Despite having spent the past four games watching, Josh Allen won’t be easing his way back into the starting quarterback job he’s expected to reclaim when the Buffalo Bills face the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll made it clear Tuesday he would have no hesitation giving the 22-year-old rookie as full a game plan as he would either of his veteran quarterbacks on the roster, Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley.
“I think we’re confident in Josh,” Daboll said. “I know he hasn’t played the previous few weeks, but he’s been in the preparation meetings, he’s smart, so we can we put whatever we need to put in.”
The Bills were noticeably aggressive with what they did offensively in their 41-10 victory against the New York Jets on Nov. 11. Some of that had to do with the Jets’ defensive scheme, while some also resulted from Daboll’s trust in Barkley’s ability to handle the X-and-O load that included a good deal of pre-snap shifting and even a scoring throw to offensive tackle Dion Dawkins. Barkley, 28, had barely been on the Bills’ roster for two weeks at the time, but he has been in the NFL since 2013.
The offensive coordinator insists he has no less faith in Allen’s ability to carry out a similar plan Sunday, if that’s what they choose to do.
“Whoever’s playing, whoever the starter is — it could be at quarterback, receiver — I think you try to put things together that attack the weaknesses of the opponent. It could change, week to week, on what you want to do,” Daboll said. “But you try to attack all levels of the field, whether it’s vertically, horizontally, and you have those in your game plan every week. We executed them very well (against the Jets).”
“Coach has no restraints and he’s going to just let everything fly and see what happens,” Dawkins said. “He won’t play scared, basically, is what I'm saying. "
That's something Allen can handle, Dawkins added. "That's why they drafted him high.”
Even in the role of spectator while recovering from the injury he suffered to his throwing elbow Oct. 14 against the Houston Texans, Allen has been able to absorb plenty of knowledge and information.
His primary mentor has been Anderson, who is in his 14th season. Although the 35-year-old Anderson missed the last two games with a concussion and remains in concussion protocol, he still attends meetings and practice.
“I know having the veteran presence like DA around, he’s probably benefited a lot in a lot of respects — preparation, time management, timing in the pocket,” Daboll said of Allen. “He’s probably bounced a lot of ideas off of DA in terms of what he’s done in his career.”
Allen didn’t merely stand on the sidelines during the Bills’ losses against Indianapolis, New England and Chicago, and the blowout win against the Jets before last Sunday’s bye. Daboll required Allen to have a “play-the-game” mentality as he observed the action on the field.
“I had him taking notes, whether it was coverages, players that we’re looking to attack, how they were playing certain things, writing the calls down,” Daboll said. “Anything that I asked him to do, he was staying in the game as mentally as he could. So he had he had a lot of responsibilities from me in terms of writing things down — keying reads, hearing the play call, playing the game as if he was out there playing.”
The Jaguars have lost six games in a row. In their most recent defeat, they squandered a 16-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday.
Still, their defense remains solid.
“Yeah, this defense is a very good defense, filled with a lot of good players,” Daboll said.
In the last 29 games, dating back to the start of last season and including the playoffs, the Jaguars have allowed only two opponents to throw for 300 net passing games — both by the Steelers.
They’ve held opponents to under 150 net yards passing 13 times during that stretch.
“This is a talented group that plays a lot of tight coverage, that knows how to play (defensive coordinator Todd) Wash’s scheme very good,” Daboll added. “So (Allen’s) going to have to do a good job with with controlling the game, in the running game and the passing game — his feet, his eyes, his timing.”
In other words, the rookie needs to apply all that he learned during those four games he didn’t play.