Rookie quarterback Josh Allen did just about everything a player could do to will his team to victory against the Dolphins. He rushed for 135 yards on the ground, aired it out for 234 yards and two touchdowns, but still had moments that we saw a lot of in college — you know, those moments that led analysts to coin his play as “The Josh Allen Experience.”
Now those moments aren’t as frequent because he understands and trusts the talent around him more than he did at Wyoming. We haven’t seen ‘hero ball’ quite as often, but as offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said, “there’s a lot of things, though, that we need to keep working on and harp on and improve on.” But even within some of the “bad” plays, we got to see the dynamics of his game, the flashes that got him drafted 7th overall.
Let’s jump into the film room to take a look at some of the highs and lows of his game versus the Dolphins.
Per Pro Football Focus, Allen only missed one pass under 19 yards against the Dolphins. It’s no coincidence that on that play, a play on which wide receiver Zay Jones was wide open, Allen’s footwork got the best of him. For most of the game Allen kept his bad habits in check, but you can still tell that he’s not a refined product.
Eye Discipline and Athleticism
Over the last two games, Allen has carried the Bills’ ground game, racking up 234 yards, most of which have come off of scrambles, which is likely unsustainable. Against the Fins, a majority of those scrambles were warranted, as Allen was under pressure on 54.5% of his dropbacks, the highest of any QB in week 13. Sixteen out of the 28 total pressures surrendered by the offensive line occurred right up the middle, from guard to guard, so fans shouldn’t have been surprised that their rookie took off nine times. The following play was one that, if he had another half a second, he is likely completing deep to WR Robert Foster or RB LeSean McCoy. But Allen isn’t without fault; if he had a better idea of the coverage, there is also a good chance his movement in the pocket would have been different and a completion more likely. But no harm done, as he is able to escape and gain positive yards with his legs.
While Allen carried the offense for the entire game, there were also some rookie moments, times when the lack of reps and understanding of this offense hurt him. To start the second half, Allen led a 10-play, 79-yard drive, which included a beautiful touch pass to fullback Patrick DiMarco.
But the drive stalled at the Dolphins’ 14 yard line because Allen missed a wide-open Zay Jones. The design was perfect. Daboll had a Chip Kelly Mesh variation that can eat up just about any coverage, especially man coverage like the Fins played. Allen went through his progressions but decided not to pull the trigger to any of the underneath routes, which were the easier throws. Instead, Allen made it to his fourth read, Zay Jones, but a miscommunication on the route led to an incompletion.
Special Arm Talent
But I feel comfortable saying that there were far more flashes of Allen’s special traits and what his ceiling could be.
MY GOD— Cover 1 (@Cover1) December 3, 2018
Flat footed and unable to step into it..Look at the velocity he creates with his hips/core!!!!
In breaking route thrown from the 33-yard line to the five!!! Stop it...#ManFree pic.twitter.com/GymLbCYO67
Fans saw that on this 3rd-and-12 situation with the rookie QB’s back against the goal line. Daboll kept the ball in Allen’s hands and allowed him to drop back to pass from the two-yard line. That is a big sign of trust.
With Allen’s primary target covered up by Kiko Alonso, he escaped the pocket, rolled left, and found his security blanket, Jones. But he did it in true Allen fashion — by making a throw only 1-2 quarterbacks in the league can probably make.
This game was hands down Allen’s best game as a pro and one that I don’t expect him to replicate for a while. But what is so exciting is that, even on the plays that were unsuccessful, you were able to see growth or a process to his decision making. He took the coaching and adjustments that the staff put forth, overcame those bumps in the road, and ultimately gave his team a chance to win the game.
The Bills have one true offensive threat...and it’s QB Josh Allen— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) December 4, 2018
(via @SimmsandLefkoe) pic.twitter.com/aAi8x6gVFy
That’s a major part of the Allen dynamic that isn’t measurable. That’s THE trait that gives Bills fans hope they finally found their franchise quarterback.