021, piling up 381.9 yards per game and finishing 10th in offensive efficiency at Football Outsiders. That slight step backward coincided with what appeared to be a rift growing between Daboll and head coach Sean McDermott.

Still, fans of the franchise haven't seen an attack this lethal since the early 1990s when Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed led the way. A 47-17 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card Round proved cathartic as the offense rolled up 482 yards and seven touchdowns.

Nick Veronica @NickVeronica

The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bills</a> just put up an offensive performance that is nearly unprecedented in NFL history.<br><br>Their drives went TD, TD, TD, TD, half, TD, TD, TD, end.<br><br>No punts, no turnovers, no FGs. A game like this hasn’t happened since the 1940s, if ever. Not enough data on those games. <a href="https://t.co/jJV5nXT6tg">pic.twitter.com/jJV5nXT6tg</a>

The Bills followed that up with 36 points (five touchdowns) and 422 yards in a 42-36 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.

Prior to arriving in Buffalo, he worked on Bill Belichick's staff and was Nick Saban's co-offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2017. A connection to either of those coaches is often enough to generate a level of skepticism because of how frequently former Belichick or Saban staffers have fallen short of expectations on their own.

There's no guarantee Daboll will deliver for the Giants. His work with the Bills earned him this shot, though. His overall body of work didn't go unnoticed.

Derek Anderson played under Daboll with the Bills and Cleveland Browns and explained to The Athletic's Matthew Fairburn how much he has improved with the benefit of experience:

"I really enjoyed watching him grow as a play caller. You know, he's a friend, obviously, I'll text him after games or call and chat for a little bit. I'll ask him how he thought he did or whatever, but I think he's just grown. You know, it sometimes takes time. He and I were together early on. I think it was the first time he'd ever been a coordinator and it was kind of his way or the highway in the beginning. And now, you can tell him and Josh are on the same page. They're talking through concepts, talking through things going into the week, making sure that they're both on the same page. And I think that's huge."

For a long time, hiring the guy in charge of the Bills offense wouldn't have generated much excitement within a fanbase. But Daboll's arrival should go over well among those who follow the Giants.

While many Giants fans have given up on Daniel Jones, the team may be willing to extend the 2019 first-round pick one more chance. Jones' contract has one more guaranteed year remaining, and working under Daboll could get his development back on track.

In the event New York is willing to cut bait on Jones and use one of its top-10 picks on a quarterback, the onus will be on Daboll to put him in a position to thrive right out of the gate.