Brian Daboll got the gig as head coach of the New York Giants. So, now what is he going to do with it? The first order of business for Daboll is building a coaching staff.
The Senior Bowl is next week, and the expectation is that Giants GM Joe Schoen and other members of the scouting staff and front office will travel to Mobile, Ala. without Daboll. He will stay in East Rutherford, N.J. to get acclimated and prioritize building a coaching staff. At least, that seemed to be the plan when Schoen held his introductory press conference on Wednesday.
“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,” Daboll said in a statement from the team announcing his hiring. “That’s why all of us do this. To teach, to be successful, to develop talent, and to win.”
The key hires, of course, will be offensive and defensive coordinator. Let’s look at some of what has already been speculated or assumed about who Daboll might target for those roles.
Daboll is, of course, a long-time offensive coach. That makes hiring the right person to orchestrate the Giants’ defense a critical hire.
There are really two names to watch here — Don ‘Wink’ Martindale and Patrick Graham.
Martindale, 58, was fired this month by the Baltimore Ravens after four seasons as their defensive coordinator. In Martindale’s first three seasons, Baltimore finished second, third, and second in points allowed. In 2021, the Ravens were 19th in points allowed and last in the league in yards allowed per play. After a disappointing 8-9 season, Baltimore made a change. Martindale had been with the Ravens since 2012, first as linebackers coach.
You can read more about the Ravens’ decision to fire Martindale here.
An ultra-aggressive defensive play-caller by reputation, Martindale interviewed for the Giants’ head coaching job in 2020 when the team hired Joe Judge.
Martindale has been coaching in the NFL since 2004, and the Giants likely won’t be his only option. There have already been reports linking him to the Las Vegas Raiders should Josh McDaniels take the head coaching job there.
Of course, Daboll could opt to keep the guy the Giants already have — Graham.
Despite the Giants’ poor 10-23 record the past two seasons, Graham’s work with the team’s defense has catapulted him into the head coaching picture. Graham interviewed for the Giants’ job and is reportedly set to interview for the Minnesota Vikings’ head coaching vacancy. He has also drawn interest from the Pittsburgh Steelers for their defensive coordinator opening.
Graham remains under contract to the Giants. He does have a working relationship with Daboll, as the two were together as New England Patriots assistants for three seasons (2013-2015).
Keeping Graham would likely be immensely popular with whatever defensive players remain from the 2021 team, and would provide at least some continuity.
A major stumbling block, of course, would be whether or not Graham would actually like to stay. During Judge’s tenure, Graham several times professed his love for the Giants organization. He and Judge, though, are close friends. Does Graham still feel that way, and would he be comfortable working with the Giants, after the team fired his friend?
There is a lot of speculation that Buffalo quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Ken Dorsey would be Daboll’s top choice for offensive coordinator with the Giants.
Even if that is true, the Bills are likely going to have something to say about that. Buffalo has already lost Schoen and Daboll to the Giants. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has already expressed his desire to have Dorsey become offensive coordinator with Daboll moving on.
Buffalo GM Brandon Beane was asked on a videoconference with Gills and Giants media last week whether he expected to lose more staff to the Giants.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I mean, we like our staff and we plan on, we plan on keeping our staff here.”
Beane figures to do everything he can to keep Dorsey in Buffalo. Which means he is about to become handsomely paid.
There is also this to consider. Why would Dorsey leave the Bills for the Giants?
In Buffalo, he has Josh Allen, an already established offense and would get to advance his career by being the play-caller. We don’t know yet if Daboll will call plays for the Giants, but his play-calling acumen and offensive scheme is what got him a head coaching job, so you have to believe he will. Why would Dorsey make what would really be a lateral move? He would get a nice, new title — but he would still not be designing the offense or calling the plays.
Perhaps Cleveland Browns passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who was with Daboll in New England, might be a name to keep in mind.