Josh Allen sacked five times while the Buffalo Bills record -5 total yards in the first half of 26-13 preseason loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.
Josh Allen’s first start as a Buffalo Bill came to a merciful end the same way the rest of his day went.
Late in the second quarter of Buffalo’s 26-13 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, Allen was hit while trying to throw the ball away and banged his head on the turf. He left the game a few plays later and entered the NFL’s concussion protocol.
The hit was only the exclamation point on an awful first half by the entire Bills offense. What started with the Bills faithful saluting opposing quarterback Andy Dalton for snapping their playoff drought in Baltimore last season turned into a rout by halftime. Buffalo gained -5 yards in the first half and trailed 20-0 after two quarters.
The offensive line was the main culprit in the Bills downfall. Allen was sacked five times and constantly pressured throughout the half. He completed just six of 12 pass attempts for 34 yards.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott says it’s the responsibility of the entire team to protect the quarterback they picked seventh overall out of Wyoming in April.
“We’re going to have to look at the tape. There’s a lot going on there,” McDermott said, via the Bills website after the game. “We gotta make sure we’re helping him, you know, with protection, catching the football and not beating ourselves with penalties.”
The Bills offensive line woes stemmed from constant personnel changes. The Bills rotated their interior line throughout the half, switching between Vladimir Ducasse, Ryan Groy and Russell Bodine. Groy, a five-year veteran who has played 16 games for Buffalo each of the last two seasons, admits the entire line needs to do better.
“It’s bad. I’ll take the first hit,” Groy said. “It was embarrassing as a unit. I’ll take the first blame. As an o-line we need to get better. That was on us, 100 percent.”
Allen is competing for the Bills starting quarterback job with sophomore Nathan Peterman and veteran A.J. McCarron, a former Bengals backup. McCarron, however, injured his collarbone in the Bills last preseason game, leaving Allen and Peterman to battle for the job. Peterman and the entire Bills offense was much better in the second half. He led two touchdown drives, one set up by an interception, and completed 16 of 21 passes for 200 yards.
Allen isn’t putting all the blame on his front line and admits he needs to do a better job getting the ball out in time to avoid taking sacks.
“I didn’t do a good enough job of getting the ball out in time and getting it to our playmakers,” he said. “Holding on to the ball is not going to be too great most of the time.”
With the start of the regular season two weeks away, Allen recognizes that now is the time for him to learn from rookie mistakes.
“Its the preseason. That’s why we’re playing these games, is to learn and grow and get better,” he said. “This is one of those games where we’re going to go in and break down the film and get a lot better at just because of the things that we had to endure. This is going to help us out in the long run.”
His head coach shares that sentiment. McDermott says this game shows the team still has a lot to improve on to prepare for the regular season. “It’s disappointing. We’ve got a lot to learn from, and a lot of work to do,” he said.
The Bills play their last preseason game in Chicago on Thursday. They open the regular season on Sept. 9 in Baltimore, the same place last season was saved.