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Next Gen Stats: Josh Allen thriving under pressure

Plus notes on Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and the receiving emphasis of newcomer Nyheim Hines

Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills beat the Green Bay Packers, 27-17, on Sunday Night Football due to an electric first half from Buffalo’s offense, and questionable decision-making from Green Bay in the third quarter. As painful as the second half was offensively, quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs continued to prove why they’re one of the best QB-WR duos in the NFL.

Allen has been lights out when facing pressure this season, averaging more yards per attempt under pressure (9.6) compared to when kept clean (7.9). Per Next Gen Stats, he was pressured on 40.7% of his dropbacks on SNF, the third-highest rate in a game in his career. Allen earned an 88 NGS passing score under pressure, which also marks the third-highest passing score in his career, completing 6-of-9 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns on such plays. The deep ball has been Allen’s bread-and-butter lately, as his 13.1 average intended air yards led the league in Week 8, and his 10.4 average completed air yards was second-highest.

Diggs’ 26-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his most improbable catch of the season (22.5% completion probability), again per Next Gen Stats. He had just 0.6 yards of distance between the sideline and him at the time of the catch. Diggs finished the game with six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown (+17.5% catch rate over expected). Keep in mind, Allen completed just 13 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, meaning Diggs accounted for nearly half of the team’s catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns.

On the other side of the alignment, wide receiver Gabe Davis struggled against the Packers’ top cornerback, Jaire Alexander. Davis drew coverage from Alexander on 14 of 23 routes (61%). He didn’t allow a single reception on four targets (three tight windows), and also picked off Allen in the fourth quarter. Although Alexander and Diggs had some words throughout the game, Alexander surely had Davis’ number, and smothered him.

Perhaps due in part to the second-half offensive woes, the Bills made a move as the NFL trade deadline came to an end on Tuesday afternoon. They acquired running back Nyheim Hines from the Indianapolis Colts for Zack Moss and a conditional sixth-round pick. If Buffalo’s offense was missing something, it was a true pass-catching back, and that’s exactly what Hines is and should be for the team. Per Next Gen Stats, Hines has been targeted on 29% of his routes since entering the league in 2018, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL among players with at least 900 targets.

Not only does he provide a spark on offense, but he has plenty of kick return and punt return experience. Hines has returned 73 punts in his career and fumbled just three of them, a rate of 4.1% (not including fair catches). Buffalo has had a few special teams issues thus far, as wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie’s fumble rate is 15.5%, so it’s clear Hines checked multiple boxes for general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott.