Brian Daboll remains close with Rob Gronkowski, but the New York Giants’ head coach isn’t counting on the four-time Super Bowl champion coming out of retirement any time soon.
Gronkowski, perhaps the greatest tight end in NFL history, appeared on the “Up & Adams” show and told Kay Adams, “Brian Daboll. He can’t get me out of retirement, but he would have the best chance to get me out of retirement.”
Daboll, who worked with Gronkowski as tight ends coach for the New England Patriots from 2013-16, told reporters, “We’ve talked. I’m not saying we’ve talked about that, but he’s a close friend,” before concluding, “I wouldn’t read too much into that,” per SNY.tv’s Giants Videos.
Those words put a dampener on the possibility of a reunion between Daboll and the player who became the dominant force of his era at his position during a decorated career with the Pats and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fortunately, Giants fans needn’t rue any near miss. Not when Daboll already has another dynamic, playmaking tight end to work with in the form of Darren Waller.
Daboll’s history with Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett in New England bodes well for a career revival for former Pro Bowler Waller. He already looks like the No. 1 receiver at the disposal of quarterback Daniel Jones.
Giants Have Their Own ‘Gronk’
Each of those seasons saw Gronkowski top 1100 receiving yards. He became Tom Brady’s go-to receiver, the same way Waller is expected to be Jones’ premium weapon.
Positioning Waller is a key part of the process, and the Giants are already doing that, based on preseason action. He was detached into the slot for this grab during the 21-19 win over the Carolina Panthers on Friday, August 18, highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View.
This was one of three catches from four targets for Waller, ample proof of his already owning top receiver status in the Giants’ passing game. Waller can expect more targets and more creative use thanks to what Daboll did with Gronkowski.
There’s also the presence of Mike Kafka as Giants’ offensive coordinator. Kafka previously worked with the Kansas City Chiefs and saw how Travis Kelce became the focal point among Patrick Mahomes’ pass-catchers, with Waller likely to take on a similar role.
Waller isn’t the only reason the Giants don’t need to entertain a Gronkowski comeback. Not when Daboll can recreate a similar two-tight end attack that’s worked for him in the past.
Two Tight End Offense Can Make Giants Unstoppable
Aside from his praise for Daboll, one of Gronkowski’s most telling comments to Adams concerned the value of a two-tight end offense: “I always believed that having two tight ends is the best, it makes the defense have the most difficult times. If you have two tight ends, I think that can make an offense unstoppable.”
While Gronkowski admitted forming a duo with Waller “would be pretty wild,” Daboll and Kafka already have the makings of a formidable partnership thanks to Daniel Bellinger. The second-year pro is a big-bodied target at 6-foot-6, 255-pounds who averaged 8.9 yards per reception as a rookie.
Bellinger can be the closer in the red zone after Waller has moved the Giants between the 20s. That’s how it worked with Gronkowski and Bennett, when the latter caught seven touchdowns in 2016.
This score by Bellinger against the Panthers showed how Daboll’s latest one-two punch will work.
Having Waller run off coverage to free Bellinger underneath is a schematic ploy the Giants can use time and time again. Then there’ll be no need to wonder what would happen if Gronkowski came out of retirement to play for his former coach.