The Giants are going all-Bills.
Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll agreed to be the 20th head coach in franchise history on Friday night, following new Giants GM Joe Schoen from upstate New York to North Jersey.
Schoen, the Bills’ assistant GM the past five years, led a search that prioritized fixing a broken offense led by Daniel Jones and improving communication inside the building. Now Daboll, 46, the Giants’ first of six candidates interviewed, is the pick to help the GM address both.
Daboll guided Bills 2018 first-round pick Josh Allen from a promising raw quarterback into the dominant force the nation watched in last week’s Divisional playoff loss to Kansas City.
And Daboll’s familiarity with Schoen from four years as colleagues, plus the fact he’s a rookie head coach, “aligned” him best with Schoen’s “plan and vision,” a priority in the hire.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be named head coach of the New York Giants,” Daboll said in a statement released by the team. “My immediate goal is to assemble a coaching staff – a strong staff that emphasizes teaching and collaboration and making sure our players are put in the position to be their best and, ultimately, to win games.”
The Giants’ decision went down to the wire and took an 11th-hour turn. Some of the Giants ‘primary decision makers believed earlier in the week that Daboll was taking the Miami Dolphins’ job, where he was a leading candidate, as well, per sources.
It was a “close call,” one source said. Ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was a strong candidate that co-owner John Mara personally contacted last week to ensure he was interviewed.
Flores would have been the first Black head coach in Giants history. But choosing Daboll is proof that ownership ultimately followed through on its promise to let Schoen make the hire.
The Giants did significant homework to look into the negative stories about Flores’ firing in Miami. And Schoen, who worked for the Dolphins from 2008-16, had plenty of contacts to get to the bottom of the situation.
Flores is known as a strong-willed personality, which might have threatened Schoen’s authority. Daboll’s hiring is more in the mold of the Eagles’ setup with GM Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni, where the GM runs the show and the coach executes the plan.
That’s in line with the setup Mara said the Giants wanted to create with Schoen: one in which the entire football operation, including the coaching staff, reports to the GM.
“We interviewed several people who are incredible coaches and all of whom are going to enjoy much more success in this league in their current positions and as a head coach,” Schoen said in a statement released by the team. “With that said, we – me and ownership – all felt Brian is the right person to serve as our head coach.
“Over the last four years, I have observed first-hand Brian’s strengths as a leader,” the GM added. “He is an excellent communicator, intelligent, innovative, and hard working. Brian’s genuine and engaging personality is refreshing. He fosters relationships with the players and coaches around him. He is progressive in his vision and values collaboration, two of the attributes we think are essential. ”
Daboll, born in Welland, Ontario, and raised in Rochester, NY, is the second straight Giants head coach hired off the Bill Belichick Patriots coaching tree, following Joe Judge. He was a part of five Super Bowl teams during two stints with New England.
Judge’s first pick for Giants offensive coordinator when he was hired in 2020 was Daboll, but he was already working with Allen in Buffalo and the organization preferred Jason Garrett.
Judge was fired on Jan. 11 after two seasons. He became the third straight Giants coach to be fired during or after his second season with the team, following Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.
A source said Daboll intends to bring recently fired Baltimore Ravens DC Don “Wink” Martindale as his Giants defensive coordinator.
Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham is still under contract, but it seems likely he will head elsewhere. He interviewed for the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator spot on Thursday and has a virtual head coaching interview on Saturday with the Minnesota Vikings.
On offense, Daboll could bring Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey as his offensive coordinator, but Buffalo also could promote Dorsey from within and prevent the hire.
Regardless, the Giants hired Daboll in large part because they want to give Jones a better chance to prove he can be a QB franchise in year four, and they know Daboll can do better than the Giants’ 31st ranked offense the past two years.
“First of all, Joe did a great job in lining up prospective head coaches,” co-owner Steve Tisch said in a statement released by the team. “It was an impressive group, which made this an incredibly difficult decision for John, Joe and me. In the end, it was obvious Brian has spent his career preparing for this moment. He is creative, thoughtful, determined, and Joe and Brian are the perfect complement to each other. We will do everything we can to support their process as they build towards the 2022 season and well after that. ”
Mara said “it was clear” that Daboll’s “approach to coaching and team building was what we are looking for moving forward with our team.”
“Brian has had tremendous experience in the NFL and has been part of multiple championship teams,” Mara added. “It is clear he used that experience to grow and develop into a dynamic leader, one that we are confident is the right fit as our head coach.”
One fascinating element to this hire is it marks the Giants’ third straight attempt to hire a Belichick Patriots discipline in three consecutive cycles.
They interviewed Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia back in 2018 and wanted Patricia, but he chose the Lions, so they hired Pat Shurmur. Then they hired Judge in 2020. Now it’s Daboll in 2022.
The Giants interviewed five head coaching candidates in person during this year’s hiring process: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on Monday, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on Tuesday, Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham on Wednesday, Flores on Thursday, and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Friday.
They also interviewed Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo virtually last Sunday. Daboll and Frazier were the only candidates to have two interviews, including virtual interviews last Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Ultimately, Schoen and Daboll were the Giants’ first GM and head coach interviews, and they were the two men hired.
Quinn was considered a strong candidate, but on Thursday, when the Denver Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett and the Chicago Bears hired Matt Eberflus, Quinn abruptly removed himself from consideration with the Giants.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested Quinn had turned down at least one coaching opportunity to stay in Dallas on a contract extension. It was not clear if Quinn had been offered.
No matter. Daboll is now the Giants’ head coach. The deal is done, and he understands the deal walking into a building where the Giants (22-59) are tied for the worst record in the league with the Jets over the last five years.
“I have a pretty good idea where our fan base’s feelings are right now, and I get it,” Daboll said. “I promise we will work our tails off to put a team on the field that you will be proud to support and give us the results we all want.”