Nick Saban needs lightning strike in Alabama football OC hire. Another Brian Daboll would do | Goodbread
It's a big one, this long-anticipated opening for a new offensive coordinator that's suddenly occupying space on Alabama football coach Nick Saban's plate.
Bigger than the DC hire, also pending.
Bigger than the question of who will play quarterback this fall, which will capture the full attention of the Crimson Tide fan base in due time. And bigger than a number of OC hires Saban has had to make in the past, when the offense's new pilot inherited a plane already flying high and straight. That's not the case this time around.
Saban needs to strike lightning with this one.
He needs another Brian Daboll.
That's how Daboll is largely remembered for his one-season pitstop as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2017. Like a lightning strike, he was gone in the blink of an eye; his stay in Tuscaloosa was barely more than 10 months. And he saved his brightest, most powerful flash for the very last play he called: Tua Tagovailoa's overtime touchdown strike to DeVonta Smith to beat Georgia for a national championship. What a way to go out. He probably still had boxes to unpack from his arrival when he jetted back to the NFL to become the Buffalo Bills' OC.
Here's a forwarding address. Drop my ring in the mail.
It was more of an unceremonious exit for Bill O'Brien, who landed where weeks of speculation had already placed him, as the New England Patriots' new offensive coordinator according to reports. His first Alabama offense, in 2021, was an outstanding unit that sputtered at the worst possible moment, riddled with injuries at wide receiver against a vicious Georgia defense in a national championship loss. His 2022 offense was plainly shorter on wide receiver talent than the first, which wasn't O'Brien's fault. But because of that, it needed from O'Brien both identity and imagination, and had little of either.
Those are exactly the elements Daboll brought to a 2017 Alabama offense that wasn't the passing juggernaut that it became after he left. Daboll's offense knew exactly what it was, a downhill rushing attack that averaged 250 yards a game on the ground, and got the most out of Jalen Hurts' dual-threat skillset. After he vanished at Alabama, he went on to win an NFL assistant coach of the year award in Buffalo, then took the New York Giants head job and promptly led the G-Men to their first winning season since 2016.
Alabama's next offensive coordinator faces some pretty heavy lifting.
Guiding an inexperienced quarterback to replace one that won a Heisman Trophy tops the list. A strong relationship, quickly built, with quarterbacks Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson and incoming freshman passers will be paramount. From there, Saban's choice will need to foster a sync between quarterback and wide receivers that was missing at times last year. Then there's an offensive line that must rediscover the bullying ways that allowed its predecessors to deliver a 4-yard rush on command. Saban has been in this spot many times, having to pull the winter levers that make a staff whole again. But for this hire, he needs lightning.
He needs a Daboll.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.