Josh Allen remained in the NFL’s concussion protocol Monday, opening up the possibility of the Buffalo Bills having to turn to Matt Barkley for an important Week 5 game against the Tennessee Titans.
Allen, the Bills’ second-year starter, suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots when he was hit by the Patriots’ Jonathan Jones. Bills coach Sean McDermott deflected all questions about Sunday’s loss, including when he declined to say whether the Bills plan to file a grievance with the NFL about the hit.
NFL Network reported Monday that Jones will not be suspended, but could be the subject of a potential fine for the unnecessary roughness penalty that was called.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick defended his cornerback Monday.
“Allen’s a big runner. He’s a strong guy. He’s hard to tackle,” Belichick said. “He certainly broke several tackles against us. Jon turned when he hit. He didn’t lead with his head. He didn’t have that posture.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also was asked about the hit on Allen during his weekly radio interview with Boston’s WEEI. Brady reflected back on a brutal hit he took during a 2001 game in Buffalo. The Patriots’ quarterback was leveled by Bills cornerback Nate Clements, with Brady’s helmet flying off.
“I'll never forget this. The next day coach Belichick said to me, 'Hey Brady, if you want to have a career in this league, when you're running like that, you’re either going to throw the ball away or slide.' A lot of quarterbacks who do run and try to make yards and that’s great, but at the same time, you are susceptible to big hits,” Brady said. “Whether it’s flagged or not, or whether it's a penalty, a lot of the rules have changed over the years, but from a quarterback standpoint, I feel like it’s always best to try to be available to the team and take the risk reward (for those plays) and so forth. …
"Again, nobody likes to see anyone get hurt out there. But from my own experience, I try to do the best I can to avoid taking any big shots I can."
As a result of the hit Allen took Sunday, Barkley could be in line to make his second start in a Bills uniform. Barkley went 9 of 16 for 127 yards in relief of Allen on Sunday, but fumbled once and was intercepted, sealing the game for New England.
“He’s well respected by our team,” McDermott said of Barkley. “He’s earned everything he’s gotten here. You guys saw what he’s done and how he carries himself week to week, day to day around the building. He’s highly prepared every week whether he’s played or he hasn’t, which is the life of a backup quarterback. There’s a lot of internal belief in Matt Barkley, and we know he will be ready to go if need be this week.”
It doesn’t matter who is at quarterback against the Titans if the results don’t get much better than what they were Sunday. Allen and Barkley combined to go 22 of 44 for 280 yards and four interceptions — a team quarterback rating of 32.4.
The Bills lost the turnover battle, 4-1, and it could have been worse if fumbles by Allen and Barkley had bounced differently.
“We obviously have a lot of work to do right there and that's an ongoing message,” McDermott said. “If you were in our team meetings, you would know we talked about that a lot. And that's an ongoing message. It'll continue to be an ongoing message every day, because the ball is important.
“You see the results of it, our players know the results of it. … If you win that stat, that turnover margin stat, usually you're going to put yourself in the chance to win the football game. We didn't win it. Wasn't even close, and we still had a chance to win the football game. So, there's some positives in that, and then there's some things obviously that we've got to continue to address.”
Allen’s six interceptions are tied for the most in the NFL, as are the Bills’ seven team picks. Buffalo also is tied for the most giveaways in the league with 10, eight of which Allen has been responsible.
“We make no excuses. Our job is to take care of the ball and score points, and we didn’t get that done. You have to look in the mirror,” offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. “Again, however much you move the ball, it really doesn’t matter until you put the ball in the end zone and you’re able to take care of it. We gave the opponent some opportunities to get the ball back, and give credit to our defense, played a heck of a game, we didn’t capitalize when we needed to capitalize, and we turned the ball over, and I have to do a better job of getting these guys to take care of the ball. That starts with me.”
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McDermott said safety Dean Marlowe also is in the league’s concussion protocol. … Rookie running back Devin Singletary, who missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury, was close to being able to play, according to McDermott. Singletary remains day to day heading into Week 5.
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Included among the New England-related topics McDermott wouldn’t touch was a willingness to share information about what happened during a brief, spirited discussion he appeared to have with two members of the Patriots’ organization, including Bill Belichick’s son, Brian.
Video and still photographs show McDermott hurrying the two Patriots employees off the field as the Bills warmed up.
“Like I said earlier, again, with all due respect your question — you guys know I have a lot of respect for you — I'm not going to go there,” he said. “We're moving forward and what happened yesterday is in the past, and we're focused this week on where we're going.”