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Jim Kubiak

Decisive Josh Allen leads another Bills win with impressive poise

Jim Kubiak has been analyzing the play of the Buffalo Bills quarterbacks for BNBlitz.com. He 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.

Overall

Josh Allen impressed in the Bills’ 28-14 victory against the New York Giants in Week 2, completing 19 of 30 for 253 yards, with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

Allen threw the football away four times, had two passes deflected and had another two dropped, which would have had his completion percentage for the game at more than 70.

Allen’s overall performance grade of 93% in our "Do Your Job" grading system illuminates his increasing maturity as a passer as well as his growing awareness of situations that matter most to the outcome of an NFL game.

He was decisive, in command, accurate, patient and managed the game with the poise and intelligence of a highly skilled veteran.

First quarter

Performance grade: 89%

The Bills' offense executed 19 plays in the first quarter, nine rushing and 10 passing. Allen had seven completions on nine attempts and was sacked once. He was efficient and versatile as his movement and ability to run had the Giants' defense vexed.

On the third play of the second drive, Allen demonstrated just how physical he is as he scrambled off a play-action fake on first-and-10. As he stepped up into the pocket and decided to run, he avoided Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter and stiffed-armed him with the strength and ferocity of an elite running back.

Very few starting quarterbacks react this way to defenders' attempting to tackle them. In fact, quarterbacks in general are taught to avoid the contact and get down immediately to prevent injury. There is something inside of Allen that thinks differently in these situations. He is unafraid and plays with a unique attacking, and perhaps reckless, style.

Allen made another impressive play on the drive when fullback Pat DiMarco was lined up to the wide side of the field and was uncovered in an empty formation. Allen recognized he was unaccounted for by the defense and audibled for a quick snap to throw the ball immediately to DiMarco. The resulting play was only a 3-yard gain, but it underlines Allen’s growing awareness and ability to recognize when a defense is not correctly aligned and capitalize on it.

Allen’s touchdown run, the second quarterback sweep in two weeks, was a masterful call by offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll, who developed his coaching style under Bill Belichick, has watched Tom Brady run quarterback sneaks into defensive mosh pits for two decades and is not afraid to expose Allen to quarterback runs. The Bills outflanked the Giants’ defense, and Frank Gore led the way as Allen tip-toed inside the front pylon for the Bills’ game-tying score.

The willingness to call plays like this combined with Allen’s toughness and rushing ability make Buffalo difficult to defend. These plays are “wildcat” style and give the offense an extra blocker at the point of attack with the quarterback running the football. The usefulness and effectiveness of this unique play-call by Daboll has been very impressive these past two weeks.

Second quarter

Performance Grade: 100%

The Bills broke the game open and took a commanding 21-7 lead in the second quarter. Allen was nearly perfect, going 8-for-11 passing.  He threw the ball away twice and had a drop, leading Buffalo on consecutive scoring drives.

Daboll made use of the jet sweep action on both touchdowns. This type of fast lateral motion freezes the linebackers and interior defensive linemen, which creates an advantage offensively.  Daboll was able to use the “jet” motion as a disguise, as a running play and as a passing concept.

Allen’s third-and-10 conversion throw to Cole Beasley set up the go-ahead score. Allen recognized the soft cushion by cornerback DeAndre Baker and took what the defense was giving, completing an easy out route under the coverage. This set up Devin Singletary’s touchdown run on the next play.

The premise of wide receiver “jet” motion is to influence and freeze defenders who cannot discern which players have the ball. The jet motion happens quickly by design to create confusion. The motion generally comes one way and the play goes the other.

Singletary’s play was effective because the fast motion from left to right influenced Giants linebacker Ryan Connelly to his left just enough for right tackle Ty Nsekhe to cut him on the back side. Tight end Lee Smith sealed the left defensive side while Quinton Spain and Mitch Morse both pulled. Spain kicked out the next defender and the athletic Morse turned up into the hole, blocking a helplessly outmatched Baker. Singletary was virtually untouched as he crossed the goal line.  The jet motion lateral stress drastically fooled the Giants.

The next drive started on Buffalo’s 2-yard line, and Allen went 5-for-5.  The big play of the drive came on first-and-20 from the 35, following a Bills holding penalty. Daboll flooded the right side of the Giants Cover 3 zone with two go routes and a free release by running back Frank Gore from his backfield set.

Giants cornerback Jabrill Peppers could not defend both the TE seam route and  Beasley’s go route to his side. Allen smartly progressed through his reads from left to right and exposed Peppers as he tried to jump the seam. Allen drilled a strike to Beasley where Peppers should have been. The play set up the Bills on the 14-yard line of the Giants.

The very next play, Isaiah McKenzie went in jet motion and Allen shoveled him the football with perfect timing. This use of jet motion was different; this time Allen got the ball to the motion man while the entire Buffalo offensive line blocked the opposite direction. The movement of the line opposite of the jet motion was brilliant.

Interior defensive players will key the first movements of offensive linemen. The influence movement pulled linebacker Oshane Ximines and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence away from the jet sweep coming to their side. Tight end Dawson Knox was the line blocker for the McKenzie sweep. This simultaneous action and design of this masterful play call had the Giants’ players befuddled, not knowing who had the football or which side of the field to defend.

The spectacular execution of the second quarter broke the game open and put the Giants in the difficult position of having to play catch up against the formidable Bills’ defense. Allen was 15 of 20 for 210 yards in the the half with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Most importantly, Allen did not turn the football over, which was a vast improvement from his four turnovers the previous week.

Second half

Performance Grade: 85%

The second half was riddled with four Buffalo false starts, two sacks, two throwaways and two deflected balls. The positive to the bumpy second half for the Bills and Allen was that, in the midst of the turmoil, the Bills maintained their poise and did not make a catastrophic mistake.

It was not so much what Allen did as it was what he didn’t do. He did not force the ball into coverage. This point was illustrated on third-and-goal at the 3-yard line. With the game 21-14, Allen was flushed to his right. As he was rolling to his right, he must have felt the urge to try to make a heroic play for the touchdown. At that point, the Bills had an opportunity to make the game a two-score game for the Giants. Allen understood the situation and wisely threw the ball away, which resulted in a field goal and put Buffalo up by 10.

On the converted field goal, the Giants were penalized for hitting a defenseless player, the snapper. The result was first-and-goal. Gore pounded the ball in for a touchdown two plays later, putting the Bills up 28-14 with six minutes to play.

Allen’s awareness and willingness to protect the football in key situations like this, combined with the stiff and stingy Bills’ defense, will make the Bills tough to beat.

Allen played with All-Pro awareness and executed at an amazingly high level in the Bills’ second road victory of the season.  He was consistent, he weathered the storms, he made smart decisions, and he commanded Daboll’s offense with the moxie of a veteran.

Allen is 43 of 67 attempts for 507 yards with two passing touchdowns and two interceptions in 2019.  His completion percentage of 64.2%  is a dramatic improvement from 52% last season. Allen has made incredible progress developing his awareness and demonstrating willingness to be patient, not forcing plays that lose games in the NFL.

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