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Two veteran NFL men from opposite ends of the Brian Daboll spectrum came to the same conclusion.
As of right now, Daboll is not only a favorite to be the NFL Coach of the Year, but also likely to break the curse associated with so many Bill Belichick assistants. Daboll has the New York Giants at 6-1, matching their best win total in any of the previous five seasons.
“I was telling someone two weeks ago, he’s the Coach of the Year,” said Mike Martz, who spent more than 20 years in the NFL as a head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach and helped St. Louis to its Super Bowl win in the 1999 Super Bowl.
“From a coach’s perspective, when I watch them play, you see a team that does the little things very well. The footwork, the set up, the route running. It’s everything. The players don’t just know how to run a play, they understand why the play is being run,” said Martz, who talked so effusively about Daboll that it made one wonder if they were friends or perhaps related.
“I don’t know him at all,” Martz said. “I just look at this – and I really look at it hard – and see the teaching. You can see what he has shown Daniel Jones and how much quicker Jones is at making decisions. You can tell he’s a great teacher and great teachers will always thrive in this league.”
Bill Polian, Mike Martz Have High Praise For Brian Daboll
The Giants obviously had some good fortune to this point. They are 5-0 in games decided by less than a touchdown and have survived a series of injuries that have knocked out their top receivers. While winning close games is a Belichick trademark, Daboll has done that while showing a sense of joy and passion that is far from all the Little Bills who have come and gone.
“He’s his own man,” said Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, who has known Daboll since Daboll was at St. Francis High in suburban Buffalo. “He’s a different person and he’s very comfortable with himself. He has been around other programs. He’s very pragmatic, down to earth and a great communicator. He knows how to talk to players.”
Former New England assistants Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and previous Giants coach Joe Judge all famously flamed out in their first stops as head coaches. All of them went straight from working at New England to being head coaches without working at other organizations.
By contrast, after Daboll’s last stint in New England (2013-16 as tight ends coach), he went to Alabama to work for Nick Saban as the offensive coordinator (2017) and then the Buffalo Bills to be offensive coordinator (2018-21). After working with Tom Brady with the Patriots, Daboll also worked with the likes of Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama and then helped turn Josh Allen into one of the top young quarterbacks in the league in Buffalo.
Daboll Has Changed Giants Culture
“If you have a player who is extraordinarily gifted, you find a way to make it work. That’s what Brian does and you can see that with how he helped Allen. When they took Allen, here’s a player who checks every box in terms of talent except he wasn’t a very accurate thrower. He didn’t have to be when he was at Wyoming,” Polian said, referring to Allen’s college career where he would often overwhelm opponents with his physical talent.
“But (Daboll) got him, came up with a program with the other coaches about how to smooth out Allen’s delivery, then Allen went out and hired his own private coach to work on that program with him and now you have a very accurate thrower,” Polian said. “On top of that, Daboll put in a system that gets Allen out on the edge so he can use his almost wreckless running ability and takes advantage of what Allen does best. He’s not cut from the Tom Brady mold, but Daboll made it work.”
That, to Polian, is proof of Brian Daboll’s pragmatic approach. Likewise, Daboll has adapted to the talent he has with the Giants by emphasizing the running of Saquon Barkley and making good choices at both defensive coordinator (veteran coach Wink Martindale) and offensive coordinator (former NFL quarterback Mike Kafka).
“He’s not married to one system. He’s looking for a system that works for the player and the entire team,” Polian said.
Or as Martz said: “He has changed the culture with the Giants. From a coaching standpoint, I can see it. The players are excited and into it because they are getting better. They know it and they believe in what he’s doing.”