Is Josh Allen ready to take the next step in his second year? Maybe, but the Buffalo Bills could have done more to help him.
Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Drew Bledsoe, JP Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, and Nate Peterman.
That is the list of quarterbacks that have taken starting reps for the Buffalo Bills since Jim Kelly in 1996.
Josh Allen would eventually take over those reigns in 2018. The 6-foot-5 signal caller out of Wyoming was selected No. 7 overall by the Bills and is being looked upon to return a franchise to stability that has very little over the past two decades.
Allen started 11 games and played in 12 in his rookie year. His best performance came in the season finale, throwing for 224 yards while completing 65 percent of his passes, while running for an additional 95 yards on the ground. All told, he accounted for five total touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Allen and the Bills he only completed 60 percent or more of his passes in one other game. He finished 34th in the NFL with a 52.8 completion percentage. This number was just behind fellow rookies Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals and Sam Darnold of the New York Jets.
Allen’s passing woes this past season be contributed to a number of factors. Allen’s accuracy issues were well-documented during the draft process. Allen also seems to be a slow processor and cannot connect his feet with his eyes while in the pocket. This leads him to throwing late, inaccurately or bailing on clean pockets when he does not have too.
The other major issue was that the Bills offense was arguably one of the least-talented throughout the entire NFL.
It is very difficult to be a productive quarterback if you are constantly being sacked, pressured and hit. The Bills gave up 41 sacks on the year which was tied for 14th worst in the league. The six teams with the fewest sacks allowed all made the playoffs.
This offseason, Buffalo wisely signed four linemen. The most notable was Mitch Morse, who comes over from Kansas City where he was an extremely productive center when healthy. Morse, known for his athleticism and pass-blocking ability, became the highest-paid center in football with his new contract from Buffalo.
Ty Neshke was also brought in to compete for a starting spot. Neshke, previously with the Washington Redskins, will look to fill the hole at right tackle along the Bills line. The 33-year-old veteran played well for the Redskins last year.
General Manager Brandon Beane also added talent to his receiver room. Last year, the biggest threat by season’s end was Robert Foster. Foster averaged an eye-popping 20.04 yards per catch, although he only played the second half of the year. The former Alabama star eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times and came six yards short on another.
To help supplement Foster’s talent, Beane added John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Tyler Kroft in freea gency.
Brown racked up 97 targets in 2018 with the Baltimore Ravens, and is most known for being a vertical threat. While, Brown can be considered the deep threat, Beasley does most of his damage on the underneath routes.
The upgrades to the offensive line and receiving weapons is being paired with an already dominate defense. Head Coach Sean McDermott has been patient in his approach and now has a roster that is clearly improved over a year ago. Buffalo also owns the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft to accumulate even more talent for Allen to work with.
The biggest key to success lies squarely on the shoulders of Allen. He has been given the weapons and roster around him to be successful. It is up to him to take the next step and be the franchise quarterback Bills Mafia is hoping he is.