What has been a growing trend around the National Football League is the annual hiring of trendy offensive coordinators that are fairly young in their coaching career. Often, these coaches are looking to climb the next rung of the coaching ladder. From Sean McVay to Kyle Shanahan to Matt Nagy to Zac Taylor, former offensive coordinators are being snatched up left and right around the NFL, albeit with mixed reviews.
For the Atlanta Falcons, it is quite possible they may head in that direction especially with the strength of the team obviously in favor of the offense. In what will be a series of columns highlighting viable head coaching options, I have already touched on a couple of possibles (Eric Bieniemy, Arthur Smith) however today, I will turn my attention to another offensive coordinator that has made an impact on both the collegiate and the professional level.
About Brian Daboll
When you view the resume of Daboll, the initial reaction you would generate is “he’s a winner.” Daboll has two separate stints with the New England Patriots. The first stint lasted between 2000 - 2006 and during that time, he served as a defensive assistant and wide receivers coach. The second go around took place between 2013- 2016, in which he was an offensive assistant and tight ends coach. During his time with New England, Daboll was a part of five Super Bowls wins.
Daboll was also the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2017 campaign. That tenure brought along a National Championship. In addition, Daboll has experience as an offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins (2011) and the Kansas City Chiefs (2012). A winning pedigree by coaching alongside Bill Belichick and Nick Saban has helped mold and shape Daboll for a move up the coaching ring.
Why he is a fit for the Falcons
We’ll touch on the attribute of being around winning programs a little later. But first, we will highlight why Daboll can be a solid addition as a head coach and as a likely play caller for the Falcons.
One thing that Daboll does quite well is modify his philosophy to fit the offensive personnel at his disposal, something that the current Falcons may not be able to vocally say at the moment. The Buffalo Bills however are a perfect example of how Daboll was able to fine tune his scheme to provide a comfort level for everyone. His hire as Bills offensive coordinator came a few months prior to the drafting of Josh Allen out of Wyoming in the 2018 NFL Draft. If you are familiar with the analysis of Allen coming out of college, Allen’s rocket arm was the best strength but his deep passing accuracy was an actual hinderance.
So Daboll took it upon himself to modify what was a run heavy scheme early on and implement more of a focus on the short to intermediate game for the Bills passing attack. Below is a graphic courtesy of Pro Football Focus that highlights the short passing game for the Bills during Allen’s rookie year.
What this shows is how Daboll dialed back the deep passing game for a quarterback with a powerful arm and attacked defenses with easier concepts. What you see transpiring to this day is a scheme implemented by Daboll that varies by the week and allows the play calling to show more fluidity simply because of it’s ability to exploit defensive weaknesses. The results? The Bills offense is a unit that is sixth in passing yards per attempt, fifth in completion percentage, and fifth in passing yards per game this season.
Just to aide my stance on Daboll as a play caller, in five of his seven seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator, his offenses ranked 11th or better in rushing yards per game, which includes the past two seasons in Buffalo where that phase ranked ninth and eighth in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Overall, Daboll has a mentality of attacking defenses head on. His incorporation of multi-receiver sets, pre-snap motions, and detailed game plans is something Falcons fans have urged for a while since that one particular play caller left after the 2016 season.
So Daboll has shown in recent seasons to be a profound play caller that is able to properly adjust his schematic approach to fit the strength of the offensive personnel around him. Take a second and recall where I mentioned how Daboll has coached under royalty over the past two decades. The overall perception of both Belichick and Saban is that both are highly respected and acknowledged for their triumphs. Maybe Daboll was lucky enough to pick up a thing or two about the game of football from both. Maybe that pedigree that Daboll possesses could be used in a locker room like the Falcons. With the heartbreak and disappointment that the team has manage to obtain over the years, who could really say no to this particular angle?
The Falcons should take this opportunity and conduct a widespread search for their next head coach. Given that this is a pivotal point for the franchise, it would be wise to take their time because well, time is on their side at this point.
In the case of Brian Daboll, he is a well traveled assistant coach that has a few years under his belt as a play caller and has coached alongside the best of the best. For me, the selling points for Daboll is how advanced he is as an offensive play caller, his polished football IQ, and the winning mentality that he brings that this Falcons franchise could use an injection of. Daboll may not be flashy and probably won’t garner a number of headlines if he were to be hired by Atlanta. But that does not mean that he is a very solid consideration for the Falcons and their future.