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The New York Giants needed to add a #1 receiver this offseason. They did, sort of. The team traded for former Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller. He’s not a wide receiver, but he’s clearly their best pass-catcher.
And he’s very happy to be a New York Giant.
“They value our opinions here,” Waller said Thursday, according to ESPN. “As a player, I feel like a lot of places I’ve gone, you’re told to do things a certain way and you do those things. But here it’s like, they ask a lot of questions. They want to know what you’re thinking, what you want to do more.
“So to offer input is a really cool thing because coaches and players have to be in partnership. We’re all together and shouldn’t be clashing with each other. We’re all going in the same direction.”
Waller is enjoying the leadership of head coach Brian Daboll, who helped Daniel Jones to one of his best seasons ever last year as the team reached the playoffs.
But it’s hard to read those comments and not try to figure out what Waller is saying about his previous stops. It’s seems most likely that he’s referring to the Las Vegas Raiders.
During Waller’s tenure there (2018-22) his coaches were Jon Gruden and Josh McDaniels. Not exactly guys known for caring much about what players think. In fact, Waller didn’t even invite McDaniels to his wedding.
The Baltimore Ravens drafted Waller in 2015. He played just 18 games in first two seasons before the league suspended him for the entirety of 2017 for violating the substance-abuse policy.
Waller was a member of the Ravens practice squad in 2018 when the Raiders signed him. He broke out in 2019, catching 90 passes for 1,145 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had an even better 2020 (107 catches, 1,196 yards, 11 TD) before struggling with injuries over the past two seasons.
Waller could be referring to his time with Baltimore, but given he spent the last five seasons with the Raiders, it seems likely he’s talking about his time there.
Darren Waller praises the New York Giants coaching staff, and in doing so, appears to criticize the Raiders
Jon Gruden is a notoriously difficult coach to play for. Josh McDaniels isn’t much better. The Raiders seem to prefer those hard-nosed tough coaches. But it hasn’t really worked out.
They haven’t won a playoff game since 2002.
John Harbaugh, on the other hand, receives mostly positive reviews from players. He’s been the Ravens coach for 15 years, has a Super Bowl trophy and 10 playoff appearances.
I’m going to guess Waller means the Raiders. And it might be time to try something new in Las Vegas.
They haven’t had a head coach make it through his fourth season with the team since Gruden’s first tenure (1998-2001).
Harbaugh’s style seems to work. So far, so does Brian Daboll’s method.
Perhaps Darren Waller is on to something.
Take notes, Mark Davis … and Tom Brady.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak