Faith in Allen: The Bills’ first-round quarterback is starting to silence his early doubters.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – If anyone was truly wondering why Matt Barkley didn’t start at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 25, Josh Allen provided the answer.
The No. 7 overall draft pick did not play the type of game that is going to quiet his legion of critics, most of whom seem to have the patience of a hungry 2year-old and refuse to acknowledge the kid has now played a grand total of 6½ games in the NFL.
This is the same mob that continually dredges up the tired argument about how Allen’s college career at Wyoming was less-than-stellar statistically and — because of that — have already concluded that he’ll never amount to anything. It’s also the same people who somehow, after just 6½ games, expect Allen to be performing like Jared Goff or Patrick Mahomes even though he has a fraction of the talent around him that those two are blessed to have.
Can we give Allen a chance to at least exit the womb before we paint him as an abject failure, or, as motor-mouthed Jalen Ramsey proclaimed, “trash” and a “wasted pick”?
What Allen did in Buffalo’s 24-21 victory over Ramsey and the Jacksonville Jaguars went way beyond his middling statistics, which included eight completions on 19 attempts for 160 yards. The statistics would have been much better, by the way, minus dropped passes and nullified completions due to penalties.
“See, the thing with Josh is that he brings that extra spark. He brings that extra electricity in the building,” said running back LeSean McCoy.
McCoy could not have been more prescient in recognizing exactly the difference between Allen and Barkley, not to mention former Bills quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman. Allen gives the Bills hope regarding the future.
Massive growing pains aside, some of which are still yet to come, there’s a chance Allen is the long-lost answer in Buffalo’s search for a franchise quarterback.
Sure, maybe he ends up being another J.P. Losman or E.J. Manuel, the last two first-round choices who provided hope, then crushed everyone’s spirit. But maybe, just maybe, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott got it right and Allen is the real deal.
“He’s still young, so again, let’s manage expectations,” McDermott said. “It was a good start for him. These (final) six games ... get him back on the field and grow and see different defenses.”
Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, and he sat behind Case Keenum for half of that season. When he finally got onto the field, he went 1-7 as a starter, he completed just 54.3 percent of his passes with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, the Rams scored 85 points in his eight starts and some impatient critics believed Goff would be another Ryan Leaf or Jamarcus Russell.
The next season, the Rams fired the uninspiring Jeff Fisher and hired offensive genius Sean McVay as their head coach, added a bunch of playmakers on offense — including ex-Bills Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods — and armed with valuable experience, Goff soared.
Unfortunately in Buffalo, placeholder A.J. McCarron doused that blue print in gasoline, and then Peterman tossed the match that lit it aflame. Thus, Allen wasn’t afforded the opportunity to sit back and watch and learn the way Goff did, the way Mahomes did for the first 15 games as a rookie last year behind Alex Smith.
McDermott had to send Allen onto the field in Baltimore 40 minutes into his inaugural season and as a result we’ve had to watch the raw rookie struggle to find his way, a situation made worse by the complete lack of support he receives from an anemic Buffalo offense.
Against Jacksonville, after sitting out four weeks with an elbow injury, Allen wowed New Era Field with that 75-yard howitzer of a touchdown to Robert Foster, which came a few minutes after a superb under-pressure laser beam to Kelvin Benjamin that resulted in a net gain of 47 yards.
He dazzled with his athleticism, his 14-yard touchdown run on a QB keeper, and the 45yard scramble midway through the fourth quarter.
Yes, the final passing numbers were rather ugly. But he also directed touchdown drives of 75, 86 and 68 yards, he did not take a sack nor commit a turnover, and he played with an unbridled passion that filtered throughout the entire team.
“He wants to win. He’s no chump. He plays hard,” McCoy said. (The Jaguars) talked a lot about him, so he couldn’t wait to get out there and prove them wrong. He’s a baller. He won’t back down at all. He has a bright future.”
McDermott agreed on all accounts.
“I love his fire,” the coach said. “He personifies Buffalo, right? He’s a hard-worker, bluecollar kid and loves to compete.”
Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye dives to try to make a tackle on Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen in the second half last weekend.