If you could ask him, I bet Brian Daboll would tell you that he's never received this kind of attention before in his career. The new offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins has stolen the headlines this week since reports surfaced earlier this week that the Dolphins were on the verge of naming him to their coaching staff.
On Wednesday, the official announcement was made with a surprising press conference - one that featured general manager Jeff Ireland, head coach Tony Sparano and, of course, Daboll himself. This was a particularly refreshing event considering this regime has been against introductory press conferences since they came to town in early 2008. Just last year, for example, the Dolphins chose not to have a press conference to announce the hiring of Mike Nolan as the new defensive coordinator - which was kind of a big deal. They also refused to have any kind of media gathering on team grounds for big offseason additions Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby. Marshall, you'll remember, held his own introductory press conference himself.
"You know us pretty well, this is something we don’t normally do," Ireland began the press conference. "It is a little bit different then what we normally do. But we are excited about the direction of the franchise, we really are. We wanted to convey that to you. We are moving on and we are looking forward to changing the direction of the franchise."
The fact that the Dolphins were willing to hold an introductory press conference for Brian Daboll shows a big change from how this team has been run the past few years. Hopefully Daboll himself also proves to be a big change from the "same old" we got used to under former offensive coordinator Dan Henning.
Let's get to some of my impressions from the event itself.
Energy and excitement clearly a priority
I feel that the biggest thing to take away from Wednesday's press conference is how different of a personality Brian Daboll will be from what we've been used to. The three men who spoke yesterday - Ireland, Sparano, and Daboll - combined to use the word "excited" over twenty times. And when Daboll really got going during his few minutes with the media, you could clearly see the excitement and energy the man is going to bring.
He began pacing behind the podium about halfway through his press conference. It wasn't an uncomfortable, nervous pacing, either. It was clear that Daboll just wasn't able to contain how excited he was. I believe that his players are going to respond well to that kind of energy. It's a far cry from Henning's dry, seemingly emotionless personality we suffered through for three years.
"Some of the things I was looking for out of this whole thing was obviously someone who had a really clear vision and maybe shared some of the same thoughts that I might have of where we want to go offensively," said Sparano during Daboll's introduction. "Someone who came in with an exciting plan, with an exciting demeanor that would bring energy from that stand point to our players and our football team."
I think that Sparano clearly noticed what many of us did last year - especially later in the season. The offense just looked lifeless. There was no energy. There was no fire. Could that have been a reflection of the person running the offense? Quite possibly.
I also think that Sparano and Henning might not have been on the same page as often as we all thought. The fact that Sparano, in an obviously prepared introduction, would mention bringing in somebody who "shared some of the same thoughts that I might have of where we want to go offensively" tells me that there may have been some difference in opinion between what Sparano wanted to do and what Henning was comfortable doing.
Regardless, there's no question that Daboll is going to bring a different passion and energy to this offense. Whether or not this translates to some success remains to be seen.
Will Daboll bring a different offensive philosophy?
"I think we are going to do whatever we need to do to give us a chance. Like I said, whether that is spread it out - I think there is definitely some tools to be able to do that - or tighten it down to determine the type of players you are playing against," Daboll responded when asked about his play-calling. "What we are going to try to do is attack the weaknesses of the defense and we are going to try and maximize our strengths. Whether that is spread it open, ‘let’s go’, let’s get in a no huddle and move [or] whether that is tighten down, we are going to do that."
Daboll also said the team will use various personnel groupings and that they are "going to try to use formations, some different motions, and different shifts to try to create mismatches." Of course, this is what every offensive coordinator would tell you. The question is how effectively will Daboll's offense be able to create and take advantage of these mismatches.
An obvious difference, though, will be the freedom Daboll said he plans on giving his quarterback. Henning gave little power to the quarterback to make changes at the line. Daboll, on the surface, seems more willing to give the quarterback some slack.
"This is a quarterback friendly system where he is going to be able to make a lot of different adjustments at the line of scrimmage and I am going to take an active role to be with him in the meetings and getting him to develop the way I think he can develop."
Of course, who will that quarterback be?
Daboll's comments on the quarterback
Daboll was asked if it's safe to assume Chad Henne will be the team's starting quarterback. Daboll, though, didn't exactly give Henne a ringing endorsement.
"Well, yea, Chad is on our roster," Daboll responded. "Again, I know here we are going research every available player whether it is draft or free agency, but I am excited to work with Chad. I think he has some tools I think we can develop and whoever else is out there. That is what we will do."
But based on how Daboll describes the kind of quarterback he likes, Henne has his work cut out for him.
"Accuracy, I would say, pocket presence and I would say his ability to lead the troops under pressure," is how he responded to a question about what he looks for in a quarterback. "He is going to have to be good on third down in terms of handling pressure looks that he is going to get and beating man-to-man coverage. He is going to have to be accurate with the football."
Despite Henne's 61% completion percentage, he isn't exactly known for being an accurate quarterback. That figure is inflated by the absurd amount of checkdown throws he makes. On passes thrown beyond 10 yards through the air, Henne completed just 48% of his passes, threw 8 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 63.9.
Did Henne at least effectively "lead the troops under pressure?" Not exactly. This past year, Henne had a passer rating of 58.4 in the fourth quarter of games that were within a touchdown.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this. But my gut feeling is that Chad Henne is not going to be the starting quarterback in Daboll's system come September.
Needless to say, there was a lot to digest from this brief introductory press conference. Hopefully I broke it down into reasonable chunks. And now it's time for all of you to share your thoughts...