It’s 2018. The Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, and New York Jets all desperately need quarterbacks to lead their teams. There’s a raging debate on who should be selected first overall. Ultimately, Baker Mayfield is selected by the Browns and the Bills make the shocking move to trade up for Josh Allen, arguably the most polarizing player of the bunch. Years later, Allen is now unquestionably the best quarterback to come from that draft and some would even say is a top-three QB in the NFL today. His success is largely thanks to former Bills offensive coordinator and now New York Giants head coach, Brian Daboll.
Daboll has had an interesting path to his first coaching job, to say the least. He’s worked with Michigan State (under Nick Saban), the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Kansas Chiefs, the University of Alabama (also under Saban), and finally the Buffalo Bills. He was in fact the offensive coordinator at Alabama the year they beat Georgia in overtime in the National Championship, leading to Jalen Hurts’ transfer and Tua Tagovailoa’s rise.
Without a doubt, Josh Allen’s rise to dominance has been Daboll’s crowning achievement as a coach and is a big reason why the Giants hired him. Whether he can revive Daniel Jones’ career or do the same to whoever his successor will be in the Big Apple remains to be seen but this was the right first step in building toward success.
Daboll is a difficult coach to break down philosophy-wise but that’s what makes him such a good one. He’s experimented with, and been exposed to, so many different offensive (and defensive) schemes over his time as an assistant coach that he understands one crucial fact. The key to success isn’t making your personnel fit to your system, it’s making your system fit your personnel.
With that said, there are several things that you can almost always expect from a Brian Daboll offense. The first is pre-snap motion. The reason for this is one of the keys to Daboll’s development of quarterbacks: he’s not afraid to simplify the offense to help the QB. Too often coaches allow their egos to get in the way and insist their own system is the path to success. Daboll is not afraid of, for lack of a better term, dumbing down the offense to help young quarterbacks. The pre-snap motion allows for a quarterback to immediately identify if he’s facing zone or man coverage from the get-go. While a simple addition to the system, it’s one that already helps the quarterback past the first step to running it efficiently.
Another aspect that Daboll loves to include in any of his offenses, and a large reason why Josh Allen fit so well in what he ran in Buffalo, is the play-action. Allowing the time for the quarterback to fake a handoff to the back quite literally allows the play to develop. It gives the quarterback time to make the proper read rather than depend on him to anticipate what might happen and make his throw based on his best guess. Giving young quarterbacks time to read the play after it has developed a bit alleviates an untold amount of pressure off the quarterback.
The final thing that Daboll likes to implement in his offenses is crossing and mesh routes. These are routes that have receivers run across the field and pass by each other very closely. Seems like a simple enough plan except that unless your defense is very well prepared, it’s extremely easy to lose your coverage and leave one of the receivers open. This is why speedy receivers like Stefon Diggs are able to find such success in Daboll’s system.
While it’s impossible to state definitively what system Daboll will run with the Giants, it’s particularly important for him to instill these core tenants of his system. This allows young quarterbacks to develop so well with him as their coach and be the key to the Giants’ future success at QB.
Who Stands To Benefit?
Darius Slayton, WR
It’s reasonable to expect all Giants wide receivers will benefit from the coaching change. In Joe Judge’s offense, the highest-ranked wide receiver on the Giants roster when it came to fantasy was Kenny Golladay who finished 86th among qualifying receivers. While Golladay is certainly a popular pick to be one of the season’s best sleepers, the other two receivers in Kadarius Toney and Darius Slayton are also ones to look out for.
Despite earlier trade rumors, Daboll has said he’ll work to make sure that Toney will be utilized in multiple ways this upcoming season. Slayton in the meantime is currently slated to replace Sterling Shepard as the #3 receiver on the Giants roster. Shepard tore his Achilles in Week 15 of last season and has not participated in any minicamp activities and is likely to start training camp on the PUP list.
This leaves an opportunity wide open for Darius Slayton to take advantage of. The Giants will lean heavily on the run game, but they’ll inevitably fall behind in most if not all of their games in the 4th quarter. Slayton saw 84 targets and finished with eight receiving touchdowns last year so expecting his stats to go up from there is not unreasonable. This almost certainly means the new offense will lead to more opportunities for Slayton to make a name for himself as a solid bench option and possibly even a legitimate FLEX possibility.
Daniel Jones, QB
This might be the king of hot takes from all my new hire articles. Jones will almost certainly not cement himself as a week-in and week-out starter this season but it is not outside of the realm of possibility that he could prove to be an effective streaming option or a replacement should your top QB goes down with a significant injury.
Jones has many of the same assets and complaints as Josh Allen did. Good mobility and he can throw on the run, but decision-making and efficiency to read defenses correctly are still areas of concern. In his first full season under Daboll’s system, Josh Allen had 29 total touchdowns, proving that if Jones can get a hold of this system, he can repeat stats similar to this.
Potential Break-Out Player
Kadarius Toney, WR
Talk about an eventful offseason. Toney’s selection in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft raised eyebrows for some and his turbulent rookie season only proved the doubters correct. It reached the point where Toney was a legitimate trade piece approaching the draft just a few months ago. Now, it seems as though he’s going to have at least one more season with the Giants.
Toney’s versatility provides a particularly valuable asset in Daboll’s system. As pointed out previously, the players who are utilized in his crossing routes and especially pre-snap motion usually benefit with more touches. An important stat to note with Toney is he had a 25% target rate per route last year which was tied for 7th best in the NFL. His talent can’t be denied and if Daboll figures out how to properly utilize him, he could finally live up to his potential.
Toney figures to go largely undrafted in most leagues this summer but if you’re unsure of which receiver to add to your bench in the later rounds, Toney is worth a look. Draft him as an insurance option first with the hopeful expectations of him blossoming into a WR2/3 or FLEX option as the season progresses and he learns the system.
Kenny Golladay Will Finish As A Top-10 Receiver
Golladay was without a doubt one of the most disappointing receivers not just for the New York Giants but for fantasy football managers everywhere. After signing a massive 4-year, $72 million deal with New York, he had only 37 catches for 521 yards and a whopping zero touchdowns.
However, it’s important to remember that the last time Golladay played a full season, he finished his season with 65 receptions for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns. The season before that repeated near identical results in every category except for touchdowns. So it’s not fair to say Golladay’s success in Detroit was only due to the system.
At 6’4”, 213 lbs. and still just 28 years old, there’s still plenty of time and physical attributes to make me a believer out of Golladay. While Stefon Diggs found success in Minnesota, it was Daboll’s ability to expand on that success in Buffalo that proved he knows how to properly utilize talent. Golladay is a special talent and is unquestionably Jones’ top target. With the Giants’ passing game likely to be extremely active in the last quarter of most of their games this season, expect Golladay to receive a large share of passes, exploding his talent in PPR leagues.