The Buffalo Bills shouldn’t rush Josh Allen onto the field in 2018, but they need their rookie quarterback to feel some pressure to perform this season.
NFL teams are forced to walk a very fine line between pressing rookies to play immediately and giving them the room to grow at their own pace. The Buffalo Bills are doing a great job of giving quarterback Josh Allen a comfortable environment, but the Buffalo coaching staff is taking things too far.
The fact that Allen is feeling “no pressure” at the moment is not a good sign for his long-term development. The Bills need him to feel some positive stress to help accelerate his development. That doesn’t mean they should put him in the race to become their starter on Week 1, but they need Allen to feel like he needs to show solid development as the season goes along.
The coaching staff can achieve that in any number of ways. The first thing they should do is to give him a solid schedule of how much of the playbook he should master. Ideally, they can put that to the test during preseason action.
There’s only so much Allen can show when he’s playing against relatively friendly defenders in practice. His progress should be measured against actual opponents.
Sean McDermott and company could also challenge Allen to compete with Nathan Peterman to become the team’s backup. A.J. McCarron should remain the starter, but Peterman didn’t do anything last year to show anyone he’s a solid NFL quarterback. In fact, if his employment status was based purely on what he did last season then Peterman would be out of the league.
Remember, Allen is the highest draft pick the Bills have ever used on a quarterback. Allowing him to stroll through the preseason without any meaningful pressure is doing him a disservice. If they really expect him to take over the offense next season, they need his game to take serious strides this season.
Even if he isn’t feeling the pressure of becoming the team’s starting quarterback as a rookie, he needs to feel some stress to maximize his output in 2018.