The Giants are a long way removed from their two Super Bowl victories in a five-year period in 2007-11, but the franchise could finally be moving in the right direction after some savvy hires this off-season. New York has posted double-digit losses in five straight seasons and in seven of the last eight years, but GM Dave Gettleman was forced to retire at the end of the 2021 season after a disastrous four-year run as the general manager. New GM Joe Schoen has a lot of work in front of him with Gettleman leaving the cupboard pretty bare despite the franchise constantly picking in the top half of the draft during his tenure. Schoen spent the last five seasons under Brandon Beane building a perennial AFC contender in Buffalo, and it came as no surprise that he tabbed his Bills’ OC Brian Daboll to be New York’s fifth head coach in the last eight years.
The Bills established themselves as perennial Super Bowl contenders over the last two seasons with Josh Allen developing into one of the league’s premier players under Daboll’s guidance. Allen experienced a meteoric rise the last two years with Daboll completely reinventing Buffalo’s offense from a run-centric attack in 2018-19 to a pass-heavy approach the last two years after the franchise traded for Stefon Diggs in the 2020 off-season. This will be Daboll’s first experience as a head coach at any level after four different stints as an NFL offensive coordinator. His career appeared to be on the fast track after winning three Super Bowls as a top assistant with the Patriots in the early 2000s, but he fell out of favor in league circles after coordinating bottom of the barrel offenses in four consecutive seasons with three different teams (Brown, Dolphins, and Chiefs) in 2009-12. He returned to Bill Belichick’s staff as a TEs coach in 2013-16 to rehabilitate his coaching career before his big break came when he reunited with Nick Saban as an offensive coordinator on Alabama’s 2017 CFP championship team. The Giants haven’t publicly announced who will call plays but Daboll is expected to handle the duties over up-and-coming OC Mike Kafka for at least this season.
The Brian Daboll File
Playcalling Experience: Bills OC (2018-21), Alabama OC (2017), Chiefs OC (2012), Dolphins OC (2011), Browns OC (2009-10)
Other Coaching Experience: Patriots TEs (2013-16), Jets QBs (2007-08), Patriots WRs (2002-06)
Coaches Worked Under: Bill Belichick (2013-16, 2000-06), Nick Saban (2017, 1998-99)
Notable: NFL Assistant Coach of the Year (2020), five-time Super Bowl champion (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016), CFP national champion (2017)
Potential Offensive Changes
Buffalo has finished with top-three scoring offenses, top-five total offenses, and top-10 passing offenses in each of the last two seasons under Daboll. On the flip side, New York has finished 31st in scoring offenses and 31st in total offenses in each of the last two seasons under Garrett’s leadership until he was fired in late November last year. Daboll did guide some of the league’s worst offenses through his first six seasons as an offensive coordinator until he flipped the script with Allen starting in 2020. Daboll’s offenses finished in the top-six in rushing attempts in five of his first six seasons as an NFL coordinator until he changed his stripes the last two seasons after the Bills traded for Diggs.
The Bills have operated as a pass-first team in each of the last two years, throwing at the second-highest clip in all one-score situations in both 2020 (64%) and 2021 (65%). Buffalo also used 11 personnel at the fourth-highest rate (71%) and 10 personnel at the third-highest rate (7%) last season. The Giants were right at the league average in 11 personnel at 61% and they ran just five plays out of 10 personnel last season. The Bills easily paced the league in play-action pass attempts (213) and Alen averaged a healthy 8.0 YPA with 14 passing scores on those attempts. Jones averaged a healthy 10.0 play-action attempts per game (110 attempts in 11 games) last season but he averaged just 7.2 YPA on those passes. The Bills also ran the fourth-most RPOs last season with 197 and the Giants ran the 10th-most RPOs plays (105) last season.
New York’s offensive personnel is still up in the air with Saquon Barkley available for trade, Evan Engram entering free agency, and Sterling Shepard a potential cut candidate if he doesn’t restructure his contract. Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay could be headed toward large roles based on Buffalo’s attack in 2020-21. Buffalo WRs were targeted at the second-highest rate (73%) over the last two seasons behind only Washington WRs at 74%. Meanwhile, Buffalo TEs were targeted at the second-lowest rate (12%) in that same span ahead of only the Panthers TEs at 11%, and Buffalo RBs were also targeted at the fourth-lowest rate (15%) for the position.
Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on the playcaller changes.
Kadarius Toney (WR) — Toney has a chance to break out in Daboll’s offense if he can stay healthy and if he can get in the good graces of New York’s new leadership…two big ifs after an inauspicious start to his pro career. Both Daboll and Schoen at least seemed willing to work with Toney when they spoke at the combine. Daboll said Toney will have a “clean slate” despite his many missteps as a rookie under the previous regime while Schoen shot down the possibility of trading Toney this off-season. Toney will get all the snaps and targets that he desires if he’s able to actually stay on the field after dealing with ankle, hamstring, thumb, shoulder, oblique, quad, and shoulder injuries last season, as well as two different COVID stints. Bills WRs averaged an NFL-best 26.4 targets per game in 2020-21 and Daboll called the most plays with 11 or 10 personnel on the field during that span. Toney showed he has massive potential when he hung 10/189 receiving against Dallas in the only game when he played more than 66% of the snaps, and Daboll’s system could pull the best out of him in Year Two.
Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on playcaller changes.
Daniel Jones (QB) — Daboll will try to work his magic to get Jones heading in the right direction as he did for Allen over his first four seasons. Allen is the defending QB1 after averaging 23.7 FPG in 2021, which came a year after he reset Buffalo franchise records for passing yards (4544), passing touchdowns (37), and passer rating (107.2). Allen was dripping with size, speed, and arm talent when the Bills drafted him seventh overall in 2018, but he was unrefined when Daboll started working with him. Jones isn’t in the same talent stratosphere as Allen (few quarterbacks are), and he’s already worked with accomplished QB coaches like David Cutcliffe, Pat Shurmur, and Jason Garrett early in his career. I’m skeptical that Jones is going to dramatically improve heading into his fourth season, but he should at least be in a better offensive environment with competent playcalling.
The Bills featured one of the pass-happiest offenses the last two seasons, and OC Kafka also comes from a pass-heavy system as the QB coach/passing-game coordinator in Kansas City the last four seasons. Daboll and Kafka will dial back their aggressiveness from their previous stops since they’re lacking the same elite personnel, but they should mostly stick with what they’ve done best the last few seasons. Daboll and Kafka have worked with the two of the league’s best young quarterbacks over the last four seasons, and their decision on Jones’ fifth-year extension will speak loudly about what they think of him with the deadline fast approaching on May 2. The Giants have the fifth and seventh overall picks to potentially pursue a quarterback early in the draft, and they’ve also been linked to unrestricted free agent Mitch Trubisky with his ties to Daboll and Schoen. Jones is setting up to be an intriguing late-round flier if he makes it through the off-season relatively unscathed, but the level of fantasy optimism will be determined by New York’s quarterback decisions over the next seven weeks.