The Bills are only going to go as far as Josh Allen takes them in 2019. That means LeSean McCoy better be right about the young quarterback.
If the Bills are going to improve on last season’s 6-10 record they will need better play from the quarterback position. Josh Allen showed flashes of quality play during his rookie season, but he’s got a long way to go before he lives up to his status as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The good news for Buffalo fans is that some of his teammates are seeing real signs of progress this offseason. Running back LeSean McCoy believes his second-year signal caller looks a lot more “confident” than he did last season. That’s not uncommon for players who make the transition from mid-major college football to the NFL.
Of course, it will take more than increased confidence to improve Allen’s play. The former Wyoming star was a dynamic runner last year, but his ability to move the ball with his arm left a lot to be desired. Throwing 12 interceptions compared to just 10 touchdowns is a great way for a quarterback to lose his grip on the starting job. Allen complicated those sins by only completing just under 53 percent of his passes.
It seems like the Bills coaching staff has been very clear about their expectations for Allen heading into 2019. Head coach Sean McDermott claims his quarterback has been “well informed of what he needs to improve on.” He declined to go into specifics, but it’s clear that Allen needs to improve making the routine throws required of NFL quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
His accuracy with the football remains his biggest weakness. Not surprisingly, that was the biggest question NFL scouts had about him coming out of college. No one can argue that Allen doesn’t have terrific arm strength. What is up for debate is whether or not he can fit the ball into the tight windows afforded by cornerbacks.
The key for Allen this season will be to show solid progress. He isn’t going to suddenly transform himself into Joe Montana in terms of accuracy. That would be an unfair expectation. Instead, the Bills coaching staff needs to keep a close eye on his completion percentage. A solid jump of 5% would be a great sign that Allen has what it takes to develop into a quality NFL starter.
A significant drop in his interception rate would also be encouraging. In many ways, those things are tied together. If Allen completes more passes it’s fair to assume he’ll throw fewer picks. Boil it all down and it remains an issue of throwing accuracy.
This isn’t a definitive season for Allen, but it is a very important one in terms of his career development. If he doesn’t take a significant step forward, officials in Buffalo are going to start asking questions about whether or not they have the right quarterback to build around.