Although it’s only been three games, it is becoming very clear that quarterback Josh Allen has improved significantly since his rookie season. Allen looks more comfortable in the pocket, is taking check-downs and quick passes, and has full command of the Buffalo Bills offense. However, it does not take an expert to notice that there continue to be flaws in Allen’s game. He still tries to play “hero-ball” too often and has yet to play a consistent four quarters this season. This is exactly what was expected. This week’s Thursday Thought is: Josh Allen has come a long way, but still has a long way to go.
Let’s first start with where Allen has improved. The first sign that shows how much Allen has improved was his biggest criticism coming out of college and throughout his rookie season; his completion percentage. Allen finished his collegiate career with a 56 percent completion percentage, and in his rookie season posted the NFL’s worst completion percentage at 52.8 percent. So far through three games, Allen has raised his completion percentage to 64.1 percent. An increase of 11.3 percent.
Allen’s pocket presence and willingness to take what the defense gives him has contributed to this improvement. No longer is Allen always running all over the field and launching deep balls. He now stays and operates in the pocket more frequently. He also uses his check-downs and utilizes guys like Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie in the slot.
Another area of improvement for Allen has been his command of the offense. Last year, how many times do you remember Allen changing the play at the line of scrimmage? I’m sure you can’t think of too many times. However, now in year two Allen has full command of this offense. Allen has the responsibility of making checks at the line of scrimmage and at times has been given play-calling abilities.
As much as Allen has improved, there are still areas of his game that are a work in progress. The biggest being Allen’s continued urge to play “hero ball”. This showed up this past week against the Cincinnati Bengals, where Allen was rolling to his right to avoid pressure. While stiff-arming a defender and falling off his back foot, Allen inexplicably threw a ball towards Beasley which was an easy interception for the defense.
Plays like that need to stop for Josh Allen if he and the Bills want him to reach the ceiling of his capability. Another big area of improvement for Allen must be his consistency. Allen has yet to play a full four quarters of consistent football for the Bills. The numbers say it all. For Allen, his first quarter, second quarter, and fourth numbers all look pretty good. In those three quarters, he’s averaging 80 yards per quarter, a 70 percent completion percentage, and a passer rating of 100.7.
However, Allen’s third quarter numbers are substantially worse. In the third quarter, Allen Is averaging a 33.3 percent completion percentage, 9.3 passing yards, and a passer rating of 14.6. The third quarter has been Allen’s kryptonite and is something he’ll need to improve.
Overall, Allen has been exactly what was anticipated this season. It was clear that Allen was going to make a Carson Wentz-like jump in year two and be an MVP candidate. Allen was a raw player coming out of Wyoming. However, the progress he’s made proves that Allen has a legitimate shot to reach the ceiling that draft experts and scouts talked about during the 2018 draft process. Allen will only get better each game he plays and the more experience he gets.
Mitch Broder is a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at email@example.com or on Twitter @mitchell_broder