During last year's postseason run, the New England Patriots made a curious move to bring back coach Brian Daboll into a coaching assistant role. Daboll has New England in his blood, having cut his teeth with the franchise in 2000 as a defensive assistant, before moving over to be the wide receivers coach from 2002 to 2006.
He moved up to be the Jets quarterback coach in 2007 and 2008, before getting hired as the Browns offensive coordinator for 2009 and 2010. After that, he hopped to the Dolphins as their offensive coordinator in 2011 and over to the Chiefs as their offensive coordinator in 2012.
Daboll's been around the coaching block and still stands at 38 years young. Bill Belichick and the Patriots thought it was worth bringing him back to have another developed offensive coaching mind back in the system, possibly for fresh eyes, possibly for a potential larger role.
The curious thing about Daboll is that he has a nose for talent. There's no coincidence the Patriots wanted to bring him in as soon as possible, in order to let him get his hands dirty and his feet wet with the NFL draft. According to the book War Room by Michael Holley, Daboll was the coach who didn't like the draft pick of Chad Jackson, but was overridden by Belichick and Josh McDaniels.
In fact, there was some tension that stemmed from the promotion of McDaniels to offensive coordinator over Daboll, who had spent more time in the system.
Daboll helped groom Deion Branch and David Givens, the last two productive wide receivers the Patriots drafted for themselves (apart from Julian Edelman's emergence into stardom/system player status). In fact, their selection in 2002 coincides directly with Daboll as the wide receivers coach.
It's no coincidence that the Patriots are seeing positive gains with their rookie wide receivers this year. Daboll's return signifies not just a base level of humility between Belichick and McDaniels, but it also shows the team wanting to turn a new leaf with player development. While Daboll spent most of his time with the offensive line over the offseason, his value runs deeper.
He's a versatile football mind that can help this franchise in the future. He's a potential replacement should Dante Scarnecchia retire. He's a potential offensive coordinator candidate should Josh McDaniels receive another opportunity, or for when Belichick retires. He's a scouting mind and could possibly take a route to the front office, similar to how Nick Caserio made the switch (and with Caserio being a desired candidate around the league, the spot may open up soon).
Daboll's value can be seen in Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins. It'll be interesting to see how his role and impact continues to grow.