They were together for only one season, yet Scott Chandler saw plenty from Brian Daboll that convinced him he was an exceptional football coach.
Chandler admired the fact Daboll not only had a thorough understanding of how to tutor tight ends — the position he guided when Chandler played it for a final season in the NFL with the New England Patriots in 2015 — but that he also comprehended a much larger picture.
That, Chandler believes, should serve the Buffalo Bills well with Daboll as their new offensive coordinator.
"You can tell that he's put a lot of time into really wanting to fully know everything," Chandler, who played for the Bills from 2010 to 2014, said by phone Monday. "I think that lends itself to him being a coordinator. But as a tight end coach, that was pretty special to have a guy who had that great a grasp of what we were trying to do on offense. I thought Brian was the smartest tight end coach I was around."
Retired quarterback Brady Quinn played for the Cleveland Browns while Daboll was their offensive coordinator in 2009 and the Kansas City Chiefs while Daboll ran their offense in 2012. Quinn appreciated many qualities about his former coach, beginning with his tremendous work ethic.
"He is as hard of a worker as you're going to come by," Quinn said by phone. "I mean, the guy eats, sleeps football. A big-time grinder. And going back home, because he's from the Buffalo area, I know this is huge for him, just the opportunity, so no one's going to work harder than he is as far as preparation and everything else."
The 42-year-old Daboll joined the Bills Sunday as the replacement for Rick Dennison, fired last Friday after one season. Born in Welland, Ont., and raised by his grandparents in West Seneca, the St. Francis High School graduate left indelible marks on Chandler and Quinn.
Chandler pointed out that, due to the relatively small size of Bill Belichick's Patriots coaching staff, Daboll was able to have a substantial voice in preparing game plans, even though Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator. In two coaching stints with the Patriots (2000 to 2006 and 2013 to 2016), Daboll not only was part of five Super Bowl championships, but also enhanced his overall knowledge of the game by coaching defense, as well as wide receivers, and tight ends.
As far as Chandler was concerned, the team benefited a great deal from his versatility.
"He just had a really good grasp of how to attack teams," said Chandler, who lived next door to Daboll in New England. "He'll go into games looking at the best matchup, whether that's a running back on a linebacker, outside or inside, or slot (because) they don't think their nickel can cover well. Or you think the tight ends can get down the seam. Or they think that the running game is something that they'll able to exploit that week.
"Being in New England, teams almost always don't do what they've done all season in that game. So you're always making adjustments, significant ones, because no matter what you rep all week, going into the New England game, (the opponent's) going to do something completely different. There was one or two instances where teams came out and did what they've done (defensively) and you're rolling right away. But most of the time, it's, 'Alright, this is what they're going to do after the first two drives. This is what it looks like they're going to do today.'
"(The coaches) were always constantly having to make adjustments, and I think Brian was a big part of helping Josh see that."
In all, Daboll coached in the NFL for 17 years before helping the University of Alabama win a national championship earlier this month as the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator. He was the New York Jets' quarterback coach in 2007 and 2008. The Bills will be the fourth NFL team for which he has served as an OC. Besides the Browns ('09-'10) and Chiefs ('12), he also did so with the Miami Dolphins (2011).
The best production by a Daboll NFL offense was the one he had in Miami, which ranked 20th in the league in scoring and 22nd in total yards (23rd in passing and 11th in rushing). The '09-10 Browns had the worst; they were 29th and 31st in the NFL in scoring and 32nd and 29th in total yards.
Quinn expects offense Daboll oversees in Buffalo to employ various elements of what he has absorbed from working with other coaches and philosophies.
"His offense (with the Browns was) a combination of what he has had previously in New England, with the Jets during his time with (offensive coordinator) Brian Schottenheimer, and then as he came to Cleveland, I think he kind of was able to formulate how he wanted to make it his own and put his own style and twist on it," Quinn said. "But even while he was in Cleveland, when Mike Holmgren came in (as president), they implemented some West Coast concepts and some things in the drop-back passing game that he implemented that weren't there when I was with him in Cleveland in '09 that were there when I was with him (with the Chiefs) in 2012.
"He's adapted and evolved and his system, I'm sure, has grown and changed just over the course of time. He was a first-time play-caller in '09, so I felt like he was still at that point growing and changing and kind of figuring out his identity as a play-caller. It wasn't the smoothest year, but that second half of the season, if you look at how much we grew and changed, how much we improved in the passing game, running game, all that. It was a dramatic difference."
How will Daboll handle the development of a rookie quarterback, which is likely to be a large part of his duties with the expectation of the Bills moving on from Tyrod Taylor and using a high pick on a QB?
Chandler thinks Daboll demonstrated his skills in that area while contributing to the guidance of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who the Patriots drafted in 2014.
"I was there for Jimmy's second year, and you could tell that he wasn't a fully confident kid when I got there," Chandler said. "And by end of that year, he had kind of grown in confidence and you could really tell that he was about to really take hold of the grasp of the offense, of the way things in the NFL work. And then I watched that next year as Jimmy really took off. Brian was there the full time of Jimmy's development those first three years. And I think he'll use that (with the Bills), because I don't know how much better you can bring a guy along than what Jimmy's being doing this year."
"One thing, as a former quarterback of his, you were always very, very well-prepared, as far as what to expect, what (the opponent) was doing, what you thought they may be doing with your preparation, your film prep and everything else," Quinn said. "He was incredible at doing that."