Well, the votes are in, Bills Mafia. After the Buffalo Bills lost a frustrating game to the New York Jets to open their season, most of the talk centered around quarterback Josh Allen, and what to make of his performance in front of a national audience during Monday Night Football.
Everyone understands it wasn’t great, but the fan base seems divided right now — at least if you listen to call-in shows or read enough Bills content on the web or social media. Bills fandom spans generations, to those of us who were already grizzled vets before Bills Mafia was a thing, to those who were born into the family as the playoff drought unfolded. Still others who’ve only joined the Mafia once the team rose back to prominence... that is since Josh Allen became the talk of the league. And we all matter.
It’s fair to say that the fan base as a whole is going to carry different opinions on Allen’s current difficulties, having come from different experiences with the franchise. But what you won’t find is any shortage of people talking about it, especially if you live in Bills country.
Instead of a simple yes/no poll, I sought to gauge fans’ level of concern for Allen’s recent play. I figured almost no one would respond “no” between the two options. Surprisingly, I was wrong — 23% of respondents aren’t concerned at all about Allen’s play. But they don’t make up the largest percentage of voters, as you’ll see below...
The vast majority of voters have mild concern about Allen, while, while 42% of voters are either (my term) firmly concerned or (again, my term) irrationally concerned about Josh Allen at this point. Viewed another way, 77% of those who responded find reason to be concerned about Josh Allen’s on-field production.
Fortunately, Allen’s bad game came in Week 1, and there’s plenty of time to turn things around for the 2023 NFL season. However, losing divisional games is never helpful, and that’s especially so in the AFC East, where every team could make a bid for postseason play.
We’ve spent a lot of time discussing Josh Allen this week, but in vastly different ways than most are accustomed to. The Bills welcome the Las Vegas Raiders to Highmark Stadium on Sunday for their 2023 home opener. Hope prevails that they find a way to bounce back and notch what somehow feels like a must-win game in Week 2. It isn’t, but sometimes must-win games mean different things. This week, it’s all about confidence and competency, and building a pattern of victories early on within a daunting schedule this season.
In terms of confidence, there’s an air of doom and gloom from Bills Mafia, with just 35% of fans believing the Bills are headed in the right direction.
While confidence usually follows the path victory takes, it’s possible that many Bills fans lack confidence for reasons other than Josh Allen. Plenty have voiced concerns about personnel on both offense and defense, as well as with head coach/defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. Still, we’re far removed from the rankings common with this weekly poll last season.
For the national polls this week, you’ll find some interesting results that include both the Bills and Raiders — and one that doesn’t find a lot of confidence in head coach Brian Daboll’s New York Giants: