Brian Daboll has been unwavering in his support of Josh Allen.
The Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator has full confidence in his second-year quarterback. That trust was on display in the season opener against the New York Jets, as Allen dropped back to throw on the team’s first 17 offensive plays.
That’s asking a lot of a quarterback with just 12 career starts, so why was Daboll comfortable with it?
“He’s a grinder. He’s a competitor. He’s smart. He’s tough. And I got a lot of faith in him,” he said. “We started out the game in no huddle to spread (the Jets) out. Sometimes you start games, you pass to set up the run or you run to set up the pass. Each week is a little bit unique. This is what we felt was best going into this game.”
The offense was moving the ball through the air at the start, but then the turnovers hit. And hit. And hit some more.
Daboll, though, didn’t abandon the offensive game plan.
“You don’t pull the plug on that,” he said. “You take a look at why, and we have enough confidence in him and the rest of the guys to keep going in that no huddle and throwing the ball around a little bit.”
The “why” for those turnovers has been debated. Allen may not have been directly responsible for all four, but he definitely played a part.
“There’s always a reason for a turnover,” Daboll said. “Whether it’s ball location, finishing a catch, an arm angle. We’re not about making excuses, but there’s going to be some that take bad bounces and that’s football. But you can always look to improve. We have to get the quarterback-center exchange taken care of. We have to keep two hands on the ball in the pocket. We have to make a play when it comes our way even if it’s a little bit low. So, we can do a better a job of that, we need to do a better job with that, that’s where it starts. And again, some are bounces you’re going to have to overcome.”
The Bills did that by scoring points on three straight possessions in the second half after giving up a safety that made the score 8-0 Jets.
“I’d say the whole group; that we’re far from where we need to be,” Daboll said. “But they played the best when it counted the most, and that’s resiliency. That’s mental toughness. You have to string them together and have a good week of preparation this week. Really, what you did last week means nothing in this business. But I’m proud of the way they competed and fought. We talk about calm breeds calm. It’s easy to get down a little bit when you’re turning the ball over. You can have doubt creep in at times, but not with this group.”
Here are four more observations from Monday's press conference with Daboll, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and head coach Sean McDermott:
1. No update on Taron Johnson.
McDermott said cornerback Taron Johnson is still going through tests after he left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Otherwise, the team came out of Sunday’s game healthy.
Wide receiver Andre Roberts, who missed Sunday’s game with a quad injury, continues to head “in a good direction,” according to McDermott, although it’s too soon to know whether he’ll be able to play against the Giants in Week 2.
2. Competition at right tackle could continue.
The Bills rotated rookie Cody Ford and veteran Ty Nsekhe along the starting offensive line at right tackle against the Jets. That plan could continue, according to McDermott.
“We'll settle when we feel like we need to settle on that,” the coach said. “I like the competition. I like the quality of depth we have there with those guys who played yesterday, in addition to some others, quite honestly. It's good to get those guys playing time. It afforded Cody an opportunity to watch from the sideline and see things from a different perspective. ... That competition is good for us and will continue based on each game plan.”
McDermott said he appreciated the way Nsekhe worked with Ford while they were both on the sidelines, communicating what type of looks the offense was getting from the Jets’ defense.
“Ty’s an experienced player,” McDermott said. “He’s played a lot of games and played a lot of snaps. He doesn't say a whole lot, but just really appreciate the way that he worked.”
3. Morse makes it through.
Center Mitch Morse, who missed the entire preseason because of a concussion, was able to take all 69 offensive snaps against the Jets. That allowed the coaching staff to see how Morse meshed with those around him for the first time in a game setting.
“He had some nice blocks, I thought, in the run game, which helped spring some of our backs or Josh one time in particular,” McDermott said. “The cohesiveness and the communication with the protection down the stretch there was important for us. I thought he did a nice job.”
4. Fullback Patrick DiMarco was busy Sunday, playing 33 snaps.
Just once last season did DiMarco play that many – he was on the field for 36 offensive plays in the season finale against Miami. Daboll explained what went into DiMarco’s heavy usage against the Jets.
“You have to decide what kind of personnel you want to run as an offense, what you think gives you the best advantage,” the offensive coordinator said. “Maybe it’s matchups at certain spots, using him as a chess piece, so to speak. It depends on what the defense wants to do, too. To have a guy like Pat, he can line up in any spot. He’s smart. He’s tough.
“We were going a little bit of up tempo with that personnel grouping. So then you see what the defense is doing and what kind of personnel group they want to use and it’s kind of a chess match back and forth. So, it’s just one personnel grouping that we decided to use that we thought would give us some indicators and play fast and give some unique formations that they hadn’t seen.”
DiMarco had two catches for 9 yards. He had three receptions all last season.