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Forged in Foxboro: Daboll’s Foundation with Patriots Continues to Serve Him Well

The Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator has a good chance of becoming a head coach in the NFL for the first time in his career.

Whether or not the New England Patriots are playing deep into February, teams are still apparently up to procure a limb from the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

The Pats 2021 season came to an unceremonious end last week with a 47-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs.

However, those with ties to the organization continue to remain in league-related headlines, as several teams continue to search for head coaches and front-office personnel. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, consultant Eliot Wolf and Director of Player Operations Dave Ziegler have either received interviews, or at least consideration for numerous vacancies throughout the NFL.

While the aforementioned names are currently connected to New England, one former Pats assistant may be close to securing his first NFL head coaching job. Former Patriots wide receivers and tight ends coach Brian Daboll interviewed for the open New York Giants head coach position Friday night, as confirmed by the team.

Per multiple reports, Daboll is considered a ‘front runner’ for the position, which frankly does not come as a surprise, The Giants began the day on Friday by hiring Joe Schoen as their new general manager. Schoen was the Buffalo Bills’ assistant general manager, who is also Daboll’s current employer.

Despite being in the midst of a great run as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, Daboll cut his coaching teeth at the pro level with the Pats when he was just 24 years old.

In 2000, Daboll joined the Patriots as a defensive coaching assistant under then first-year head coach Bill Belichick. Just two seasons later, in 2002, he was promoted to wide receivers coach. Daboll was on New England’s staff for each of the franchise’s first three Super Bowl titles in the early 2000s. Following the 2006 season, he left the Patriots to serve as the Jets' quarterbacks coach, under former Pats’ defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.

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Though he was dismissed by the Jets in 2008 (following Mangini’s firing), Daboll ascended the role of offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2009. He held the same title with the Miami Dolphins in 2011, as well as the Kansas City Chiefs (under former Pats defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel) in 2012.

In January 2013, the Patriots announced that Daboll would be brought back in a coaching capacity for the remainder of the Patriots 2012–13 season. Though the Patriots would fall to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 13–28 in the AFC Championship Game just six days later, Daboll’s services were retained in Foxboro. He served as the Patriots tight ends' coach from 2013 to 2016, coaching Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski during that time. Daboll’s second tour of duty in New England was nearly as successful as his first, with the Pats two Super Bowls in that span.

Daboll returned to college football as offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide in February 2017, marking his first college football coaching stint in 18 years. At Alabama, Daboll would be reunited with yet another member of the Belichick Coaching Tree, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. Daboll and Saban had worked together in the late 1990s, when Saban was the head coach of Michigan State. He helped Alabama reach the 2018 National Championship Game, where the Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in overtime. During that season, Daboll coached sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts, as well as a prolific pair of freshmen in Tua Tagovailoa and current Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.

Daboll’s success at Alabama positioned him to earn the job as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator in 2018. In his time with the Bills, he has played an integral role in the development of quarterback Josh Allen. At the time he was drafted, many saw the Wyoming product as a "project." However, Allen has blossomed into one of the most complete quarterbacks in the NFL under Daboll’s tutelage. He set numerous passing records for the Bills in the 2020 season, as the Bills showed significant improvement. Buffalo's scoring unit finished the season averaging 31.3 points per game. The team finished with 13 wins for the first time since 1991. Buffalo won its first division title, as well as their first playoff game since 1995. Despite losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game (the team’s first since 1993) the Bills’ secured a spot among the league’s elite teams, with their versatile and explosive offense playing a major role in their resurgence. or his work. For his efforts, Daboll won the Associated Press NFL Assistant Coach of the Year Award for the 2020 season.

In 2021, Daboll and the Bills offense once again impressed the masses. Allen put up Pro-Bowl caliber numbers, setting a career-high with 409 pass completions, as well as 36 touchdown passes and a 92.2 passer rating. The Bills quarterback also cemented his status as a dual threat by compiling 63 rushing yards and another six touchdowns on the ground, leading the league in yards per carry at 6.3.

After securing their second straight AFC East division title, the Bills hosted the Patriots in the Wild Card round of the 2021 NFL playoffs. Amidst the frigid temperatures in Orchard Park, Daboll called an offensive masterpiece. Buffalo became the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown on all seven of its offensive drives, not including kneel-downs. 482 total yards and converted six of seven third downs. Allen had more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four) while throwing for 308 total yards, adding 66 more on six rushing attempts.

Buffalo attempted neither a punt, nor a field goal.

On Sunday, the Bills will attempt to reach back-to-back AFC Championship Games as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Along the way, Daboll has continued to be a hot commodity during the coaching cycle. In addition to the Giants, the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins have been among the teams rumored to be interested in his services.

If, in fact, Daboll is to finally get his chance to be a head coach in the NFL, it would be a well-deserved opportunity. Though his many stops have helped to shape him into the coach he has become, the journey started in New England over 20 years ago. Whether Brian Daboll is poised to become the next productive limb of the Belichickian coaching tree has yet to be determined.