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Brian Daboll is figuring out the harsh Giants reality

Brian Daboll has had his big break at the age of 46, a dream job in the NFL that must have seemed like the wildest fantasy more than two decades ago when he arrived at Bill Belichick's door in Foxborough just to clear it from one day to the other.

"He lent me a car for my first six months," Daboll once told me about Belichick, "just so I could get around in 2000, when I had absolutely nothing and was just about to run."

Belichick had just started in New England, and Daboll, Nick Saban's degree assistant at Michigan State, was on the bumpy ride. The Patriots lost 13 of Belichick's first 18 games and lost their $ 100 million quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, to serious injury before a sixth-round pick, Tom Brady, jogged onto the field and turned professional football upside down.

All these years later, as head coach of the Giants, Daboll can not expect any of Dave Gettleman's late choices to rise out of nowhere and save his team from itself. In fact, neither can Daboll expect any of Gettleman's early elections to do so. His Giants are far worse than the 8-8 Pete Carroll team that Belichick inherited in New England, meaning that Daboll's former colleague in Buffalo, the new Giants general manager Joe Schoen, has no choice but to be a long better evaluator than its predecessor.

It also means Daboll must be almost as good as Belichick to overcome this monumental challenge and ultimately lead the Giants back to the championship battle.

"Over the last four years," Schoen said, "I have observed Brian's strengths as a leader - he is an excellent communicator, intelligent, innovative and hardworking. Brian's genuine and engaging personality is refreshing. He fosters relationships with the players and coaches. around him. He is progressive in his vision and values ​​cooperation, two of the qualities we think are essential. "

Brian Daboll
Brian Daboll was hired on Friday as the Giants' new head coach.
Diamond Images / Getty Images

So right there, in quotes published by the Giants, Schoen tells you why he chose Daboll (with the blessing of owners John Mara and Steve Tisch) over former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, whose impressive matchday work could not make his relationship a problem. his GM (Chris Grier), quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) and a number of assistants disappear. Above all, Schoen wanted a coach who connected with colleagues and forever sought common ground. Daboll represented a guarantee on that front, and his second place did not.

Considering that Flores has won 19 games the past two seasons without a top quarterback and beat Belichick four times in three years, I thought he was the best man for the job. I thought he could grow from his mistakes, as many young coaches being fired for the first time do, and that his experience gave him a head start over Daboll, who, like Joe Judge and Ben McAdoo before him, now tackles his first major. jobs in the country's largest market.

But Daboll is certainly a qualified coach whose strength matches the giants' biggest weakness - scoring or lack thereof. The Giants averaged 15.2 points per game in 2021, worse than any other NFL team not named the Jaguars. The best team in their division, the Cowboys, had an average of 31.2.

Daboll is finding out that it's a lot easier to close holes that way when your quarterback is named Josh Allen instead of Daniel Jones.

But hey, the Giants' new head coach helped Sean McDermott take AFC East away from Belichick, no small feat. Years before, Daboll did an even harder trick - he convinced Belichick to hire him a second time despite leaving him in 2007 to work for Eric Mangini and the Jets, by all people and all teams.

And yet Daboll was never seen as a Belichick candidate here. Flores suited the tough guy from former Pats, like Judge, and that probably did not help him. When the giants' decision makers met with Daboll and Flores, they were struck by the differences in their personalities. The Mara Giants usually prefer extreme intensity in their head coaches, and Flores had everything that Tom Coughlin once had. But this time, in what Tisch called "an incredibly difficult decision for John, Joe and me," the Giants chose to go with an established lighter touch, rather than a candidate (Flores) who was to follow Coughlin's lead and temperament. his approach.

Brian Daboll and Josh Allen
Brian Daboll and Josh Allen
Getty Images

Mara described her new husband as a dynamic leader. Tisch said it was clear Daboll "has spent his career preparing for this moment."

Of course, it's one thing to prepare for a massive remodeling job and something completely different to live through one. "I have a pretty good idea of ​​where our fanbase feelings are right now," Daboll said, "and I understand that."

In fact, after the Giants put their fans through seven seasons of double-digit losses in the last eight years, Daboll has no idea. But he's figuring it out the hard way.

Daboll helped Belichick win five rings in Foxborough. He's going to have to be almost as good as Belichick - and all that Judge was not - to only win one at East Rutherford.


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