Jim Kubiak has been analyzing the play of the Buffalo Bills quarterbacks for BNBlitz.com. Kubiak is the all-time leading passer at Navy, has played in the NFL, NFL Europe and the Arena Football League, and has been a coach and executive in the AFL. He spent eight years as the radio analyst for the University at Buffalo and runs the Western New York Quarterback Academy to help develop the next generation of quarterbacks.
Quarterbacks are graded by using Kubiak's “Doing Your Job” grading system for every play. Here is the breakdown for the Bills' victory against the Detroit Lions on Friday. Statistically, the Bills' offense compiled 350 yards on 57 plays, rushing for an impressive 147 yards. The quarterbacks as a group completed 70.8% of their passes on 17 of 24 attempts for 203 yards.
Allen’s first half
Josh Allen was 3 of 6 in the first half as the Bills ran the football on 18 of 24 plays and started their drives on their own 21, 6, 9, 19, 6 and 5, respectively.
Allen’s overall quarterback performance grade in the first half was 86%. In the first quarter, Allen was 1 of 3. His first attempt fell incomplete on a well-defended back-shoulder throw to his right. He also misfired on a third-and-5 “speed-out” to his left that was uncatchable and behind Cole Beasley, his intended receiver. Allen’s final throw of the first quarter was complete and accurately thrown on the chest of Beasley, who was immediately stripped of the football.
The most troublesome aspect of the game for Allen came on his 10th play from scrimmage. On second-and-4 from his own 25-yard line, Allen was flushed from the pocket to his right and could have easily thrown the ball away. Instead, he made a rookie mistake, forcing the football back across his body and the ball landed into the hands of Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The play was negated by a roughing the passer penalty, but it offered a reminder of the dangerous plays that can be any quarterback's undoing.
"It's something that I just can't do and I know I can't do that," Allen told reporters afterward. "I understood that we wanted to run the ball and I wanted to take a shot, and I can't go with that mindset."
Allen made the same decision at the Red and Blue open practice at New Era Field at the beginning of training camp. He was rolling to his right and threw the ball back into the middle of the field. This also was intercepted and perhaps demonstrates a lingering stubbornness that needs adjustment.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey have spent the offseason coaching Allen to protect the football. Allen should have immediately thrown the ball out of bounds and accepted the third-and-5 on the next down. Without the penalty that negated this play, this interception could have been the difference in the game.
This was Allen’s worst play of the preseason and, for the Bills' sake, it should be the last of its kind in 2019.
Allen’s ability to run continued to be an important factor. He had two key scrambles, one in the first quarter to his right for 10 yards on second-and-18, and another picking up the first down on second-and-6, which occurred on the fourth play of the Bills' scoring drive in the second quarter. Allen’s ability to run is a difference maker and this skill obviously makes the Buffalo offense more dangerous heading into the regular season.
Allen finished his preseason 18 for 28 for 217 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He also was credited with four runs for 26 yards. He was sacked twice.
Matt Barkley efficiency
Backup quarterback Matt Barkley was the star of the show Friday night, as he was 12 of 14 passing in the third quarter. Barkley led the Bills’ offense on consecutive drives for points with a field goal on a 10-play drive to start the third quarter. He came back with another nine-play drive that resulted in a touchdown that put the Bills up 24-13 heading into the final quarter.
There were two plays that stood out for Barkley. On the fifth play of the third quarter, on third-and-3, Barkley reset in the pocket for 5 seconds, being patient and sliding in the pocket. He finally found T.J. Yeldon on the sideline to his left and picked up the first down.
The other tremendous play by Barkley came on his final play of the game, on first-and-10 from the Lions' 16 as he threw a perfect back-shoulder to Duke Williams. This was an NFL throw, the ideal height, exact pace, and in a location where only the offensive player could make the reception.
Barkey’s performance this preseason has been stellar, completing 29 of 38 for 378 yards and three touchdowns. His 76% completion percentage leads the Bills quarterbacks, but more impressive has been his ability to avoid negative plays and turnovers.
Jackson’s transition to the NFL Game
Tyree Jackson helped himself with an average performance in his fourth-quarter action. Jackson was 2 of 4 for 27 yards and showed his impressive velocity. The 6-7 quarterback is now 8 of 25 this preseason as the Bills’ third quarterback. He has struggled to look comfortable, lacking the efficiency and anticipation necessary to consistently move the team. His transition to the NFL style has definitely been slower than expected. Much of his playmaking ability outside of the pocket – those plays that he was able to make in college – are all but gone at this level.
Proficiency and accuracy from the pocket defines quarterbacks in the NFL, and this has not been an apparent strength for Jackson. If the Bills decide to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster, Jackson could still be on their list of practice squad candidates, but he must prove that he has value as a passer.