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Why Brian Daboll is the front-runner to be the Chargers’ next coach

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll pats quarterback Josh Allen on the helmet before a game.
Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll pats quarterback Josh Allen on the helmet before a game against the Miami Dolphins in October 2019.
(Adrian Kraus / Associated Press)

In the early 1990s, Tom Telesco and Brian Daboll were both students at St. Francis High in upstate New York.

The two could be pairing up again soon since Daboll is a favorite to replace Anthony Lynn as the Chargers’ next head coach, a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly confirmed Saturday.

Though nothing has been decided and the process is ongoing, Daboll does appear to be Telesco’s first choice, something that, given their history together, has been widely speculated.

Telesco, the Chargers’ general manager since 2013, recently downplayed his connection with Daboll, telling reporters last week not to read too much into it.

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But that familiarity certainly hasn’t hurt Daboll’s chances in a season during which he has established himself as a popular head-coaching candidate because of his work as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator.

Will the Chargers look again at the Buffalo Bills when choosing their next head coach? Here’s why Brian Daboll could be on their coaching radar.

The Bills finished second in points and total yards in the NFL in 2020 with young quarterback Josh Allen making his first Pro Bowl. Allen, in his third season, showed significant progress, finishing with 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

Allen has a similar skill set to Justin Herbert, the Chargers’ rookie quarterback who played well enough this season to become the favorite to become the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year.

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Daboll and the Bills play Baltimore in the divisional round of the playoffs at 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Under NFL guidelines, he has to finish the season before officially taking a job with another team.

Telesco said last week that he would be patient making this hire, suggesting that he could wait until after the Super Bowl if necessary.

Two other candidates who have met with the Chargers — Brandon Staley (defensive coordinator of the Rams) and Eric Bieniemy (offensive coordinator for Kansas City) — also remain in the playoffs.

The team also has interviewed offensive coordinators Jason Garrett (New York Giants) and Joe Brady (Carolina) and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus (Indianapolis).

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Daboll, 45, served as offensive coordinator with Cleveland (2009-10), Miami (2011) and Kansas City (2012). This is his third season with the Bills.

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll directs players during training camp in August.
(James P. McCoy / The Buffalo News via AP)

His first NFL coaching job came as a defensive assistant with New England in 2000, the year Bill Belichick took over the Patriots.

Daboll had two stints in New England, totaling 11 years while winning five Super Bowls. Under Belichick, he worked his way up coaching wide receivers and tight ends.

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In 2017, Daboll left the NFL to be the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban at Alabama. That team averaged 37 points en route to winning the national championship behind quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa.

Daboll then was hired by Sean McDermott in Buffalo during Allen’s rookie season.

The Bills were 30th in total offense in 2018 and 24th in 2019 before taking a big step forward this year.

Brandon Staley, Brian Daboll and Eric Bieniemy remain candidates for the Chargers’ coaching job, but the team might have to wait to make a decision.

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Telesco got a recent look at Daboll’s work on Nov. 29, when the Bills beat the Chargers 27-17. Buffalo’s scoring that day included receiver Cole Beasley throwing a touchdown pass on a trick play.

In searching for Anthony Lynn’s replacement, the Chargers met with Robert Saleh before he agreed to a contract with the New York Jets and Arthur Smith before he was hired by Atlanta.

If the Chargers do opt for Daboll, he would be taking the same step Lynn took four years ago. Lynn was Buffalo’s offensive coordinator before Telesco hired him to be the Chargers’ head coach.

Lynn was dismissed last week after four seasons, one playoff appearance and a 33-31 record.

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This will be Telesco’s third head-coaching hire since joining the Chargers in January of 2013. Mike McCoy went 27-37 in Telesco’s first four seasons leading the franchise.


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