Bills: The Rise of Josh Allen

While it has only been two weeks into the 2020 NFL season, it is impossible not to be impressed with the maturation and progression of Buffalo Bills starting quarterback Josh Allen.

Before we dive into it, I will admit a couple of things: I had absolutely no faith that Josh Allen would be a viable long-term starter in the NFL, and I had him tabbed as a third-rounder coming out of Wyoming. Before discussing the rise of Allen as the Bills’ starter behind center, I need to explain exactly why I had these thoughts about the strong-armed gunslinger.

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Coming out of college, Josh Allen showed a lot of the traits that NFL teams look for; but, with that also came extreme inaccuracy. Allen was a career 56.2% passer for the Wyoming Cowboys, and his inaccurate throws reared their ugly heads mostly in big games. It was not ridiculous to question whether this would translate poorly to the next level.

Allen also showed incredibly poor footwork for my liking; his passes sailed on him; and to my eyes, he seemed to struggle with pocket awareness. If it weren’t for his alleged traits, you cannot tell me this guy gets picked in the top-ten of the NFL draft. Seriously, go watch that Wyoming film and tell me you saw a first-round talent.

I say none of this to throw mud on Josh Allen. This is all to say, that this is one of the more interesting stories of a young quarterback on the rise. While reigning MVP Lamar Jackson had his critics (and frankly, still does), he had the accolades and credentials at the collegiate level to at least sell him as a first-round pick. Some argued Jackson should’ve moved positions (absolutely ridiculous, by the way), but there was little question he was a skilled college quarterback. Allen, on the other hand, pointed so much the opposite direction.

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Here we are in Year 3 of Josh Allen as the starting quarterback in Buffalo, and it is impossible not to be impressed with his progression, especially as it pertains to 2020. Yes, Allen has played the lowly New York Jets and Miami Dolphins to begin the season, but those guys get paid to stop the quarterback, and Allen made absolute mince meat out of those secondaries. In his first year, Allen showed clear struggles, turning the ball over 20 times in 12 games, and was highly inaccurate. Essentially, he was what he was at Wyoming, which wasn’t much of a surprise.

In Year 2, there was clear growth from Allen. he cleaned his footwork up a bit, was a bit more accurate (even though he was still very inaccurate) and showed progress. Allen did exactly what was needed, for the most part, helping to get wins with the team’s defense leading the way. For young, developing quarterbacks, this is nothing new. Allen was still a bit careless with the ball, fumbling the ball 14 times in addition to his nine interceptions, but was much more effective moving the offense down the field.

So far, through two games, Josh Allen is the leading passer in the NFL, and has not thrown an interception despite fumbling twice. No matter how you slice it — and it is early in the season — Allen looks absolutely impressive. The footwork is cleaner, the game has seemingly slowed down for him, and the passes that would have been big-time overthrows last season, have turned into dimes.

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Give the Bills organization credit, though. The team has brought in dependable pass-catchers in Cole Beasley and John Brown in 2019, and had the stones to send their first-round pick to Minnesota for Stefon Diggs. That is about as good of a starting receiving corps as you can find. The team has also invested in the draft, with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss to go in the backfield with him, as well as Dawson Knox and Gabriel Davis. It is clear that Buffalo believes in Allen, and is going to give him all the tools he needs to succeed.

It has only been two games; there are 14 more to go in the regular season. There is a lot more to be seen. However, if Josh Allen continues his progression as a quarterback, the Bills will not only be an AFC East contender, they will contend with the conference’s best for the ultimate crown.

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