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The Buffalo Bills‘ starting quarterback in Week 1, whoever it will be, should get ready to take some hits.
Rookie Josh Allen didn’t do anything on Sunday to earn the opening-day start. The Bills offense did nothing with Allen in the game. That isn’t all his fault. He was under pressure just about every snap. Allen’s day ended with his head slammed to the turf and spotters calling down to the field for Allen to be removed and checked for a concussion.
Allen was cleared after being checked for a concussion, but he didn’t play in the second half. It’s notable that Allen was on the bench but the rest of the starters began the second half with Nathan Peterman at quarterback.
With two weeks before the season opener, the Bills have an uncertain quarterback situation.
Josh Allen struggles in first preseason start
The stats from Allen’s first half were ugly. He was sacked five times. The Bills had 81 total yards of offense and were down 20-0 to the Cincinnati Bengals at the half. The most glaring number might be that the Bills had minus-5 net passing yards in the first half.
Bills coach Sean McDermott blamed the supporting cast when he spoke with Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver. According to Oliver, McDermott said Allen didn’t have any help, that the receivers didn’t fight for contested balls and the line didn’t block for him.
That’s true, but the rookie didn’t help himself out either.
Allen didn’t get help, but he made mistakes
While Allen had a lot of pressure on him throughout the first half, at times he held the ball too long. A veteran might have known to get the ball out before the rush got home, though on some plays Allen didn’t have much of a chance.
Allen acknowledged his role in those sacks.
“I didn’t do a good enough job getting the ball out on time and getting it to my playmakers,” Allen said, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak. “Holding onto the ball is not going to be too great, most of the time.”
Allen misfired on some passes too. There was a sequence in which Allen underthrew a deep receiver and was almost picked off. That was surprising considering the rookie already has one of the best arms in the NFL. He overcompensated on the next pass, and threw his best fastball over the middle when he should have taken something off it. The pass sailed past his receiver for an incompletion.
Allen finished 6-of-12 for 34 yards.
It would be hard to justify giving him the starting job after that, if the Bills had any hopes he would make the decision easy for them.
What will the Bills’ QB plan be this season?
Allen’s day ended when he was under pressure, threw the ball away but was brought down by Bengals end Carlos Dunlap. Allen slammed to the turf and he immediately reached for his head. The spotters didn’t catch it right away, because Allen stayed in to hand it off on the next play, but then the game was stopped and he was removed.
Even though Allen was cleared for a concussion, there wasn’t much positive to take from his day. Allen got the start, in part because AJ McCarron is hurt but it also seemed the Bills wanted to see if he could do enough to earn the starting job. After the Bills posted four first downs in his half of work and didn’t come close to scoring, the Bills would have to ignore everything they saw Sunday to give Allen that Week 1 start.
McCarron could be ready by then, since he didn’t have a broken collarbone as first feared when he got hurt last week.
Peterman is still an option, though he’s not exciting. He made some plays against the Bengals’ backups on Sunday, but he’s unlikely to have much success with the Bills’ below-average offensive cast.
The Bills also have to consider what’s best for Allen’s development. Everyone assumed, coming out of Wyoming, Allen would need time to sit and learn. Playing behind a terrible offensive line, which lost three starters since last season, wouldn’t be ideal. Even if the Bills believe Allen is their best quarterback already, it might not be prudent to let him get pounded in regular-season games like he did on Sunday.
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