Positive strides have already been made in Josh Allen‘s second NFL season but the Buffalo Bills quarterback looks to grow before our very eyes Saturday when he faces the Houston Texans on Wild Card Weekend.
“It’s the same game we’ve been playing since the beginning of the year — still the game of football,” Allen said ahead of his first postseason game, via ESPN. “The dimensions are the same. We’ve had the same plays that we had all year, we’re not trying to do anything different. We’re not trying to switch up practice routines. You dance with who brought you. We got to go out there and execute — that is what it comes down to. … Trust the game plan that Coach put in and go from there.”
Allen led the Bills to their first 10-win season of the millennium in 2019, and progressed in his development under center when compared to his error-prone rookie season. Allen finished this year with 20 touchdowns and added nine rushing scores to keep Buffalo afloat for a Wild Card bid, which is only the second time since the year 2000 Buffalo has made the postseason. For a franchise that has been looking for long-term QB since Jim Kelly, it’s been a promising start for Allen, who was drafted seventh overall in 2018.
Now Allen looks to get the Bills their first playoff win in 24 years, and the team is rallying behind the 23-year-old.
“Josh, he’s more focused right now. I think he’s treating it like another game, not trying to put too much pressure on himself,” said wide receiver John Brown, who led the team in receptions (72) and yards (1,060). “The way he carries himself, you can see the confidence and you can see the excitement — going to the playoffs for the first time in his second year. You’ve just got to stay calm. There’s going to be a lot of turns in the game, it’s going to be a different type of atmosphere, a different type of playing style, a lot of players running to the ball. It’s win or go home. … I’m excited for him.”
Allen goes up against a Houston defense that has struggled. The Texans allowed the fifth-most total yards in the NFL this season and rank in the bottom half in points allowed (24.1). Houston has had their share of injuries and hope to get a boost from star defensive end J.J. Watt, who set to make a return since leaving Week 8 with a torn pectoral muscle. But opportunity is there for the taking for a Bills rushing attack that averaged 128.4 yards per game thanks to their running QB and change-of-pace duo of running backs in rookie Devin Singletary and veteran Frank Gore. Coupled with one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Bills mindset and identity isn’t all that hard to figure out, but it will take a disciplined game from Allen for Buffalo to be successful in January.
“He’s made a jump this year and a big part of one’s success starts with self-awareness — where are you good, what do you need to work on, how you respond to certain situations?” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said of Allen. “At the end of the day, he’s got to trust himself, trust his teammates and do what’s asked — do his 1/11th.”
A concerted team effort of self-restraint and preparation has been McDermott’s formula since becoming the Bills head coach in 2017 and Allen has seemed to buy into this method by shedding the gunslinging mentality shown in his rookie year. He’s grown into the QB the Bills need him to be and its put Buffalo in position to make a puhs, but in an unpredictable game that’s played with an oblong ball, Allen knows their fate may fall on his shoulders.
“I don’t have to be the best quarterback out there,” said Allen ahead of his first postseason start. “I have to be the best quarterback for this team and help us win a football game — regardless of the circumstances that go on during the game. I got to be able to lead this team and find a way.”