BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – One of the things that attracted the Bills to Josh Allen is his big, cannon of an arm. But he’s still learning how to use it and heading into year three in the NFL, that will be a big part of his development.
While Allen’s short, intermediate game improved last year, he struggled completing deep balls and even admitted at one point it might be because he’s worried of being intercepted. What the Bills don’t need is reckless, hero ball Josh Allen. But they do need those big, explosive plays and that’s something he’s still learning to do is make those plays without being wreckless.
But he also said he’s not going to let that fear creep into his head and keep him from being aggressive.
“I think that’s the goal is every game to have at least 60% completion percentage but again I’m not going to try and force things and I’m not going to be Captain Checkdown either,” Josh Allen said on a zoom call with reporters.
But according to Pro Football Focus, Allen has relied on the checkdown the least of any quarterback in the past two seasons only doing so 30 times in 880 pass attempts for a 2.3% rate.
Head coach Sean McDermott says learning when to take the checkdown or make something happen downfield will come with time. The Bills are hoping that is part of his development in year three.
“Hes got to play the game and get more and more experience and see the value of taking what the defense gives you. And if they’re going to give you the checkdown and they’re gonna take away everything deep and the checkdown there, you take it. If they’re taking away the shallow stuff and we can get over the top then we’ll go there. And so I think you’ve got to be flexible and adaptable as I said before and Josh has to be as well,” McDermott said on a zoom call with reporters.
Continuity with the offense is a huge advantage for Allen and continuing his development. He knows the guys around him and the addition of Stefon Diggs is now his biggest weapon. Diggs is that proven, legitimate number one receiver and adds that downfield threat they’ve been missing, another way Allen can get around playing it “safe”.
“He’s got to know where his options are and how quickly he needs to go there because there’s meat on the bone, there’s yards to be gained with those checkdowns. Certainly you don’t want to be, to his point captain checkdown, and I understand that. And so that’s also where you can open up the defense a little bit with Diggs and with Smoke [John Brown] and Cole [Beasley] and whatnot. I think having different options at Josh’s fingertips will be good. Because sometimes that does open up the checkdown for you, if you’re working the perimeter, just as well. I think the balance is important,” McDermott explained.
At the end of the day, whatever it takes for this passing attack to improve after finishing in the bottom portion of the league the last two years. In 2019, they finished 7th worst with 201.8 passing yards per game and in 2018 second last with 174.6 passing yards per game.
“I learned that you can’t force things to happen. After watching a lot of tape you know we’ve been watching a lot of Drew Brees, a lot of Tom Brady, a lot of Aaron Rodgers, a lot of Russell Wilson. Especially late in the game, they’re not trying to force things you know they’re still taking what the defense gives them, they’re continuing to take checkdowns, they’re doing the right thing and making the right play and that’s something I gotta continue to incorporate and continue to learn and not be eager to make plays in situations that call for me to make plays,” Allen explained.
When Allen finishes with at least a 60% completion percentage, the Bills are in a great position to win the game. They’re 11-1 with that only loss coming in last year’s regular season finale against the Jets where Matt Barkley played most of the game because the Bills had already clinched a playoff spot and couldn’t gain anything from it.
“I’m going to continue to try to play the game the way that I love it, that I have fun with but ultimately the way that this team needs me to play and that’s to win the game. Whatever case it may be, if it’s trying to run for an extra three yards to get a first down in a needed situation or if it’s to throw for 50 times a game and try to get to our play makers. That’s all I really want is to win football games so whatever is called upon me in that situation is what I’m going to try and execute,” Allen said.