Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has steadily garnered more attention as his NFL career has progressed. The Wyoming product started relatively slow before taking a leap and entering the talks of being considered one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in a short period of time.
There is some debate as to just how much he can continue to rise, if he can be considered an elite quarterback sooner rather than later and if he has the ability to take the Bills to the Super Bowl and come out on top.
Based on what Allen has shown as of late, that doesn’t look like something entirely out of the picture for the future.
Related: Josh Allen and NFL’s top QBs of 2022
An atypical rise for Josh Allen
It’s been a story of highs and lows in an interesting way for Allen. The quarterback has risen into a player who many have ranked within the top-10 in the league at his position. But it hasn’t been a consistent upward ascension. Allen’s first two seasons were not impressive on paper, and his last two years almost seem like they should be flipped where the stat line is concerned.
In his rookie season of 2018, Allen completed 52.8% of his passes for 2,074 yards with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The 2019 season saw him take a step in completion rate and touchdown-to-interception ratio. Though, the numbers and film reflected there was still plenty of work to do. Allen finished that year completing 58.8% of his passes for 3,089 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Allen made a promising jump in the next two seasons, but that’s where things get a little bit wacky. He completed 69.2% of his passes for 4,544 yards with 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020. The following season, he held a 63.3% completion rate, throwing for 4,407 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
- Josh Allen stats (2018-19): 56% completion, 5,163 passing yards, 1,141 rushing yards, 47 total TD, 21 INT, 78.2 QB rating
- Josh Allen stats (2020-21): 66% completion, 8,951 passing yards, 1,184 rushing yards, 87 total TD, 25 INT, 99.2 QB rating
What this comes down to for Allen is maintaining a high level of consistency, not taking a step back statistically and avoiding some of the valleys that showed themselves last season. One of the prime examples of that was the 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in November where Allen struggled, completing 31-of-47 passes for 264 yards with two interceptions.
He’s shown bounce back ability, though, guiding Buffalo to a 45-17 win over the New York Jets the following week. He completed 75% of his pass attempts with two touchdowns and one interception, avoiding some of the follies of the previous game.
How Josh Allen can edge his way into the elite category
Allen is well on his way to becoming a quarterback talked about as one of the best signal-callers in the NFL on a yearly basis.
He made several statements in 2021, becoming one of just six quarterbacks in the history of the league to exceed 5,000 yards and 42 touchdowns within a single season. Those 42 total touchdowns also made Allen the quarterback with one of the highest numbers in that category, second only to Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who had 45 total touchdowns in 2021.
There’s no question that Allen fits the modern era of the NFL well, which values some level of mobility, even though a quarterback doesn’t have to match the same level of running style as someone like a Lamar Jackson to succeed. And in reality, Allen checks the box on the mobility aspect in a way that puts him not far behind a player like Jackson.
Over the past four seasons, Allen has recorded 2,325 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground. In 2021, he achieved a career-high 763 rushing yards with six scores on the ground.
Allen is also among the best in the league in evading pressure. According to Next Gen Stats, Allen ranked second among quarterbacks in pressure evasion at 24.3%, behind only Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (25.8%).
On top of this, Allen has shown that he can establish himself as a passer, keeping his completion rate satisfactory or better over the past two seasons despite the initial rough patch. He’s shown to be a highly improved deep passer with a 47.1% adjusted completion rate on deep throws that ranked No. 9 among NFL quarterbacks with a minimum of 50 attempts. That’s not far off from Brady, who come in at No. 7 in the same category at 48.9%.
Allen needs to eliminate some of the really low points that seem to pop up in his play at random times. If he can do that and keep the Bills regularly in the mix in the postseason, he stands a solid chance of being more popularly tagged as “elite.”
The outlook for Josh Allen and the Bills in 2022
There’s a decent amount of hype surrounding the Bills ahead of the 2022 season, and it’s warranted. Allen is once again in the early conversation for MVP honors, which he’s been in before very recently. The Bills have found themselves as early Super Bowl favorites and have been pinned as a team that can win it all. Allen is the straw that stirs the drink when it comes to most of those predictions.
NFL analyst Chris Simms considers Allen the best NFL quarterback going into the season, noting Allen’s physical gifts.
Some things may be a bit different with the Bills promoting quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to offensive coordinator, but there’s no question that the scheme will still be centered around what Allen brings to the table.
The team has solid pieces around Allen with wide receiver Stefon Diggs serving as one of the headliners of a deep receiving corps and an offensive line with the ability to get the job done. Defensively, the Bills have overhauled their defensive front after the struggles they had on that side of the ball that were highlighted by the playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last postseason.
They’ve made the right moves. That’s especially true when talking about the signing of star outside linebacker Von Miller. He brings an instant upgrade to the defense that should show up in a big way as the NFL’s active sack leader with 115.5.
ESPN’s Football Power Index ranked the Bills as the No. 1 team in the NFL last year despite their failure to make a Super Bowl appearance, and they’ll certainly be looking to get over that hump in 2022.