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Examining Josh Allen’s marvel of a statistical year

Josh Allen has had himself a season in 2020.

You’ve likely heard Andy Williams croon as you meander down grocery store aisles or towards the sign in the back of most any store during the holiday season: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” And indeed it is; a time for giving thanks, for spreading and being of good cheer. It’s only apt for me to spend the next few hundred words spreading tidings of comfort and joy in the form of a good old-fashioned Josh Allen stat dump. Sometimes Christmas comes early, I guess.

For Buffalo Bills fans and NFL viewers alike, gone seem to be the days of doubting. Gone, too, may be the days of including Josh Allen in conversations surrounding the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award...for now anyway. But here—now and ideally, for his fans, always—are the days of marveling at Allen’s accomplishments, which feels like a particularly fitting thing to do after his victories this week (one over San Francisco, the other over the competition in the race for AFC Offensive Player of the Week this week).

Let’s unpack everything worth doing so.

One of two

Per NFL Research, Monday night’s performance was Allen’s third game this season with 375-plus passing yard, three or more pass touchdowns, and a 130-plus passer rating. In doing so, he joined Drew Brees (who accomplished the same feat in 2013) as the only players since at least 1950 with three such games in a season. Allen didn’t throw for more than 375 yards a single time all of last season.

Evidently, the Buffalo offense now runs directly through Allen, whose offensive leap is quickly becoming reflective of a larger trend, though an anomaly by his standards. While the Bills’ running tandem of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss is serviceable, it still ranks 22nd in the league; worth considering is the fact that Allen leads the team in rushing touchdowns, and takes a bulk of the carries on his own, no matter if the play was designed.

Passing wise, though, the Bills have evolved from serviceable to elite, ranking fifth in the league in passing and ranking 14th in attempts behind teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, and Seattle Seahawks (teams notorious for relying on their passing game, often for obvious reasons). But the Bills, more for better than for worse, are joining that company; Allen, in his own way, has joined elite company, and done so quickly.

One of one

Here, Allen’s 2020 passing feats—thus far, mind you—stand alone. On Monday Night Football, he surpassed Jim Kelly (in 1991) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (in 2010) as the Bills QB with the most 300-yard, four-touchdown games in a single season (Allen has three; Fitzpatrick and Kelly both had two). He also now has four games this season with 300 yards and three touchdowns, which launches him ahead of Drew Bledsoe in 2002 and Kelly in 1991 for the most in a season in Bills history.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but I feel like after the last two decades of torturous existence for this franchise, it’s warranted (read: mandated) to do so and to acknowledge that the quarterback of the future in Buffalo has arrived. Quarterbacks aren’t strangers to slumps following boom years—in fact, they’re probably the position most likely to experience setback following a breakout season. But all signs indicate that Allen is moving in the right direction.

Of course, there’s naturally still plausible reason for refraining from jumping the gun on Allen’s future. He’s mobile, but doesn’t protect his body (or head) like other quarterbacks. In an October interview with Dan Patrick, he noted that there were some plays in the Bills’ October 18 game against the Jets where he probably could have slid, but “there’s something about putting [his] body on the line for [his] teammates.” Patrick immediately yelled “No, no! Josh, Josh, no!” which perfectly imitated the Sunday sounds that emanate from living rooms in Western New York.

There’s also the occasional butterfingers, the questionable decision making that often comes on a whim (and a wing, and a prayer), and his relative refusal to throw the ball away when he has no one (and nowhere) to go. But ironing that out certainly isn’t an impossibility, nor is it dire. If it persists, well… then we’ll have to chat.

Speaking of Bledsoe

Following Monday’s game, Nick Veronica tweeted that Josh Allen has thrown for 300-plus yards in six of the Bills’ 12 games this season; the franchise record for 300-yard games in a season belongs to Bledsoe with seven. He did that in 2002; by all estimations, he’ll be surpassed by Allen doing this in 2020.

Another record of Bledsoe’s he could break: the franchise’s single-season passing record, which Bledsoe set in 2002 with 4,359. Allen—sitting at 3,403 right now—needs 957 passing yards to break that. On top of that, he could break Jim Kelly’s passing touchdown record of 33 in 1991 with eight more end zone tosses this year. And if he gets two more touchdowns of any kind, which he will, he’ll take over the franchise record for total touchdowns in a single season. And he already has the highest single-season passer rating in franchise history with 105.9 this season; it’s merely a matter of maintaining that.

That was a lot to throw at you. But it’s all worth considering, not only for those already compiling research for their quarterback tier columns for the coming offseason, but for those charting the paths for contenders in the more immediate future. Allen has been inconsistent thus far in his tenure as the starter, sure, but this year has undoubtedly been his best and most consistent. It’s not illogical nor far off to consider this Bills team—now being carried by Allen’s offensive heroics as opposed to being bailed out by its defense—a real contender.

And offensively, considering his bevy of options, Allen’s ascendance is nothing to scoff at. He’s yet to re-grace the playoff stage where he appeared like a deer in headlights one year ago. But when he does, he’ll have grown into the game manager you see now, the one who has divvied up the red zone touchdowns to 12 different players this season (four tight ends, two running backs, five receivers, and himself). Not many quarterbacks are willing to do that. Not many quarterbacks have the capability, either.

Then again, other quarterbacks don’t express affection for putting their skulls on the line for their teammates. I know you have a helmet, Josh, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it for the purpose of collision. Perhaps that’s just another way in which Allen has been, as the kids say, built different this year more than others.