Brian Daboll Explains Why Giants TE Darren Waller Isn’t Getting the Ball

Brian Daboll

Getty Brian Daboll explained why the New York Giants aren't getting the ball to a Pro Bowler.

Brian Daboll is taking responsibility for Darren Waller not being involved enough in the offense for the New York Giants. Waller was targeted just three times, once in the first half, during Week 4’s humbling 24-3 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, and the head coach is okay with the Pro Bowl tight end not being happy about it.

Daboll was asked at his pre-Week 5 presser on Wednesday, October 4 about Waller not liking “at all” that he had one target in the first half, and the coach responded by saying, “I got a lot of respect for Darren. We can all do better, whether it’s getting him the ball, protection-wise. There’s a lot of things to improve on obviously, so that’s what we’re going to try to do. I gotta lot of respect for him.”

Those comments were uttered a day after Daboll told reporters “there was play calls for Darren, but certainly could do a better job of that. I’d say there was a number of them that we just, you know, couldn’t get to, whether is was the progression, whether it was the pressure, whether it was the read, but you know, we have to do a better job of that as a coaching staff.”

Although the coach put the onus on himself and the staff to draw up more plays for Waller, the mention of reads impacting his targets makes struggling quarterback Daniel Jones culpable.

Tensions were obvious between Daboll and his quarterback after Jones missed Waller in the end zone and threw a 97-yard pick-six to Seahawks’ rookie Devon Witherspoon. While Daboll was unhappy with Jones’ decision, the 48-year-old also referenced injuries as a reason for Waller not getting work.

Waller Suffering for Issues in Other Areas

The main injury impacting Waller, according to Daboll, is the knee problem suffered by fellow tight end Daniel Bellinger against the Seahawks. Daboll explained how Bellinger’s absence changed Waller’s role, per Dan Salomone of “Well, it depends on the personnel you are using, so some of the stuff you have Bellinger do when Waller’s outside, now you have to put Waller where Bellinger is, and he has to do some of those roles and then you have to use another receiver, if you will, where Waller would be.”

There’s logic to this explanation, especially since the Giants need tight ends to stay in and help a faltering offensive line that’s surrendered 22 sacks, including 11 against Seattle. More damaging than the sacks is the incessant pressure Jones is trying to operate under.

Big Blue’s beleaguered signal-caller was pressured 36 times by the Seahawks, per PFF NY Giants.

Pressure being applied at this rate speeds up Jones’ decision-making into a frenzy, forcing missed reads and hurried, inaccurate throws. The only way to give No. 8 a chance is for tight ends and running backs to contribute to a woeful blocking effort.

Waller will be happy if natural blocker Bellinger is healthy enough to take the field against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5. Yet, needing him to block doesn’t completely excuse the inability of Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka to involve Waller more in the passing game.

A quiet night against the Seahawks was no outlier for a pass-catcher limited to three receptions in all but one of his games as a Giant. They aren’t the numbers expected from the former Las Vegas Raiders’ star after he was traded this offseason.

Waller Hype Has Gone Quiet

Waller’s track record as a prolific receiver included back-to-back 100-plus catch seasons for the Silver and Black. The stats and Waller’s natural versatility and athleticism had many expecting the 31-year-old to be a type of Rob Gronkowski-level playmaker for the Giants.

It wasn’t an unreasonable expectation given Daboll’s history. He was Gronkowski’s position coach with the New England Patriots from 2013-’16, before Daboll established a reputation as one of the NFL’s more creative play-callers during a stint as offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.

The creativity has been missing in the way Waller is being deployed on Daboll’s watch. Waller has played just 47 snaps in the slot and he’s only had one deep target and two targets in the red zone, according to Player Profiler.

There’s also an onus on Waller to be more explosive. He’s facing an average cushion of 5.5 yards in coverage, but gaining just 2.8 yards of separation on his routes, per Next Gen Stats.

Ultimately, both player and coaches must find ways to get a relationship the Giants were counting on to transform their offense on track.

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