The Buffalo Bills spent the offseason stressing the need for quarterback Josh Allen to take fewer risks on the field, and those lessons appeared to pay off.
Allen played a stellar and largely safe game against the Washington Commanders, leading the Bills to a 37-3 victory on September 24 while avoiding taking any big hits. After the game, Bills head coach Sean McDermott pointed out some moments where he was particularly proud of Allen.
Sean McDermott ‘Proud’ of Josh Allen
Through his first five years in the NFL, Allen has gained a reputation for fighting for yards on both designed runs and scrambles, often inviting contact with defenders and sometimes outright running through them.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday, with Allen sliding at the end of runs to avoid contact with defenders. After the game, McDermott said he was overcome with pride in watching Allen and the maturity he showed on the field.
“Well, my eyes lit up too,” McDermott said, via NewYorkUpstate.com. “I was very proud of him for doing that. He’s growing and that’s what you gotta do – you gotta play a certain way without losing your identity. It showed discipline.”
Allen mentioned the tactic as well, saying after the game that he earned some money by betting with teammates who didn’t think he had it in him to slide rather than push through for extra yardage.
“There’s a few people on the team that owe me some money for sliding,” Allen joked. “So just a little bit of incentive there.”
After committing four turnovers — three interceptions and one lost fumble — in the season-opening loss to the New York Jets, Allen has been more contained in the last two games. In wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and Commanders, the Bills quarterback has completed 73.9% of his passes for 492 total yards with four touchdowns and one interception, earning a 106.7 passer rating.
Josh Allen’s Style Faced Criticism
Both McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane stressed over the offseason the need for Allen to limit the number of risks he takes on the field, especially on running plays.
“The only thing I’d get on to him is he’s got too many bruises on him,” Beane said after the season, 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.”
Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News noted after the conclusion of the season that Beane seemed especially frustrated that Allen continued to take risks even after the team tried to train that instinct out of him.
“The amount of punishment Allen absorbs is not a new topic. It’s something the team has addressed with him before,” Skurski wrote. “It struck me, though, that it almost sounded as if there were a bit of frustration underneath the surface when Beane spoke. Again, that was just my read. If accurate, that would be understandable. You can only tell a player so many times to slide or get out of bounds before frustration sets in if he’s taking too many unnecessary hits.”
Allen suffered an elbow injury in a November 6 loss to the New York Jets last year, playing through pain the remainder of the season. Though the injury came while Allen was throwing from the pocket, his dip in performance in the weeks that followed showed the importance of keeping the team’s star quarterback healthy.