Allen Wins Over Buffalo Teammates With Veteran Approach in Game Debut

Compiled from media reports

On Buffalo's first possession of the second half of its exhibition game last Thursday, the Bills went three and out. On the last possession, former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen led the team on a scoring drafted, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ray-Ray McCloud.

On the three possession in between, when Allen was taking snaps for the entire second half, Allen was adding to the respect he is earning from his new teammates with the calm, businesslike approach he took to the game situations.

Wyoming players and fans aren't surprised, but with all the hype that has surrounded Allen, rest assured, his every move is under evaluation by his teammates, the Buffalo staff and outsiders, including the media.

Allen, however, has not let his fame interfere with his person. He may have been among the elite in this year's draft -- the seventh player taken overall -- but he has not forgotten that his success stemmed from determination and hard work. 

Remember, when he came out of high school, Fresno State, the school he grew up wanting to attend, wasn't interested in him walking on. When he sent out emails with video attached to 100 coaches after his year at a junior college, Wyoming was the only school that even responded.

Those are experiences that helped create the determination, focus and touch of reality that is one of Allen's strengths. 

And it became apparent each time the Bills' offense huddled up in the second half..

"He didn't really say nothing," Bills wide receiver Robert Foster said Friday, recalling Allen's reaction after they failed to connect on a deep pass down the left sideline on the first play of the second half of the preseason opener, their first snap in an NFL game. "He called another play."

Allen completed 9 of 19 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in the Bills' 28=23 loss to the Panthers. 

Allen's first game action since he starred at Wyoming featured gorgeous spirals, a sack, a first down running the ball and a near interception while attempting to elude an unblocked pass rusher. But teammates said the greatest takeaway from an uneven performance may have been the rookie quarterback's steady demeanor.

"Our pass protection wasn't what we wanted it to be to help him out, because obviously with a rookie, you're trying to let him settle in and feel comfortable," center Adam Redmond said. "But I didn't feel like we were playing with a rookie or a guy who needed any help. He was in there pretty much commanding the huddle. You saw some of those really nice scrambles, a lot of poise in the pocket, and kind of letting things settle down and making some nice throws down field or getting first downs with his legs. I think he really did a great job."

Bills quarterbacks maintained the same rotation in Friday's practice, with Allen working behind Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron.

Coach Sean McDermott said he was pleased by Allen's aggressive shot downfield on his first snap against the Panthers and how the rookie settled into the game as the second half progressed. He also spoke about Allen's command of the huddle and response to adversity, whether plays or penalties.

"That's important," McDermott said. "That's part of the evaluation and part of his learning curve. I thought we were getting out of the huddle better late than we were earlier, in terms of better in the fourth than we were in the third. And that's just not only Josh, but it's all of our offense. We've got a lot of young guys out there.

"The operation, the play call, getting it in, getting it spit out in the huddle, and then the operation at the line of scrimmage, also. We had some false starts where we beat ourselves, and we can't do that."

Allen made it a point to hurry back to the huddle, maintain consistent body language and enunciate the play call, Redmond said.

After the game, Allen rated his experience in the huddle, listening for the play call from offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and relaying that information to his teammates, among the biggest thrills from his first half of professional football.

"To get out here and throw with our guys, trust my linemen, and to execute the plays and to listen to what Daboll is talking about in the huddle is something I've always wanted to do in my entire life," Allen said, "so to go out there and hear his voice in my head pre-snap, something that every kid wishes to do, that's just something really cool."

After each snap, his demeanor reset with the play clock.

"You have to have a play-by-play mindset," tackle Conor McDermott said, "so once that play finishes, run back to the huddle, that's what Josh did a great job of. You have to move on from the last play, whether good or bad, and just move on and play the next play. It definitely takes work at it, training, because if you have a bad play, it's hard to not let that stick with you."

McCloud, who caught the late touchdown, wasn't surprised by Allen's poise.

"The way he led us in rookie minicamp, I knew what time it was with him," McCloud said. "He has a leadership that a lot of people don't have."

Tracy RingolsbyComment