Buffalo Bills

Why Sports Media Hates Josh Allen

Josh Allen is easily one of the most polarizing players to enter the NFL Draft in recent memory. While almost anyone who watched his college games could see he was oozing with athleticism and competitive spirit, it was also painfully obvious that his decision making, accuracy, and overall play as a Quarterback was terrible by NFL and even high-level college standards.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a “Rosen guy” as evidenced by this tweet that I furiously typed right after the Bills selected Allen.

All these things rang true during his first year in the NFL. Incredibly athletic runs and “how did he do that” throws were followed up with equally incredibly poor decisions and horrible accuracy. After spending a whole offseason knowing he was the starter and working with the Bills’ coaches and Jordan Palmer, it was apparent a few games into the 2019 season that he had improved dramatically. So, why do some people still hate Josh Allen?

Pro Football Focus

Any Bills fan who spends any time on Twitter can’t help but see the weekly tweets from PFF about how terrible Josh Allen is. Not surprisingly, these tweets infuriate the Bills fanbase and are a constant topic of conversation on social media. Here is the latest one:

In order to understand the perceived Josh Allen hate from PFF, we need to understand their grading system. I won’t bore you with all the specifics, but here’s a quick look at the important parts. Quarterback throws are put into one of three categories: big-time throws, turnover-worthy throws, or expected plays.

Big Time Throws: These are throws that are either travel a long distance down the field (the further the throw, the higher the grade), throws that are thrown into tight coverage, or some combination of both. Maximum score per throw of +2

Turnover Worthy Throws: These are throws that either hit a defender in the hands or have an opportunity to become a turnover. It’s important to note that PFF does not blame the QB for the actual turnover, just the opportunity of a turnover to be made. Maximum negative score of -2

Expected Throws: These are throws that a starting caliber QB would be expected to make. For instance, if Cole Beasley is standing within arm’s length of Josh Allen, we would expect Allen to be able to complete that throw. These throws do not get a positive or negative score since they are expected.

Following this criterion, it’s easy to see that some games would produce a very low score for Allen. I know you’re probably saying to yourself one of two things “But look at all these great throws and big plays Allen makes!” or “But Allen went seven or eight games where he didn’t make any dumb plays or throw any dumb throws!”  I’ve got two words for you … no not those two, I’m talking about FUMBLES and ACCURACY. The PFF grading system rewards Quarterbacks who are accurate, as I mentioned above, and no matter how much we love Josh Allen, it’s clear that he can be inconsistent when it comes to accuracy. He also wants to win so badly that he never wants to give up on a play, which leads to frustrating laterals in playoff games or rollouts to the right and throws into triple coverage.

Now that I’ve explained the logical reason why Josh Allen’s PFF score is low, I’m here to tell you that the hate that some of the front-facing talent from PFF (PFF Sam and some others) is bullshit. It’s either a purposeful attempt at trolling Bills Mafia, or they are so in love with their grading system that they can’t see what should be obvious when you watch him play, and that’s the simple fact that Allen has improved in many ways. Either way, it’s become personal for some analysts. How do I know? Sam could have picked any of several Quarterbacks to compare in his tweet listed above and it’s fucking February! It’s the offseason, and he’s still on social media putting Josh Allen on blast? C’MON MAN!

Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders

Schatz is one of the earliest “analytics guys” and is considered by some to be the “godfather” of pro football analytics. His DVOA metric is widely used and respected, and he’s also another guy who can’t seem to see past his own formula … publicly anyway. To be fair, when radio stations have him on, they want him to talk about DVOA and not what he just generally thinks of players. Schatz’s draft night tweet about Allen is still held over his head by many fans:

Adding more fuel to the fire, Schatz made an appearance on WGR in which he said his analytics pegged the Bills for 6.9 wins. (Las Vegas sportsbooks had the Bills win total at 6.5) which obviously upset many Bills fans. Does Schatz hate Allen? Not sure. Does DVOA hate Allen? It seems that way. Does he have some personal grudge? Probably not. Does he believe in his analytics too much? Maybe, but he did invent it, and it’s how he puts food on the table.

The “National Media”

When we say “national media,” we really don’t mean everyone, just a few select people. It seems as though every big media company has at least one Josh Allen hater. So, what gives? Many people have speculated that these people thought Josh Allen would stink and can’t admit that they were wrong, or perhaps they think since he’s only played two seasons, they still have time to be right. I think some of them like Michael Kist just like trolling Bills Mafia. Meanwhile, others marvel at how spectacular Allen can be on one play and how spectacularly horrible he can be on the next. Some national media members who hated the Josh Allen pick are willing to admit he’s making progress. This quote is from an article Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report wrote in August of 2109 Titled, “Buffalo Bills Josh Allen Starting to prove haters and doubters wrong:”

Allen was last year’s draft-season punching bag. Analytics experts scoffed at his miserable college statistics. Draft hipsters wrote him off as just another tall dude with a rifle arm and little else to offer. Football Outsiders Almanac, a publication I co-author, called Allen “a parody of an NFL quarterback prospect” and “the battleground old-school scouts are going to die on.” More succinctly, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey just called Allen “trash.” I’ll admit I was part of the chorus of skeptics, if not outright haters, when I gave the Bills a C-minus for drafting Allen.

“Buffalo Bills Josh Allen Starting to prove haters and doubters wrong” by Mike Tanier

Tanier goes on to say that while he did recognize that Allen has all the tools an NFL covets, his production didn’t match the tools, which was concerning. Tanier then begins to highlight some of the positive.

Allen’s tools didn’t yield many results last season. He was comically bad by even rookie standards in his early appearances (two touchdowns, five interceptions and 21 sacks in his first six games) and slightly better after returning from a midseason elbow injury (eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in his final six starts, but with an abysmal 51.9% completion rate). But we also discovered he possessed a tool no one really knew about. Allen rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018. His NFL.com predraft scouting report had listed 20 “positive” bullet points, and “mobility” is only briefly mentioned in the 15th one. Scrambling and option running weren’t supposed to be part of his portfolio.

Now firmly on a roll, Tanier ends up being a bit of a prophet when it comes to Josh Allen’s 2019 season:

There’s a huge difference between a tall rookie with a cannon and a tall, fast rookie with a cannon. Allen may have looked like a clueless rookie running for his life last year, but that’s a step up from a clueless sitting duck. More importantly, if a skill as important as Allen’s mobility was largely overlooked by so many draft analysts on a prospect as scrutinized and criticized as he was, what else may we have missed? Perhaps the capacity to improve?

And the proverbial cherry on top :

Allen may still be a work in progress, but he’s no punchline. In fact, he’s what the Mayock types told us he would be: the high-upside guy with a lot to learn. The upside is still there, the learning continues, and Allen looks ready to help the Bills win a few games during his on-the-job training.

Maybe the old NFL guard really does know what it’s talking about now and then. Imagine that.

Conclusion

Josh Allen haters and doubters come from all corners of the football world. Some of them have a seemingly personal hatred, the kind you have for a person who steals your boyfriend or girlfriend. Others seem too married to their analytics and data to see what’s happening on their TV screens. For others, it seems to be a matter of pride. Perhaps they hated too hard during the draft process and feel stupid recanting some of their analysis. Lastly, some people just like trolling Buffalo Bills fans. One thing is certain to this Bills fan: if someone can’t admit that Josh Allen has progressed since joining the NFL, I can’t take that person seriously regardless of their status or respect within the media or NFL community.

(Author’s note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Next week’s part 2 is entitled “Why people love Josh Allen too much”) 

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