Credit Josh Allen for the Buffalo Bills riding momentum the likes of which the team’s fans haven’t seen for decades. The quarterback showed drastic improvement in his third pro season, moving to near the top of the list of NFL signal-callers. He rightfully attributes some of that new-found success to receiver Stefon Diggs.
The Allen-to-Diggs connection could prosper for years to come, possibly even taking the Bills back to their first Super Bowl since the 1993 season. The journey begins with an AFC wild-card home game against the Indianapolis Colts.
A rising tide for the Buffalo Bills
It speaks volumes about where the team has been the past couple of decades that the only player the Buffalo Bills have landed on the All-Pro team first team more than once this century is a punter (Brian Moorman, 2005 and ’06). Even the lesser Pro Bowl team has constituted rarified air, with a total of six Bills making it over the past three years.
The tide is shifting. Quarterback Josh Allen, receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, cornerback Tre’Davious White, and return specialist Andre Roberts all earned places on the AFC Pro Bowl roster last month. Diggs became the first Bills receiver ever to earn first-team All-Pro recognition. Allen, White, and Roberts made the second team along with Bills receiver Cole Beasley.
It’s the sort of recognition that comes along with a 13-3 record, Buffalo’s best regular-season work since its first two trips to the Super Bowl in 1990 and ‘91.
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have stood out for the Buffalo Bills
While there were flashes of his potential during the first two seasons, few people were sold on Josh Allen before the 2020 season. Drafted seventh overall in 2018 out of Wyoming, Allen took over the starting quarterback position early in his rookie season and finished with 10 touchdown passes but 12 interceptions.
The 2019 season was better with 20 TDs and just nine picks, but people expected more as the upgraded Bills roster took shape. The best that could be said for Allen was that he was putting his Ben Roethlisberger-like physique to good use as a runner, grinding out 1,141 yards and 17 touchdowns over two seasons.
It all began to change in the 2020 regular season that earned the Bills the AFC division title and a home playoff game vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Allen produced the first eight 300-yard passing days of his NFL career. He finished with 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs was also producing at a prolific pace. Acquired in an offseason trade with the Minnesota Vikings, Diggs blew past his previous career high of 102 catches to pull down 127 receptions for 1,535 yards – both league highs. Most impressively, he did all that on 166 targets to compile the best catch percentage of his six-year career.
Josh Allen credits Stefon Diggs for raising the QB’s game
The tandem of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs was a huge factor in the Buffalo Bills’ 13-3 regular season. Four of the quarterback’s eight 300-yard days came in games in which Diggs booked 100 or more yards in receptions.
The Bills are sure to pick up Allen’s fifth-year option in the upcoming offseason, and the final three seasons of Diggs’ five-year, $72 million extension that Spotrac.com reports he signed while with the Minnesota Vikings will fit comfortably under Buffalo’s salary cap.
Too, Diggs’ personality appears to be a great fit in the locker room. Labeled a malcontent in his final season in Minnesota because of his frustration with the Vikings’ move to a run-oriented offense, the receiver has caused zero problems in Western New York.
“I mean, he’s definitely added a lot of joy,” Allen said recently. “That’s the first thing he’s added. Just being around him, he’s got an infectious personality. He’s just always happy, great energy, always joking around and trying to make people laugh.
“The joy, that’s number one. I think my swag has (also) gone up just a little bit being around him.”
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.