Whole Nine Sports

Brian Daboll: New York Giants Head Coach?

What Would Be Next?

brian daboll new york giants head coach
Brandon Olsen
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Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There will be a new New York Giants Head Coach. The New York Giants have hired Joe Schoen from the Buffalo Bills as their new General Manager. Schoen was the Assistant GM with the Bills from 2017 until getting hired in East Rutherford. Schoen has a background in scouting, similar to former Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman. Unlike Dave Gettleman, this is the first time that 42 year old Joe Schoen is a General Manager.

The New York Giants head coach search is now underway and fans are waiting on edge for an announcement. Whether it’s connecting the dots to Joe Schoen, hometowns, connections to the Giants, the hunt is on. The first dot to get connected? Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll.

Brian Daboll is the most popular pick and he’s also my personal choice. Since the beginning of the General Manager search, there has been one main rumor. If Joe Schoen is the hire, he will bring Brian Daboll with him.

Brian Daboll

Daboll has worked under legendary head coaches like Nick Saban and Bill Belichick throughout his career. Now, that doesn’t guarantee any success, but it does help to know he’s been able to work with some of the greatest minds to ever put on a headset.

Brian Daboll has been the offensive coordinator in Buffalo since 2018. His previous coordinator experience includes; the Cleveland Browns during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Miami Dolphins in 2011, Kansas City Chiefs in 2012, and the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2017. He’s also the only offensive coordinator to get an interview for the New York Giants Head Coach job to this point.

Daniel Jones

Daniel jones

With a reputation and experience as a Quarterbacks Coach, Daboll would instantly have to answer a question with this New York Giants roster: what will happen with Daniel Jones?

Would Brian Daboll be able to develop Daniel Jones into a franchise quarterback or would it be time to cut your losses and look for a prospect with a higher ceiling?

We know that Brian Daboll helped Josh Allen unlock his full potential. The former first round pick became an elite NFL quarterback after being drafted as a high-risk project. The biggest difference there is the ceiling between Jones and Allen. Even if he reaches his maximum potential, Daniel Jones may never reach that top 10 QB mark.

Let’s take a look at both scenarios. If Daniel Jones is a franchise quarterback, how would Brian Daboll be able to get the most out of him? First, you look at the dominant trait of Daniel Jones: his mobility.

According to PFF, Daniel Jones had 398 rushing yards on 42 designed QB runs over the past two seasons. Josh Allen had 621 rushing yards on 77 designed QB runs in that same time frame.

Josh Allen

When Josh Allen came out of Wyoming; he was a big-armed, mobile QB that couldn’t accurately get the ball to his receivers. Daniel Jones was more accurate than Allen coming out of college but with significantly less arm strength.

Brian Daboll showed his ability to minimize the negatives with Josh Allen early on in his career while also helping Allen develop into an elite NFL quarterback. Many fans and analysts believe that Daniel Jones doesn’t have the potential to become anything more than an average NFL starter though.

Let’s say that Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen don’t believe Daniel Jones can be a franchise quarterback. Joe Schoen has said he believes in DJ, but everybody lies. That leaves a simple question of: who is?

Other QB Options

Cam Newton

Free agency isn’t promising this year. With no legit names available, that leaves veterans like Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton available. Not exactly a talent-laden period. That leaves the NFL Draft.

The Giants hold the 5th and 7th overall picks in the NFL Draft, although a trade down to accumulate picks and have a mid-late first round pick might be the best option. Using picks 5 and 7 to get the best players possible then trading up from 36 into the back half of the first round to draft one of the following QBs would be the best option in my opinion.

This isn’t a draft-focused article however, so I’ll limit this piece to the three prospects that I think would be the ideal fit in this offense.

Those prospects are Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, and Desmond Ridder. The others were excluded because they didn’t meet certain criteria, whether it was experience, mobility, arm strength, among others.

Malik Willis

malik willis new york giants

Malik Willis is the #1 option here for me. Did you see the Bills/Chiefs game in the Divisional Round? Both Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen were thought of high-upside quarterbacks with big arms, mobility, but still a long way to go. That’s the descriptor for Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft Class.

Brian Daboll would have to catch lightning in a bottle twice, but if there’s any candidate that’s shown they’re up to the task, it’s the guy that helped develop Josh Allen. Willis has a lot of work to do to even be serviceable, but the ceiling is sky-high.

Early on, Malik Willis would be more of a rushing threat than legit starting quarterback but time is on the side of Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen. It also helps that the weapons for Willis early on would be better than Josh Allen’s at the early point of his career. The two aren’t exactly alike, but they’re similar prospects in terms of NFL readiness.

Kenny Pickett

kenny pickett new york giants

Talk about experienced and talented. Kenny Pickett made strides over the past two years and showed he could be an NFL quarterback. While he doesn’t have a cannon arm, he throws one of the prettiest deep balls in the Draft, similar to Russell Wilson in terms of being able to connect consistently.

Mobility-wise, I think we’ve all seen the fake slide from Pickett. He’s not a great runner but he’s more than serviceable. Pickett’s skillset would allow Brian Daboll to focus more on the passing game early on than the other two QBs here while also allowing for designed QB runs.

The biggest downside with Pickett is that he doesn’t seem to be that QB1 that could completely transform a franchise. However, if Brian Daboll is as good as we think he is, then he’ll be able to get the most out of Pickett.

Desmond Ridder

desmond ridder new york giants

Desmond Ridder is the most interesting quarterback on this list, in my opinion. Ridder is similar to Malik Willis and Josh Allen in the sense that he’s got a bazooka arm and is very mobile, although he’s not as shifty as Willis. Ridder isn’t expected to be a first round pick at this point, but with his experience and familiarity running a pro-style offense, it might not be a bad idea to trade into the late first and draft him.

Accuracy and consistency have been major issues for Ridder, but if he can clean up his mechanics then both of those issues should improve significantly. He’s got a gunslinger mentality that leads to exciting games and high-octane offense, but his accuracy just isn’t there yet to justify trying to get the ball where he wants to sometimes.

I think of the three quarterbacks listed, Malik Willis is the prospect with the highest potential, Kenny Pickett is the most well-rounded prospect with the highest floor, and Desmond Ridder has the highest chance to be a bust. To be fair, none of that is damning or a guarantee.

Rest of the Offense

Kadarius Toney

Looking at other aspects of this offense, if Brian Daboll were to get hired as the New York Giants head coach, the team already has the weapons to allow him offensive freedom.

At times during the 2021 NFL season, we saw Kadarius Toney get used in creative ways: at QB, in the backfield, slot, and out wide. We would likely see KT get those opportunities more frequently, as Daboll liked to use Isaiah McKenzie in a similar role.

Under Brian Daboll, McKenzie had 95 catches for 893 yards and 7 touchdowns along with 37 carries for 171 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. We’ve seen players like Deebo Samuel get used more often in a wide receiver/running back hybrid role and while I don’t think Kadarius Toney should be used in that role for durability reasons, we could see KT used in the creative way he needs to be used in order to find success.

One thing that a Brian Daboll hire almost certainly wouldn’t help is the after-the-fact support for drafting Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018. Daboll likes to rotate his running backs frequently, eliminating the need to have drafted one so early, and at times has completely abandoned the run, outside of quarterback runs.

saquon barkley

He has shown that he wants to get the ball into the hands of his running backs in the passing game and with a healthy Saquon Barkley instead of Devin Singletary, that may even happen more often than with the Bills.

In 2021, the Buffalo Bills were in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) for 71% of their snaps, the fifth highest percentage in the NFL. That means the most common personnel grouping on the Giants would likely be Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram as the RB/TE duo, along with Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton at receiver with Kadarius Toney in the slot.

The area where the Giants would likely struggle early on is with the offensive line. The offensive line was already an area of concern and yes, they did take steps last year but now they’re losing the coaching staff. Former offensive line coach Rob Sale is now the Offensive Coordinator for the Florida Gators.

Brian Daboll has already shown a hesitancy to commit to the running game with the Bills until Devin Singletary caught fire late in the year. The Bills this past season also had one of the longest time to throw in the NFL, with 2.89 seconds as opposed to Daniel Jones’ 2.7 second average, which ranked 20th in the NFL. 

I’m sure Brian Daboll is not set in his ways and that what we’ve seen with the Bills is more of an offensive play-calling preference. This is what we have to work with however and so far, there seem to be enough similarities offensively where if Daboll wants to make this offense look similar to the Bills offense, he would be able to do so.

Defensive Coordinator

patrick graham

Here’s where things get really interesting. As an assistant, Brian Daboll has been able to work with many talented football minds. If he’s the next New York Giants head coach, he should have no problem getting in touch with other potential assistants. 

Defensive Coordinator is the biggest area of concern should Brian Daboll be named the next New York Giants Head Coach. Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is likely out of the question, considering he’s a head coach candidate already and likely wouldn’t leave for a lateral move at a worse situation.

Eric Washington

eric washington

The first name that came to mind when thinking of defensive coordinator candidates that have a connection to Brian Daboll was Eric Washington. Washington is the current defensive line coach for the Bills. Before heading to Buffalo, he was the DC for the Carolina Panthers under Ron Rivera.

Washington has worked under some of the best defensive minds in football; Lovie Smith in Chicago from 2008-2010, Ron Rivera from 2011-2019, and Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier in Buffalo during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. From 2011-2016, Washington was the defensive line coach under defensive coordinator Sean McDermott in Carolina.

The way that Eric Washington’s time as Defensive Coordinator in Carolina ended was, well not great but it’s also hard to place the blame on anyone specifically. Ron Rivera was fired after a 5-7 start to the season, the offense saw Cam Newton start two games, Will Grier start two games, and Kyle Allen start the other 13 while posting horrid numbers outside of the bright spots of Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore.

The 2018 season saw the Eric Washington-led defense be in the top half of the league by just about every metric when the team was healthy. Washington’s focus has been pass-rush and with the defensive line talent on roster already, he should have no problem getting up to speed.

Patrick Graham

patrick graham new york giants

Patrick Graham is who I would pick be the DC of the New York Giants for the 2022 season. He wouldn’t be around much longer as it just seems like a matter of time before he’s a head coach in the NFL, but take what you can get.

Graham is currently under contract with the New York Giants so if Brian Daboll were to want to keep him around, it would be easy to make happen. Graham has been widely praised as being an excellent defensive mind and working with Brian Daboll wouldn’t be new.

Daboll and Graham were on the New England Patriots staff together from 2012 through the 2015 season. Also on that staff was Brian Flores, another Giants Head Coach candidate.

The major benefits of keeping Graham around are that players love him, the defense has already been built to fit him, and he’s a proven commodity. The downside is that he seems to be on his way out, despite the current contract situation as he’s interviewed for the open Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator position.

Wink Martindale

wink martindale

I honestly still don’t even know why the Ravens parted ways with Don “Wink” Martindale. Since Wink took over as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, there has only been one season where the team wasn’t top 3 in scoring defense. That was this past season.

It was a clear outlier though, as the defense was demolished by injury. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, DeShon Elliott, LJ Fort, Derek Wolfe, Jimmy Smith, Chris Westry, and others all missed significant time. I would like to say the Ravens were playing with practice squad defensive backs; but even their practice squad DBs were on IR at some points.

Wink is a proven defensive coordinator that has done nothing but excel since leaving the Broncos after the 2010 season. Martindale should be able to get just about any defensive coordinator job he wants and the Giants have the pieces that should be enticing for a mind like his.

Other Offensive Staff

chad o'shea

This section will be more of a list as opposed to paragraph format. Here are some names to keep an eye on should Brian Daboll be the next New York Giants Head Coach.

Shea Tierney – Tierney has been with Brian Daboll since 2017 with Alabama. A first time head coach usually brings assistants they’re familiar with and respect; it seems as it Shea Tierney is one of those for Daboll. Tierney is the head of this list because I think he would be the most likely assistant to come along with Daboll. If he gets a promotion to quarterbacks coach when Ken Dorsey gets promoted to Bills offensive coordinator, then that would change.

Bobby Johnson – Johnson has bounced around the league a bit but he’s been an offensive line coach for the Bills since 2019. He was also on staff for the 2018 Colts as an assistant offensive line coach and was the head coach of the West team in the 2018 Shrine Game. Johnson could see an upgrade to offensive coordinator in a move to get him to East Rutherford.

Chad Hall Bills

Chad Hall – Another position coach for the Buffalo Bills that could see a move to offensive coordinator would be the former NFL receiver and current Bills Wide Receivers Coach Chad Hall. Hall has been with the Bills since 2017 as an offensive assistant before getting promoted to WR coach in 2019.

Chad O’Shea – Back to back Chads?! Chad O’Shea could be an offensive coordinator candidate for the New York Giants. Daboll and O’Shea were on staff together in New England. Since then, O’Shea was the Dolphins offensive coordinator for one season before joining the Browns as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Another crack at an offensive coordinator job under Daboll could get O’Shea elevated back to that high-level assistant status.

Ryan Wendell – Since 2019, Wendell has been an assistant offensive line coach for the Bills. Before that he played in the NFL from 2008-2016 for the Patriots and Panthers. It seems to be only a matter of time before he gets a job as an offensive line coach.

Nick Caley – Going back to his Patriots days, Brian Daboll was on staff with Nick Caley. Caley is now the tight ends/fullbacks coach for the New England Patriots, climbing the ranks fairly quickly. We could see Daboll make the call to bring Caley to East Rutherford with a little more responsibility.