Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen's Development Makes Them Major AFC Contenders

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So. Let's all agree this is a little bit awkward. But the only way out is through.

When Josh Allen was coming out of school, the analytics community as a whole responded very, very negatively—and we here at Football Outsiders were no exception. In Football Outsiders Almanac 2018, Allen was called a "parody of an NFL quarterback prospect," referencing a QBASE projection that gave Allen a 65% chance of busting and just a 5% chance of developing into an elite passer. With horrendous accuracy at Wyoming, Allen's comparables were players such as C.J. Beathard, Connor Cook, and Christian Hackenberg. "A lot of belief has to be invested to get to the point where the Bills have a good offense two seasons from now," we wrote. Or, in other words, in 2020.

Bills fans had that belief from the start. It took stats-minded writers a little longer to come on board. I wrote the 2019 chapter covering Allen's rookie year, and while I found plenty of praise for Allen's legs, improvement over the course of the year, and flashes of highlight-play potential, I had strong negative words to say about Allen's accuracy, decision-making, and ability to handle pressure—"so many negative things he needs to overcome." All of those improved some from Year 1 to Year 2, but last year's chapter (written by Derrik Klassen) said that Allen was "unlikely to take a massive leap from Year 2 to Year 3," and that Allen would need to have a massive improvement to be "an average NFL quarterback, let alone a good one."

All of this was backed up by thoroughly researched stats and historical evidence. All of the stats and evidence were laid out in perfectly good tables. And we all know what Bills fans do to perfectly good tables.

Josh Allen's explosion into an elite passer has shifted the balance of power in the AFC. Allen blasted right past average with the third-highest passing DVOA and fourth-highest passing DYAR in the league. Those stats alone don't even scratch just how important Allen was to the...