Bills OC Brian Daboll on offensive balance: ‘Stats don’t really matter’


Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, fresh off a franchise record-setting season for his unit, addressed the media on Tuesday. Some of the major topics of discussion were Josh Allen’s offseason, new additions to the offense, and the running game, as well as his head coaching interviews this offseason.

Daboll – who interviewed with both the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets in the offseason – was appreciative of the interest he received.

“I respect the question,” Daboll said. “All I’ll say is this, I’m very appreciative of the organizations that gave me an opportunity to sit down and meet some new people in this league. Everybody has a goal of what they’d like to achieve in the National Football League, I’m so focused now on this year. It seems so long ago. I am grateful, I am appreciative, and I wish both of those organizations well, but I’m just so grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been allowed to stay here, from Terry and Kim [Pegula] and Sean [McDermott] and Brandon [Beane], and work with the people here. Obviously, a great place to be.”

Daboll faced similar questions to both Allen and head coach Sean McDermott on the 4th-year quarterback, mainly around his evolution and what he was working on this offseason. Daboll expectedly had nothing but kind words to say about Allen but insisted that he is the same competitive leader he was when he first met him during the draft process in 2018. Unlike last year, Daboll didn’t see Josh as having something specific to work on this offseason, though Allen has mentioned in-breaking routes as something he’s worked on. 

“I think Josh has a good offseason plan in terms of the things that he’s done since he’s been here,” Daboll said. “Again, specifically, nothing specific. We talked a little bit about some in-breaking routes and things like that, but he’s always working on, it’s like a golf swing, right? His mechanics, his follow-through, his base, his movement in the pocket – he does those things, I would say religiously, throughout the offseason. We get him back there, and him, along with all the other quarterbacks, and Ken [Dorsey] and Shea [Tierney], are working on those things. Each year, he’s obviously learned a little bit more about the system. We’ve tried to tailor the system specifically to him. We add things, we take things out. I think there’s a lot of good give and take between the two of us in terms of things he feels comfortable with, and maybe things we can do a better job of. He’s a consummate pro in terms of, he’s never satisfied, and none of us really are, never satisfied with what you did the previous year.

“He is really the same guy every day since he’s been here. He’s got an underdog mentality, he’s a grinder, he’s never satisfied. He loves to practice, he’s competitive in the meeting rooms. His leadership skills are outstanding. He’s not relying on what happened the year before or anything like that, that’s what I appreciate about him, too, is he’s turned the page really quick. The ultimate goal is, there’s only one team at the end of the year that’s going to be happy, and if you’re happy because you made it to a certain point but didn’t make it to that point, then we’re all in the wrong business.”

Daboll also received a similar question to one Sean McDermott fielded earlier in the offseason on the values of continuity. Adding on to what the head coach said, Daboll emphasized the value of communication, especially on the offensive line. 

“Playing well is the biggest thing, but continuity does help because you can have something come up that happened a year and a half ago in a particular game, where you made an adjustment, or you have a different call, where you can draw from those experiences,” Daboll said. “It’s the same with a coaching staff that’s been together for a while, it’s different than it was in the first year, or the second year, when you’re just getting together. I think that communication, that’s really the most important thing, I think the communication from the continuity helps.”

“You’re talking, particularly with [the offensive line], you have to act as one, you have five guys having to act as one. There’s things, different fronts, stems, and different communications that go on, and the more continuity you have, and the longer you have been together, it’s a little bit more comforting than when you’re just starting out. But again, at the end of the day, it’s the five guys that are playing the best, that work the best together, that are going to give us a chance to be successful.”

Hopefully, the line can stay healthy this year and continue to improve their communication as a unit. 

Daboll was also quick to praise new addition Emmanuel Sanders, stating he can play inside and outside and has a wealth of experience around the league in different systems. Combined with his high football IQ, something Daboll pointed to as an attribute they look for when recruiting players, expect Sanders to make an impact all over the field in 2021. 

“I think we’re all excited to have Emmanuel,” Daboll said. “He provides great veteran presence. He’s flexible in terms of being able to play inside and outside. He’s had a lot of experience, he’s played on a lot of different teams in a lot of different systems. Skillset that we like. We’ll put him in the mix, he’s a smart guy who’s been around for a while. It’s been good to get to meet him and build a relationship with him, and throw him into the fire, so to speak.”

Unsurprisingly, coach Daboll received questions on the run game and if getting it up to the level of the pass game was important. Echoing Mel Kiper Jr.’s infamous quote on Allen’s completion percentage, Daboll stated he believes executing whatever you need to do that week is more important than what your stats are. He pointed to the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were second in passing and 28th in rushing, as the perfect example of why balance is overrated.

“I mean, there’s yards, there’s efficiency, there’s all these numbers you can look at,” Daboll said. “It’s the same thing in the pass game. Where you rank in the pass game versus where you rank in the run game, we’re not really concerned with that, to be honest with you. What we’re concerned with is, the things that we do install and the things that we ask the players to do, are we doing that the proper way? Then are we going out there and executing the proper way? Whether it’s the run game or whether it’s third and long, or red zone, you can look at rankings and all of these stats and things like that, but ultimately, it comes down to putting the players in the best position we can put them in with a good plan, and then them going out there are executing it.

“If that week, we need to run the ball to win, it’s really important. Just like if we need to throw the ball to win, it’s really important. There’s a lot of different ways to win a game. You’d like to be first in the league in pass, and first in the league in run, first in the league in total offense, and first in the league in points, but that rarely happens. The team that won the Super Bowl was second in the league in pass and 28th in rush. To me, stats really don’t matter. What matters is being effective at the things you’re asked to do when we need to do them. If that’s to run the ball, it’s to run the ball. If it’s to pass it, it’s to pass it . . . Balance is good if you win, it’s not very good if you lose. Our philosophy is always going to be, do what we need to do to try to win a football game.”