The shelves in Brian Daball’s home office are littered with old textbooks symbolizing years of work, a dusty mess that the Giants coach says his wife, Beth, will just as soon see in the trash can.
“I still have stuff from when I started in 1997,” Daboll said.
Maybe he should leave those things, because despite Monday’s loss to the Cowboys, the New York Giants’ Daball offense is poised with a comeback seasoning: give the ball to the lead runner and let him run.
Saquon Barkley recorded 53 carries and 66 touches in the first three weeks. Not only did Barkley reward that belief with 408 yards, he also provided a signature moment that looked like something out of an NFL Films montage: two Tennessee Titans defensemen crossing to realize a 2-point conversion in the final minutes of Week 1, prompting a bro hug between head coach and touchline running back hero and middle-aged clumsy dancing in the locker room.
This is the departure of Daball, whose defensemen have never produced more than 190 carries in a season in four years as offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
“A guy like Sakwona, with his skill set, can’t be taken too far off the field,” Daboll said of the NFL’s second-best player in 2022.
Since the modern NFL relies heavily on passing, the best players try to keep this feature alive while embracing the modern realities of usage and production. They cite Adrian Peterson and Derrick Henry and all post-2000 quarterbacks living in NFL folklore for their toughness and nimble hitting in the open field – even though many front offices have abandoned the model.