Consider it an omen the University of Wyoming trounced New Mexico State 29-7 on Saturday in their season opener. However, this season the Cowboys won’t be known for their ‘undiscovered’ quarterback with the rocket arm. Josh Allen has moved on to greener pastures with the Buffalo Bills. Wyoming’s team will be all about defense this year.
And it could be the defense ending up carrying the Bills this year as well.
There’s clearly some angst mixed with excitement as the hours lead up to Allen’s first start as Buffalo’s quarterback of the future on Sunday. Will a legion of doubters grasp the first evidence of a big case of ‘rookie-itis’ with glee, or will Allen show exactly why Brandon Beane and company are in charge of creating the future for our beloved football franchise?
I’m eerily calm about it all at this point. Like many fans conditioned to expect the worst and distrust the best, I learned a long time ago not to put high expectations on any Bills quarterback. But since the universe can’t seem to stop inventing new ways to torture me, Buffalo drafted my ‘homie’ Josh Allen as the highest selected quarterback in the history of the team. No pressure there.
So when Allen trotted out on the field to an impressive ovation from fans in the first preseason game against Carolina, I braced myself for literally anything from that point forward. I’ll always treasure the fact that I was on the field with Celeste Albone for Josh’s preseason debut that fateful day. He performed well enough to impress many of us with a really pretty touchdown pass on his first outing.
Allen’s second performance against the Browns continued to raise some eyebrows in a good way. He appeared to be at ease in the huddle in an unexpected way for a rookie from the University of Wyoming. Another impressive touchdown pass was only one way he showed some serious moxie against the stingy Browns’ defense.
What I didn’t expect to see was the calmness Allen displays commanding Buffalo’s offense. That baby face of his is kind of deceiving because Allen has a way of maintaining order, changing cadence and reading what the defense is giving in a manner beyond what I expected at this early point in his NFL career.
Not all the rookie quarterbacks are having an easy time of it. Mason Rudolph and the Steelers got flagged a couple of times on Saturday for delay of game. Rudolph had the classic deer-in-the-headlight look on more than one occasion. For the most part, however, this rookie class of quarterbacks does look like a bunch who will be fun to follow.
It’s reassuring to watch Josh Allen hold his own for the moment. But will that calm demeanor continue, or will he fold under pressure when real game plans against him are made and the speed of the game is taken up another notch in the “dress rehearsal” of preseason games on Sunday?
Of course Josh Allen will go through the same growing pains as any other physically gifted quarterback in the NFL. He will have games that will give Allen doubters a lot of grist for premature bust declarations. Because of the Wyoming connection, I’ll be watching this game against the Cincinnati Bengals with an eye in the sky waiting for the poop to drop down all over me.
Now that college football has started, the people I meet around Wyoming these days are really excited to watch Josh Allen launch his professional football career. Many have hopped the wagon and abandoning the Broncos in droves to follow Allen’s NFL adventures.
Today is the next step into the “Allen Era”.
Will the Bills finally be blessed with a franchise quarterback in the making, or will Allen be just another in a line of failed quarterback experiments since Jim Kelly retired?
Allentown, or back to Skid Row?
Ten years ago I would have automatically assumed the worst possible outcome for anything Buffalo Bills related. After two years of observable competent leadership from ‘McBeane’, there’s a strange sense of peace about the future. I’ve moved from a place of dread to a place of genuine intrigue. That’s progress, folks.
That this particular game for Allen happens to be when Andy Dalton walks out on the field for the first time since he catapulted Buffalo into the playoffs last season only adds to the intrigue of the game. BillsMafia did something special, as only we can – so it’s an interesting framework for Josh Allen’s first preseason start. The stars are beginning to align along the lee shores of Lake Erie.
These are definitely interesting times in BillsMafia-land.
Editor’s babble: Rode the Josh Allen pony express a long way from Wyoming to Buffalo, N.Y. so it’s too late for me to change direction now. I do consider it a great honor to represent the Bills fan base in our great state. Understandable, since my name has been synonymous with the term “Bills fan” for more than a couple of decades here. If you can stand it, you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.