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Sport The Buffalo Bills botched their QB situation. But they can still help Josh Allen

16:25  14 september  2018
16:25  14 september  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

Bills QB AJ McCarron fails to impress in final preseason game

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It took only one week for it to become apparent that the Buffalo Bills botched their quarterback situation.

Trading away AJ McCarron and settling on Nathan Peterman as the placeholder for rookie Josh Allen was not the way to go. After Peterman’s disastrous season debut, coach Sean McDermott on Wednesday did the only thing he could do and named Allen his starter.

There’s no denying Allen’s impressive skill set. The No. 7 overall pick of the draft has great size at 6-5 and 237 pounds. He has a strong arm as well as good athleticism and the ability to extend plays, giving him an overall skill set that some have compared to that of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

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However, he has accuracy issues, and he has displayed some struggles both with reading defenses and making quick decisions. Given those issues, McDermott and the Bills didn’t feel comfortable playing Allen right away and instead hoped to let him learn in a backup capacity.

But now it's go time for Allen.

“It's the right move for our football team,” McDermott said on Wednesday. “I'm not going any further than that. I've got confidence in Josh, and it's the right move for our football team.”

More: USA TODAY Sports' Week 2 NFL picks: AFC title game rematch, Giants-Cowboys among highlights

More: Nine questions for NFL Week 2: Will Packers make right call on Aaron Rodgers?

Throwing Allen into the fire now could wind up hurting his chances for long-term success. But with no more competent passers on the roster, the Bills have few other options as their coach works to maintain credibility with his locker room and position his team to win games.

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So, what can McDermott and offensive Brian Daboll do to help mask Allen’s deficiencies, position him for effectiveness right now?

The key is to both simplify things for Allen and to protect him.

The run game is a young quarterback’s best friend. LeSean McCoy, who topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of the last two seasons, should have an even more prominent role moving forward as Buffalo looks to control the clock and avoid shootouts. A healthy run game also sets the Bills up for an effective play-action attack because it will buy Allen more time to operate.

The Bills also need to utilize an offensive attack that features a healthy dose of run-pass option plays. This will enable Allen to use his athletic ability and force some hesitation for his opponents.

Spreading out the defense by putting McCoy into motion and creating an empty backfield might also be a solution. In those situations the Bills should load up three receivers on one side of the field and two on the other and instruct Allen to key on that three-receiver side of the field. If there are no openings, he can quickly shift focus to the other side or dump the ball off underneath to beat the pass rush.

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This is very much the approach that has not only worked with other young quarterbacks, but also the playbook the Eagles used to position Nick Foles for success all the way to the Super Bowl. Foles also thrived in this type of system under Chip Kelly but has struggled with more traditional approaches. The Packers and Redskins even used these RPO plays to buy veterans Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith time on Sunday and help their offense get into a rhythm.

Challenging as it may be, Allen does have a chance to find success as he acclimates to the speed of the NFL game. As he becomes more comfortable, the Bills can gradually expand his responsibilities. But for now, this is the way to develop Allen, because the alternative is making him a stationary target subjected to big hits while struggling to make up his mind on where to throw.

And now for a few impressions from elsewhere around the league after Week 1 and entering Week 2.

Believe:

… In James Conner. No, he’s not Le’Veon Bell, but scouts will tell you he’s a legitimate starter. He may not have all-pro talent, but he does have an above-average skill set, and he trusts the Steelers offensive linemen and run concepts. He can produce at a level that will ensure the offense remains balanced.

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… In Sam Darnold. Sure, he threw a pick-six on his first pass. But the way he responded to adversity spoke volumes about his mental makeup and resolve. Leading up to the draft, Carson Palmer raved to USA TODAY Sports about the former Trojan’s ability to shrug off negativity and respond with resilience. Sure enough, Darnold proved unflappable and led his team to a blowout victory against the Lions.

Pump the brakes:

… On the Browns. Yes, they have progressed. But don’t anoint them as playoff contenders. The defense is legit, as the group showed against the Steelers. Myles Garrett and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward are rising stars. But the offensive line isn’t good enough and will ultimately cripple the unit. Still, expecting five to six wins seems reasonable.

… On the concern about the Raiders’ lackluster start against the Rams. Jon Gruden will get the offense right. He has much work to do to elevate Derek Carr into a top-notch quarterback. The defense does have issues, particularly in the secondary and in the post-Khalil Mack pass rush. But Gruden is determined to get this ship righted.

Worry:

… About the Lions. First-year head coach Matt Patricia’s team give up 48 points at home to a squad led by a rookie quarterback. Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions. You can't blame Patricia entirely, but his playing style might already be creating some friction.

… About the Seahawks. Particularly their offensive line, which struggled mightily to protect Russell Wilson. If the front doesn’t improve, Wilson will be at heightened risk of getting hurt. If that happens, this team has no chance at all.

… About Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. After a promising rookie season, Prescott still hasn’t made sufficient progress. In last week's 16-8 loss to the Panthers, he was often guilty of trying to do too much. It's evident there’s more pressure on Prescott with his offensive line beat up (especially with the absence of center Travis Frederick, who calls out all protections) and no go-to wide receivers. Thus far, coaches haven’t done a good job of easing the load on him. Something needs to change, quickly.

Follow Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.


Bills RB McCoy confirms he will play Sunday .
After missing last weekend's upset victory in Minnesota with injured ribs, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy said he will return to the lineup Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. "I'm playing this week," McCoy said after practice on Wednesday. "There's still some pain, but I felt good today. I'm ready to go out and get this thing going again."McCoy rushed a total of 16 times for 61 yards in Buffalo's first two games, losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers.

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