Even observing from afar the social media war between Josh Allen supporters and Josh Allen detractors will make you want to stand on top of a bus and back flip through a table. Allen, easily the rawest top passing prospect from the ultra-hyped quarterback draft class of 2018, has advanced his skills more than the other four passers picked in the first round that fateful night in April two years ago.
But, because he was so unpolished entering the league, the fact about his development begs the question -- just how good is Allen right now? The raw statistics through two games would indicate "very": 70.4% completion, 729 yards (most in the NFL) at 9.0 yards per attempt with six touchdowns and no interceptions. As a runner, he's accumulated 75 more yards on 18 carries with another score.
But the ongoing internet battle for/against Allen laughs at raw statistics. The two sides are way beyond those. And, in 2020, they should be. By now, everyone should know raw stats don't always tell the full story for a quarterback. Also a pair of games represents a tiny sample size. Oh, and Buffalo opened against the Jets and Dolphins.
Yet Allen did what the league's best quarterbacks do against bottom-feeding teams -- he scorched them. And he did so with a unstoppable mix of precise short passes, fastballs through the second level of the defense, and perfectly placed teardrops down the field.
Ahh yes, the deep ball -- Allen's Achilles heel in 2019. According to TruMedia, Allen was deemed accurate on right around 31% of his passes thrown 20-plus yards down the field last season, one of the worst figures in the league among qualifying quarterbacks. It was seen by detractors as the facet of his game that would hinder his maturation and thereby limit how good the Bills could be.
In his first two games of 2020, Allen has been accurate on 77.8% of those long throws (seven of nine). And his improved ball placement at the first two levels of the field hasn't subsided. Allen's been on target on 80.5% of throws shorter than 20 yards.
Three of his throws thus far were dropped interceptions, tied for the most in the league with three other quarterbacks, but after a season in which Allen was victimized by the highest receiver drop rate in the league (7.2%), he's already seen five of his passes dropped by Bills receivers (6.2%).
Let's move past stats for a minute -- Allen has looked completely comfortable operating Brian Daboll's offense, except for a few antsy scampers out of the pocket when he could've stayed in and surveyed longer. The rhythm, timing, and seemingly cerebral connections with Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley have been exquisite. Allen has repeatedly shown he wants to and can be a dangerous pocket passer. Given his excellence eluding oncoming defenders en route to big gains with his legs, Allen's willingness to keep his eyes up and deliver in-stride strikes is a scary proposition for opposing defenses.
Has every single pass been absolutely, positively perfect? Of course not. But the slight misfires do seem to be highlighted more with Allen by his detractors -- a clear confirmation bias grasp -- than other quarterbacks with better, more established reputations. Send out video of an Allen miss on Twitter, then and sit back and watch the retweets roll in. It's guaranteed.
But the Allen misfires have been few and very far between through two games, and they've been thoroughly outweighed by tremendous tosses of all varieties.
Buffalo's supporting cast is good -- the offensive line has pass protected solidly, and Diggs, Brown, and Beasley have a strong case for the best receiving trio in the AFC. But those elements of the Bills' roster shouldn't take away from Allen's prolific start. Why? Because it's not as if other great (young) quarterbacks thrive solely by themselves and don't rely on their blocking or their collection of pass catchers. They do.
And Allen has capitalized on plays with quality blocking and maximized the dynamic capabilities of his explosive receiving triumvirate. In short, Allen essentially couldn't have started much better. Buffalo's next four games -- vs. Rams, at Raiders, at Titans, and vs. Chiefs -- will give us a better idea of how good Allen truly is.
But through two games in 2020, the Twitter feud about Allen has been pretty lopsided as he's gotten off to a great start.