Josh Allen’s growth in year three was the Bills’ biggest win this season


Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs on to the field prior to the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Orchard park, N.Y., Saturday Jan. 16, 2021. (AP/ Photo Jeffrey T. Barnes)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Even though the season didn’t end the way the Bills wanted it to, there are a lot of positives to take away from the year.

To me, the biggest win of this season for the Bills was the play and development of Josh Allen.

“I believe that it’s certainly a benchmark or or a landmark to where we’ve gotten beyond now and I think that speaks well for the future of this organization moving forward. There’s not a lot of teams that can answer that question and say yes we have our quarterback. I can tell you Josh Allen is a very good quarterback and one we can win with for years to come,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen him do much of what it takes to win and win at a high level and I think he answered quite a few of the questions that were out there about him maybe from outside this building specifically about his play.”

And there were a lot of questions surrounding Allen’s play at the end of last year. Some of them were can he improve his accuracy downfield? He struggled connecting on the deep ball. Will his decision making get better? Can he step up in critical moments and win big games?

He passed those tests with flying colors in his third season. He broke a number of franchise records and finished the season with 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also ran for 421 yards and eight touchdowns. Allen also finished with a 69.2 completion percentage compared to 52.8% in his first season and 58.8% last year.

“There’s very few parts of his game that aren’t developed after his third season that you say well he really struggles in this area, I mean I think it’s a small conversation of things that he still needs to evolve in and he would probably tell you the same in those areas,” McDermott said.

Allen even said on Monday he thinks he proved the Bills didn’t make a mistake drafting him. Now he’s eligible for a contract extension this offseason which he said he hasn’t given much thought to and McDermott isn’t worried about it either.

“Josh continued to show signs of improvement, significant improvement this year in particular. I feel very comfortable with Josh as our quarterback and I think the contract, all that type of stuff usually handles itself in the offseason and a lot of confidence in Brandon [Beane] to handle all of that whether it’s Josh’s situation or other situations. We have other free agents whose contracts that are up that are important pieces of our team and so full confidence in Brandon and his staff to do what we need to do to move forward to close the gap moving forward,” McDermott explained.

It also helps that Beane set Allen up with the right pieces, the biggest weapon being Stefon Diggs who ended with the most receiving yards in the league. Now they have to continue building around Allen which is exactly what Beane’s philosophy is.

“Josh’s development was a huge step in our growth as a team, it was a huge step in his growth as a player on and off the field. I’ll bet you if you pulled anyone inside this building you’d probably get a unanimous vote that Josh Allen certainly proved himself in what he can do. Does that mean he’s perfect? No. Does that mean he’s got work to do? Yes, just like all of us,” McDermott said.

Allen and Diggs revamped this Bills passing attack that struggled for quite a while before this season. Now they’ve established themselves as a pass first offense instead of the attempts at ground and pound we’ve seen in the past.

At the end of last season Beane said they need to get better on offense and score more points. That also greatly improved this year. The Bills ended the regular season scoring 31.3 points per game good for second in the league behind the Packers. In 2019 they finished scoring 19.6 points per game, 10th worst in the NFL, just one example of the many ways this offense evolved in 2020.

It’s no surprise the correlation between the amount of success the Bills had this season, finishing the regular season 13-3 and making to the AFC title game, and how Allen played.

“The comforting piece to me about Josh is he’s gonna go back to work and I know the comments he made the other day after the game about taking responsibility. I think when you do that as a leader it says a lot about yourself and it says a lot about what you’re driven to accomplish in the future. He’s an extremely driven young man with a bright future and he’s done a great job leading our team this season,” McDermott said.

Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.

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