Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott knows that all eyes are on quarterback Josh Allen, no matter which field he’s on.
“I'm sure that maybe there were some baseball scouts at (Micah Hyde’s) Home Run Derby,” McDermott said Tuesday. “I know if I was a scout and hearing that ball come off that bat and watching what I saw, I'd be pretty curious, let's call it.”
McDermott doesn’t expect Allen to switch up his sport. But he has noticed some changes in the franchise quarterback lately.
“I've seen a different Josh this offseason,” McDermott said. “Not that it was bad before, but he's got a new sense of focus, I would say, and determination, which is good.”
Allen has said the same thing of himself for a few weeks now, starting in mid-April in his first meeting with Bills media since the season ended.
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On Tuesday, at the Bills’ voluntary OTA, Allen tripled-down on that belief, while delving a bit more into where it came from and how it shows up. Allen feels that focus stems from “an accumulation of things,” including his time in the league, the brutal playoff losses, and what’s still left to do.
“Just understanding our window, and I want to give everything that I have for as long as I play,” Allen said.
Like McDermott, Allen is quick to clarify that he wasn’t shortchanging his preparation in the past.
“I so badly want to bring a Super Bowl here to Buffalo,” Allen said. “And I just don't want anything to get in the way of allowing me to be the best quarterback that I can be for this team.”
The mindset has seeped into his conversations off the field as well. Last week, Allen and pass rusher Von Miller spent plenty of time together at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
“I see it in his eyes,” Miller said. “He knows he can do it. And every time he comes out here, that is the number one thing: to go out here and compete and win a Super Bowl. … Every time we talk, it's all about Super Bowl, this and that.”
But to get there, Allen talks about plenty of finer details in the meantime. His renewed drive appears in the particular ways he approaches the offense.
Safety Damar Hamlin hit a blocking sled with other defensive backs, worked on shadowing other defensive backs who simulated running pass routes and participated in other solo coverage drills.
“I think communicating to our playmakers, understanding where I want them and making sure that we're on the same page. Film study, for sure,” he said. “And then just diving into our playbook, knowing it inside and out. And whether we’ve got to simplify some things or add more stuff, talking with (offensive coordinator Ken) Dorsey and again, just trying to be a part of his brain and making sure that I'm doing that on the field.”
Some of it comes from Allen being more proactive in communication, even if it can go against his laid-back nature off the field.
“I need to take more ownership in that, and that's what I'm trying to do,” Allen said. “And sometimes it's hard for me because, you know, I'm a very relaxed guy that's like, ‘Hey, like, just get open and catch the ball.’ ”
Now, Allen is making sure his communication is a bit more structured.
McDermott said that Allen participated in part of Monday’s OTA, but also missed part “due to a personal commitment.” On Tuesday, Allen had more time to get on the same page with his teammates.
“I gotta make sure that I'm dialed in, so when I am communicating with these guys that I'm saying the right things and explaining in a way that they can understand it,” Allen said. “Because everyone learns a little bit differently. Some guys learn on the field, some guys want to be talking about it, some guys want to watch film. So, just trying to break that down for every single guy.”
Allen is also still building rapport with a lot of those teammates, with a good bit of turnover on the offense. His long-tenured target is now Dawson Knox, who is entering his fifth year with the Bills. Receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis and fullback Reggie Gilliam are entering their fourth year with Buffalo.
Outside of that, no running back, wide receiver or tight end has been on the Bills' active roster for more than a season. Of the running backs, James Cook has spent the most time on task with Allen, despite being a rookie last season.
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It helps that the offense as a whole is not being overhauled in Dorsey’s second year.
“The meetings that we’re having, the stuff that we’re installing, schematically we’re not going to be too different,” Allen said. “But I definitely think we’re cleaning things up.”
And as they continue, Allen will continue to find more ways to finetune his involvement.
“I think as the quarterback, your words are always going to be a little heavier than most guys’,” Allen said. “But, again, you add the experience piece, and how long I've been here, how long I’ve been in the same system – when I say something, those guys are listening, and it does feel good.”