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Scheme Analysis: Bills' offense can follow Carolina model with Josh Allen

The selection of Josh Allen positions the Buffalo Bills to follow the offensive blueprint the Carolina Panthers have used with Cam Newton.

It's a blueprint that the Bills' braintrust, Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott, obviously are comfortable following.

Like Newton, Allen gives the Bills a giant, rocket-armed, pocket passer with mobility.

Like Newton, Allen is not – at least as he begins his pro career – ideally suited to run a precision, possession passing game. He's obviously not ready to be a surgeon from the pocket like Tom Brady.

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Carolina has supported Newton with a strong running game. The Panthers have ranked among the top 11 in the NFL in rushing – albeit with help from Newton – all seven years of his career.

Establishing the run sets up the play-action pass and downfield passing game, which plays to Newton's big-armed strength.

Look for the Bills to play the same kind of offense with Allen.

The Bills will want to pound the running game with LeSean McCoy to keep Allen from having to carry too much of the offensive load as a rookie. If the Bills are able to force defenses to respect the run – as they have the past three seasons – Allen could create fireworks with his deep throwing.

It's a style that's well suited to bringing a rookie quarterback along slowly.

It's also a style that suits the philosophy of McDermott. The Bills can play to the strength of their defense, presuming the defense can perform as well as it did in the 2017 season.

Defensive-minded coaches love offenses that possess the ball, limit turnovers and can make explosive plays.

Everyone knew the Bills wanted a pocket passer when they threw Tyrod Taylor overboard after last season. With that in mind, right or wrong, the Bills never were going to be in the market for Lamar Jackson. And they may well not have loved Baker Mayfield, who operates a fair amount off schedule and outside of the offensive scheme.

Bills fans should love the fact Allen has classic size and a big arm. The reality is very few short QBs are great at working the middle of the field, Drew Brees notwithstanding. Allen's addition will be good news for whoever the Bills can find to play slot receiver.

Furthermore, the odds are Allen's size should make him durable – just like Newton is durable. Allen is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds. He has a thick upper body – like Newton and Jim Kelly. He can take hits.

The challenge for McDermott and his coaching staff will be to work with Allen's mechanics and get him to be more efficient, on time and on schedule in the passing game.

New Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has lived in the precision, horizontal, West Coast-styled pass offense in New England for 11 seasons. That's not what Daboll will use running out of the gate with Allen. Maybe Allen can evolve into that kind of player over the next four or five seasons.

"If you're inaccurate, my experience as a player . . . is you do not usually overcome that," said Hall-of-Famer Troy Aikman on the NFL Network Thursday night.

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Know this: Allen is not as inaccurate as his 56.3 percent career mark at Wyoming indicates. Watch the Wyoming-Iowa game, in which Allen was just 23 of 40. He wasn't that bad. He did not have a lot of dump-offs and receiver screens that college QBs in Air-Raid offenses throw.

"I think 56 was pretty good, given his situation," said Allen's QB tutor, Jordan Palmer on a Sports Illustrated podcast. "It’s hard to put a lot of weight into Josh’s tape. … because he’s not playing with or against a single person who’s playing in the NFL."

"If he threw the same number of screens that Baker Mayfield threw and Sam Darnold threw, his completion percentage would have been way over 60 percent," said CBS' Phil Simms, the former big-armed QB of the Giants.

But this isn't meant to whitewash Allen's flaws. Allen's mechanics are a big concern. Beane and McDermott are sticking their necks out. Allen will be judged against Arizona's Josh Rosen, who has flawless mechanics and who the Bills passed over. The two most important traits for an NFL quarterback, as Bill Belichick has often stated, are accuracy and decision-making. It's on McDermott & Co. to sharpen Allen's footwork.

Allen does not have to be a 70 percent passer to succeed, as Newton has shown in Carolina.

Newton's career completion percentage is 58.5. He has hovered around that mark all seven of his seasons. His low was 52.9 percent in 2016. He was back up to 59.1 percent in 2017.

Newton has been among the top two in yards per completion three of the past six years.

The benefit of having the strongest arm in the draft means Daboll has a wide-open playbook as it relates to attacking all levels of the field, regardless of down and distance.

"He has tremendous arm strength, not that that's going to make him great – but arm strength comes into play in an NFL game about five plays," Simms said. "You've got to see the guy down the field and you've got to rip it to put it between defenders. . . . Every play you want to design you can put it in because he can make the throw."

Newton was NFL MVP in 2015, his fifth season. The Panthers reached the Super Bowl that year.

The Bills can only hope Allen has a similar career arc.

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