ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Teams can never get too comfortable in the NFL so the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply.
Despite the success a team had in the past or even last season, what it did won’t always cut it the following year, something Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll knows all too well.
“I do think that familiarity helps, but again it doesn’t guarantee anything. We’re constantly trying to evolve. What we did last year in training camp and kind evolved through the beginning part of the year, we’re a ways away from that,” Daboll said on Monday before practice.
“We’re still tinkering and doing some new things out here and seeing how they look and that’s what practice is for right? I don’t think you’re ever just truly comfortable.”
The Bills offense was electric last season, thanks to the steps quarterback Josh Allen took in year three. The Bills finished third in passing yards per game and second in not only total yards per game but points per game as well.
“Obviously we try to tailor everything we do to Josh and Josh has, I’d say a lot of freedom at the line of scrimmage. We call the play, it’s not exactly what we’re trying to get on defense, I think experience helps him with trying to get to the proper play to help put us in a good position,” Daboll explained.
But the Bills can’t just do what they did last year offensively and expect to get the same results. Teams have tape and that word ‘evolve’ comes up so often when talking to players and coaches.
“We’ve added things from the offseason that we’ve studied and we took out some things that maybe didn’t look as good when you go back and look at them. But you’re constantly evolving, if you’re not I don’t think you’re doing your job as a coach and trying to help the players the best you can.” Daboll said.
For the most part, Allen and the offense has looked sharp throughout the beginning stages of training camp but a real indicator is going to be once the pads come on especially for players coming off significant injuries like running back Zack Moss.
“That young man has worked hard, just getting back to this point. He’s in here working and rehabbing. It’s hard coming off an injury for any player but particularly running back with your ankle you’re running, you’re cutting so we’ll see how it goes once he’s getting bumped around a little bit. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do to try and get back to this spot right now,” Daboll said.
Moss suffered an ankle injury in the Wild Card game against the Colts that he later had surgery on.
Cody Ford also had his season cut short after suffering a knee injury in the Bills’ week nine win over the Seahawks. Ford also had surgery and recently said he not only has ‘no limitations’ on the field, but explained that his mental health was a big focus during his rehab and even worked with a mental health coach during the offseason.
“I think he’s in a really good spot. His mind’s in a good spot, he’s anxious to get going and I’m anxious to see him. He’s been a great teammate, he’s been a great teammate since he’s been here, we know he’s a tough guy,” Daboll said.
“He’s been playing guard right now and he’s been playing over on the right side so we’ll see how that goes. But there is continuity that helps when you’re standing next to Daryl and in between Mitch I just think the world of him as a young man and I think he’s ready to go so it will be good competition here in the summer months.”
Speaking of competition, while it’s a crowded receiver room and most spots are locked in, there is a battle of who will get that last spot. So far in training camp, Jake Kumerow has flashed and his making a strong push for a roster spot. Daboll said he’s done a great job at receiver and in the kicking game. He also mentioned the preseason games will be important for Kumerow.
As for guys who know they’ve got a job, Gabriel Davis looks to build on a strong rookie season.
“He’s a pro, very fortunate to get him where we got him he’ll continue to get better and better. I have a lot of confidence in him, he can play all the spots. He’s one of the guys that, you know Stef gets a down day and you’re always like get Gabe get in there and you don’t even tell him where he’s at he just goes in and knows,” Daboll said.
“I’d say he was a productive player for us last year with the role we asked him to do. He has all the traits that you look for. He’s really, really smart, he’s tough he’s big but he’s got game speed. When he’s running out there he can get by guys.”
And this receiver room basically looks the same with the exception of one new face, Emmanuel Sanders.
“He’s fit in well, smart veteran, has quickness, ability to learn, can play multiple spots, can create separation, he’s been productive, played with a lot of good quarterbacks. He’s been a good teammate since he’s been here. I think he helps the receiver room in terms of education of a young receiver too,” Daboll explained.