First Impression: Allen's Exhibition Debut Created Excitement in Buffalo
Compiled by media reports from Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills fans had to wait until the second half of the team's 28-23 loss to Carolina on Thursday to get a good look at what they wanted to see -- former Wyoming Cowboys quarteback Josh Allen. The seventh player taken in the NFL draft, right now he is the No. 3 man at quarterback on Bills depth chart.
He is already a fan favorite The loud ovation that greeted his enrance into the game said it all.
"It was really cool," Allen said. "Bills Mafia came out in full force tonight for a pre-season game, so to see that, I'm excited to see what game one (of the regular season) is going to look like."
As Vic Carucis of the Buffalo News wrote, "Solid and efficient aren’t what they’re expecting from this kid. They want something that makes them say, `Wow!' They got it, here and there, in a 9-of-19, 116-yard, one-touchdown performance. Most of all, what Allen delivered provided encouragement that something far better than pretty much any QB the Bills have had in a long time is very much on the horizon."
His teammates are impressed, too.
"It doesn't take long for his talent to pop up and for you to be able to notice it," said veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who didn't play and watched from the sideline.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott says he wants to take it slow with Allen, but there is reason to believe that what he showed Thursday night is going to make Bills followers want the coach to speed things up.
On Allen’s first snap, he faked a handoff and with a flick of his right arm, he sent the ball sailing almost 60 yards in the air to rookie receiver Robert Foster, who made the catch out of bounds. That drew another cheer. Not derisive, but appreciative.
"I think the fans appreciated that. I appreciated that," McDermott said. "We're out there and we're having fun and I thought it gave the crowd some juice. ... I like the aggressiveness of the play call."
Just as he has shown through off-season workouts and training camp practices, Allen throws pretty passes. The spiral is tight. The ball travels like a heat-seeking missile. Long throws follow a rainbow pattern that travel into the vicinity of the receiver, in stride, as was the case with a 65-yarder that just sailed over the head of Foster.
He put good touch on throws into the flat and fired bullets on intermediate routes, such as a 25-yard completion to rookie Ray-Ray McCloud early in the fourth quarter and especially on the pass he rifled between two defenders to McCloud for a 14-yard touchdown with 1:10 left on the clock.
"Josh is going to take chances; that's what makes him the quarterback he is and is going to be," McCloud said. "And he threw it in the hole that not too many quarterbacks can fit it in. That's just a flash right there of just what we see every day at practice. He's been putting it in holes like that all camp."
Allen had his moments where his athleticism and strength, along with his inexperience, showed. The most notable was when the Bills decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Carolina 11. Linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr., came off the edge untouched, giving Allen no choice but to run. He retreated deep into the backfield, and instead of taking a big loss, he chose to turn as he was about to be sacked and hurl the ball. It was nearly intercepted by defensive end Daeshon Hall before hitting the ground.
Allen also had 13- and 11-yard runs, each for a first down, late in the game as his protection eroded and he mainly ran for his life. The second came on fourth down.
"That man can throw," Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short said. "It’s going to be interesting to see what he does in this league. I think the Bills got a steal in the draft, as well. Hopefully he pans out to be good."
For solid day-to-day coverage of Allen and the Bills, the Buffalo News is one of the few remaining newspapers that really covers the local beat.