Josh Allen was not given the key to the city of Buffalo; Josh Allen has the key to the city.
Drafted seventh overall in 2018, Allen just showed up with it the next day. The Bills quarterback seems to be the embodiment, correct button pusher, and possess most all of the qualities we want in our sports stars: blue collar and red-blooded; gifted and gutsy; a high-flying underdog; great player and good neighbor; bigger than life and yet down to earth.
From a farm in Central California, Allen came from as far from Buffalo as you can imagine, and yet he is Buffalo and a Buffalo guy already.
His main competition for city legend status is, of course, iconic Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, whose gutsiness on and off the field remains truly heroic. But Kelly was for a long time, let’s just say, prickly. It took Kelly some time to become a winner on the field, too. If you are 25 years old or younger, you have never experienced great quarterbacking in Buffalo.
Allen is winning games and winning most all of us over early. He has won three in a row and is 7-5 in starts he has finished. He already has four comeback victories.
Inaccuracy issues are overblown more than his passes are overthrown. He misses three a game he should hit and nails three he has no business completing. If he threw two or three swing passes, screens and/or wide receiver bubble screens like every other QB he would instantly add 5% to his completion average. If he checked down instead of looking downfield, he would add a couple of points. Oh, and he is around 65% this year anyway.
Allen missed John Brown by 10 yards on a bomb and sure TD in the second quarter. So what? He scored a TD on that drive on an Allen TD run. In fact, all six Bills’ TD drives are 70 yards or longer. Allen is not inaccurate. Period. And now local and national skeptics are opening their eyes to the facts on the field and their minds to the future possibilities if not probabilities.
Allen is a physical freak. At 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds, he is ducking and evading defensive linemen as well as leapfrogging linebackers and outrunning defensive backs. He bounces off 330-plus pound run (and pasta) stuffers. He is agile but not fragile; as big as half the defenders he faces. A fierce and relentless competitor, he hates to lose at Settlers of Catan.
Allen is country strong and city slick. He follows coaches and leads teammates. He is a man among boys and a kid at heart. He listens and commands. He strikes fear with his arm and then burns defenses with his legs. He threads needles through zone coverage and then drives stakes through opponents’ hearts. He’s fiery and sometimes on fire on the field, fired up on the bench, and then cucumber cool in the huddle and has ice in his veins down the stretch. He strong-arms cornerbacks on deep outs to the sideline and straight-arms linebackers to the turf like pesky nuisances.
Allen has a cannon for an arm but his bull's-eye darts were the Giant-slayers Sunday. The two rollout lasers – first to Dawson Knox and later on third-and-6 with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter to Brown – can only be made by less than a handful of NFL QBs.
Allen has a big ego; the good kind you want in your fearless leader. He demands, garners, and yet still shows respect. And is a big, loopy, goofy, Great Dane puppy dog off the field who signs autographs for kids because when he was one, a pro player blew him off.
“There was a bunch of kids shouting his name and he wouldn’t even look at us. Me and my brother were just distraught. We were in tears. I told myself if I ever get into the position that I’m in now I’ll make sure ... I try to at least interact with all the kids," Allen said this summer.
Josh Allen has “it,” gets it, wants it and goes for it.
An A student of the game, he desperately seeks knowledge. He studies film fanatically and constantly asks questions of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and veteran fellow QB Matt Barkley.
Last year as a rookie, Allen threw to K’mon Benjamin, Zayward Jones and Robert Foster Home. We had a defensive HC, inexperienced OC, a WR coach as QB coach, and Nathan Peterman as veteran QB guru. We had no line, WR, TE, blocking or run game. It was criminal malpractice in coaching and team building for a young, raw, prized rookie from Wyoming by way of Firebaugh, Calif.
This year, with Brown and Beasley, Allen has veteran route runners who get open quick, catch with their hands, and then run with it afterwards. Who knew that was even legal? Dorsey knows how to play, coach and teach the position. The OL and TEs block. The backs either elude or bulldoze defenders.
Teammates love him and more important, respect and believe in him. He befriended rival Sam Darnold, joked with Giants coach Pat Shurmur whose bulletin board criticism incited pregame bad blood, and then exchanged jerseys postgame Sunday with Saquon Barkley. He jokes with reporters about being the guy from New York when they asked him about possibly being drafted by a New York team.
Talk about having the whole package. This dude was gift-wrapped for Western New York and came with overnight free delivery from Amazon Prime.
Do not get me wrong. Allen is not infallible; not destined for Canton, or even the Pro Bowl. He has not beaten the Patriots or won a huge game yet. He can be reckless, hold the ball too long, misread coverage and misfire to open receivers. Some completions, if better tossed, would gain substantial more yards after the catch and maybe a score like the deep cross to Isaiah McKenzie, who, granted, tackled himself.
But Allen is doing all the right things now; taking the right and righteous path, and is well on his way in his short tenure. Now is the time to enjoy him and his play. An engaging personality and fun-lover himself, he seems to be enjoying it as much as we are.
This is what being a sports fan and Bills fan is about. One team wins and 31 lose to some degree. Allen cannot beat the Pats or win the Super Bowl every game; he can only beat his opponent; like the Giants this past Sunday at GetLife. If you cannot enjoy it now and just wait for him or the team to fail, you will not likely have much fun – or be much fun.
We like Josh.
Be like Josh.
Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, lifetime Buffalo fan and may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.