EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brian Daboll hopes a prominent member of the Giants' previous coaching staff will stay on the job.
In response to a question today at his introductory news conference, the new coach said a media report he would like Patrick Graham to remain as the team's defensive coordinator, the position he held the previous two years under Joe Judge, was "accurate."
Daboll and Graham have a history together, having both worked on Bill Belichick's staff in New England from 2013-15.
"I've had a good relationship with Pat for some time in this league," Daboll said. "He's very diligent. He's smart. I think the players respect him. He understands different defenses and I have a good working relationship with him. I did when I was back at New England. Certainly, we hope that he has an opportunity to become a head coach. I think that's everybody's dream, but selfishly, I would love him to be here. He offers a lot to our program. I think he'd be a great support system for me and I'm hoping that that works out."
Nothing is guaranteed. Graham has interviewed for the vacant positions of Minnesota Vikings head coach and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator.
But Graham is highly respected and well-liked among his players and the Giants' hierarchy. He was the team's defensive line coach in 2016-17.
Graham, 43, coached a defense that kept the Giants competitive in games in which the offense struggled. In his first season as coordinator in 2020, the defense was 12thin the NFL by allowing 349.3 yards-per-game after finishing 27th at 377.3 yards the previous season. One year after placing 20th in the NFL, the rushing defense ranked 10th, allowing 111.4 yards a game.
Team president John Mara said it's "very important" that Graham appears to be returning.
"He's very well-respected in this building," Mara said. "The players have a lot of respect for him, as do I. He's a terrific defensive coordinator. Look, for his own sake, I hope he gets a head coaching job. As Brian said, selfishly, we'd be very happy if he stayed."
"I didn't know Patrick Graham and we interviewed him for this head coaching job, and I did my research on him and there's a lot of positive feedback throughout the league, not only in the building, but around the league on Patrick," said general manager Joe Schoen, who was hired 10 days ago. "He had been at Note Dame, he had been at New England, Green Bay, Miami. Just spending three hours with him in an interview setting, he's passionate, very high football acumen, he got me fired up in the interview. He did a really good job, so if he gets that Minnesota job, that's great for him. Selfishly, I would love to keep him here because I'm fired up to work with him because I think he's a good ball coach."
*Daboll was lauded for his play-calling ability in Buffalo, where he was the offensive coordinator the last four years. He previously called plays in Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City. But Daboll is uncertain if he will continue to do that with the Giants.
"I think that's a work in progress," Daboll said. "We'll see who the offensive coordinator is, who the rest of the staff is and then we'll talk about that as we get going through OTAs and minicamps, but it'll be important. That position, that offensive coordinator position, will be an important position for us."
Schoen wouldn't be upset if Daboll subcontracted the play-calling duties.
"I'm not going to rule that out if he is or isn't," Schoen said. "We don't have an offensive coordinator. If for some reason he had to – ideally, he doesn't. I would prefer he manages the game. But, again, as we're still interviewing offensive coordinator candidates, we're going to wait and see how that plays out. Ideally, the offensive coordinator calls the plays, but, again, I'm not going to say that's set in stone because we're going to let Brian make that decision."
*Daboll on becoming the Giants' 20th head coach:
"This was a dream come true," he said. "You're talking about the New York Giants. I understand the challenges with that. It's just a great opportunity that was afforded to me and my family and we look forward to it. We've been working here for two days. We've got a long way to go here. Just a historic franchise and I look forward to being part of it."
*Mara on what impressed him about Daboll:
"He's very genuine, down to earth," Mara said. "He believes in having relationships with people and he's a people person, and I think he's going to fit very well in the building. I think he's very inspirational, too. I think he'll get the guys to perform to the best of their abilities.
"We just wanted to get the best person for the job. I think Brian has a lot of qualities that you look for. He has a certain presence about him. He has the leadership skills, people like working with him, his players revere him. So, I think those are the factors. Obviously, the fact that our offense is so challenged right now, I think he brings a certain skillset that will help us."
*A reporter mentioned to Daboll that the Cincinnati Bengals won six total games in 2019-20 and will play in the Super Bowl in 13 days. So, how quickly can the Giants become playoff contenders?
"I'm just trying to hire a staff," Daboll said. "You're going to try to get me early on that right now. Look, we'll cross those bridges when we get to it. Obviously, that's impressive, those numbers that you gave me, but let's just start crawling before we walk."
View photos of the career of Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.