NY Giants’ Brian Daboll caps memorable debut season by winning AP Coach of the Year award

NY Giants’ Brian Daboll caps memorable debut season by winning AP Coach of the Year award

Art Stapleton

NFL writer

Brian Daboll did not bring a victory cigar to NFL Honors on Thursday night, but was given one on the red carpet before he even stepped inside Symphony Hall in Phoenix, Arizona.

Good thing, too, because the head coach of the New York Giants also received reason to celebrate.

Daboll capped off a memorable first season on the sideline by being named AP Coach of the Year, the first Giants head coach to win the award since the late Jim Fassel in 1997. He beat out finalists Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers and Doug Pederson of the Jaguars for the honor, recognized as the league’s top award for the best coaching job in the NFL every year.

In the history of the AP Coach of the Year award, first given out in 1957, only four Giants had won in the previous 65 years: Allie Sherman (1961 and 1962), Bill Parcells (1986), Dan Reeves (1993)and Fassel.

Parcells won the award a second time in 1994 with the Patriots, while Reeves won his second award in 1998 with the Falcons.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders – “Coach Prime” in his second career, now at the University of Colorado – presented Daboll with the trophy.

“I think it’s just a lot of people trying to do the job the best they can, seeking out some wins,” said Daboll, who fought back tears during an emotional acceptance speech. “Obviously, the wins help. But it’s really a collective effort. I know I’m the head coach, but there’s a lot of people in our building, everybody in the building, that contributed to our success this year. And I’m very thankful for the people that I get to work with every day.”

In his first season as head coach, Daboll centered his philosophy on certain tenets as the foundation to what he and general manager Joe Schoen were trying to build here with the Giants. There was no pretense and zero phoniness from the 47-year-old native of Western New York who has changed the narrative around the team that was tied with the Jets for the most losses in the NFL over the last five years when this past season began.

Under Daboll’s guidance, the Giants went 9-7-1 and earned the franchise’s first playoff berth since the team was 11-5 in 2016. He is the fifth coach in Giants history to lead the franchise to the playoffs in his first season.

Eight of Big Blue’s nine victories were by eight points or fewer, five included a second-half comeback and four featured a fourth-quarter comeback. The Giants snapped a streak of five straight seasons of at least 10 losses.

And how’s this for a twist: in his first game as Giants head coach, Daboll beat the 2021 Coach of the Year, Mike Vrabel of the Titans, by showing guts on the road and converting a two-point conversion for the lead on a shovel pass from Daniel Jones to Saquon Barkley with 66 seconds left.

That aggressive display of a belief in his team set the tone for the entire season, one that ended in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Eagles, who will play the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.

How Daboll went about restoring the pride within one of the league’s flagship franchises was been a study in persistence and consistency, especially for a team that has fired each of its last three coaches in two years or fewer. He’s done it not with fear, but fire, focus and a feel for the game of how to genuinely treat people, convincing all those around him that they matter to the Giants’ success.

And they did because he’s made it so.

Daboll’s approach with his team was been lauded all season, striking the proper tone inside and outside the building, and the leaders of the locker room followed suit.

“You’ve got to be real in this game,” Giants linebacker Jihad Ward said. “Players take honesty seriously and he tells you like it is. He’s not shiesty, Dabs is a real one.”

Daboll is no stranger to the work, having embraced the grind of the coaching life for more than two decades, working his way up the ladder in college and the NFL. His first playoff game as a coach was an infamous one – the Tuck Rule game in the 2001 AFC playoffs between the Patriots and the Raiders – and after New England prevailed, Daboll spent the next few hours not celebrating, but holed up in a closet-sized office doing advance scouting work on the next opponent.

Forced to embrace the process over results, Daboll dug in.

“Live in that moment,” he said. It’s been his mantra ever since.

And nearly 21 years later, Daboll led the Giants to their first postseason victory since Super Bowl XLVI when they went to Minnesota and upset the Vikings just three weeks after losing to them on a walk-off 61-yard field goal on Christmas Eve.

For directing the Giants to their best season since they finished atop the NFL world as Super Bowl champions, Daboll completes his first year as head coach with a reward to remember.

“Just to come in, work hard and try to get better every day,” Daboll said. “Each year is a new year. Next year will be a new year. I’m thankful that I got to be part of this team, along with everyone else in our building. And it was a special year. You wish you were continuing to play, but expectation-wise, just come in and work hard. We’re going to have to redo it starting now and build a new team for the 2023 season.”

This content was originally published here.

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