Darren Waller’s time in Las Vegas came to a surprising and unceremonious end earlier this offseason via a trade to New York.
Given time to adjust, Waller is quite pleased with how things turned out.
“Yeah, they value our opinions here,” Waller said Thursday of his new environment with the Giants. “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 do you like to do more.
“So to offer input is a really cool thing because coaches and players have got to be in partnership. We’re all together and shouldn’t be clashing with each other. We’re all going in the same direction.”
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These remarks fit with what Brian Daboll produced in his first season with the Giants, where he led New York to a surprising playoff berth and a postseason victory one year after they finished 4-13. Daboll’s arrival brought optimism, but few expected the goodwill to result in nine wins, a postseason appearance and a win.
It’s clear Daboll’s impact stretched beyond strategy. Waller is getting his first taste of New York’s culture under Daboll, and he likes what he’s seeing.
“It’s different from team to team. I’m on my third now,” Waller said. “There’s different cultures everywhere you go, different types of energy. This is a really light place, really fun place, really empowering place where you just be yourself always. And as long as you’re not putting the team at risk by getting a flag or things like that, you can really let your personality show.
“That’s what I love about being here. It’s just been fun. It’s also been challenging. Guys holding you to a high standard since I got here, and I try to reciprocate that.”
Waller’s words can easily be interpreted as a critique of Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, who with general manager Dave Ziegler made a quick decision to trade Waller seemingly out of nowhere in March. The move was shocking, primarily because Waller, when healthy, had been a highly productive pass catcher with the Raiders, a team that could use them opposite Davante Adams.
Instead, the Raiders sent him to New York, where the Giants are happy to have him.
“He’s a true pro,” Daboll said. “He’s been really good for us in the meeting rooms, gives good input. Good communicator. Has some leadership skills. He’s been a good guy to work with.”
One team’s expendable player is another’s key asset. We’ll see if Waller proves the Raiders foolish for trading him.
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