Buffalo Bills fans are likely going to some changes in Josh Allen’s play style next season.
After a season in which he battled through injuries, Allen came under some unusually direct criticism from head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane for his bruising style of play and willingness to take risks while running the ball. Allen has been an effective rusher on both designed runs and quarterback scrambles, but often invites contact and fights through defenders for more yardage.
Speaking to NFL.com reporter Judy Battista this weekend, McDermott said Allen’s style will need to change in order to preserve this long-term health and effectiveness.
Changes Coming for Josh Allen
Battista caught up with McDermott at the league’s annual meeting, asking the Bills coach what he might have planned to keep Allen from taking so many hits next season. Battista noted that Allen takes hits on 66 percent of his downfield runs.
McDermott said it “absolutely” made him nervous to see Allen taking so many risks on the field and said it would hurt his long-term viability to keep playing that way.
“I don’t think that’s a healthy way to play QB in this league and it’s undefeated that things are going to happen when you play that style, brand of football,” McDermott told Battista, who shared the exchange on Twitter.
McDermott added that the Bills would not take that part of Allen’s game away entirely, but would find a more sustainable way to do it. Allen has been one of the team’s most effective and consistent ballcarriers, last season rushing for 762 yards and seven touchdowns.
“We have to get that adjusted and it’s never going to go completely away, but it has to get where it’s workable,” McDermott told Battista.
McDermott added, “He’s one of the best in the league and I don’t want to take his personality away from him…but there needs to be an adjustment in that style of play.”
The statements from the Bills coach echo sentiments that Beane shared following the conclusion of the season. Speaking to reporters after Buffalo’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Beane said Allen needs to find a way to better manage his risks on the field.
“The only thing I’d get on to him is he’s got too many bruises on him,” Beane said, via the Democrat & Chronicle. “And we’ve got to work on taking less hits. That’s the only reason I’m going to ever criticize Josh is just take less hits.”
Allen spent much of the season dealing with an elbow injury, one that ironically came while he was standing in the pocket. The Bills quarterback suffered the injury in the final moments of the team’s loss to the New York Jets on November 6 as he was attempting a pass.
Bills Make Investments in Running Game
The Bills have made some moves this offseason to improve their rushing game and potentially take some of the pressure off Allen. While they lost top rusher Devin Singletary in free agency, the Bills landed former New England Patriots running back Damien Harris and re-signed trade-deadline acquisition Nyheim Hines.
Beane had already said the team wanted to add some size to the running back room, and did so by landing the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Harris.
“We’ll continue to add there and look for different skill sets,” Beane said on March 16, via ESPN. “Totally aware we’ve got a couple of guys that are around 200 [pounds]. Yeah, we’ll probably add somebody that’s a little heavier than that at some point between now and training camp.”