Bills QB Josh Allen is changing some skeptical minds

Terez PaylorSenior NFL writer

In the video atop this page, you can find my breakdown of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who played well enough to help the Bills topple the Jacksonville Jaguars — and nemesis Jalen Ramsey24-21 on Sunday.

I’ve long been lukewarm on Allen, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, due to his super-inconsistent accuracy, middling collegiate production and the NFL’s willingness to overlook both and draft him high anyway.

While all his negatives were on display in Sunday’s win, his strengths — athleticism/size and strong arm — were too, and I’ve gotta tell you … I kinda like Allen now.

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1. Coming around on Josh Allen kinda, sorta

Allen’s ability to escape pressure has translated better than expected at this level, and when he gets out of the pocket, he’s a real threat as a chunk runner and vertical passer. Defenses will always have to worry about the deep ball with Allen, who can reach any portion of the field at all times, and that alone will help unclog things underneath and help offset some of his problems. In today’s wide-open NFL, a creative play-caller could score points with Allen as is, let alone in three or four years.

But he’s not a perfect player, and I cover that in the video, too. My biggest concern with Allen are his slow eyes and accuracy. I have no idea if either will get better. While some say both can be improved significantly with reps and tweaking of fundamentals, there are others who say it’s easier said than done.

Josh Allen’s scrambling ability is something defenses will have to plan for when facing the Bills. (AP)
Josh Allen’s scrambling ability is something defenses will have to plan for when facing the Bills. (AP)

Allen’s accuracy issues are the most concerning. It’s the most important trait for a quarterback, and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, who was recently making the rounds to talk about his involvement in this amusing Tide ad, agrees.

“I’ve always felt the most important quality is accuracy,” Aikman told me. “If a quarterback can’t throw the ball where he wants to throw it, then there’s a lot of things that [conceptually] that go out the window. I think arm strength is probably way down the list, in my opinion.”

Allen has lots of the latter, and much less of the former. But if he can make improvements as it relates to his accuracy and processing speed, then the Bills will hit on this pick.

2. The return of Rob Gronkowski, and Jamal Adams being a boss

Tight end Rob Gronkowski didn’t exactly blow up in his return to the New England Patriots on Sunday (from back and ankle injuries), catching three passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

But his impact was felt, and it went beyond this impressive 34-yard touchdown grab in which he split the two-deep coverage:

“Gronk did a great job running up the field — I saw him get by the middle linebacker and I saw the corner squeeze in and I threw it,” Tom Brady said. “Gronk is probably the only tight end in the league that can make that play.”

Gronkowski, who was targeted seven times, is a serious threat over the middle, someone who commands a lot of attention, especially in the red zone.

“There are a lot of eyes going to him — he’s probably the best tight end to ever suit up,” receiver Julian Edelman said. “Anytime he’s on the field he’s going to attract attention and it helps everyone.”

However, there is such a thing as a Gronk Neutralizer, of sorts, and the Jets are a handful of teams who have one in safety Jamal Adams, a budding star who won some significant battles with Gronk on Sunday:

Few teams have a safety capable of handling Gronk 1-on-1. One such team, the Kansas City Chiefs, has one in Eric Berry, who is expected to return to the fold soon following a heel injury.

Adams has long been compared with Berry — the comparisons are legit — and it will be interesting to see if Berry could do the same with Gronk if the two teams meet in the playoffs. If so, that could be a significant boon for a 9-2 Chiefs team that lost a 43-40 shootout to the Patriots (8-3) in October.

3. The athleticism on display in Seattle-Carolina

There was no shortage of mind-boggling, gravity-defying plays in the Seattle Seahawks’ 30-27 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and I couldn’t have been more here for it.

First of all, you had a big fella — Seahawks defensive tackle Nazair Jones (No. 92), a healthy scratch for most of the season — splitting the double team like a boss.

Then, there was Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald — a Kansas grad! — making an impressive one-hand interception:

Then, on the very next play you had Seahawks running back Chris Carson flipping in the air on the tail end of a 15-yard run and SOMEHOW LANDING ON HIS FREAKING FEET.

This was a really fun game to watch, if you couldn’t tell.

4. Andrew Catalon channelling his inner Brent Musberger

Nothing gets me more excited than Fat Guy Touchdowns. Seriously, they’re the best.

One of my favorite clips on YouTube is one of Brent Musberger’s best calls, which features the rumbling, bumbling, stumbling 74-yard fumble return touchdown by Michigan State defensive tackle Domata Peko against Michigan in 2005.

“Take it home! Big fellas does it! Yeah, the big fella!” Musberger crows.

So imagine my excitement when watching Ravens-Raiders, when CBS announcer Andrew Catalon channeled his inner Musberger — full-throated bellow and all — on linebacker Terrell Suggs’ 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown:

Catalon is quickly emerging as one of the more excitable announcers in pro football. Check out another call he made later in the game, when Matt Judon recorded his third sack on three plays and went all Bo Jackson on the Raiders by running into the tunnel, a moment perfectly captured by Catalon’s “He’s done! His work here is done.”

Let’s overlook the fact Judon ran off the field before third down. (The Raiders, down 17 with 4:36 left, ended up gaining 8 yards on the next play and punting so it didn’t matter.)

Football is trying to be fun again!

Defensive backs might want to keep their head on a swivel around the Steelers’ Antonio Brown. (Getty Images)
Defensive backs might want to keep their head on a swivel around the Steelers’ Antonio Brown. (Getty Images)

5. Antonio Brown’s blocking

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown is known for many things, like his ridiculous work ethic, mercurial personality and prolific receiving ability, for starters. One thing you don’t often hear about is his blocking.

There’s a reason for that. Brown is passable as a run blocker, but he’s nasty enough to occasionally light somebody up when he has the opportunity. Watch Brown (No. 84) emerge from the bottom of the screen to decimate Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. after fellow receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster hauled in the deep ball and approaches the 50-yard line:

Smith-Schuster got the glory for his 97-yard touchdown — as he should, considering he outraced two Broncos to the end zone — but football is the ultimate team game, and it’s unlikely he would have scored had Brown not given him an assist.

THINGS I ENJOYED ARCHIVE
WEEK 11: Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Chiefs-Rams gave us glorious forecast of the future
WEEK 10: This is why Rams’ Todd Gurley is mentioned in MVP talk
WEEK 9: Here’s how Dez Bryant can make Saints scarier
WEEK 8: How Golden Tate, 3 others dealt at NFL trade deadline can impact their teams
WEEK 7: These Amari Cooper plays can help Dak Prescott, Cowboys soar
WEEK 6: Flying to the football, Steelers’ nasty blocking & Matt Nagy channeling Andy Reid
WEEK 5: A Tale of two Cams (Newton and Erving)
WEEK 4: The juice of Patriots RB Sony Michel and lineman who slowed down Von Miller
WEEK 3: Mahomes magic and Lane Johnson’s acting chops
WEEK 2: Dallas’ deep ball, and the ridiculousness of Mahomes and Saquon
WEEK 1: Andy Reid’s goal-line circus and more

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