Josh Allen's return to the Bills after being out more than a month with an elbow injury had many wondering how the rookie quarterback would fare against the league's fourth-ranked defense from Jacksonville.
While he completed only eight of 19 passes for 160 yards, he added another dimension to the offense with his quarterback team-record 99 yards running the ball and accounted for two touchdowns. The performance left his head coach happy with how he played.
"I thought he was on time going through his reads, going through his progressions: first read, second read," said head coach Sean McDermott. "Certainly, there’s some plays that he would like to have back, but overall, again, coming off of that hiatus in being out, I thought he was on time with most of those decisions and going through the proper progressions. I thought all-in-all, some good moments from Josh. Certainly some room for improvement, and that’s what we’ll go back to work at this week."
Allen flashed big play capability with his arm on a beautiful 75-yard touchdown strike to Robert Foster in which he released the ball just as he was hammered by Jacksonville defenders. He also used his legs to scramble on a key 45-yard run. His willingness to fearlessly take on tacklers provides a spark, but it also comes with concern about the risk of injury.
"We don’t want him to get hurt. There’s got to be an understanding that those build up over time," McDermott said. "I’ve been around two mobile quarterbacks before – both Cam [Newton] and Donovan [McNabb] – and that’s an ongoing conversation what seems like every week. How much running is too much? How much is not enough? There’s a fine line in there that we have to continue to try and find every week. One week, it could be more than we want, and one week, it may be less. We’ve just got to continue to drill down on that."
The rookie’s demeanor was also noticeable — an infectious energy and enthusiasm that seemed to galvanize his teammates.
"That’s huge from a leadership position, number one, and just a spark," McDermott said. "I know the defense sees that, the special teams and his guys on offense see it. He’s a guy you want to be around, you want to play for. When given the opportunity, he makes plays."