Brian Daboll was once tasked with getting the most out of Chad Henne.
Now, Daboll helps unleash the power of Gronk.
Fair to say he has traded up, even if he technically has taken a demotion.
Daboll will coach the Patriots’ tight ends against the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49 on Sunday. And any conversation of that position for that team begins and ends with Rob Gronkowski, a player as entertaining off the field as he is electric on it.
But Daboll, the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator during the franchise’s fateful 2011 season, sees a different side to his hard-partying, rump-shaking star player.
“I know that when he’s in our meeting room and when we’re working and getting ready to prepare for games, it’s not like Rob’s up there dancing in the meeting room or goofing off,” Daboll said. “He’s really not. The thing that I see, that I know, is that he’s a pretty serious guy in terms of his craft. He wants to do as good as he can do, and he wants to help the team. He’s a very selfless guy.”
Gronkowski caught 82 passes for the Patriots in 2014. But in the lead-up to Sunday’s game, Daboll was quick to mention one of the very few passes his tight end did not catch.
“I remember one time early in the year, he dropped the ball,” the coach said. “He came over to me [upset and says], ‘I’m sorry, Coach.’ It legitimately affected him because he wants to make sure he does everything to help our football team.”
Daboll is one of three former Dolphins on the Patriots’ coaching staff; Scott O’Brien (special teams) and Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line) are the others.
Daboll and DeGuglielmo were two of the many victims of the Dolphins’ disastrous 2011, which began with owner Stephen Ross trying to replace coach Tony Sparano, and ended with him finally doing so.
“Every experience that I’ve had, you try to take the positive things and try to learn from them,” Daboll said of the year he spent in Miami. “I’ve learned this very quickly in this league — you’ve got to learn from your experiences and you have to move on.”
He added: “I appreciated the opportunity and met a lot of good people, both in the front office, coaches, players. I just tried to move on from that and do as good a job as I can do now.”
The list of similarities between the Seahawks and Patriots is far too long for this space, but here’s one that explains why each team is here:
Since the start of the 2012 season, both teams are plus-51 in turnover margin, tied for the best mark in the league
“It is the No. 1 thing that we emphasize in the program because we think it is the biggest single factor that determines winning or losing,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s a big commitment that goes across the board, all players on the team have to weigh into that.”
▪ The Seahawks, next to unbeatable at home in the playoffs, have been far more mortal away from the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is 11-2 all-time in home playoff games, and 3-10 in either road or neutral stadiums.
▪ The Seahawks and Patriots have split 16 all-time meetings. None of those were in the playoffs, noteworthy because the teams spent 25 years in the same conference before Seattle moved to the NFC.
▪ Eight sets of college teammates will face off Sunday, including New England’s Rob Ninkovich and Seattle’s Cliff Avril, who were both part of Purdue’s defensive line in 2004 and ’05.
▪ Patriots running back James White (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) is one of several people with South Florida ties in this year’s game.