By Mary Pesarchick //@HeyMom418
Last Friday, following a season where the offense finished 29th in total yards and 31st in passing yards, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. On Sunday, before the ink was dry on the list of possible replacements, the team announced they’d hired University of Alabama’s OC, and long-time Western New Yorker, Brian Daboll, to succeed him.
We have hired Brian Daboll as our Offensive Coordinator.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 14, 2018
Both the quickness of the Bills’ decision and identity of the winning candidate came as something of a surprise. It was widely believed that head coach Sean McDermott would hire Denver’s former OC Mike McCoy, who had been McDermott’s first choice for the OC job when he was hired as the Bills head coach last February.
Born in Canada, Daboll grew up in West Seneca, New York, a short drive from Orchard Park and Ralph Wilson Stadium (now New Era Field). He played football locally for St. Francis, a small, Catholic high school which, according to Buffalo News reporter Bucky Gleason, “has produced more NFL executives and coaches than any high school in America.” Even as he traveled in his numerous NFL assignments, Daboll maintained a connection to the area, continuing to own a home in Orchard Park.
Before he was at Alabama, Daboll had a lengthy career in the NFL. He was an assistant on the Patriots’ staff under head coach Bill Belichick from 2000-2006 and again from 2013-2016, during which time the Patriots won their five Super Bowl titles. In the period between the two hitches with the Patriots, Daboll was a quarterback coach for the Jets (2007-8) and served as OC for the Cleveland Browns (2009-2010), the Miami Dolphins (2011), and the Kansas City Chiefs (2012).
Although those teams were hardly offensive juggernauts, most experts blame Daboll’s lack of success on the caliber of quarterback he had to work with (Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, and Matt Moore), rather than a lack of skill in designing plays. That Daboll’s play calling helped the Crimson Tide win this year’s national championship seems to strengthen that assessment.
Obviously, McDermott is banking on the experience Daboll gained working with Belichick as well as Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban to bring him greater success in the NFL this time around.
Daboll is going to need to summon up everything he’s learned if he is to convert this Bills’ offense into one that can score more than its season-average 18.9 points per game. With the quarterback situation in its perpetual state of flux and a very limited receiving corps, this is no small task. Added to that, is the pressure coming from a ravenous fanbase who finally had a taste of the postseason and will have high hopes to repeat next year.
Fortunately, according to reports, Daboll shares McDermott’s robust work ethic and all-consuming passion for football. Those attributes and the fact that he is a Son of Western New York should buy Daboll some time and patience from the legion of armchair OCs who will be watching.
Talk Bills with Mary on Twitter @HeyMom418