For the first time in a long time, the Buffalo Bills are the favorites to emerge from the AFC East in the NFL. That’s mostly because the New England Patriots, who have long held a stranglehold over the division, are struggling. But don’t sell these Bills short: Behind young quarterback Josh Allen, they’re looking better each week.
Allen is developing nicely as a pro QB, but there was a time when many observers doubted him. From now on, anyone who publicly expresses misgivings about Josh Allen might want to think twice before they speak.
Allen was one of many quarterbacks selected in a QB-rich 2018 NFL Draft. That year saw Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson come off the board with Allen. According to Pro Football Reference, Allen went in the middle of that pack, at seven, to the Bills in the first round that year.
Though he displayed plenty of talent playing for Wyoming in college, Allen was seen as something of a project. He for sure had a big arm that could translate to the NFL game. But scouts doubted him in his downfield accuracy. Allen had a penchant for turning the ball over. This continued into his early career. In his first season, he started 11 games and had 12 turnovers. Compare that to only 10 touchdowns, and the early returns felt like the critics might have been right.
Which players called him out?
Jalen Ramsey, now a cornerback for the Los Angeles Rams, had a negative take on Allen’s play as a quarterback. Before Allen had even played a down, Ramsey revealed in an interview with GQ his thoughts about the young passer. He was not kind in his assessment:
“I think [Buffalo Bills draft pick Josh] Allen is trash. I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me. We play them this year, and I’m excited as hell. I hope he’s their starting quarterback.”
Ramsey wasn’t the only one. According to Bleacher Report, when Allen was drafted, Jets safety Jamal Adams tweeted he couldn’t wait to catch Allen’s passes.
Why players should think twice about criticizing Josh Allen
One of the best parts about the NFL is that when players call each other out, they often get a chance to exact revenge. Allen saw the opportunity to prove his haters wrong, and he grabbed it. Bills writer Ryan Talbot took to Twitter to point out that both Ramsey and Adams had played against Allen after disrespecting him. Here’s how Allen fared against them:
- Against Adams: 31 for 38, 415 yards passing, four total touchdowns
- Against Ramsey: 24 for 31, 311 passing yards, five total touchdowns, a single interception
Did Allen draw extra motivation to outplay both men after they criticized him? It’s hard to say, but a guess is he didn’t. The likelier answer is that Allen is simply a solid, professional quarterback. These games weren’t outliers — he’s had others like them. The fact is, now that Allen and the Bills are playing better, critics might’ve been flat-out wrong about him. Also, it could be that some players indeed need more time to develop.
After scouts and other players took an early-career stance that Allen was a project, it could simply be that the project has panned out. That’s good news for Bills fans and bad news for opposing defensive backs.