The Buffalo Bills are like any other NFL team in that the production they receive from their quarterback will largely determine their success in the upcoming season. This is not news. What also isn’t news is that the Bills have sorely lacked in the quarterback production department for the better part of the last 23 NFL seasons. Consider the following:
- It’s been 19 years since the Bills last ranked in the top-ten in offensive yardage. Seriously. They were ninth overall in 2000.
- In that same 19-year span, they’ve only ranked in the top half of the league five other times—2001 (13), 2002 (11), 2011 (14), 2015 (13), and 2016 (16). They’ve also had a negative point differential 15 times (including their lone playoff season in 2017).
- Since Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season, the Bills have had a quarterback finish in the top ten in passing yards twice—Doug Flutie in 1999 (tenth; 3,171 yards) and Drew Bledsoe in 2002 (second; 4,359 yards). Kelly was in the top ten in six of his 11 NFL seasons
Needless to say, the quarterback position in Buffalo has been a wasteland for the better part of the last six presidential terms. Hopefully, the team has finally found the answer to that inevitable disappointment in the current signal caller.
In our final installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile the man tasked with leading the Bills out of the wilderness and back to prominence.
Name: Josh Allen
Height/Weight: 6’5” 237 lbs.
Age: 23 (24 on 5/21/20
Experience/Draft: 2; selected in the first round (seventh overall) by the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft
Acquired: First-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Allen enters the second year of his rookie contract, a fully-guaranteed four-year pact that totals $21,183,038. For the 2019 season, Allen carries a salary cap hit of $4,814,326.
2018 Recap: Allen’s rookie year was a tale of two halves. After losing the starting quarterback competition to Nathan Peterman, it took all of one half of real action before the coaching staff remembered that Peterman is incapable of sitting at the helm of a professional offense. Allen entered during Week 1 of his rookie season, and looked every bit the part of a raw rookie for the first portion of the year. In his first six professional games, Allen completed 54% of his passes for 832 yards. He threw two touchdowns, five interceptions, took 21 sacks, and had a quarterback rating of 61.8. He ran the ball 35 times for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Expanding that out to a 16-game average, Allen’s stats looked especially miserable at that point—2,219 yards, five touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 56 sacks taken—so there was a whole lot of brake-pumping regarding his future.
After suffering an injury to his throwing elbow against the Houston Texans, Allen had the chance to sit. Upon his return, things really slowed down for him and he looked much better. Over the course of his final six games, he still had that low completion percentage (52%), but he threw for more yardage (1,242), more touchdowns (8), and took fewer sacks (7). He did throw seven interceptions, but he added tremendous value with his legs, rushing for 476 yards on 54 carries. Using his final six games for a 16-game average paints a different picture, as Allen’s line (3,312 yards, 21 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 19 sacks taken; 1,269 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns) looks much better than the first six games.
Overall, Allen finished up his rookie season with a 67.9 quarterback rating, completing 53% of his passes for 2,074 yards, ten touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also ran 89 times for a team-leading 631 yards and eight touchdowns. He took 28 sacks on the year, and he led three game-winning drives in 11 starts.
Positional outlook: Allen is the man this year, as he enters the season as the unquestioned starter at quarterback. Matt Barkley is the backup, and Tyree Jackson is the developmental player fighting for a roster spot as the third-string quarterback.
2019 Offseason: Allen has participated in all offseason activities to date.
2019 Season outlook: If Allen can progress to league-average overall as a passer, the Bills will not only contend for a playoff berth, but they should make it. Think Mitchell Trubisky as a baseline for Allen’s numbers—a seven percent jump in completion percentage, 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions—and combine it with the solid defense Buffalo has, and it’s a winning formula. If the Bills are going to take the next step, then Allen has to take the next step first. The team will follow in his success or failure. If early returns are to be trusted, then Allen is on his way to leading the team in the right direction
That does it for “90 players in 90 days” for this offseason! Whether you’ve stuck with us through the whole thing or checked in when you saw a player you were interested in discussing, we appreciate you grinding out the offseason with us. Here’s to what lies ahead!