Traveling new paths, Josh Allen and Brian Daboll have friendship that transcends Bills football | Sports

ORCHARD PARK — Football will forever tie Josh Allen and Brian Daboll, but it no longer drives their relationship.

Allen’s transformation into one of the NFL’s biggest stars is a big reason why Daboll will be standing on the opposite sideline as head coach of the New York Giants Sunday, while Daboll is one of the reason’s Allen has reached superstar status.

When Daboll left to take the Giants’ job following the 2021 season, his relationship with Allen shifted. Football is always going to be part of their conversations, but now when the two speak regularly, it’s about life and family.

The NFL is a bottom-line business, but it’s impossible to separate personal from business sometimes. The business side leads to people like Daboll moving on to further his career, but that doesn’t mean the personal relationships end.

“When you’re with people for four years, you experience a lot of highs, a lot of lows, there’s a lot of emotions, and you lean on one another both in good times and bad,” Daboll said during a conference call Wednesday. “… (The Bills) were a very important part of my life for four years. And you develop relationships. I got a lot of respect for all the people in that building, staff, coaches, executives, players, because you go through a year in the NFL, you go through a lot of stuff. … For me, it was four years. I’ve leaned a lot on those guys. I’m always there for them. I know they’re there for me.”

Offensive coaches like Daboll get head coaching jobs most often because of their success with a good quarterback, but when he became professionally married to Allen in 2018, neither was a certainty.

Daboll had been an offensive coordinator for three different NFL teams, none of his stints lasted more than two seasons and two lasted one. Winning a national championship in his lone season at Alabama got him back into the NFL.

Allen, meanwhile, was the most polarizing top-tier quarterback prospect in the 2018 draft. He oozed potential and raw talent, but everyone was split on whether he could ever piece it together in the NFL after a statistically unimpressive career at Wyoming.

Had Allen failed, Daboll may have never gotten another chance to be an offensive coordinator in the league, and if Daboll didn’t develop Allen and the offense, Allen may have never gotten another shot to be a franchise quarterback.

“When you look at the grand scheme of things in terms of football and how to handle being a quarterback in this league, relying on the knowledge he has and the guys he’s been around in his career, I spent a lot of time with him,” Allen said. “There’s been a lot of people who’ve had their hands in the pie in the success we’ve had here in Buffalo. It was him first and just making sure we were on the same page, talking about certain things.”

The narrative didn’t change much after their first season together, but it started to trend upward when the Bills made the playoffs in 2019 and then both of their careers sky-rocketed in 2020. Allen set franchise records for yards passing (4,544), touchdowns (37) and completion percentage (69.2), as the Bills reached the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1993.

It was the first time the Bills had a quarterback finish in the top-five in yards or touchdowns since Drew Bledsoe in 2002 and the first time they placed in the top-five in scoring since 1992. Now Allen leads an offense that is on pace to finish in the top-five in total yards and scoring for the fourth season in a row.

“Dabes did a great job coming in here, putting together a great system that we’ve been able to build off of and continue to grow throughout time,” said Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who took over for Daboll as quarterbacks coach in 2019. “… Coming out to do whatever it takes to win a football game. I think he really instilled that in Josh and Josh takes that to heart. And that’s really who Josh is, just giving his heart and soul each and every play, each and every game. And a lot of that was Dabes’ personality as well.”

Daboll’s personality helped lead a quick turnaround with the Giants, who unexpectedly reached the playoffs and won a game last season, allowing him to earn NFL coach of the year. Allen, meanwhile, has become a national star, being on the cover of Madden and the face of NFL Sunday Ticket.

Perhaps early success apart has eased the transitions for both and that allows Daboll to maintain friendships with Allen and other Bills players that don’t center on football conversations all the time. But Allen and Daboll have acknowledged how much they owe each other.

“There’s only a few people probably on the planet that can do some of the things that he does, whether it’s with his arm, with his legs, his leadership qualities,” Daboll said. “But he’s also just you know, he dove right into that community. You see all the stuff that he’s done in a positive way in the community. He’s just a great guy. He’s a hell of a player. He’s a great friend and I owe him a lot too, just the four years that I was with him.”

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