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Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen is the anti-Captain Checkdown

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Allen doesn’t settle, especially on third down.

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Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Josh Allen has grown a lot in his two seasons in the NFL. One of his biggest areas of growth for the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback was the development of his mid-range passing game in 2019. The progression was staggering considering the Reader’s Digest® description of him as a passer floating around football-focused blogs and Twitter handles.

However, there is one characteristic of Allen that didn’t changed significantly from his first to second year in the league, and that is his downright refusal to check down the ball, especially on third down.

In a recent article by Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus, their advanced statistics determined that Allen has been the quarterback that is least likely to check down the ball on any down-and-distance and when specifically looking at third downs. In fact, Allen has only checked down once(!!) on third down in his entire 245-attempt career. That gives Allen a 0.4% frequency of checking down the ball on third down with the next closest checkdown-averse QB being Ben Roethlisberger with a 1.1% frequency.

“About 63% of his throws on third down were past the first down marker, the fifth-highest rate in the league, but that aggressive nature has generated seven interceptions and one of the highest turnover-worthy play rates in the league (7.4%, seventh-highest),” wrote Monson.

Allen’s company on the lowest checkdown rates overall since 2018 is mixed in terms of quality. Allen has a 2.3% overall checkdown rate over the last two seasons followed by Patrick Mahomes at 3.3% and Mitch Trubisky at 3.5%. Being in the company of players like Mahomes on meaningful statistics is desirable. Trubisky less so.

It seems fair to expect this trend to continue for Allen in 2020. The real question is will the rest of his third year in the league look more like 2019 Mahomes or 2019 Trubisky?