Winning heals all wounds. In this case, a 17-16 victory over the New York Jets was able to wash away the terrible first half that second-year Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had in Week 1 of the NFL season.
Allen’s career trajectory has yet to be calculated. Up to this point, Allen has made many inaccurate throws, including some ill-advised throws no competent quarterback should make. He also has unnecessarily sacrificed his body at the expense of extending plays during unimportant early downs.
These are just a few things Allen must fix before being crowned the next franchise quarterback of the Bills, a position that has been uninhabited since Jim Kelly more than two decades ago.
Allen has, however, exhibited potential to finally bring the Bills back to national football relevancy. One way to do that is to resurrect their nonexistent passing game.
Since 2000, Buffalo quarterbacks have thrown for 300 yards in a game less than 20 times. Last year alone, other NFL quarterbacks hit that same mark in over 160 games. If the NFL is a copycat league, the Bills must be blind to the barrage of air attacks occurring in nearly each of the other 31 NFL cities.
In Week 1 against the Jets, Allen and second year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll attempted to change the make-up of the Bills offense and ran 19 straight passing plays to open the game.
At first, it seemed Allen’s rocket arm and increased maturity at the NFL level, surrounded by several new offensive weapons at wide receiver and tight end, would translate to Allen’s first 300-yard passing game. Four turnovers later, however, the Bills found themselves headed into halftime without scoring a single point.
While wishful Bills fans could deflect the blame of the turnovers from Allen, a closer look places nearly all the responsibility onto the young quarterback’s shoulders.
The blame for the first, a fumble, can be divided between Allen’s inability to escape the pocket and hold onto the football, poor blocking on the offensive line and Daboll’s play calling. When a team passes 19 times in a row, the defense will expect it and the Jets had the play read perfectly to get to Allen and force the turnover.
The first interception did bounce out of slot receiver Cole Beasley’s hands, but a low throw to a wide-open receiver five yards away is inexcusable.
The second fumble was a result of Allen being anxious to rush the ball on fourth down and the lack of chemistry between Allen and center Mitch Morse, who had been out of football activities since before training camp in July.
Finally, the fourth interception was deflected at the line of scrimmage, but Allen needs to be able to manipulate passing windows and anticipate the pressure from the edge. An unlucky bounce could have been avoided with some more maturity behind center.
All of this considered, the Bills defense held the Jets to only 6 points in the first half, giving Allen and the offense an opportunity to claw their way back into the game; this is where things improved for Allen.
After a third-quarter field goal, Allen lead two scoring drives in the fourth; he rushed for one score while also going 8-10 passing for 102 yards including the eventual game-winning touchdown to wide receiver John Brown.
Overall, Allen lead two magnificent scoring drives, covering 165 total yards on 16 plays, when his team needed him the most. When compared to Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold, who was also drafted in the first-round last year, Allen was victorious in multiple ways.
Against Darnold and the Jets, Allen showed his big play ability and development over the summer. He has the potential to overcome any mistakes, especially the mental ones that he made. Once the gap between the mistakes and success becomes wider, Allen may finally own the long sought after title of franchise quarterback.