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Jim Kubiak

Efficiency by Josh Allen is hallmark of Bills' victory

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.

Josh Allen completed 14 of 20 attempts for 160 yards and threw one touchdown in the Bills' 24-9 victory Sunday against the Washington Redskins. He rushed eight times for 12 yards with one touchdown. His overall QB Performance Grade was a 92% as he managed, directed and executed the Bills plan admirably, leading to their sixth victory of the season.

The Bills did not show any signs of letting down against the 1-8 Redskins. Following their scoring drive in the first quarter, the Bills led the remainder of the game.

First quarter

Play selection: 19 plays – nine runs, eight passes, two sacks.

Allen: 6 of 8 passing for 92 yards with one touchdown. Two carries for seven yards.

QB Performance Grade: 94%

Score: Bills, 10-0.

Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll was determined to run the ball with rookie Devin Singletary. He carried the football on six of the first 19 plays compared to Frank Gore’s two rushes. In all, Singletary had 20 carries for 95 yards (both career highs) and scored one rushing touchdown.

Allen was highly efficient in the quarter, completing 6 of 8 passes overall, and going 3 for 3 on the opening touchdown drive. In a heavy run-oriented game plan, the quarterback's job is built around getting into the correct running play and executing the ball handling.

Oftentimes running plays are paired or tagged with an “alert” passing concept that would allow Allen to check out of a run if the defense had more defenders than the offense could account for. Allen was dead-on as the Bills ran Singletary on four of the first eight plays of the opening scoring drive.

The highlight of the first quarter was a perfectly executed touchdown pass to Cole Beasley on a “whip” routed to Allen’s left.

Daboll used play action to the 4 hole, the right B Gap, to freeze the linebackers. This pulled the entirety of the Redskins' defense into the tackle box. Allen knew that he had man-to-man coverage on Beasley flanked to his left and patiently waited for Beasley to run his whip route.

This whip route is truly a “Beasley special.” He used his speed and quickness to make it appear as if he were darting across the field. This action forced the defender to react to cover the potential crossing route. As soon as the defender turned his hips to run, Beasley stopped and burst back to the outside. The momentum that the receiver gives to the defender sends the defender inside, while Beasley is moving outside. Allen had an easy touchdown throw to a wide-open Beasley.

Allen had two high-caliber plays on the next drive. On first-and-10 from the Redskins' 26-yard line, he made a free-rush linebacker miss despite that he was not accounted for in the protection.

The delayed blitz is designed to interfere with the protection scheme. Initially the linemen know whom the are responsible for. At the snap of the ball, they react to their immediate assignments. In other words, the linemen commit. Once they are committed, the linebacker rushes. Although his throw on this play falls incomplete, he demonstrates his uncanny ability to shake free of defenders.

Allen’s touch has improved as well. He made a great back-shoulder throw to John Brown on third-and-10 that resulted in first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.

Allen recognized man coverage and read the relationship between the cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Brown as he released down the left sideline. He purposely underthrew the ball behind Brown on his back shoulder and allowed him to adjust to the position by throwing it higher and softer. This takes practice, awareness and ultimately belief that the receiver is on the same page as the quarterback. This execution demonstrates a growing and important synergy between Brown and Allen.

Second quarter

Play selection: 12 plays – nine runs, two passes, one kneel-down.

Allen: 1 of 2 passing for 8 yards; two carries for zero yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Performance Grade: 91%.

Score: Bills, 17-6.

The run-dominated second quarter featured three rushes by Singletary, five rushes by Gore and one touchdown on a quarterback sneak by Allen. A 10-play scoring drive was the only one of the quarter and put the Bills up 17-3 heading into the half.

Allen missed Brown on an open slant route to his left for his only incompletion of the quarter. He most certainly wishes he had this one back.

Third quarter

Play selection: 16 plays – 11 runs, five passes.

Allen: 4 for 5 passing for 17 yards. One run for one yard.

Quarterback Performance Grade: 93%

Score: Bills, 17-9.

The Bills turned the ball over on downs and punted following two stalled drives in a scoreless third quarter. These drives included two penalties, one that was accepted and one the was not because of a negative run play by the Bills.

The highlight of the quarter came on second-and-7 during the second possession. Beasley was lined up on the inside of trips formation to the left of Allen. He again utilized his highly effective “give the defender momentum” whip route. The easy completion set the Bills up for a third-and-1, which they converted with an Allen quarterback sneak.

Not all receivers are capable of executing the style and feel of a route like this.  It takes awareness, control, and an understanding of how to attack the defense. In man-to-man coverage, Beasley has a choice. If he can get across the defender's face, he will go. If he cannot, he will pretend to rip across and then cut back away, having given the defender all of that momentum. The beauty of the concept is that it is “indefensible," and Allen only has to wait to see what Beasley is going to do. These are easy completions for any quarterback and wonderful play calls on second-and-7.

Fourth quarter

Play selection: 12 plays – eight runs, four passes.

Allen: 3 for 5 passing for 43 yards. Three carries for four yards.

QB Performance Grade: 91%

Score: Bills, 24-9.

Daboll stayed away from the quarterback sweeps this week. He did however give Allen rushing responsibilities on a couple of “zone-read” plays.

Both plays leave the back-side defensive end unblocked. Allen’s job is to put the football into the running back's belly and read whether the unblocked defensive end can tackle the running back. If Allen determines that his player can defend the running back, he pulls the ball out and runs it himself into the voided area of the overcommitted defender. If he believes the defender cannot make the play, he gives the ball to the running back and pretends he still has it to attract the defender.

This “option” concept has merit and works when read correctly.  The downside is that your most valuable player, the quarterback, is rushing the football between the tackles, exposing him to punishment and potential turnovers.

Allen again fumbled on this “keeper,” which could have spelled disaster had a turnover occurred on their own 31. Quinton Spain fortunately recovered the fumble.

If Allen would have turned the football over on that play, the Redskins would have had the ball on the Bills' 25 yard line and could have potentially tied the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

Conclusion

The Bills controlled the time of possession, had more third-down conversions and had fewer penalties. The Bills played a clean game and finished three drives with touchdowns.

Most impressive was Daboll’s overall commitment to rushing the football with Singletary and Gore. He patiently ran the football 39 times to only 20 passes. This mentality ultimately takes pressure off the quarterback. The two-to-one rushing to passing play selection helped to control drives, take time off the clock and enhanced the Bills' play-action passes.

Even with a season-low 20 attempts, Allen completed 70% of his passes on the day, the second time this season that has has surpassed that mark.

In all, his high efficiency, command and execution of the game plan earned him straight A's in an important home victory.

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