Brian Daboll

Bills Hire Brian Daboll As OC

The Bills have hired Brian Daboll as their new offensive coordinator, the club announced today.Brian Daboll (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2018 NFL Coordinator Tracker]

Daboll, fresh off a National Championship as the offensive play-caller for the University of Alabama, will replace longtime NFL coach Rick Dennison, who was fired on Friday after only one season in Buffalo. Multiple head coaching candidates had reportedly expressed interest in hiring Daboll as an offensive coordinator, so the Bills acted quickly to add him to their staff.

While the 42-year-old Daboll spent the 2017 campaign in the collegiate ranks, he does boast vast amounts of NFL coaching experience. He’s coordinated offenses for the Browns (2009-10), Dolphins (2011), and Chiefs (2012), and has also worked in a number of offensive roles for the Patriots, first from 2000-06 and again from 2013-16.

In Buffalo, Daboll will be tasked with heading an offensive unit which ranked 22nd in scoring, 26th in DVOA, and 29th in yards a season ago. Running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Zay Jones will be among the weapons at Daboll’s disposal, while Buffalo has decisions to make on quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wideout Kelvin Benjamin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Daboll, Bettcher, Bears

Several potential head coaching candidates have identified Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as a possible play-calling addition, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). The 42-year-old Daboll, fresh off a National Championship, has served as an NFL OC with the Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs. He also spent two stints in New England, coaching wide receivers and tight ends under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels.

Here’s the latest on the 2018 hiring cycle:

  • In-limbo Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher could be in consideration for a role with the Bears, reports Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link), who reports Chicago’s brass would like to meet with Bettcher. One of nine candidates to replace Bruce Arians in Arizona, Bettcher could be without a job if the Cardinals go in a different direction. It’s unclear exactly what title Bettcher would hold with the Bears, especially since Chicago is expected to retain incumbent DC Vic Fangio.
  • The Bears are forging a reunion with Harry Hiestand, whom they’ve hired as their new offensive line coach, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Hiestand, 59, previously served as the Bears’ OL coach form 2005-09 before moving onto the Titans and Notre Dame, with whom he’s spent the past six seasons. Multiple teams were reportedly pursuing Hiestand, per Greg Gabriel of Pro Football Weekly (Twitter link), and the longtime coach had no intention of remaining in South Bend. In Chicago, Hiestand will work with an offensive line that ranked in the bottom half of the league in both adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards.
  • Hiestand isn’t the only staff change the Bears made today, as they’ve also hired Charles London as their next running backs coach, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. London has spent time in Chicago before, as he was a offensive quality control coach for the club from 2007-09. After a brief stint with the Titans, London followed Bill O’Brien to Penn State and then to the Texans, where he coached for the past four years.
  • Offensive line coach Frank Pollack has been fired by the Cowboys, per Marvez (Twitter links). It’s a stunning move in some regard, especially since the Dallas offensive line was viewed as an especially dominant unit as recently as 2016. But injuries and ineffective play led to the club’s front five struggling last season, leading to Pollard’s dismissal. Elsewhere in Dallas, assistant special teams coach Keith O’Quinn is expected to be reassigned, either as the Cowboys’ primary ST coach or as the club’s tight ends coach, per Marvez.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Texans, Steelers, Jags

The University of Alabama is hiring Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll as its new offensive coordinator, according to Chris Low of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Daboll, who has led offenses at the NFL level for the Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs, was first linked to the Crimson Tide earlier this week by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports. Former Texans play-caller George Godsey was also in consideration for the vacancy in Tuscaloosa, per Feldman.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Veteran safety Quintin Demps hasn’t engaged in contract negotiations with the Texans as of yet, and although the pending free agent would prefer to return to Houston in 2017, he’s not interested in offering the club any sort of hometown discount, Demps told SiriusXM NFL Radio today (Twitter links). Demps is entering his age-32 campaign, which could depress his value, but he’s started 26 games over the past two years and is coming off a season in which he graded as the league’s No. 12 safety, according to Pro Football Focus. After earning only $1.5MM in 2016, Demps should be in a for raise, but he’s not going to break the bank in a safety market that also includes Eric Berry, Tony Jefferson, and T.J. McDonald.
  • Tight end Ladarius Green is expected to be healthy enough to play in 2017, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert yesterday told reporters, including Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times (Twitter link). Green only appeared in six games during his first campaign with Pittsburgh, as concussion issues limited his ability to get on the field. Although he provided 16.9 yards per reception when he was on the field, Green could represent too large a risk for the Steelers to undertake, especially given that his post-June 1 release would clear $5MM in cap space.
  • Defensive tackle Abry Jones‘ four-year, $16MM deal with the Jaguars contains $6.5MM in guarantees, which are comprised of a $2.5MM 2017 base salary, a $1MM roster bonus due next March, and $3MM 2018 base salary, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Chad Henne‘s new one-year contract is worth $3.5MM, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link), and contains a $500K signing bonus, a $750K roster bonus due on September 7, and $2.5MM available via incentives.
  • Steelers linebacker Steven Johnson‘s new deal is a one-year, minimum salary benefit contract that comes with $80K in guaranteed money, per Caplan (Twitter link). Under the terms of the MSB, Johnson will only count for $615K on Pittsburgh’s salary cap.

Staff Notes: Pats, Fins, Bolts, Hawks, 49ers

The Alabama Crimson Tide are searching for an offensive coordinator in the wake of Steve Sarkisian‘s departure and will likely interview Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll for the role, reports Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Daboll previously served under Alabama head coach Nick Saban at Michigan State, as Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com notes, and worked as an NFL offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City from 2009-12.

More coaching news from around the league:

  • Former defensive end Andre Carter is joining the Dolphins’ staff as an assistant D-line coach, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN. Carter, 37, played in the league from 2001-13 and piled up 80.5 sacks.
  • The Chargers have hired ex-Atlanta defensive coordinator Richard Smith to coach their linebackers, per a team announcement. Smith, who was atop ATL’s defense the past two years, became a coaching free agent when the team fired him last week. The 61-year-old has been working with pro linebackers since 1988, when he was with the now-defunct Houston Oilers, and has since coached LBs in Denver, San Francisco, Detroit and Carolina.
  • Sherman Smith is out as the Seahawks’ running backs coach, a position he had held since 2009, according to Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. The Seahawks are promoting assistant RBs/assistant special teams coach Chad Morton to Sherman’s former spot (Twitter links).
  • The 49ers have landed ex-Buccaneers tight ends coach Jon Embree as an assistant head coach/TEs coach, writes Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle. His son, Taylor Embree, is coming aboard as a quality control coach. The younger Embree spent last season as a defensive assistant in Kansas City.
  • Elsewhere on the 49ers’ staff, the team has interviewed Falcons assistant special teams coach Eric Sutulovich to become its special teams coordinator, per Marvez (Twitter link). Caplan reported last week that the Niners were likely to meet with Sutulovich.
  • The Redskins have hired Cannon Matthews as a defensive quality control coach, relays JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Matthews served as the assistant defensive backs coach last year with the Browns, who parted with him in January.

East Notes: Cowboys, RGIII, Pats

The Cowboys have been connected to North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, who is arguably the top QB prospect in this year’s draft, but recent reports indicated that Dallas was not likely to spend its first-round pick on Tony Romo‘s backup and eventual successor. If the Cowboys do, in fact, spend their early selections on players who can make more of an immediate impact, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram identifies Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott as a potential mid-round option that could be too intriguing to pass up. Prescott had the best showing of any quarterback prospect in yesterday’s Senior Bowl, and he met with the Cowboys for an hour on Friday. During that meeting, Prescott watched film and interviewed with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson.

Now let’s dive into some more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • We learned yesterday that Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence recently underwent back surgery but is expected to return “when it matters,” and Lawrence’s agent tweeted shortly thereafter that his client is “100%” and that reports regarding the surgery are “much ado about nothing.”
  • Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com explores why it is highly unlikely that Washington will be able to trade Robert Griffin III this offseason. Teams cannot trade players until the new league year begins on March 9, which is the same day RGIII’s $16.15MM guarantee for his fifth-year option kicks in, and there is no way any other club will trade for that type of guaranteed contract.
  • Count Tom E. Curran and Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com among those who believe the Patriots will not keep DE Chandler Jones beyond the 2016 season. Even with the recent marijuana-related blemish on his resume, Jones will likely be too expensive for the Pats to retain, especially since players like Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are also upcoming free agents and should be a higher priority for the team.
  • Speaking of the Patriots, Phil A. Perry of CSNNE.com looks at the top five free agents that New England risks losing this offseason, a list headlined by players like Akiem Hicks and Nate Ebner, who might not be indispensable cogs but who nonetheless played a major role in New England’s run to the AFC title game this season.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com offers his predictions as to how the Patriots will fill the newly-created vacancies on their coaching staff, suggesting that incumbent safeties coach Brian Flores will become the new linebackers coach and tight ends coach Brian Daboll will become the new offensive line coach.