Allen Was Sidelined, but Bills Turned It Into Learning Experience
Sidelined for five weeks, missing four games during a stretch that included an off-week, former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is on a path to return to taking snaps for the Bills in Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And his teammates and coaches are confident that Allen, who suffered a sprained right elbow, will be healthy and wiser, having spent his time on the sideline studying the finer points of the NFL game.
“To tell you the truth, he never really got away,” wide reciever Kelvin Benjamin told BuffaloBills.com. “He was here. He was always around. Stayed in meetings, stayed engaged. That was a good thing to see, especially from a young guy. He didn’t really tune out of it.”
Benjamin, himself, has dealt with being sidelined, including missing the 2015 because of a torn ACL suffered in training camp.
“Being hurt, sometimes you get down on yourself, like you’re not really helping or contributing,” Benjamin said. “But he stayed around. He was in every meeting. He’s back, and he’s excited. I’m excited for him.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll made sure of that, keeping Allen focused during his absence from the field, treating him just like he was going to start each week.
“I know he hasn’t played the previous few weeks, but he’s been in the preparation meetings, he’s smart, so we can we put whatever we need to put in,” Daboll said during his weekly Tuesday media session.
Even in the role of spectator while recovering from the injury he suffered to his throwing elbow Oct. 14 against the Houston Texans, Allen has been able to absorb plenty of knowledge and information.
His primary mentor has been veteran Derek Anderson, who is in his 14th season, but also has missed the last two games because of a concussion, and is in concussion protocol.
“I know having the veteran presence like DA around, he’s probably benefited a lot in a lot of respects — preparation, time management, timing in the pocket,” Daboll said of Allen. “He’s probably bounced a lot of ideas off of DA in terms of what he’s done in his career.”
Allen didn’t merely stand on the sidelines during the Bills’ losses against Indianapolis, New England and Chicago, and the blowout win against the Jets before last Sunday’s bye. Daboll required Allen to have a “play-the-game” mentality as he observed the action on the field.
“I had him taking notes, whether it was coverages, players that we’re looking to attack, how they were playing certain things, writing the calls down,” Daboll said. “Anything that I asked him to do, he was staying in the game as mentally as he could. So he had he had a lot of responsibilities from me in terms of writing things down — keying reads, hearing the play call, playing the game as if he was out there playing.”
Daboll is not being blinded by the fact the Jaguars have lost their last six games, including seeing a 16-0 lead against the Steelers turned into a loss last Sunday.
He knows the Jaguars “defensie is very good.” Only twice in their last 29 games has an opposing team had 300 net passing yards. They have held an opponent to fewer than 150 yards through the air in 13 games.
“This is a talented group that plays a lot of tight coverage, that knows how to play (defensive coordinator Todd) Wash’s scheme very good,” Daboll added. “So (Allen’s) going to have to do a good job with with controlling the game, in the running game and the passing game — his feet, his eyes, his timing.”