The film review backed up the eyeball test for Josh Allen.
The Buffalo Bills’ rookie quarterback returned to the lineup Sunday after a four-game absence because of a sprained throwing elbow. Although his passing statistics weren’t overwhelming – 8 of 19, 160 yards, one touchdown – he was the Bills’ leading rusher (13 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown) in a 24-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In short, it felt like Allen played better than his stats suggested.
“I thought overall, he was on time going through his reads, going through his progressions,” coach Sean McDermott said. “Certainly, there’s some plays that he would like to have back, but overall, again, coming off of that hiatus in being out, I thought he was on time with most of those decisions and going through the proper progressions. When it was time to pull it down, he pulled it down and went with it. When it was time to get rid of it, he got rid of it and threw it away if it was there. I thought all in all, some good moments from Josh.”
Allen wasn’t sacked Sunday, but that doesn’t mean he stayed clear of hits. He stood tall in the pocket on a couple of completions, knowing he was going to pay the price. He also provided some nervous moments when he took a few big hits at the end of runs.
“We don’t want him to get hurt. There’s got to be an understanding that those build up over time,” McDermott said. “I’ve been around two mobile quarterbacks before – both Cam (Newton) and Donovan (McNabb) – and that’s an ongoing conversation what seems like every week. How much running is too much? How much is not enough? There’s a fine line there that we have to continue to try and find every week. One week, it could be more than we want, and one week, it may be less. We’ve just got to continue to drill down on that.”
With more runs on tape, it’s a good bet defenses will be eagerly awaiting Allen to leave the pocket.
“Look, defenders all want to get at quarterbacks,” Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. “He’s obviously a quarterback that has athletic ability, mobility, can move. He knows he needs to be smart in the situations. He needs to be smart to protect himself.”
Allen’s 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Bills a 21-14 lead. After the play, he flexed in celebration. McDermott was happy to see that type of energy – “juice,” as the coach calls it.
“That’s huge from a leadership position, No. 1, and just a spark,” McDermott said. “I know the defense sees that, the special teams and his guys on offense see it. He’s a guy you want to be around, you want to play for. When given the opportunity, he makes plays.”
Given a day to review the film of the brawl that broke out in the third quarter Sunday centered around Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson, McDermott’s opinion didn’t change.
“It’s unfortunate when something like that happens. It shouldn’t be a part of the game,” he said. “Sometimes things happen when guys are going against each other, and it got competitive out there. I never want to see one of our guys or their guys thrown out. That’s not the way the game is designed to be played. That said, as I mentioned, things were going fast, and at the end of the day, I thought Shaq was defending himself. Punches were being thrown, and so No. 1, we have to display discipline. But No. 2, I expect our team to stand up for one another.”
Fournette left the Jaguars’ sideline and ran all the way across the field to get involved in the fight. The NFL suspended him for one game Monday because of his actions.
“That was my biggest point of contention was that he came from the other sideline,” McDermott said. “At the end of the day, that’s over and done with. We’re moving on, and we’ve got a lot to learn from the tape, and I expect us to do that.”
After the Bills and Jaguars met in the playoffs last year, some Jacksonville players mentioned how part of their game plan focused on getting under the Bills’ skin. Did McDermott think was again the case Sunday?
“I don’t know. That’s probably a better question for (Jacksonville) coach (Doug) Marrone,” he said.
Right guard John Miller suffered an oblique strain Sunday and is still being evaluated. Cornerback Lafayette Pitts is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. So, too, is Derek Anderson, who is now a month removed from being hurt in Week 8 against New England.
Tight end Charles Clay, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, is “making progress,” according to McDermott.
“We’ll see how he looks this week,” the coach said of Clay.