‘Loyalty and belief’ gas Stefon Diggs in first season with Buffalo Payments

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When the Buffalo Bills traded for huge receiver Stefon Diggs in March, the transfer was met with equal elements reward and criticism.

Diggs was productive with the Minnesota Vikings, however their willingness to commerce a younger receiver who had signed a five-year contract drew some suspicion as as to whether Diggs’ angle was the deciding issue within the break up.

The Payments had been prepared to take that probability, and it has paid off in a big way. Getting into Monday’s recreation towards the San Francisco 49ers (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), he ranks second within the NFL in receptions (80), sixth in receiving yards (945) and is on tempo to set profession and franchise highs in each classes this season.

“We did do some digging, and once more, this man’s a brilliant aggressive man and brings an edge to that place,” Payments normal supervisor Brandon Beane stated in April. “I do know diva will get put into [describing] that place so much — I’d not name this man a diva.”

A part of that digging concerned a dialog between Payments offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Maryland coach Mike Locksley, who served collectively as co-offensive coordinators at Alabama in 2017.

Locksley recruited Diggs to Maryland in 2012 they usually stay shut, as do Locksley and Daboll. On the night time the commerce was introduced on March 16, Daboll referred to as his former co-coordinator to get some background on the brand new point of interest of his offense’s passing recreation.

“[Locksley] stated it might be an ideal match — him understanding me and Stef,” Daboll stated. “That is what I satisfaction myself on, being actual with these guys and simply telling them issues straight up and having their backs.

“That is all Stef craves. He is extremely, extremely aggressive, he is very good, he is an excellent teammate and he is actual. Stef’s actual, he wears his feelings on his sleeves and that is what I respect about him.'”

Particularly, Locksley emphasised honesty with Diggs and stated the receiver is not the diva he may need seemed to be at occasions earlier than his commerce from Minnesota. However he warned issues can come up if Diggs feels betrayed.

“The one recommendation I gave to Brian about Stef was Stef is big on belief,” Locksley stated. “That is the place he and I are a lot alike, in that he provides you with the whole lot he has if he is aware of that you just care about him and he is aware of he can belief you to be in step with who you might be.

“When belief is damaged with him, I’ll inform you that it is actually exhausting to restore … as a result of he believes in loyalty and belief — that is a part of his DNA.”

‘The right neighborhood’

From Day 1, the connection between Daboll and Diggs took off. Daboll and the Payments’ teaching workers “put so much on him,” asking Diggs to play in a number of totally different spots inside the offense.

It is a duty Daboll stated a participant has “obtained to be dialed in” to deal with. However that is the precise mentality Diggs brings to a locker room.

He has carried out it since his faculty profession, when he shocked the recruiting world by committing to Maryland in 2012 and turning down affords from Ohio State and Florida. His determination wasn’t essentially fashionable, given Maryland’s 2-10 report in 2011, however Locksley stated Diggs’ “give-a-s— gauge is on E” in terms of others’ opinions of him.

“Not too many guys needed to go to Maryland again then,” Diggs stated. “And those who did had been attempting to do the identical factor that I used to be doing and switch issues round. … For me, I am positively the form of man to not essentially go towards the grain, however I am not all the time going to go along with what everyone else is doing.”

Randy Edsall has witnessed that facet of Diggs firsthand. He coached Diggs at Maryland from 2012 to 2014 and stated a lot of the misunderstanding surrounding Diggs’ mentality stems from not understanding his aggressive nature.

“I feel generally individuals take guys the incorrect approach who’ve that innate trait,” Edsall stated.

Edsall used one recreation for example.

Maryland traveled to play Penn State throughout Diggs’ remaining season. The Nittany Lions had been 4-3 on the time, however any recreation in Beaver Stadium is an opportunity to make an announcement — and that is precisely what Diggs, a junior, tried to do.

“Earlier than the sport, he was one of many captains and he informed the opposite two [Maryland] captains, ‘We’re not shaking their fingers on the coin flip,'” Edsall stated. “He knew what that was going to be, however he was going to make an announcement — and we ended up profitable. I feel that is good, however it’s a must to perceive that persona inside Stefon.”

All of it stems from perception in his skills.

“When a man like Stefon decides to not go to one of many perennial powers in faculty soccer, it goes again to point out the boldness he has in himself,” Locksley stated. “And never each child is constructed to do this, as a result of peer strain nonetheless runs recruiting. … If your mates do not assume it is cool, then most individuals aren’t constructed to deal with the negativity that comes with it.

“He is assured sufficient in himself that, ‘wherever I am going, I will make it a greater place.'”

It is much like the angle surrounding his commerce to Buffalo. Critics of the commerce had been skeptical Diggs may thrive within the Payments’ Twenty sixth-ranked passing offense from 2019.

However he succeeded at Maryland, the place he went to 2 bowl video games and led the workforce in receiving yards (848) and all-purpose yards (1,904) as a freshman. And up to now, he has discovered success in Buffalo.

“I’ve all the time been a winner in my coronary heart. … I am all the time going to do the whole lot in my energy and provides it the whole lot I’ve obtained,” Diggs stated. “It doesn’t matter what workforce I am on, I strive to do this. Going into Buffalo and my new state of affairs, lots of people weren’t too excessive on Buffalo, individuals on the skin.

“However none of that s— actually issues to me. I like the blokes that I am round, I respect the blokes that I am round. They grind, they put the time in similar to every other workforce.”

Based mostly on what he knew concerning the Payments, that is why Locksley thought his former pupil was headed for the proper state of affairs.

“He’s the final word competitor, this man likes to compete. You’ll by no means discover a man that can work tougher within the offseason,” Locksley stated of Diggs. “He does not have plenty of hobbies, his hobbies are vogue and perfecting his craft. He is all the time in form, was by no means a giant membership man — I assumed Buffalo was the proper neighborhood for him.”

‘He is a grinder’

The consensus from Payments gamers and coaches is Diggs has made an influence past the stat sheet.

Throughout his season-high, 153-yard efficiency towards the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, Daboll stated Diggs spent halftime lobbying for tactics to get fellow huge receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown the ball. Within the waning moments of the Payments’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6, cameras caught Diggs on the sideline — not pouting or indignant, however encouraging his teammates.

Beane praised Diggs’ mentality in April, one thing the entrance workplace and training workers had been desperate to see when the huge receiver arrived in Orchard Park.

“I would like him to be him. I do not need him to be anything however him,” Daboll stated. “He is obtained juice, he is obtained fiery competitiveness, he is obtained swagger — and I would like him to have it as a result of it rubs off on our workforce.

“He is an outdated throwback. He desires to grind at observe, you have to take him out as a result of he simply desires to maintain going. And if it isn’t proper at observe, he will get scorching. He is simply been such a pleasure to be round.”

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