Let the Josh Allen era begin in Buffalo.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott confirmed to the media on Wednesday that Allen has been named the starting quarterback. The rookie and seventh overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft will play against the L.A. Chargers this weekend at New Era Field, the first start of his young career. Allen completed six passes out of 15 and threw for 74 yards against the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday.
The Bills originally named Nathan Peterman the starter to begin the 2018 season, but he mustered only a total of 24 passing yards and two interceptions in his performance. The second-year quarterback was benched in favor of Allen in the third quarter.
The Bills are coming off a 47-3 defeat to the Ravens in which their offense managed only 153 total yards of offense.
Joe B's Take
- For the Buffalo Bills, there's no going back now. The Josh Allen era for the organization has begun -- likely far earlier than they anticipated it would. The seventh overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Allen will make his first career start on Sunday.
Is he ready for the light of day? Is the team around him prepared for a rookie to start? Would the Bills have waited if they had their druthers?
None of it matters now. All that matters is that the Bills will begin to have their answer about Allen and if he can be the franchise quarterback that the team has been waiting for since the days of Jim Kelly.
After watching the film from the Week One performance against the Baltimore Ravens, it was plain to see that Allen was the better of the two quarterbacks -- although that isn't saying much considering Nathan Peterman couldn't get anything to work in his 32 snaps on the field. However, it was also apparent that the team around the quarterback, on offense anyway, had significant areas of weakness that you'd prefer to get figured out before you subject a rookie quarterback to being the full-time starter.
You can see the grades for yourself here, but on the offensive line, 40-percent of the starting lineup just had a horrible game. Center Ryan Groy and right guard John Miller we constant weaknesses during the blowout. Magnifying the offensive line problem, the Bills run game never established itself, and the top two options of the passing game -- wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Charles Clay -- were nothing more than ghosts.
If you're keeping track, I just listed four of the team's ten starters besides quarterback -- and that's without mentioning that the right tackle, the team's other starting wide receiver, and the overall effectiveness of the offense still hasn't been proven.
Allen and the Bills have to battle, quite ferociously, the potential bad habits that might form with sub-par teammates surrounding the young quarterback. If they don't do so correctly, it may well stunt his growth in specific areas -- and the one that we already identified in the Week One loss is the penchant for leaving the pocket prematurely to try instead to make a play with his legs.
Even though it would have gone over poorly, and it likely would have been ugly in the interim, the Bills probably gave serious thought to giving Peterman at least another start -- to see if the offense around the quarterback could start to figure itself out a bit more and to avoid those bad habits with Allen from potentially forming. However, none of that matters now.
Allen has to show, as a 22-year-old rookie, that he can overcome the weaknesses of the less talented offense around him and make them into a more effective unit. That's what you get when you decide to start the player this early on into their career -- because the team has now deemed him to be ready in almost every way for him to lead the franchise.
And if you'll allow me to put the Captain Obvious hat on for a few sentences, this isn't a dip the toes into the water to see if the water is warm enough to swim type of situation. The Bills are effectively doing a bellyflop into the pool by starting Allen.
They cannot go back and forth with having him as the starting quarterback of the franchise -- they can't EJ Manuel the guy. If they do, that is a critical error because you can't mess with a young quarterback's confidence like that.
From here and into the future, the only way he should come out of the lineup now is if he's too injured to play, or it has become apparent that he's closer than being a bust of a draft pick than a hit. Captain Obvious hat, off.
Allen seems to have the personality to deal with a moment like that, at least that's how he comes across to his teammates. He never appears to let the moment get too big for him, almost naive, though in a good way.
However, no matter what, now we'll always think back to the moment that the Bills decided to plug Josh Allen into the starting lineup and the terms surrounding it in which they made the determination. Did they pull the Allen tab too early? Is it going to spoil the long-term vision they had for him just for the sake of short-term relief?
We'll never honestly know the answer to that question, but to me, it's clear that the Bills are pressing Allen into duty earlier than perhaps some in the organization would have liked -- but they had their hand forced by the worst opening game in franchise history.
Now they have to hope that their hope for the franchise can rise above all those extraneous factors over time, and rescue the organization from the fertile ground of mediocre quarterback play that has resided in Orchard Park for far too long.
And it all starts on Sunday. No pressure.