Good timing for today’s Getting to Know, given that Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll is fresh off a perfect game, more or less, against the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. And good timing for an interview with the Chicago Bears.
We have completed interviews with general manager candidate Joe Schoen and head coach candidate Brian Daboll.https://t.co/ahtbEWRaiC
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 17, 2022
A complete house cleaning is underway at Halas Hall. Three football seasons have passed since Matt Nagy, and Ryan Pace won top honors for their efforts in leading the 2018 Chicago Bears to a 12-4 record and NFC North title, and the time has come for the franchise to find their replacements.
Despite this team’s issues, the head coach and general manager vacancies are highly sought-after. And with Super Bowl-winning Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian lending a helping hand, the Bears are in a position to make some impact hirings. Over the following days, weeks, or however long it takes, we’ll be diving into the top available candidates, including their history, what they offer schematically, how they fit culturally, where they can take this team, and more. Let’s do it.
Name, Current Team, and Position
Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator (2018-present)
• University of Alabama Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach (2017)
• New England Patriots Tight Ends Coach (2013-16), Wide Receivers Coach (2002-06), Defensive Assistant (2000-01)
• Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator (2012)
• Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator (2011)
• Cleveland Browns Offensive Coordinator (2009-10)
• New York Jets Quarterbacks Coach (2007-08)
One of my favorite things about Daboll’s résumé is how many different coaches he has worked for over the years. Three different stints under Bill Belichick is impressive on its own. But when you consider that it was in three different roles, it just adds to the intrigue. Daboll also has experience working for Nick Saban as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Nothing seems to jump-start coaching careers like calling plays for the Crimson Tide and their wave of All-American players at offensive skill positions.
However, let’s not look past the unique defensive minds he has been linked to in the past. In addition to Belichick and current employer Sean McDermott, Daboll has a past with Romeo Crennell, Eric Mangini, and Tony Sparano. Should Daboll become a head coach, I would immediately look to those coaching trees for a defensive coordinator hire. And I imagine Daboll would do just that as he goes to build his staff.
Existing Rumors and Bears Ties
So, it turns out that Daboll has a long-standing connection with Justin Fields:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 16, 2022
Daboll was Alabama’s offensive coordinator/QBs coach when Fields was taking college visits back in 2017. This would go a long way toward explaining why the Bears QB is following the Bills OC on Twitter. Nevertheless, I can’t help but think if any conversations or prior connection between the two still exists. Hey, it can’t hurt.
Thinking of the Daboll-Alabama-Fields connection makes sense of this image captured by a Sun-Times photographer and shared by beat reporter Jason Lieser from before last August’s Bears-Bills preseason game:
Beyond that, Daboll’s been on our radar for a while. In late November, Daboll was name-checked as one of three names on a possible short-list. Multiple moments of struggling during the autumn months had Daboll connected to the Bears — not just once, but twice. Watching Daboll’s offense thrive in person was an eye-opening experience, even if it was just the preseason. But long before that, he was someone we were looking at when things were spiraling in 2020. And even when the Bears chose to stick with the status quo, the silver lining was that the candidate field in 2021 would be loaded. Here we are, one year later, exploring Daboll as a possible Bears fit.
Hey, It Might Work…
Josh Allen’s ascent to stardom coincides directly with Daboll’s arrival as Bills offensive coordinator. Allen went from being a toolsy athlete playing quarterback to a top-10 player at the position. Obviously, Allen deserves a ton of the credit for making those throws and runs. But Daboll deserves some love for his game-calling and play design, as well as having a hand in Allen’s development. Refining Allen over the years in Buffalo could be his Mona Lisa. Well, until he gets a head-coaching position and an opportunity do it with another quarterback.
Buffalo’s offense the last two years has been rocking unlike anything we’ve seen in Chicago. In 2020, Daboll’s group finished second in yards and points, third in passing yards, and third in air scores. A year later, that unit came in to the postseason with the third-most points, fifth-most total yards, sixth-most rushing yards, and an attack that came through with the seventh-most rushing scores, and seventh-most passing touchdowns. That’s balance and consistency.
OK, Maybe He’s Not The One…
Even after a masterful performance against Bill Belichick’s defense, Daboll isn’t a sure thing. His offenses without an elite quarterback leave you wanting more. Or, at minimum, it should leave you questioning why it took until having Josh Allen running the system for Daboll’s coaching stock to take off.
The offensive output with Brian Quinn, Derek Anderson, Matt Moore, Brady Quinn, and Matt Cassel just doesn’t hit the same.
In The End …
Daboll enters the second week of the postseason as the people’s choice to be Chicago’s next head coach:
It's really hard to watch that game and not wonder what Brian Daboll could do with Justin Fields. Josh Allen has rare, rare ability. But it's so tempting to drift down that road in your head.
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) January 16, 2022
Would love to see what Daboll could cook up for Justin Fields. https://t.co/vxEy6WgilT
— dan durkin (@djdurkin) January 16, 2022
I want Brian Daboll to coach Justin Fields. #Bears
— James Fox (@JamesFox917) January 16, 2022
Bears fans—imagine Justin Fields in this Bills offense.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 16, 2022
In addition to needing to make changes at general manager and head coach, the Bears need to start building back some goodwill among fans. Finishing the 2021 season with 10+ losses after back-to-back 8-8 years has left a sour taste in the mouths of many. And even after dismissing Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, George McCaskey’s incredibly awkward press conference turned what began as a day of celebration into one muddied by the chairman’s words. In other words, one way to start turning the court of public appeal to your favor would be by making good hires that fans can rally around.
Again, this isn’t to say let the inmates run the asylum. But instead, to emphasize the value of making the right call for the franchise that makes sense at several levels. And to that end, Daboll might be it. Of course, the Bears won’t be the only one in on him after Saturday’s performance. So stay tuned…