Josh Allen made two things clear when the Bills began their voluntary offseason workout program earlier this week. He said that his commitment to football and the Bills is at an all-time high. The Bills quarterback also said that he plans to alter his playing style as he moves further into his career.
Allen’s comments regarding his commitment may stem from some outside criticism following his offseason golf excursions. Allen’s remarks about changing his game has to do with the physical toll it has taken on him. And while it has led to both individual and team success, Allen’s gunslinger mentality has at times prevented the Bills from advancing further in the playoffs.
“I know this sounds crazy, but I’m getting older,” Allen said, via the team’s website. “It’s like I can’t continue to do this. I know when I’m using my youth I feel like I can, but over the course of my career, I’m going to have to learn to adapt and change. And I’ve always had the mindset of I’ve been a football player first and a quarterback second, and at some point that’s going to have to switch. When that point is I don’t know, I guess I’ll let my body tell me.”
As he alluded to, Allen is trying to find the balance between maximizing his immense talent while also learning how best to use it. There’s no doubting Allen’s ability as a quarterback. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler who has a 54-24 regular-season record as the Bills’ starting quarterback. Along with being a strong-armed passer, Allen is a gifted runner with 38 career rushing touchdowns and a 5.7-yards-per-carry average.
Allen’s powers, however, can also be his Kryptonite. In 77 games, Allen has 60 interceptions that include 29 picks over the past two seasons. He threw more interceptions (4) than touchdown passes (3) in Buffalo’s two postseason games this past January. The Bills barely beat undermanned Miami in the wild card round before being blown out by visiting Cincinnati in the divisional round.
More than interceptions, Allen has paid the price for his fearlessness running the ball. There are certainly times to throw caution to the wind (see John Elway’s helicopter run late in Super Bowl XXXII), but more often than not, the smarter call is to play it safe while playing the long game.
Allen isn’t the only quarterback that has had to learn how to harness his game. A quarter-century ago, Brett Favre lead the Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls after reeling in his game. He never fully got rid of his gunslinger mentality (ask Vikings fans about the 2009 NFC title game), but Favre nevertheless enjoyed a 20-year-career that in 2016 was immortalized in Canton, Ohio.
Allen is hoping to have a similar story during his career. So are Buffalo fans who are hoping that Allen can deliver the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth in 30 years.
“At the end of the day, it’s just being smart with the football, smart with the body, and understanding situational football really better,” Allen said. “If there’s a third down where we got to get it, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get it. But if it’s a second and 10, I got 9 yards to go, no need to put the shoulder down and try it. We can get it on third and 1 with our players and trusting the guys around me. And if not, so be it, we’ll put Von Miller back on the field and let him go to work too.”