Throwback Passing Forward With The Buffalo Bills

Photo of QB Josh Allen from

The 1960s are here with a quarterback born in 1996.  Josh Allen brings that throwback feel, and not just because of the old-timey cowboy typeface on his college uniform.  The Buffalo Bills might finally deploy the American Football League strategy they never really tried despite being one of its emblematic franchises.  The frontier club may finally have a quarterback who can live up to the rebel league’s reputation for using the pass to set up for the longer pass.

The Bills were contrarians in a league renowned for stretching the field like Silly Putty.  Their best AFL teams featured a punishing run game paired with a stifling defense.  In that regard, they were more like that decade’s NFL teams.  But it’s never too late to give old tactics from the younger league a try, especially when throwbacks are more popular than present gear.  Who doesn’t adore that worn charm?

It’s not that the ’60s Bills were incapable of plays that ended in Fort Erie.  Jack Kemp got in the proper mentality for dealing with Congress by casting footballs into the stratosphere.  And his understudy Daryle Lamonica was called the Mad Bomber for a reason.  That said, the AFL Bills focused on grinding foes into submission.  It only took half a century and dozens of quarterbacks, but they may finally live up to stereotypes.

Buffalo does what it wants.  The slogan’s accurate even if the Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t use it. Trudging along steadily while everyone else flew was just how they maximized talent.  Sticking with uniqueness brought the city the highest championships short of Super Bowls or Stanley Cups.  Yes, that’s like an Intercontinental title, but it’ll have to suffice until one of these teams brings home the heavyweight belt.

Finally, the NFL version could be getting around to the crazy risks associated with the upstart outfit.  Fate is Buffalo’s real decision-maker.  As for the latest example, Allen has found his way into going first during the most important meaningless game.  If he starts a real game as soon as we think he might, the Bills might be trading a high completion percentage for thrills.

Photo of QB Josh Allen from

It’s always nerve-wracking when a rookie quarterback seems destined to play very soon.  But at least Allen’s getting the best targets.  Letting him get a turn with the franchise’s premier talent is the most important way to allocate limited snaps in preseason games we’re told don’t count.

An earlier appearance against Cleveland was a good start even if he wasn’t starting.  Playing with third-stringers in the faux opener put him in the same talent vacuum he had at Wyoming.  Sunday offers a shot at connecting with wideouts who will make the roster.  I’m guessing he won’t be placed on the taxi squad.

The Bills have a quarterback who’s better at throwing the ball out of the stadium than to a receiver close enough to give a high five.  Paradoxically, Allen seems more comfortable the farther he throws.  It’s easier to just heave it at full strength than to take off a little.  Learning subtlety is tricky in a world where celebrity results from shouting.

Keeping comics in mint condition is a great way to ensure they’re never damaged and also never enjoyed.  Delaying using him is like waiting for avocados to be bendy before making guacamole.

Photo from

Does maximizing the value of the capital spent on Allen take the form of playing him this instant?  Or will the investment ultimately be more valuable by making him take an apprenticeship?  Also, what numbers will the lottery machine choose tomorrow?

At the same time, you should check to make sure an anchor is literate before having him read the teleprompter.  The urge to name Allen the starter this instant is usually accompanied by the phrase “Let’s see what he can do.”  But playing too soon may keep him from doing just that.  He could grow accustomed to doing his job sloppily or never get the chance to apply lessons because defensive ends are trying to murder him.  Sabres fans saw the results of Chris Gratton being rushed into action, and he still hasn’t reached his potential.

Allen could learn as he’s playing.

Playing from his first eligible pro game may reinforce lamentable habits.  Take his improving yet lingering tendency to throw off the wrong foot, which is part of his dance step struggles.  How long does it take to learn the pattern?  Guessing what athletes under your charge will do makes coaching less glamorous than you’d think.

Someone with Allen’s natural abilities needs lessons more than those who can only toss it like 15 yards.  Being born with the ability to launch a football is like winning the first time betting on a horse and thinking it’s easy.  Teaching someone who can throw well how to refine raw skill is as tricky a balance as punching Soda Popinski.

Allen may play excitingly no matter whether he’s consistently accurate.  Based on where he was drafted, it’s merely a matter of how long before his era commences.  Is it easier to put learning into practice by watching for awhile or let him learn by trying it during games?  If you know the answer, send a résumé to the NFL.

Editor’s babble: Comparing Josh Allen to an unripe avocado is about as ‘Anthony Bialy’ as it gets. Every week it’s like Christmas opening up his articles to edit. Thank you, Anthony, for always making this job an adventure! You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy. 

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

4 Replies to “Throwback Passing Forward With The Buffalo Bills”

  1. Game 3 of the preseason is usually considered the dress rehearsal for the season, so we’ll see how ready Allen is. I like that Allen is playing the Bengals defense because last year, Tyrod…Tuhrod…Tryhard…or whatever he’s being called now struggled against the Bengals defense and the Bills lost that game, 20-16. We’ll see if Allen fairs better against the Bengals D than Taylor did.

    Even if Allen plays good/great in the third preseason game, it still doesn’t guarantee that success will translate into the regular season. In years past, we’ve seen Trent Edwards look great in the preseason, only to disappear in the regular season. Hopefully that doesn’t happen with Allen or Peterman.

    Next question is, if both Peterman and Allen look good in the preseason finale, who does McDermott go with as his week 1 starter? Peterman has been the most consistent QB throughout camp, while Allen brings firepower and potential.

  2. My first inclination is to let him stand and watch and learn. After watching him in the last 2 games he definitely brings excitement in the game as he can definitely get the ball there in a hurry and I didn’t realize how mobile he is…

    We know it is pre-season and when the season starts he will be facing the 1st stringers and defenses designed to confuse him..

    At this point I’m confused in what I want to happen it is like the Devil sitting on one shoulder screaming start him and the Angel on the other whispering let him watch !!

    So True:

    “The Bills have a quarterback who’s better at throwing the ball out of the stadium than to a receiver close enough to give a high five”

  3. Nice article AB, interesting unique perspective, thank you.

    I see the situation with Allen getting the start sooner rather than later as more nerve racking for the fans that for him. He seems completely at ease on the field- even while in the middle of a play with defenders caving in on him from all directions. No panic, no loss of composure, just a steady focus to make the next move that will result in a good play for his team.
    We also know that McD wants to win, and believes that Allen may give the team the best chance to win even in this accelerated time frame- as opposed to a “let see what he can do” situation. Watching Allen play, this eventuality seemed to be playing out regardless of the injury to AJMC. It will be interesting and exciting to see how it all plays out but I like his chances sooner rather than later.

  4. just read that AJMC does not have a fractured collar bone. he is very sore though and will take it easy for a while. good news because thinking about peterman playing is nerve racking.