The Buffalo Bills have the hopeful future of the franchise in Josh Allen. Should the rookie be the starting quarterback in Week 1?
Starting on the day the Buffalo Bills selected Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the question was when would he take the reins as the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills.
Would the Bills take a slow approach with Allen and let him watch and learn and sit for at least a portion (if not all) of the 2018 season or rather would they insert him into the starting role for Week 1 of the 2018 season and have him learn and develop on the job?
It goes without saying that the Bills and head coach Sean McDermott would not hand over anything. Sean McDermott hands nothing over and instead makes all of his players compete and earn their position.
Allen wasn’t going to be handed the starting quarterback job simply because he was the No. 7 overall draft pick and drafted to eventually and hopefully become the franchise quarterback of the Buffalo Bills. Allen would have to earn that job and prove to his teammates and coaching staff that he gives the Bills the best chance to win.
With that being said the question is whether or not he should start Week 1 even if he may give the Bills the best chance to win games this season. Could starting Allen hinder his development?
Would the Bills be better off dealing with a rough season with McCarron or Peterman at the helm if it meant that Allen would be better in the long run? These are all parts of the equation when the Bills ultimately decide who will be the starting quarterback to open the 2018 season.
Some seem to think that there is a unilateral answer to how to develop a quarterback. Some think that all rookie quarterbacks should sit and some think that they should all play right away and learn on the job.
Personally, I think that the correct answer is what works best for the prospect that you are developing. You should not try to fit his development into some preconceived box just because that method may have worked for another prospect. I think that the best method (and one that the Bills will most certainly end up employing) is that you should evaluate your prospect and do what is best for him based on a number of factors.
One factor is whether or not his flaws can be corrected while playing in actual NFL games that matter, or if they it would be better for him to work them out during practices and extensive coaching sessions.
For some prospects it would be better to get coaching during the week for these and then apply that to actual game action rather than have to wait until the preseason games to apply what they have learned.
Another factor is if the prospect has the mental makeup to be able to shake off the inevitable mistakes and blunders along the way and continue to develop and get better. If the prospect you are developing is not mentally strong enough to overcome adversity and mistakes then it is probably best to sit them until they may be more refined and ready for play.
If the prospect uses the adversity and mistakes to drive him and make him better then that shows you he probably, if not certainly, has the mental makeup to start from day 1. For example, ex-Bills quarterback EJ Manuel was not known to have the strongest mental makeup. It is clear that his early struggles contributed to his crumbling and failing as a prospect.
On the other hand, Giants quarterback Eli Manning had extreme adversity to start his career but he overcame it to win two Super Bowl titles and two Super Bowl MVP awards. It honestly all depends on if the prospect can mentally handle potential early failure.
A third factor to consider is if Allen honestly gives the Bills the best chance to win games. Sean McDermott has long said he will play the players that give the Bills the best chance to win games. If Josh Allen clearly shows his teammates and coaches that he does give the Bills the best chance to win then it will be awfully hard to not play him starting Week 1.
McDermott has always practiced what he has preached. He insists that competition drives roster decisions and that he will always field the roster that he believes gives his team the best chance to win. I find it hard to believe that he would employ a different set of rules for Josh Allen. Just like he would make Allen earn the starting job, he would certainly let him have it if he earned it.
Additionally, it would be very difficult to preach competition in a locker room of NFL players and then not award the job to the player who obviously earned the job.
Ultimately, the Bills will decide what they think is the best path for Josh Allen to become the franchise quarterback the Bills drafted him to become.
I believe that if he shows he is the best player for the job, that he has the mental toughness to overcome early struggles, and that his flaws can be corrected while playing in games that matter he will win the starting job and start Week 1 in Baltimore.
In essence, I believe it will ultimately boil down to Josh Allen himself if he starts Week 1.