Josh Allen reflects on his growth in Year 3

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On Sunday, Jacksonville edge rusher Josh Allen will be trying to bring down a quarterback who shares his name — albeit, in a more recognizable manner. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen is in the midst of a fantastic follow-up to his breakout season last year, and he’s a real MVP candidate once again. But he’ll be facing against the other Allen, who brought down Seattle quarterback Geno Smith twice last week in what was his best game of the year.

“I know we’re about to play against another freaking Josh [Allen]. Got a little beef with that but he’s been a helluva player,” Allen told Pro Football Focus. “You know, I definitely wanna be one of those guys that people talk about and people know about. I want to be respected by my peers. I know it’s not given. I know I have to work it and I’m gonna work my ass off just to be the best out there and get my name called as, ‘OK, this dude’s a top guy in the NFL that you need to keep an eye on.’ So, that’s one of my goals, earning the respect of my peers and go out there and have fun.”

Allen’s 91.4 grade from PFF over the last three games is the third-highest among defenders, and after an injury-plagued sophomore season in 2020, Allen could be in the middle of a breakout season. Per PFF, he also has a 25.3% pass-rushing win percentage (ranking sixth), 11.0 pass-rush productivity figure (sixth), and an 18.7% pressure rate (seventh).

“I know they know that I can rush, but I have to be the one to know, ‘OK, you can rush your ass off, Josh. Just go out there every play and just win your one-on-ones.’ And that’s what I try to do consistently, and when those opportunities come, I have to make a play,” Allen said.

Allen told PFF that getting better at finishing doesn’t just mean adding sacks to his stat sheet; he also wants to get his hand on the ball and force fumbles. That was a strength of his in college at Kentucky, where he forced 11 in his final three seasons. He forced three as a rookie but has none in the two years since.

“It’s all about the ball,” Allen said. “That’s the real focus for every top pass rusher that I’ve ever talked to. That’s the only reason why I’m here, that I got drafted in the top 10. It’s just all about the ball, especially when you’re rushing the passer.

“When you get the ball out, if you think about it, if you get the ball out it’s a strip, sack fumble, scoop and score, fumble recovery, you know what I’m saying? That’s giving your team back the ball, that’s putting points on the board for yourself, and that’s giving an opportunity for the offense to come back and the defense to get off the field. Finishing means a lot, you’ve got to get the ball. That’s how I look at it. The ball’s the game, whoever has the ball controls the game. So go get that ball back, control this game and win it.”

Allen’s play is starting to reflect the player he was drafted to be, and with K’Lavon Chaisson struggling on the other side, Allen must develop into a franchise pass rusher. Right now, he’s playing like a guy you can build a defense around, and if he can finish plays with just a bit more consistency, he has all the tools to be an elite edge rusher in this league.