ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The most conspicuous presence on the Chiefs’ practice field is a stocky man wearing a yellow, long-sleeved T-shirt, red shorts and a floppy hat.
Chiefs new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is in constant motion. A whistle around his neck and practice script clutched in his left hand, Daboll skitters about, signaling routes to receivers and barking instructions to his quarterbacks.
During seven-on-seven drills, Daboll, 37, runs over to the defensive side of the ball and covers the first few steps of his own receivers downfield, patting them on the helmet for jobs well done, and even high-fiving defensive players like Tamba Hali when they win a battle against the offensive tackle in a pass-rush drill.
Of the 87 players and 18 coaches in training camp, it’s doubtful anyone is having more fun in the searing heat of training camp than Daboll, the club’s fifth offensive coordinator in the last four years.
“You have to love football, love what you do,” Daboll said after Monday’s practice, the Chiefs’ second in full pads. “I love what I do; I love coming out here, working with the team, the players, the coaches. You get up every morning with a smile on your face. And each day, it’s a process.
“You put them under some stressful situations, see who can perform under pressure, and you have to come out here and love what you do.”
Daboll inherited an offense that was ravaged by injuries last season, including early, season-ending knee injuries to halfback Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki, and a midseason hand injury to quarterback Matt Cassel. The Chiefs ranked 27th in total offense and 31st in scoring, so he came to Kansas City having to roll up those long sleeves.
Cassel, Charles and Moeaki all appear to be healthy, the Chiefs added tight end Kevin Boss and offensive tackle Eric Winston to the mix, and Daboll, who spent 2000-06 as an assistant to offensive coordinator Charlie Weis for three Super Bowl winning teams at New England, is installing an aggressive, attacking offense.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Winston, who cited Daboll’s offense as one of the reasons he signed with the Chiefs as a free agent. “I always liked the way he carried himself. I like his enthusiasm, I like the way he looks at an offense and how he looks at attacking a defense. It’s the way you have to be successful I this league.
“You can’t sit back and just think it’s going to happen. You have to get guys open and scheme running plays. You have to do those things to score a lot of points. I came from a place where we did that pretty well, and Daboll is cut from the same kind of cloth.”
Daboll’s experience as an offensive coordinator includes 2009-10 at Cleveland, where new Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis gained 1,177 yards, and new backup Brady Quinn started nine games. He spent last year at Miami, which got off to a desultory 0-7 start before beating the Chiefs 31-3 at Arrowhead.
From that point on, the Dolphins, who also had some instability at quarterback, closed 6-3, and for the first time in club history, Miami boasted both a 1,000-yard rusher in Reggie Bush and a 1,000-yard receiver in Brandon Marshall.
“I’ve been a few different places, and I’ve taken bits and pieces from all of the offenses,” said Daboll, who also was quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets for two years, including Brett Favre’s stay in 2008. “At the end of the day, you have to do what suits your players”
Quinn, who enjoyed the best stretch of his career in 2009 when he started nine games at Cleveland and threw 150 passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in a four-game span, was happy to reunite with Daboll.
“Coach Daboll is really smart,” Quinn said. “So he’s going to exploit weaknesses he sees on film or things they do maybe coverage-wise. On top of that, he’s creative. He’s going to come up with stuff that other teams or other coaches may be scared to do, but he’s not.”