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Measuring Josh Allen’s 2019 in-season progress

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A little game of “Would you rather...”

Seven weeks into the 2019 schedule, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has put together a fairly solid season. He seems to have found the short-to-intermediate throws his game lacked last year and he appears less prone to running before allowing routes to develop. Still, plenty of weekly discussion remains among the fan base and media about Allen showing more on game days. Is that criticism fair, especially for a QB who’s shown improvement in areas that concerned most last season?

Look, I've been a fairly vocal critic of Josh Allen’s this season. I’m concerned about that missing 300-yard game through the air. I know it shouldn’t matter when the franchise has its best record since 1999 after 11 weeks. Two decades have passed between 7-3 starts. That’s...insane. I’d still feel substantially better if I knew Allen had already tossed that magic number so when the chips were down against a big dog, the proof existed that Allen could and would step up to the task. But I’m not here to spread additional Bills insanity. Josh Allen has shown improvements from year 1 to year 2 and I believe he’s taken significant strides since the first month of the 2019 season, but perhaps at the expense of some explosiveness in his game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, when observing things through a 30,000-ft perspective.

So, then, what’s this all about? Well, what if I were to show you the passing stats of two quarterbacks over the last seven weeks and ask who you prefer in place of our observations of Josh Allen to this point in the season? Let’s try it...

  • QB A, Weeks 4 through 11:
    184 of 296 (62%) for 1841 yards (263 yards per game) / 7 TDs, 5 INTs
  • QB B, Weeks 4 through 11:
    125 of 214 (58%) for 1425 yards (204 yards per game) / 10 TDs, 4 INTs

So which QB did you choose—A or B? Clearly, either choice is a pretty decent option. A has thrown for more yards and is a tick better at completing passes, but he’s been a bit turnover prone. B seems to favor an efficient approach, and he’s been far better at finding the end zone and limiting turnovers. But would you take either of those sets of stats over what you’ve witnessed out of Josh Allen so far? You know, the guy who just received this honor:

A is Brady. B is Allen. It’s my opinion that over the last seven weeks, Josh Allen has outplayed Tom Brady from a stats perspective—without even considering their rushing numbers. Those skew things even further toward Allen, who has carried 48 times for 326 yards and 5 touchdowns vs. Brady’s 11 carries for 2 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In contrast to year’s past, Brady’s stats seem to show a QB who, more often than not, hasn’t been making the wisest of decisions. Still, playing devil’s advocate, Brady’s record is 6-1 throwing fewer TDs and more INTs while Allen’s is 4-3 over the same time frame playing what appears to be more efficiently. What it neglects to mention is that vaunted defense of the New England Patriots—an exceedingly opportunistic, points-producing unit. Conversely, Buffalo’s defense boats one of the league’s best at stopping the pass—perhaps something that just might dial back the amount of yards and stats Allen needs to pile up to win a game.

I’m not here to convince anyone to abandon their concerns for Allen’s game. If he doesn’t do what you hope to see, then it’s just going to take time for it to materialize. For me, at least, it’s time appreciate more of what Josh Allen brings to the Bills’ offense. I’m willing to let go of the need to see 300 air yards so long as he continues to find that end zone, limit mistakes, and notch those Ws into the NFL history books.

Let me be clear that I’m not saying Josh Allen is a better QB than Tom Brady. You’d be hard-pressed to find any QB better than Brady, EVER. But so far in 2019, I’m choosing the guy who’s thrown more TDs and turned it over fewer times in hopes that experience leads him down a road even halfway similar to Brady.