When did you realize Josh Allen thought you were an idiot? How many of them, seriously… must you have questioned your entire belief system when it comes to predicting the success of an NFL quarterback? Because, dear reader, most of us are struggling at the moment.
It took me some time and some serious introspection to agree to wear this clown suit that Allen made me wear. But I came here in peace, on the verge of the NFL playoffs, ready to admit my shame.
It’s a safe place if you’re willing to do the same. Because there are many of us. Football Outsiders called him a parody on an NFL player and said that all the empirical evidence we have on Allen makes him a failure. Troy Aikman said that it is hard to imagine that he can improve accuracy, something he has never seen in 17 years of study of the game. One of the leading analysts at Pro Football Focus laughed at him because he just missed it during the Senior Bowl exercises. The editor of NBC ProFootballTalk joked that Roger Staubach is even more accurate with 76. Even Dan Orlovsky of ESPN expressed skepticism that Allen could handle anything fast enough to one day become a franchise quarterback.
I never wrote a long article about my belief that Bill’s third-year quarterback would be an epic failure, but I believed it in my footballing soul. I fainted when I saw his Wyoming numbers. Cause, come on, you’re gonna be an NFL star if you can’t even dominate the Mountain West? I laughed when he was called up for Lamar Jackson. (Maybe he can play a game if it doesn’t work out, I teased my friends who support the bills and think Jackson might have to change places). I rolled my eyes every time Allen was presented as some sort of mythical embodiment of the working class spirit of Western New York (he’s from California!). Allen’s crazy smile, his clumsy pitching mechanics, his naivety as a helpless teenager (and his generous lecture) when it came to writing offensive things on Twitter – none of it shouted that he was the quarterback of the franchise.
And his first two years in the NFL (lower league completion rate; 25th in the CBI) didn’t convince me otherwise. This season, even after roasting the Dolphins for 415 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-28 victory in Week 2, there was a (big) part of me that wasn’t ready to admit that Allen might be a generational talent.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Did Josh Allen refute the NFL’s long-held belief that quarterbacks cannot improve their accuracy? Or have many clever people in the football world just misunderstood the QB of the Bills? Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Until what began as a period of fat cows became Allen’s new normal. When I watched him throw 415 yards and score three touchdowns in Week 9’s victory over the Seahawks – with a success rate of 82% – I wondered what other universe I had been teleported to. After all, this guy made only 49% of his passes at Juco Ridley College and only 56% of his pictures in Wyoming. He got worse as a rookie in the NFL, and finished at 53%.
Sam Borden showed the Bills Stefon Diggs receiver for ESPN’s December coverage. After Minnesota Diggs’ miracle turned into a nightmare, he made a dream debut in Buffalo. How far can he and Allen get with the bills? Read the cover.
But this year, Allen made 69.2 percent of his passes, the 25th best total in a season in NFL history, on its way to setting a franchise record for passing yards. You know who’s never had a season where he’s made at least 69.2% of his passes? Tom Brady. Just like Peyton Manning. The only players for Allen (81.7) at CBI this year? Aaron Rodgers (84.4) and Patrick Mahomes (82.9).
As the Bills prepare for their first playoff game since 1996 and Allen gets a legitimate MVP, I decided to investigate why I – and, in my defense, so many others – am so upset about Allen’s evaluations. Was it too much reliance on analysis? Was it just football arrogance in the sense of Power 5? Or is the proof that you can actually improve the accuracy of casting by demystifying the traditional wisdom of the NFL, which is usually innate?
How did the equivalent of quarterback Steve Rogers become Buffalo’s Captain America in three years?
JORDAN PALMER wants me – and by proxy, you – to understand something: The idea that you can’t improve quarterback accuracy by practicing is, well, wrong.
Palmer played four seasons in the NFL, made only 18 passes in his career and until recently was best known as Carson Palmer’s younger and less talented brother. But after his playing career ended in 2014, he gradually reinvented himself as a passing guru for young quarterbacks, including Allen. They had been working together for the last three years, Allen threw thousands of steps while Palmer watched, in fact a Californian Yoda who runs his own Jedi Academy. (Joe Barrow and Sam Darnold also see Palmer as a mentor).
The evidence is in the figures: After finishing last in percentage completions in his first two seasons in the NFL (55.8% in 2019), Allen has moved into the Top 5 this year with quarterbacks like Rodgers, Drew Brees and Deshaun Watson. He’s only the fourth quarterback in 20 years who has increased his completion rate by at least 10 points from season to season.
Palmer was quick to give credit for Allen’s significant improvement and said that Buffalo staff coaches such as offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterback coach Ken Dorsey deserve most of the credit. But Palmer also admits that he saw the potential for a big jump for Allen in the unusual low season.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Josh is very, very athletic, says his off-season quarterback coach Jordan Palmer, and that’s what is underestimated. This enables him to make permanent changes very quickly. Dustin Bradford/Icon Sports Wire
Of course I expected big things this year, Palmer says. But even I am pleasantly surprised by his consistency and the absolute number of coins he throws. He’s going to have at least two or three throws per game, and if he goes a little backwards, it goes the other way. But he does them almost every time.
Allen’s potential to turn his powerful shoulder cannon into an accurate one has always been there, says Palmer, but the key to unlocking it is actually in his legs, not his upper body. He has radically changed the basis from which he played, Palmer said. He bounced on his toes and had a narrow base that made him tip over when he threw. There’s a cascade effect when you move. He’s now learned to play on a much better basis. If you play with all the studs on the ground, you create more energy and more balance.
At that time, thanks to technological progress, we have a much better understanding of how the powertrain works. Of course, an experienced quarterback guru with 20 years of off-season experience can observe the exercises and make subtle adjustments to the quarterback’s game, but nowadays that same coach can watch his iPad and – thanks to a microchip implanted in the ball – read the speed, spin speed and integrity of the spiral in seconds.
The bullet doesn’t lie, Palmer says. We also use a high-speed 4D motion capture camera system called Biometrek. It’s a start-up company here in California. They have 16 high speed cameras, and we throw ourselves in their [studio], and then you use a computer to turn your little man into a little snowman. We use it to look at the weight distribution, the mass and the kinematic range that says the hip goes first, then the shoulder and then the arm pulls. It was the biggest thing for Josh. Did his first shot go into the ground and charge? Or was his first move just right? The difference between bad and excellent, especially in a training environment, is negligible. But Josh is very, very athletic, and that’s underestimated. This enables him to make permanent changes very quickly.
Palmer is a little reluctant to talk about another aspect that, according to him, has fueled the progress of Allen this year, because he doesn’t want it to seem insensitive, but there is no doubt that the COVID-19 travel restrictions have forced his customers (including Allen) into a football bubble that they will never know. Palmer had to cancel almost all his high school camps in the country, as well as a three-week trip to Germany. He paid all his attention to better understanding biomechanics and kinematic coherence, knowing that his players had so much time.
Think about it, Palmer. They didn’t participate in the OTA, which is a waste of time for a lot of guys. If you’re someone like Drew Brees, you better come home with your coach. Well, they didn’t have a wedding either. They didn’t have charity golf tournaments. Nobody advertised. Nobody went out and spent a weekend in Cabo or Vegas, which a lot of guys do three weekends a month. Nobody did all this… because of COVID.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Allen. Some people defended Allen with fierceness and pride, even from the NFL Draft, and now they’re enjoying a bit of victory. In the spirit of the song, I decided to call Allen, my ESPN colleague Mel Kiper Jr. perhaps the noisiest quarterback in the class, the best QB in the whole design day and have him dump me for 10 minutes.
His labs weren’t okay, Kiper says. But that’s why I call them ana-litic. I need you to keep looking for me. That’s why I call it lazy. I’ve always used analysis, but it’s a tool.
So why do many of us focus on Allen’s mistakes if Kipper was convinced of his strengths? For example, most of us didn’t really enjoy his tape for the third quarter against Gardner-Webb or Utah State – or even noticed that the Cowboys had to play against Iowa and Oregon earlier in the season (Allen’s worst game, in which he only made 9 out of 24 passes).
He was trying to do something about a lot of what happened in the games towards the end of the game, Kiper said. Yeah, he was careless with his mechanics, but he didn’t make easy 5-foot pitches that couldn’t do them any good.
We also didn’t know Allen was missing four NFL-caliber players who had graduated the year before. They may not have been the first choice, but blue chips don’t come to Mountain West with all the recruitment classes like they do at the SEC.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Although Allen’s numbers were lower than Wyoming’s, ESPN’s Mel Kiper – and the Bills, who acquired him at number 7 – saw something in him. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post through Getty Images.
Allen suffered a shoulder injury at the end of the year and had to miss two games against Mountain West opponents, missing the opportunity to add some weight to his stats. Although Allen knew he would probably be a first choice, he insisted on going back to Wyoming in the Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan. In his best game of the season, an ESPN QBR (89.8), he threw three touchdown passes to lead his team to victory.
He didn’t give up his team, he didn’t give up the year, Kiper said. Remember, nobody else offered him a scholarship. So he felt a sense of loyalty to Wyoming and his teammates. And now you see the same thing in Buffalo. The boys in the locker room love him. He inspires such dedication.
Kiper is the first to admit that one of the biggest factors in the development of a player is the stability of the franchise that ultimately distinguishes him, but it is still something that we do not weigh heavily enough. Allen was a member of the jury in 2018, when four quarterbacks were taken out of the top 10. What if he was recruited by Cleveland and trained by Hue Jackson and Freddy Kitchens? What if he went to the Jets as number three and was coached by Todd Bowles and Adam Gase? Would Alan overthrow those franchises and save the coaches’ jobs? Or would the constant barrage of mismanagement and drama in these franchises have nipped its development in the bud?
Much of the credit goes to Brian Daboll [offensive coordinator], Kiper said. Brian has given Josh the confidence, the leeway and the ability to lead the team as he sees it, combined with the races he calls. He strived to make Josh a quarterback who could throw deep shots, but was also patient enough to move the chains. I think Daboll’s getting a headache from what he did to Josh and the whole town is Buffalo to Josh.
BRIAN DABOLL doesn’t hesitate when it comes to Josh Allen.
He loves her. Like he really loves her.
It is not love that is usually passed on as friendship and intimacy in the strange world of football.
It’s more like it: When Allen’s grandmother died in November, just before the Buffalo match against the Seahawks, he was emotionally distraught. He decided to play anyway. After playing the best game of his career, he fell into the locker room, eager to return to Daboll. When he finally did, he fell into Daboll’s arms. They were both crying.
That’s the kind of love that goes a little further than this guy can give me for my first head training.
Fault! The file name is not specified. The relationship we have built is special and will always be special, according to attacking coordinator Brian Daboll, who started months before Allen was founded in Buffalo. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
I know his parents and his family. I know how he grew up, and you can’t help but encourage him, says Daboll at the end of the season when I call him to ask if he can explain how he and Allen got closer than just colleagues. We’ve spent a lot of time together the past three years, and he means a lot more to me than just a quarterback and a player. The relationship we’ve built is special, and it always will be. I only care about him as a person. I was lucky not only to train him, but also to have him as a friend.
Daboll says he never believed Allen wasn’t accurate during the investigation process. Of course, his performance in Wyoming might suggest that, but his training with the Bills does not. When asked to make pitches, he would (usually) put the ball where he was supposed to go. He sometimes had to figure out when to zip and when to touch, but he’s not the first quarterback to have such a strong arm. (John Elway suffered from this puzzle for years.) In his three years with Daboll, and thanks to the relatively consistent stability of the Buffalo receivers, Allen learned when to take a run and when to throw it so hard that he knocked someone’s teeth out.
It’s a lifelong story, but there’s a difference between the completion rate and accuracy, Daboll says.
Marcel Louis-Jacques: The loss of Heil Murray behind the brilliant finish of the Bills.
Louis-Jacques: Josh Allen will be the last MVP in the victory over the Dolphins.
Louis-Jacques: Jim Kelly: Allen’s gonna break every record I’ve got.
The Bills – with Allen constantly on the gas – have become one of the most aggressive and entertaining teams in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, they throw 64% of the time in the first series, which is the highest score of all winning teams in the last 20 years. They have four wide receivers 155 times this year, making them the second highest number in the competition. The Bills put someone ahead for 43% of their pieces, a statistic that doesn’t seem significant until you realize it’s up 25% in 2019, when they were ranked 31st in the NFL.
The Bills have signed Stefon Diggs (127 receptions and 1,535 yards) this year, but Allen passes on the ball to all participants. Thirteen different bills were passed this year, setting a record for the NFL. Like Diggs, Cole Beasley – now in his ninth year in the competition – has also reached new heights in receptions (82) and yards (967). This is only the second time in the history of the franchise that two recipients have received more than 80 receptions in one season.
I told Josh I think he just made three of the best shots I’ve ever seen in my life, Beasley said after the Bills 49-19 convinced Denver in week 15. When you play with a guy like that, you have to open every game because you know he will find you.
Allen has also made Daboll one of the most coveted prospects of the competition, which is almost unthinkable given Daboll’s interim results in his last three stops as offensive coordinator with the Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs. In 2018 nobody had the idea of a dream team, but the closer they got, the more they clicked.
Fault! The file name is not specified. The addition of Diggs (127 receptions and 1,535 yards at the top of the NFL) made the attack of the Bills one of the most exciting in the NFL. Timothy T. Ludwig/Getty Images
From the first to the second year I think Josh started nine new people with him, says Daboll. We haven’t added much this year, except [Diggs]. But we are constantly trying to adapt the offence to what he does best and what he is most comfortable with. We’re adjusting everything for Josh. And frankly, he’s lucky to have the same system and that he’s grown in the last three years in the same system. That’s not always the case in this competition. It takes a village to develop a young quarterback, but it starts with him.
As for the idea – often repeated over the past three years – that Allen means more to the city of Buffalo than just a quarterback, I couldn’t resist talking to Daboll, who grew up in western New York and went to high school near Buffalo. Many NFL players regard Buffalo secretly as a Siberian prison, but Allen gladly accepted to live there. His teammates seem to love him, and he helped raise over $1 million for Oishea Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.
I’m going to take off my coach’s hat for a minute and put it on, if you don’t mind, Daboll. I’m very glad we have it. Not only for the production, but also for the fact that it is an incredible model. He really appreciates that. This guy’s Buffalo. It’s made for this place.
Fault! The file name is not specified. After leading the Bills to their first divisional title in 25 years, Allen strives for a tight play-off series – and perhaps a chance to become an MVP. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Sportswire Icon
This fall, a letter of form appeared on social media created by a cheerful – or angry, depending on your point of view – member of Bill’s mafia.
He was called: Josh Allen’s apology form.
Anyone who wants to fill in his name by admitting that he did something wrong with Allen by checking a box that indicates why you, well, did something wrong. One of the options:
– I don’t know anything about football.
– He was jealous of Josh Allen.
– The media told me it was bad.
– I just listened to ESPN.
– I haven’t seen the real games.
I didn’t fill out the questionnaire (I’m pretty sure this story would suffice as a tribute), but I was wondering if Allen had ever heard of the questionnaire – and even if he was behind some of his most hated performances this year. Baker Mayfield seems to treat the slides like oxygen. Lamar Jackson had a great run at the post-match press conference after throwing for five touchdowns. Did Josh Allen appreciate that the letter has come out and that the fans have used it to hold the media community to account… …like I did?
It turns out Allen knows it exists, although he was a little embarrassed when Steve Young from ESPN asked him about it, curious if it was a source of satisfaction.
Allen said in December that it didn’t bother me that much and that it wasn’t flattering. I’m a very independent person. I have every confidence in it. I have taken responsibility for the past years, for the failures and mistakes, and I have realized that I have grown and learned. But an apology letter, a form, or whatever you call it? I think it was cool. We had a lot to talk about.
It is true that it is difficult to hold a grudge against someone who missed an opportunity to rub his nose during his breakthrough season, so I would like to take this opportunity to forgive Josh Allen if he listens.
I forgive him for embarrassing me and many others.
nfl mvp 2020,josh allen bills