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The Buffalo Bills have been searching for a franchise quarterback since the last snap of Jim Kelly’s Hall of Fame career in 1996. Since then, 22 starting quarterbacks have come through One Bills Drive, but none have electrified the fan base quite like Josh Allen did this past season.
By trading up to 7th overall, Buffalo selected Allen from the University of Wyoming, making it the first time in franchise history that the Bills drafted a quarterback inside the top-10.
If you read any scouting reports before the draft, you more than likely saw the narrative that Josh Allen has a big arm, excellent mobility, and ideal size for an NFL quarterback, but suffers from accuracy issues. While Allen didn’t necessarily change that notion, he did show improvement at the next level.
Throughout the offseason and training camp, Josh Allen split reps between Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron in a 3-way competition for the starting job. After trading McCarron to the Oakland Raiders, Peterman earned the start in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens. It didn’t take long for Allen to see the field, as through 3 quarters of play, Peterman threw for only 24 yards and 2 interceptions, getting benched in favor of Josh Allen. In the 47-3 loss to the Ravens, Allen finished the day with 74 yards on 6-of-15 attempts and earned himself the start the following week against the Los Angeles Chargers.
It was the game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3 that proved to be Allen’s breakout performance, as he lead the Buffalo Bills to a 27-6 victory with 196 yards on 15-of-22 attempts and 3 total touchdowns using both his arm and legs. At one point, Allen hurdled LB Anthony Barr as he escaped from the pocket.
Injury and Progress:
During the Week 6 matchup against the Houston Texans, Allen suffered an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. The injury forced Josh Allen to sit out 4 games before making a return after the Week 11 bye to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Before the injury, Allen had an average of 138 yards per game and a QBR of 63.4 while adding 5 total touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
It was during Josh Allen’s injury that the Buffalo Bills brought in veteran quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley as mentors to the rookie. Allen used the time to learn from them in seeing their own preparations during the week leading up to game day.
In his return against the Jaguars, Allen finished with 8-of-19 attempts, throwing for 160 yards and 2 total touchdowns. It was once again Josh Allen’s legs that carried the Bills to victory in the 24-21 effort, as he rushed for 99 yards.
During weeks 12-14, Josh Allen was 2nd in the league in rushing, only behind fellow rookie RB Saquan Barkley, logging 99, 135, and 101 yards rushing against the Jaguars, Dolphins, and Jets respectively.
It wasn’t only Allen’s rushing ability that began to garner some attention, but also his passing ability after the Buffalo Bills were able to add some speed to their receiving corps with the additions of WR Isiah McKenzie and Robert Foster.
Finishing the Season on a High Note:
As the season came towards its conclusion, Josh Allen lead them to another victory as they defeated the Miami Dolphins 42-17. Allen finished the day 17-of-26, 224 yards passing, 95 yards rushing, with 5 total touchdowns and 1 interception.
This was a performance that earned Josh Allen his first AFC Offensive Player of the Week, an award that hasn’t been given to any Bills QB since Drew Bledsoe in 2002.
Josh Allen became the first QB to lead the Bills in both rushing and passing in 2018 and set a number of team records along the way:
- Most rushing yards by a QB in a single game (135 yards)
- Longest touchdown pass by a rookie QB (75 yards)
- Most rushing yards by a QB in a single season (631 yards)
- Most total touchdowns by a rookie (18 touchdowns)
Glimpse of the Future:
Overall, Josh Allen finished the season with a stat line of 2,074 yards passing on 169-of-320 attempts, 631 yards rushing, with 18 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions. While there is still room for improvement, Allen showed flashes of what is in store for the Buffalo Bills as he electrified the fan base; one that hasn’t seen excitement from the position since the 90’s.
Receiving praise from Jim Kelly himself, as he shared with Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, that he thinks Josh Allen is “the real deal.”
Heading into next season, Allen will reunite with Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll in his sophomore campaign as the Buffalo Bills look to add weapons around him. The front office will look to improve upon the 30th ranked offense with nearly $90M in cap space and 10 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.