The emergence of former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen during the course of the 2018 season has led to a more stable roster for the Buffalo Bills, and makes it easier this off-season to focus on what needs to be done to get the Bills back into the post-season battle.
Allen actually opened last season No. 3 on the Bills pecking chart. It, however, didn't take long for the Bills to realize their future was with Allen and he quickly began to win over not only the Bills but their fans.
“Well, number one, it adds clarity to our situation, which is a good thing," Bills coach Sean McDermott told media members upon his arrival at the NFL meetings in Scottsdale. "Last year – I've already gone back and looked at the reps – we were trying to split the reps as evenly as we could so that our threes could develop as much as our ones and sometimes that's hard to do. But we know that Josh was running with the threes and so there was a process in place that we felt like was right for us and his development then and so, moving forward to now, there’ll be a process in place where he'll be out there with the ones and you try and get as much continuity with the guys that work with him starting Day One all the way through, hopefully, training camp.”
A key to Allen's development was the Bills' mid-season adjustments, where they added two veteran quarterbacks in backup roles -- Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley -- looking for them to also provide guidance for Allen. The season opened with the Bills trading Nathan Peterman and putting Allen in a backuip role to A.J. McCarron. By the second game of the season, Allen was starting, and the Bills were looking for a veteran backup who could help Allen develop.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane was the guiding force in drafting Allen, knowing the roster he took over when he beame the GM was concerning, particularly at the quarterback position.
“Some of the improvement we saw late in the year was his decision making,” Beane said on Adam Schefter's podcast. “People get on Josh about his accuracy. I would argue it’s decision making. It’s about Josh taking the underneath crosser or the check down instead of trying to fit the ball in 18-22 yards down the sideline, in-the-hole shot that many quarterbacks don’t try to make because they don’t have the arm strength. You see guys with strong arms who can do it and we want Josh to do it at the right time, but sometimes it’s okay just to check the ball down so it’s second-and-short or second-and-medium instead of incomplete or an interception.”
While fans were discouraged by Allen having to deal with injuries in his first season, Beane sees it as a positive sign and a reason for that late season success.
“Josh improved during the year,” Beane said. “He did some really good things. People nationally probably saw his athletic ability. The injury was unfortunate, but maybe a blessing in disguise because he got to see Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley work. When he came back he had a renewed sense of how to play quarterback. Just leading the huddle and the calls and checks and audibles, all those intricacies of the pre-snap stuff that it takes to play quarterback.”