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Opinion: No one should fault Josh Allen if this isn’t “just another game”

It’s a HUGE step for the second-year player.

Two years ago, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was playing for the University of Wyoming against the San Jose State Spartans on Thanksgiving weekend. This year, he’s playing America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys with the star on the side of the helmet and their $1.3 billion stadium, in a nationally-televised game on Thanksgiving. It’s arguably the largest regular-season stage that exists and for Buffalo’s young QB, it will be a true test of his coolness under pressure.

Allen’s from a small town in California. He went to Wyoming. Then he came to Buffalo. The atmosphere in Dallas and beyond on Thursday is going to be unlike anything he’s ever seen. What’s it going to be like when he looks up and sees the 60-yard television screen hanging over the stadium with his face on it?

But it’s not that Allen hasn’t played in big stadiums. He’s played in The Meadowlands and Gillette and a host of other major NFL venues, but Jerry World is different. Those are the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. There was a TV show about auditioning for their squad. And Allen has never played in a nationally-televised game. In 2018, he missed the team’s appearance on Monday Night Football with an elbow injury. Allen has never even played in a late afternoon game! Every pro game he’s ever played in has started at 1:00 PM Eastern.

Look, I hope Allen is as calm, cool, and collected as some folks seem to think he’s going to be, but it’s way more likely that the dude white-knuckles all of his passes in the entire first quarter.

In Allen’s biggest start of 2019—Week 4 against the New England Patriots and Tom Brady—Allen missed his first two passes and was sacked on his third attempt. An incompletion, an interception, and two more incompletions preceded his first completion on Buffalo’s third drive of the game. Buffalo was down 13-0 by that point and Allen was 0-6 with a pick and a sack. Let’s hope Allen doesn’t start similarly overwhelmed against a Dallas Cowboys’ defense that is nowhere near as good as the Patriots defense from that day.

The team is trying to say the right things in anticipation of the biggest stage of their season. Bills safety Micah Hyde spoke with reporters this week because he’s played on Thanksgiving as a member of the Green Bay Packers, but he’s not 23 making his first nationally-televised start.

No one would blame Allen for being in over his head a bit on Thursday in the biggest game of his life. What a story it would be if he could shut down the haters from his pre-draft process with a monster game on the grand stage. It would also be a positive step toward a good performance on the next big stage; a Buffalo Bills playoff game.

As any food prep will tell you, you should limit the amount of adrenaline in the turkey’s system when they harvest the animal. Buffalo’s young QB will have to try to limit his own to have success on Turkey Day.