There was one glaring exception to Josh Allen’s improved passing numbers in 2019.
Allen ranked 29th in the NFL in completion percentage on throws 20 or more yards downfield among the 32 passers who had the most attempts this year, according to Pro Football Focus.
After adjusting for drops and throwaway balls, Allen completed just 30.9% of throws 20-plus yards past the line of scrimmage. The lowest among starting QBs were rookies Dwayne Haskins of Washington and Kyle Allen of Carolina at 29.6%. The best was the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo at 74.2%. The league average among starters was 42%.
There are multiple reasons for Allen’s inaccuracy deep, but the most common reason is he doesn’t get enough air under the ball and overthrows the receiver.
It’s a mechanics issue, and Allen is well aware of it. He worked on it last offseason and showed progress overall. But it still crops up on deep throws.
Allen talked about his top mechanics issue before the regular season started:
"I had a problem with a long front step and that was causing my elbow to drop, and it was throwing off the entire sequence within the hip and the shoulder and the arm coming through," Allen said in an interview with The Buffalo News. "So when I keep that steady and I can take a small front stride and get (the left foot) down, my lead step, as fast as possible, the ball comes out quicker, it comes out cleaner, my throwing motion is less violent and that equals more accurate balls.”
It can still be seen on some deeper throws. Allen strides a bit too far, the elbow is a bit too low and the deep pass doesn’t get thrown “into the bucket,” arced over the receiver's shoulder.
It’s what caused Allen to overthrow John Brown, who had beaten the coverage, on deep go routes down the sideline early in home games against Miami and Baltimore. The elbow got a little low and the stride a tad long on the post route incompletion for Brown in the end zone in the second quarter of the playoff game in Houston.
(Notice the throwing elbow a bit low on these throws.)
“You have to have a short stride and your hips have to get over the front knee,” said former pro quarterback Jim Kubiak, who runs the Western New York Quarterback Academy.
Kubiak played for longtime NFL coach Dan Henning with the New York Jets in 2000.
“He taught me more about playing quarterback than all of my football experience combined,” Kubiak said. “Dan Henning’s premise is there’s an imaginary sheet of glass that sits on everyone’s helmet on the field. That’s the rim. Everything you do as a quarterback is developed around being able to play above that plane.
“What’s happening is his elbow is low,” Kubiak said. “It’s below his ear. He can still throw it far. But guys whose elbows are low can’t play above the rim. They can’t get it up and down.”
|Josh Allen Passing Percentage Chart|
|Source: 2019 Buffalo News. 2018 ProFootballFocus.
(Does not count throwaways, spikes)
Perhaps it’s encouraging that two of Allen’s best “into the bucket” passes of the year came in the Week 16 loss at New England. A 33-yard pass to Dawson Knox late in the first half and a 53-yard bomb to Brown for a third-quarter TD both were arced perfectly, and trailing defensive backs had no chance to make a play on the ball.
Asked about his offseason technique work after the Houston loss, Allen said: “Just some mechanical stuff, making sure everything’s sequencing right. The more repetition I get in that aspect, the more it’s going to help.”