Now that the draft is over and the roster (for the most part) is set, we can turn our attention to some of the key battles that will play out throughout the summer and into the fall. Obviously, the one position everyone is most concerned about is quarterback.
Going into the draft, most experts agreed that Josh Allen was the one quarterback in this draft that shouldn’t ever see the field in 2018. It’s not that he didn’t flash the tools to be a day one starter, rather he needs to refine those tools to become a more consistent version of what a lot of evaluators loved from Allen throughout his college career at Wyoming.
Beautiful play. Checks the solo route, then works the high/low to Gentry for the TD..Great trajectory over the top of the defender and out of reach of Warner.. pic.twitter.com/S7iz0dNExs
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 8, 2018
Many of those same evaluators also believed that the one place that might push Allen to start too early were the Bills. Now, here I am in early May making the case that Allen likely gives this team the best chance to win.
Of course, we haven’t even truly given AJ McCarron a legitimate shot to come in and run the offense. But unless McCarron all the sudden turns into the type of quarterback that can evade pressure and deliver a strike on the run, then I truly believe the Bills will likely have to turn to Allen at some point in 2018.
Pretty good coverage, gets stuck on the TE a little too long and takes the sack. pic.twitter.com/pejOxvCDPA
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 15, 2018
In this piece, I’ll lay out what I believe are four main reasons Josh Allen starts more games than both McCarron and second-year player Nathan Peterman in the upcoming season.
Who will start more games in 2018?
— Nate Geary (@NateGearyWGR) May 8, 2018
Reason 1: A serious lack of nuanced route runners (WR’s)
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “what does this even mean, Nate?” Well, the fact of the matter is the Bills don’t boast a phenomenal group of athletes at the wide receiver position. For that reason, you might think it would be crazy to throw a rookie quarterback out there with the lackluster weapons currently sitting on the offensive side of the ball, but hear me out.
What we have seen time and time again on film is a willingness from Allen to make highly contested throws. Doesn’t matter if he’s throwing across his body or believing in his receiver to make a play on the ball in heavy coverage, Allen showed he had the arm strength and guts to put the ball in places former Bills quarterbacks never dreamed of forcing it.
Allen wants Gentry to the bottom of the screen but moves onto the go route to the top. Good routes versus the single high coverage the defense drops into post snap. Very nice back shoulder pass. pic.twitter.com/eZadKeksOz
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 3, 2018
Certainly, there are good and bad things about that, but when you look at McCarron and Peterman, you see two players that need rhythm and routine in their route runners. To be successful, they need guys that wow you at the line of scrimmage with their footwork, fluid route running and can get open on rhythm and timing type routes.
Reason 2: Problems on the offensive line
This could go both ways, but I’m putting this factor in favor of the rookie. After departures of Richie Incognito and Eric Wood, the offensive line is set to be a work in progress in 2018. The additions of Russell Bodine and Marshal Newhouse haven’t exactly inspired much hope for a unit that looked overmatched at times in 2017. With the idea that they might take a step back again this season, whoever ends up at quarterback will likely spend a lot of time on the ground.
On the field, outside of having to create something from nothing, the one thing Allen showed a lot on film was an innate ability to dodge would-be tacklers from inside the pocket. The impressive part on a lot of occasions for Allen was his ability to stretch the ball vertically with a muddy pocket using his incredible arm strength.
Allen stands in there, climbs the pocket as Kaufusi comes loose, reloads and makes a very nice throw to the boundary. pic.twitter.com/BOT0GI7Gs9
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 8, 2018
When it comes to creating on the run and when the play breaks down, there’s a clear advantage to the rookie. He had a tendency at Wyoming to play hero ball and throw across his body too much, but his athleticism an arm strength make him a serious threat when the pocket breaks down.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 9, 2018
At the end of the day, if these guys are going to be forced to create offense and improvise, the only guy really capable is Josh Allen.
Reason 3: Simple offensive terminology
One of the great things about the Erhardt-Perkins system that makes it so quarterback friendly is the complexity of the language. One of the biggest leaps a young quarterback has to make from college to the pros is figuring out the terminology of the offense. The problem for young guys is not only do they have to memorize the terminology; they have to be able to spit it out quick, clear and concise. Memories of Jared Goff on Hard Knocks having issues calling plays in the huddle go to show you just how difficult the jump from vanilla, dumbed down terminology in college to damn near dissertations in the NFL.
But as it concerns Josh Allen and the Bills, the Erhardt-Perkins offense that Brian Daboll is rooted in is best known for its simple language.
Weis'Empty right, 78 Y-hook, Tosser (Alert-D).. pic.twitter.com/rVsNy5REfk
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 16, 2018
The Erhardt-Perkins systems groups concepts together instead of individual routes. Because of that, and Allen’s familiarity with a pro-style offense, I think the transition from his college playbook to his current one won’t be as steep as other rookie quarterbacks.
Here's Weis' Empty right, 78 Y-hook, Tosser (Alert-D)..
Breakdown on WR Kerley dropping later. pic.twitter.com/px13Bn8ral
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 16, 2018
Reason 4: Ability
This is the reason that will become most apparent to fans in July. He’ll be able to make plays but more specifically throws that neither AJ McCarron nor Nathan Peterman will be capable of making.
22 personnel PA strike for a TD vs. possibly quarters coverage.
Safety bites on the post by the TE, WR widens his stem, gets the CB turned around and heads to the post. Props to the WR for the all hands catch.
Allen almost succumbs to the turf monster but he buries the throw. pic.twitter.com/jYiv5oBq0G
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) January 18, 2018
It’ll be very obvious on the practice field but it won’t matter if that obvious gap is wiped away with poor play in the preseason. Allen is just better than the other two guys – he just is.
Honestly, if it’s truly a quarterback competition in Training Camp and Josh Allen can’t win it, I’d start to worry whether they made the right choice. He’ll start at three on the depth chart but he’s not exactly looking up to a pair of studs – I think we’ll see a lot of Josh Allen in 2018.