Well, no one saw this coming.
Basically, Addicts, if it weren’t for the perspective of Phin Phanatic’s Brian Miller, we’d know nothing about this guy. So, for those of you who haven’t already Googled him. Here’s the career rundown of Brian Daboll.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Daboll played safety at the University of Rochester. After college, he signed on to coach at William & Mary for a year in 1997 before trailing Nick Saban as an assistant coach at Michigan State in 1998. He apparently impressed Saban, as the now-Alabama-dynasty head coach recommended Daboll to his friend Bill Belichick after just two years working together. It was a serendipitous moment, because Belichick had just taken over the head-coaching job at the Patriots in January 2000.
Belichick signed Daboll as a defensive backs assistant coach – a role Daboll held through the Brady-Belichick duo’s first Super Bowl victory in 2001. In 2002, he was promoted to the other side of the ball as the team’s wide receivers coach.
In an interview for his alma mater’s website, he said that the fact he had never played receiver and had always focused on defense was not a problem.
“As a coach, you tell a player what has to be done, how they are supposed to do it, and then you make sure they do it right,” Daboll said. “You find a way to help the players. And they are always looking for what they can do to get better.”
After the 2006 season, he changed position groups again, following Eric Mangini from the Patriots to the Jets. In New York, Daboll served as the quarterbacks coach from 2006-2008 – a period that included Brett Favre’s up-and-down year after his first retirement psych-out. In 2009, he once again followed Mangini (still occasionally called “Man-genius” at the time)– to Cleveland. Once again, he was promoted.
Serving as the offensive coordinator, Daboll and Mangini tried to sort out the tangled mess that had just gotten Romeo Crennel fired as head coach. Two bad quarterbacks. No talent at skill positions aside from an ego-maniacal receiver named Braylon Edwards and tough runner on his last legs named Jamal Lewis. The team sputtered, quarterbacks switched back and forth, and after two years that staff was purged as well.
Then, Miami Head Coach Tony Sparano decided to give Daboll another chance. He came with a new offense in a critical year for the team, and, initially, it was a disaster. Miami scored just seven touchdowns in their first six games. But, after going 0-7, the team sprang to life with Matt Moore at quarterback and the team finished their last games 6-3.
Now he’s the Chiefs OC, and like Brian Miller said, this guy is basically a mystery.
So how do we judge what we are getting with him, and how do we think he can help us? I think a good place to look first is at the growth of Matt Moore.
Moore is not a physically talented quarterback. An undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, his career followed a very similar trajectory as Matt Cassel’s. After mostly riding the bench for two years, Moore was spectacular in the seven games in which he replaced an injured Jake Delhomme in Carolina in 2009, throwing eight TDs and just two INTs. In his six starts the following year, however, he disappointed, ending with a passer rating of just 55.6 on the season.
Filling in for an injured Chad Henne under Daboll in Miami, Moore seemed to redeem himself, again showing people that he could be a productive quarterback.
Who does Moore credit for his eventual success? Daboll.
“I’ve never been more prepared playing under Daboll. He just gets me ready to play. And then obviously getting used to his style, it’s been great. I don’t have a bad thing to say about the guy,” he told the Palm Beach Post last year.
Sparano, who didn’t know Daboll before hiring him last year, seemed to also lay the credit for the offense’s rebirth at Daboll’s feet, telling the Palm Beach Post he’s one of the “brightest football guys I’ve ever been around, particularly offensively.”
But Daboll’s success wasn’t just with Moore.
Reggie Bush, whom the Dolphins acquired in a trade with the Saints (giving up just a backup safety and trading places in the 6th round), had the best year of his career. It wasn’t just a career year. Bush had more rushing yards in 2011 than he had the previous three seasons combined, averaging 5.0-per carry – a season average he had only bested once with the Saints: in 2009 when he only had 70 carries.
Much like the Patriots did with him, Daboll’s forte appears to be playing to the strengths of his individual players, something I like to hear given the unique skill players on the Kansas City Chiefs roster.
But, perhaps owing to his youth and inexperience, 36-year-old Daboll is also known for playcalling that can be on the bad side of wacky. Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said publicly last year that they wished they had gotten better play calls at times during the season. In Dallas last year, they failed to score a touchdown after four trips to the red zone, and lost a close game that they had largely dominated (sound familiar?).
In the end, the Dolphins finished the year with the 23rd-ranked passing offense and 11th-ranked rushing offense, just a few spots above the Chiefs in both categories.
So what do we know about Brian Daboll? Still not much, but I am very intrigued to see what Daboll has to offer. One other important point is that I do believe it is telling that the Chiefs decided to go with a young, up-and-coming coordinator, as it gives the impression that they have a succession plan in place when Romeo eventually rides off into the sunset.
I dunno. Thoughts?