In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected quarterback Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick, hoping he could take the reigns as the franchise QB. Heading into his third season with the team, one question still remains, is Allen a franchise quarterback? After two up and down seasons, the team will soon need to decide on what to do moving forward.
Allen’s accuracy concerns
There is no denying that Allen has made a positive impact on the Bills since being drafted. While his receivers dropped a minimum of 21 passes, Allen’s accuracy is concerning. He did improve upon his 52.8% completion percentage from his 2018 rookie campaign.
However, Allen only completed 6% more passes in 2019. According to Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric, Allen earned an overall grade of 20.41 for the 2019 season, ranking him 28th out of 39 qualifying quarterbacks.
There was a stretch late in the 2019 season, during Weeks 11 to 13, where it seemed Allen had possibly turned a corner. The Bills took down the Miami Dolphins, beat the Denver Broncos, and prevailed against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day. His numbers had been slowly progressing through the season and hit their peak in AT&T Stadium.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 29, 2019
Allen completed 19 of his 24 attempts, earning his highest completion percentage on the season, 79.2%, and his highest OSM score of 31.09. It was all downhill from there for the rest of the year. Over the next three games, Allen’s highest completion mark was 52% and included his lowest performance of the season at 43.6% in Week 14 versus Baltimore. He just could not find his target, which continued into his postseason debut, where he completed only 52.2% of his 46 attempts.
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Allen ended the 2019 season with the third-lowest completion percentage in the league. The only players who performed worse were Detriot Lions QB David Blough and Washington Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins. Allen’s OSM scores are being heavily impacted by his inability to hit his wide receivers consistently.
Is there a problem with his weapons?
What about the 21 drops from earlier? Ten of those aforementioned drops came from rookie tight end Dawson Knox, the third-most in the league. Allen had a quality duo supporting him in the passing game last season. Cole Beasley and John Brown earned overall OSM scores of 34.56 and 30.83, respectively. However, both come in on the shorter end, Brown standing 5′ 11″ tall and Beasley shorter at 5′ 8″.
To give Allen some more help, Buffalo sent a 2020 first-round pick (22nd overall), a fifth-round pick, a sixth-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for WR Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick. While Diggs just cracks six feet, he’s shown he’s capable of producing at a high level even while playing beside another talented receiver Adam Thielen during his time in Minnesota.
Diggs set his season-high in receiving yards in 2019, earning 1,130 just one season after setting his season-high in receptions with 102 in 2018. Diggs had the highest OSM score in Minnesota last season for a WR earning a 33.85. While it isn’t higher than Brown, Diggs comes into the receiving room as the expected lead dog. Unfortunately, with the current global situation affecting offseason workouts and training, Allen and Diggs will not have nearly as much time to establish much-needed chemistry as the Bills would’ve thought.
The silver lining for Allen
It isn’t all doom and gloom, while his accuracy does need to take some strides forward, Allen has proven to have success as a dual-threat on the field. During the 2019 season, Allen rushed the ball 109 for 510 yards and nine touchdowns, his second season with 500+ yards on the ground.
It’s evident that since his selection, the Bills have been a better team. This is a combo of the stout defense head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have built, and the passion and competitiveness Allen shows when leading his team on the field.
Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Allen was heavily criticized for vacating the pocket too soon and often from his time in Wyoming. While there were signs of this his rookie season, he improved upon that in 2019, showing more pocket presence and development in progressing through his reads.
But when he does take off, out of the pocket or on a designed run, he fights for as many yards as possible hurdling, juking, and trucking his way down the field. He has broken off many long scampers, including breaking Jim Kelly’s Bills franchise record for most rushing yards in a postseason game with a single 42-yard rush on Buffalo’s opening drive. However, no rush displays this passion more than this fourth-down conversion from the Thanksgiving game mentioned above.
JOSH ALLEN WENT BEAST MODE 😤 pic.twitter.com/kfN79nGjJq
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 28, 2019
Allen is an intriguing QB. His accuracy concerns stop me from saying he has a stronghold on the long-term franchise quarterback title in Buffalo. However, his passion and leadership have had a positive effect on the team, and it looks as though 2020 has Buffalo primed for its best chance at winning a postseason game for the first time since 1995. However, if the Bills fall flat in the playoffs again and Allen headed into the last year of his rookie contract, both McDermott and Beane will have a difficult decision to make regarding Allen’s future.