I’m Sorry Josh Allen, You are Elite
Before the 2018 NFL draft, there was a tidal wave of noise surrounding the quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield were Heisman Trophy winners. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen excelled at the college level. With all that noise, it was understandable that no one was talking about a little known player with a cannon for an arm out of Wyoming. Josh Allen was the ugly duckling of that draft.
No one knew what he was or what he could be; Allen was the drafts mystery player. The necessary tools were clear for all to see, there was caution as teams wondered if he could step up to the NFL. Nevertheless, the Buffalo Bills decided to take a shot on the California native. Bills Mafia had a one-way ticket on the Josh Allen rollercoaster.
The pre-draft process demonstrated that Allen possessed a rocket arm, his body resembled that of a heavyweight boxer while his mobility skills were impressive. Allen looked like a prototypical Gunslinger. The question was what type of Gunslinger would Allen become. Would he become Jameis Winston or Matt Stafford? Many experts were doubtful on Allen’s potential to become an elite quarterback. He looked awkward in the pocket; there was no touch on his passes, plus he played chaotically under pressure. The pre-daft tape on Allen confirmed one thing. He looked like a backyard quarterback, a guy who pretended to be the quarterback when in reality he wasn’t. There was many an eyebrow raised when Buffalo selected him.
Allen didn’t start immediately in Northwestern New York. The rookie started 11 games out of 16. He threw over 2,000 yards and tallied up 18 total touchdowns. Allen displayed how special his arm is. In every game, Allen showcased that bazooka arm of his. Allen confirmed he was a Gunslinger in his rookie year.
Nonetheless, there were problems. Allen possessed no touch on his throws, plus he could not match an offense methodically. Everything was home run or strikeout. His NextGen passing chart for that season presents that he was fine throwing between the numbers. Allen played like a Madden player who always throws a bullet pass. Josh Allen was below average outside the numbers, also throws to the flat were non-existent. He played like a neanderthal quarterback; he didn’t show good IQ to play quarterback in the NFL.
Overall, Allen’s sophomore season was a step in the right direction. The completion percentage was higher. The interceptions declined, conversely his average yards and adjusted yards per attempt were higher. His passing chart showcased vast improvement. There were much more league average and above-average passes, particularly outside the numbers towards the sidelines. That is where quarterbacks can make back-shoulder throws to protect the ball. It is a safer plan than throwing into the middle of the field. Allen benefited from coordinator Brian Daboll’s expert tutelage.
Daboll started to smooth out the rough edges that would crop up in Allen’s play. Allen led Buffalo to the wildcard round; his team was in charge for most of that game, until Allen went haywire and started playing like he was in his backyard. The Bills’ fantastic year came crashing down due to Allen reverting to the undisciplined player he was before the draft. Allen crumbled under the playoff pressure. Daboll and crew massaged the mechanics so that he could become a competent quarterback. Unfortunately, the mind wasn’t there yet.
The Complete Player
2020 is the year Josh Allen came alive in the NFL. He is playing at an MVP level. The arrival of Stefon Diggs completed this offense. Diggs is the number one receiver Buffalo that Allen needed. Allen is much calmer in the pocket; furthermore, his throwing variety is splendid. The game at Denver saw Allen make several touch passes off his back foot.
He couldn’t make those throws in 2018. The NFL world knew Allen could make a throw from any platform as well as any arm angle. However, he only knew how to throw a bullet pass. This year, that narrative is gone. The offense is incredibly well-designed as the receivers all complement one another. That allows Allen to possess confidence regardless of where the ball is going.
Moreover, Allen is calm. He is not skittish in the pocket; he doesn’t bounce from progression to progression as he did previously. There will always be an element of madness in his game. He is the type of quarterback who commits facemask penalties; he will always be that guy. Nonetheless, Allen’s progression this season can not be understated.
He is now an elite game manager, while still being able to be the Gunslinger he wants to be. His yards per attempt and average yards per attempt is higher than ever. He’s done all that while throwing fewer interceptions. The NextGen passing chart is full of free boxes; the progression is fantastic.
Allen is a serious MVP candidate, not that he will care. A mob of supporters greeted the Bills at the airport. Allen knows it’s not about him; he will have his eyes on the ultimate prize. The Four Falls of Buffalo were a lifetime ago for some Bills fans. In the time between then and now, Buffalo watched everyone else with their elite quarterbacks. Now, Bills Mafia has its own, and he is special.