Buffalo Bills: Things we know during this quiet week
By Scott Bryk
The Buffalo Bills are getting prepared for the start of the 2019 season, and it’s wholly apparent.
Zay Jones has reported to OTA’s bigger and stronger. He was the Buffalo Bills’ preeminent receiver last season. Resembling that of a downplay when mentioned, redirecting compliments in Josh Allen‘s direction was Zay’s humble reaction.
He mentioned that the quarterback’s conditioning and leadership level is quite noticeable. A salient amelioration in directing the receivers where to go or how to tweak a route so he can put the ball in the best possible place, making it as catch-able as possible, under the amount of pressure other teams throw at him or coverage on the wide-outs.
If Allen can get solid protection from the many new offensive linemen, an adequate running game utilizing the actual running backs, not strictly Allen himself, the Bills’ quarterback of the future may land in Orchard Park in year two. Considering the fact that a random younger Bills fan could have experienced a lifetime of events since the last franchise quarterback took snaps under center.
Let’s say that younger Bills fan could have experienced birth, ( their own) preschool, elementary school, high school. Junior college, undergraduate university, marriage, parenthood, all in an average length of time. This random fan could be going to med school or law school now, or potentially in the early years of a chosen career.
This same fan could potentially not have been born until after Jim Kelly held the press conference announcing his retirement.
As far as Allen taking that next step in his sophomore season, I make it sound easy. But of course, easier said than done. I do want to see Allen make world-class runs when things break down. That said, it needs to be the third option, more or less, based on the breakdown of the called play. Everyone enjoys seeing him run. Injuries do become an issue when quarterbacks run the first sign of a little pressure.
The goal should be executing the play called by the offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. If he needs to audible at the line of scrimmage, it should be because he sees something that jumps out at him, which demands that he change the play exposing a weakness on the defense. Also exposed should be a glaring sign that bad things will come if the play call is not changed.
His running skills are dynamic. There is also plenty of film on him now for teams to prepare to minimize the effectiveness if he is running too often and becomes extremely predictable. He is not the first athletic quarterback. Nor is he the first signal-caller sporting a cannon for an arm. Allen is certainly not the first quarterback to show flashes of pure brilliance on a team only to regress or not take the next step.
The Bills need to have actual designed plays for him to be running when they see the chance to catch a team off guard. He also will have plays break down and will be forced to take off at times and hopefully turn a broken play into a positive one.
It just needs to be pounded in his head where it is not a habit to automatically pull the ball down and run if he senses a little pressure or his targets are not immediately wide open.
Chris Brown of the Bills official website had some interesting words from the offensive coordinator Daboll about Allen;
"It’s a good thing to have is a ‘just win’ method, — You have to have that from your quarterback. But his preparation habits… even how he is around the building, from the training staff, to the cafeteria workers to the people in the weight room to the equipment guys. It’s not just the players, he’s the face of a franchise. And there’s a lot that goes with that, particularly when you’re a young guy and picked as high as he was. I think that his mindset, is to get better every day. And you know he’s got good leadership. Good ability. He’s a good guy to work with. Happy we have him."
Personally, I am very optimistic that we will see big steps From Allen this season. I base that off of how well he did after his injury where he shadowed Derick Anderson in every capacity. He did some great things after returning from his injury with minimal talent protecting him, no running game and unknown receivers. This season Allen has plenty of help for him to grow.
Expecting big steps is a great feeling potentially having your franchise guy. It does still need to consistently take place during real games as the Bills at times had high hopes for Rob Johnson, Todd Collins, Trent Edwards, and J.P. Losman.
We all know how those “future” franchise QB’s turned out.
Things We know about the Buffalo Bills This Week:
- Speed, an athleticism. Not the starting Bills quarterback, but a former walk-on at Ole Miss. Third-round tight end Dawson Knox has been doing nothing but turning heads. For good reasons, not bloopers and blunders.
- 91 players are battling hard to be part of the organization when they get down to 53 players. That is about two hockey teams that will not be sporting a Bills jersey by the end of training camp.
- Heath Farwell, the Bills Special Teams Coordinator, retired as a player at the end of the 2013 NFL season. A big obstacle for that coaching position is not knowing who will be your players until the end of the final cuts. Whoever sticks around, but not a skilled position stud risking injury, becomes what he must mold into a functioning unit. Obviously, you do not get a Steve Tasker often, so Farwell may not even know any of his players at this junction. Injuries, trades, cuts, promotions, demotions all contribute to what he will have to work with. These days, unless you have a franchise Brian Morman Pro-Bowl level punter, those key positions can change overnight for various reasons.
And that’s what we know this week. As training camps get closer, the speculation season will end.