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Buffalo Bills should sit quarterback Josh Allen until they address offensive line

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The Bills should not start their rookie

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen’s first NFL preseason start came to an end when, in an attempt to avoid taking a sack and loss of yardage late in the first half, his head bounced off of the turf following what can accurately be described as a heroic throw-away.

It was arguably the best play Allen made in his half of play against the Cincinnati Bengals, who otherwise roundly abused the Buffalo Bills in all three phases en route to a 20-0 halftime lead.

Allen briefly entering the concussion protocol (he has since been cleared and is fine, for the record) also served to emphasize the reason why Allen can’t be the Bills’ starting quarterback in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.

If the Bills’ offensive line continues to perform the way it has in its last two preseason games, whichever player lines up under center is going to take a beating. No amount of crafty game planning can change that. This is a unit that, even optimistically, doesn’t look like it will be playing well in two weeks. You have to protect your investment; Allen shouldn’t be put under center until his protection situation is significantly better.

Granted, Buffalo’s offensive line is currently dealing with an injury to its starting left tackle, Dion Dawkins. They’re also rotating several players around at the left guard, center, and right guard spots on each successive offensive series, seemingly desperately attempting to find some combination of players that can competently block. It isn’t working yet.

In their Week 2 preseason game last week against the Cleveland Browns, the offensive line also struggled to protect then-starter AJ McCarron, who took an injury on his final series and is only now returning to full action after roughly a week. In this afternoon’s first half, Allen took five sacks and several more big hits while completing 6-of-12 passes for 34 yards. The Bills had -5 (negative-five) net passing yards in the half. With such shoddy play around him (receivers dropped passes, plural, as well), there was very little to learn from an Allen evaluation on this day.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott still has a decision to make regarding his starting quarterback for September 9 against the Ravens. The offensive line should have decided for him, by now, that he’s reduced to picking between McCarron and Nathan Peterman.