One man’s trash is another man’s potential treasure.
In Josh Allen’s first game after the publication of unflattering comments from Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey regarding the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft, Allen performed well enough to garner praise, albeit measured, from his head coach.
“I don’t want to try to quantify his best or what,” coach Sean McDermott told reporters. “It looked like it was a step in the right direction. Certainly he got some meaningful time in the first half, which was important. He directed a two-minute drive before halftime, came out after halftime and took control of the first series there, which is good experience for him.”
Allen completed nine of 13 passes (69 percent accuracy) for 60 yards and a touchdown in three drives, generating 10 points. On a two-yard scoring throw to receiver Rod Streater, Allen showed the ability to keep the play alive with video-game quality hops and bursts left and right and left in the pocket before finding the open receiver.
“That’s certainly one of his strengths, in terms of the skill set that he brings to the table,” McDermott said. “We saw that in college. It’s similar to some quarterbacks that I’ve been around in terms of running ability. At the end of the day, you have to win from the pocket, and I thought he made some good throws from the pocket tonight.”
The performance, coupled with a hairline collarbone fracture reportedly suffered by AJ McCarron, has generated more and more buzz regarding Allen starting the season as the starter.
“I’m not going to get into what I need to see and what I’ve seen [to justify starting Allen],” McDermott said. “Again, it’s an ongoing evaluation like it is for every position. I thought both Josh and A.J. too, and Nate [Peterman] did some good things. It’s important that our team overall learns from this experience tonight. Like I said, there’s going to be tough moments. We’ll be facing adversity on the road, in particular, and the guys responded.”
Allen has, overall, responded well in his adjustment to life in the NFL.
“So far, I would say he’s been pretty steady, and that’s a great quality,” McDermott said. “Mentally, he’s pretty steady. I think the guys appreciate that. For a rookie to have that quality is important. The mental toughness element, if you will, is something important to manage the highs and lows of life in the NFL.”
For Allen, the key may be keeping it simple.
“As a quarterback, sometimes we try to make this game more complicated than what it is,” Allen told reporters. “We were taking what the defense gave us tonight. Getting the ball to our playmakers is was what we were trying to do. I felt like I did a pretty good job of that. Still, some throws that I missed, that I shouldn’t have missed and other decisions that happened quick.”
Teammates are taking notice of Allen’s performance and poise, and that will make it easier to make him the starter, if that’s what the team decides.
“He’s definitely gaining my trust,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said, via of TheAthletic.com. “He already has my respect, but just my trust as far as him going out there and being able to command the offense, get guys in place, run it as smoothly as a young guy. If he’s in that spot, it’s not going to be like, ‘Oh no, we’ve got a rookie out there.’ He seems like he’s holding his own and operating at a high level. . . . He’s impressive to me. If he ends up winning it, we’ll have as good a chance as if any of those other guys win.”
At this point, it’s starting to look like Allen’s job to lose. Then, the question becomes whether he’ll develop into the kind of franchise quarterback who will win enough games that there won’t be 19-year breaks between playoff appearances.