Last week in this space, I finished this column with the following sentence: “If it’s a sign of the step Josh Allen intends to take this season, lookout.”
Well, it’s still early in the 2020 season, but Allen is playing like an MVP candidate through two weeks.
Allen followed up his 300-yard passing performance in in the season opener by throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Unlike last week, the Bills’ third-year quarterback uncorked a number of deep throws and accuracy was not a problem.
It was thought by many, including me, that some better deep ball placement this season could really help Allen take the next step in his career. It was interesting that Allen had such a good game in the Week 1 win over the New York Jets without really even taking a big downfield shot.
That changed on Sunday in Miami. Stefon Diggs caught a deep ball. John Brown caught a bomb for a touchdown. Isaiah McKenzie had a long catch-and-run. Allen even lofted a perfect 26-yard pass to Cole Beasley.
As it turned out, the Bills really needed the production from their passing game to beat the Dolphins. Especially in the third quarter, Miami really started carving up the Bills defense. So much so that Miami eventually took the lead 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
A depleted defense, whose depth, especially at linebacker with Tremaine Edmonds and Matt Milano missing the game with injuries, seemed to be running on empty. Now the Bills would need an answer from their offense if they were going to improve to 2-0 on the season.
The first play of the ensuing drive was a 47-yard pass to Diggs and the Bills were back in front just a few minutes later. The catch that rookie receiver Gabriel Davis made in the end zone was one of the best plays of the day. Davis had to lay all the way out to reach the ball, then did an outstanding job to control it, not letting it hit the ground.
The Bills being open to Davis deserving snaps is one of my favorite sneaky cool storylines of the young season. Davis seemed to be a story almost every day during training camp. Despite that, with the number of receivers the Bills had, lead by Diggs, Brown, and Beasley, I wondered what kind of role there might be for a talented rookie like Davis. Two games in and no, Davis isn’t filling the stat sheet, but he is getting snaps, which means the Bills are using four wide receivers often enough. I might bet that Davis developing as he has is a big reason the Bills feel comfortable flooding the field with wideouts.
Honestly, what football team am I writing about?
So many seasons of begging for just a competent passing game have been buried under more than 700 yards from Allen through two games. Allen has six touchdowns passing and zero interceptions. He became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to open the season with more than 700 yards passing, six touchdowns and no interceptions through the first two weeks.
On passes that travel 20 yards or more in the air so far this season, Allen’s numbers are pretty gaudy. 11-of-12 for 317 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Yes, it’s a long season. Playing like an MVP candidate for a couple of weeks and being an actual MVP candidate in December can be very different things. Allen needed to take a step this year and so far, he’s taken a leap. If it turns back into a step, that still might be enough to make the Bills real contenders.
If Allen keeps leaping?
I’ll say it again, lookout.