Who would have predicted at the beginning of the 2019-20 NFL regular season that Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen would be the only two ‘big name’ quarterbacks from the 2018 NFL Draft class to make it to the playoffs in their second year as pros?
The national blabbermouths yammered on about Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold and how their “remade” teams were going to blow everyone out of the water this season. Woopsie.
It’s been Lamar Jackson who can lay claim to that prize this year. While Josh Allen made steady progress this season, he has yet to play more than arguably a game or two demonstrating total domination on the field for four quarters.
Progress in developing as a quarterback can take vastly different paths and it remains to be seen when Allen will take the next step… which in his case would be to put together a solid win (or more) in the playoffs in his second year in the NFL.
However, win or lose Allen just leveled the playing field against his peers by gaining playoff experience alone. There is no way to replicate playoff experience, it’s another entire level of performance. Just going through the mental preparation necessary to extend your football season along is invaluable.
The psychological benefit of this experience is undeniable. While Baker cools his jets and parties with his friends back home, Josh is knee deep in studying game film and incorporating Brian Daboll’s plan of attack in the NFL playoffs.
No matter how short or long the playoffs are for Allen, he will have an entire off season to solidify the experience mentally. That could prove to be an enormous benefit for a guy whose experience in “big time games” in college was vastly different than his peers.
And here is where Allen just might flash that “lay it all out there” swag and surprise some folks this season. I almost aspirated a cup of coffee when I heard Jerry Sullivan ask Lorenzo Alexander in a press conference this week if he had any regrets about retiring since next year’s team “was going to be legit”… oh my.
The look on Alexander’s face was priceless. It was like “WTF do you think we are doing THIS season?” He rightfully took exception to the tone of the question and the interchange was definitely the chuckle of the week for this old cupcake blogger.
Bottom line from the intangibles perspective… I’m loving everything about this week in terms of what it’s providing for Josh Allen’s development, win or lose. And I love the understated swag the Bills demonstrate when they bristle about being “almost there”.
The Bills would do well to make the most of this opportunity in the playoffs. Many of us look at the success this year as a bonus, not expecting the Bills to make a serious run until next season. But…
Why not now?
Whatever happens, the future for the Bills certainly appears brighter than it has this entire century. Enjoy the ride however long or short it may be. Playoff experience alone will pay handsome dividends for Josh Allen down the road.
Editor’s babble: It’s been 84 years… you know the GIF. If you’re looking for someone to blame for all this drippy optimism, you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.