EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones are the couple who met on a blind date and have grown to like and respect each other a great deal.
And that's good for the Giants, because they have the Giants' most important coach/player relationship as they prepare to play their opening game Sunday against the defending AFC South champion Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
Daboll, the team's first-year head coach, and Jones, the fourth-year quarterback, researched each other when Daboll was named the Giants' head coach in January. But no one is ever certain how a new partnership will progress. After working together throughout the spring and summer, they have developed an alliance that will benefit the team during the long NFL season.
"I've heard he was a hard worker," Daboll said today. "I get to see it. He is at it extremely hard. He's here all the time. He's more on the quiet side, but he is ultra, ultra-competitive. He does a really good job in the huddle with his teammates when you just step out and listen to him. I think he's a good leader.
"Daniel, since I've been around him, I think he's got the right approach really every week. Certainly, we weren't game planning in the preseason, but the way he approached things, I've been impressed with."
Jones is already operating in his third NFL offense and the fourth scheme in five seasons counting his final year at Duke.
"The verbiage is definitely different this year," Jones said. "That's something you've got to learn. It just takes time to study, memorize the words and how we are going to call things. The next level of that is understanding the concepts, the plays and getting used to seeing it against certain defenses and knowing what to expect."
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Daboll enjoyed great success as the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator the previous four seasons. In 2021, the Bills won their second straight AFC East title while finishing third in the NFL with 28.4 points a game and fifth with a per-game average of 381.9 yards. The previous year, Daboll was voted the AP's NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
Now that he's aligned with Daboll, Jones understands the pretext for his success.
"He's always thinking about a new way to run this play or a new way to motion something or shift something or set it up – and that's constant with him," Jones said. "It's in the cafeteria, it's through the hallways, obviously in meeting rooms. He's always thinking, coming up with new ideas. That's been fun. You learn a lot that way as I am learning the system, but also the way he thinks about football, how he sees offense and setting us up to be successful. It's been fun working with him."
Jones is confident he can thrive in Daboll's scheme.
"I think it's a versatile system," he said. "I think it allows the quarterback to do a lot in the pocket, outside the pocket, in the run game. It allows us to get into advantageous looks depending on what the defense does, easily getting in and out of plays. I think from all those perspectives, it's very quarterback friendly for any quarterback."
But is it conducive to keeping the quarterback healthy if he runs as often as Jones does? In his first three seasons, Jones rushed for exactly 1,000 yards on 172 attempts, a 5.8-yard average that ranks first among the 87 players in Giants history with 100 or more carries. His 423 rushing yards in 2020 were the most by a Giants quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Last year, Jones played only 11 games but ran for 298 yards, including 95 at Washington, the most rushing yards by a Giants quarterback since 1960.
Jones has not shied away from contact as a ballcarrier.
"I think you always try to be smart, particularly with that position," Daboll said. "I'm not going to take his competitiveness away from him. I think that's what makes people good, too. But you've got to make executive decisions sometimes. And, obviously, we'd like to have him get down rather than take a big shot. But that's the nature of playing quarterback – making good decisions whether it's with the ball and you're running or you're throwing the ball."
Some of those decisions will be made by offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, who will call the Giants' plays this season, the first time in his career he's had that responsibility.
"I think he's done a great job," Jones said of Kafka. "I thought he did a great job through the preseason and in training camp. I really enjoy working with him."
Jones is not reluctant to offer his input during meetings or practices or this week, during the formation of the game plan.
"I think there's constant communication on that," Daboll said. "He comes up when people leave, and he goes through things with Mike and (quarterbacks coach) Shea (Tierney). Or he'll tell me something.
"You want to have the quarterback feel as comfortable as he can, and you also want to tell him some of the reasons why you're doing things you want to try to do against the opponent you're going against. But he's had really good dialogue with us; I think he's in a good spot."
With the Daboll/Jones partnership, hopefully the Giants will be as well.
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