Why Josh Allen's response to a loss to the Patriots has been a turning point for the Bills offense
Allen has shown significant growth as a quarterback in his second year in Buffalo
Bills quarterback Josh Allen is having a breakout season in his second year as a starter, and his expedited growth and in-game maturity date back to an early-season loss at New England. Allen's response to his turnover-filed outing against the Patriots in Week 4 has inspired his coaches and teammates, according to team sources, and has become a turning point in Buffalo's 9-3 season.
Allen, whom the Bills moved up to select in the first round of the 2018 draft, has been one of the league's top quarterbacks since that 16-10 loss to the Patriots, in which he threw three critical interceptions. His reaction to that defeat -- in the aftermath, he discussed his performance and ways to get better with multiple coaches and members of the staff -- has resulted in Allen forcing fewer throws, making better decisions with the football and grasping when to play for field position and, in essence, defer to the Bills' powerful defense.
That defensive struggle with the vaunted Patriots proved to be a perfect teaching moment for the young quarterback, who sources said went back and compared his decision-making to that of Tom Brady in Week 4. He discussed with coaches the ways in which Brady knew when to eat the ball, when to chuck it away and when to, basically, understand that it would be better to not force the issue on a particular drive given the flow of the game.
"He learned a lot from that loss about how to manage the game and seeing how Tom Brady handled some of those same situations," one team source said. "That was a defensive game, obviously, and sometimes you just have to let your defense win. The light really came on after that."
Allen came from a background on talent-thin squads in high school and college where he had to take the game over on nearly every play in nearly every week if they were going to have any chance of winning. That bled into the early part of his career, including this season, when he would tend to make mistakes early in games with the adrenaline flowing. He's curbed that tendency greatly since the loss to the Patriots, and the results have been staggering.
Since Week 5, Allen ranks seventh in the NFL with a quarterback rating of 98.7. After throwing three touchdowns and six interceptions in the first four weeks, he has tossed 13 TDs to just two interceptions since, the third-best ratio in the NFL in that span (behind only Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers). Allen's interception percentage of 0.9 (two picks on 235 attempts) since Week 4 ranks fourth in the entire NFL.
Allen came into the league with some questions about his accuracy and willingness to throw balls into heavy traffic, which he has clearly taken to heart. Those changes, coupled with his immense athleticism and ability to run the football, and some significant upgrades at receiver, have given the Bills a much more dynamic attack that has them still in the hunt for the AFC East title and controlling their own destiny for the top wild-card spot.
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