Bobby Okereke, 58 with Brian Daboll during the New York...

Bobby Okereke, 58 with Brian Daboll during the New York Giants minicamp at their practice facility in East Rutherford, NJ, Wednesday, June 12, 2024 Credit: Ed Murray

There aren’t supposed to be too many things this time of year to get a football coach like Brian Daboll riled up. All of his players were at the mandatory minicamp that just ended on Wednesday, most of the important ones seem to be on track to start training camp in relative good health in late July, and the annual summer break in the NFL schedule beckons all.

Also, the Giants haven’t lost a game in about five months.

“It’s been a good camp,” Daboll said serenely, encapsulating not just this week’s two workouts but the entire spring program that has been chugging along since April.

Maybe those are some of the reasons why he’s been noticeably less intense on the field this spring. There haven’t been a whole lot of those sprints across the field to chest bump players after good plays. Nor have there been many of the cranky counters to those, the blue-tongued tirades and verbal firestorms he would occasionally unleash on unacceptable mistakes in the past.

But it also seems to be a conscious choice Daboll has made to rein in those extreme parts of himself which became disadvantageous last season, helped lead to a schism followed by a broad exodus on his defensive coaching staff, and turned him into a hot-headed caricature of himself on the sideline.

Back in March, Daboll spoke about wanting to be a calmer coach and so far, as we roll into June at least, he appears to be doing it.

How long can he keep those impulses which surely still bubble inside him at bay once the preseason and regular seasons begin? That answer may have a big impact on how this 2024 team is defined, and more importantly, how Daboll’s role in the organization is perceived.

A year ago he was the reigning Coach of the Year coming off a playoff season. Now he may be coaching for his job. So he’s changed. So far.

“It’s easy to be up when things are great,” he said on Wednesday. “You're going to have some tough times. There is always a lot to learn, a lot to self-evaluate. You don't have all the answers. You do everything you can do every year to try to be as good as you can be… You lean on a lot of people and try to grow and try to build the team you have for this year, whether that's in the leadership department, the plays, schemes, whatever it may be, the chemistry.

“Those lows, you're going to have them, particularly in this league,” he added. “They're never fun. But they are very good learning tools if you use them the right way.”

One of the more tangible differences he has instituted has been becoming the offensive play-caller after two years of mostly ceding that role to coordinator Mike Kafka. This spring it’s been Daboll on the headset or walkie-talkie sending all the plays to the quarterbacks. It’s too big a stretch to call it a pacifier for his tantrums, but Daboll did suggest holding that responsibility, having to move along to the next play without time to celebrate or scream, has helped him achieve his personality objective.

“There’s an element of that,” he conceded.

Assuming he still calls the plays in the regular season (Daboll hasn’t announced that decision yet but just about everyone expects it to be the case come September) he would theoretically have less time to argue with officials, glower at assistants, and loudly question players if and when things go poorly.

That should help the team, too. Daboll has a long history of play-calling in the NFL, much of it successful, and the Giants’ offense hasn’t been very productive so far under his watch. It was his swashbuckling style as coordinator in Buffalo that helped land him this job with the Giants.

“He's fearless,” new Giants running back Devin Singletary, who was with Daboll in Buffalo, said when asked about his coach’s style as a play-caller. “No fear of failure, only the desire to excel. That's the best way to put it… You have to be on your toes at all times with Daboll.”

Said quarterback Drew Lock, who has been taking the starting reps this spring while Daniel Jones recovers from ACL surgery: “It's been fun to have him in my headset. You can tell he's been doing it for a long time. Great reminders, and good tips, but not too much. Not too much to get you bogged down on what he just said. It's just good tips and reminders.”

If that’s the Daboll the rest of the team gets too this coming season, no matter what their record ends up being they’ll all be better for it. If the raving, rambling, nearly out-of-control Daboll is in charge, though, like he seemed to be last season, there could be a bigger change at head coach than just his style and temperament at this point next year.


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.