Ever since he stepped into the league in 2018, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has progressively developed into a site to behold. In only his third season in the NFL, Allen put together a spectacular breakout performance as he not only threw for a career-high 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns but, in the process, led the Bills to their first AFC Championship game in decades. Despite falling short to Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs in the playoffs, what Allen was able to achieve with this team, was nothing short of incredible, providing a spark of hope that Bills fans have been craving for so long.
However, what’s quite unique with Allen’s rise to stardom is that since his rookie season, he’s yet to have any setbacks in his ascent to prominence, more or less, an off-year.
To clarify, even players of his caliber in talent sometimes fall short of the statistical brilliance they’ve achieved in previous seasons. Whether it’s due to injuries, immense pressure, a struggling support system, or something else entirely, this phenomenon has become a commonality in the league that usually takes place during the second year of most breakout stars that shine in their rookie seasons (aka The Sophomore Slump). We’ve seen this with guys like Todd Gurley, Sam Bradford, Mike Williams, Baker Mayfield, and Cam Newton, to name a few.
That being said, these declines (whether small or large) don’t always take place during the sophomore year for all NFL players and stars alike. In fact, some of the biggest names in football, including Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and Jared Goff, all have experienced significant drops statistically following big breakout years in their careers, with many of these lowered outcomes taking place after their second seasons. And despite his young three-year career so far and an immaculate third season in the league, Allen has yet to have that kind of step-back experience, and it’s hard not to wonder if this slide will come around this year, particularly with the added pressure of making a trip to the Super Bowl.
But what makes this season even more challenging for Allen is the expectation and requirement to produce another flawless season that, at the very least, closely matches the one he produced last year. And this includes limiting turnovers significantly, which has been an issue for Allen since he got drafted. Though he posted a career-low in rushing fumbles last year with only 4, Allen had an additional 5 passing fumbles along with 10 interceptions, illustrating just how vital it is of him to limit turnovers this year both on the ground and through the air (ESPN). Anything short of his last season numbers could certainly jeopardize the Bills’ aspirations for a Super Bowl ring, and that’s another layer of pressure that might be too difficult to surmount.
Nonetheless, Allen has proven that he is no ordinary quarterback and has predicated the brunt of his success on one key component: growth. From season to season, Allen has made grand strides with his development by not only refining his mobility in and out of the pocket but also by improving his throwing accuracy immensely, ascending into one of the league’s best passers in the process. And since his shaky rookie campaign only three years ago, Allen has shown no signs of slowing down as he aims to uphold the dominant level of play he’s been able to achieve so far. Though he’s shown that turnovers can still be a thorn in his side, Allen has become a student of the game, driven by his dedication and desire to succeed at the highest level with an unquenchable interest to learn from his imperfections and beat on his craft. What he did last year was truly impressive and a tough feat to match. But then again, there’s no reason why Allen can’t throw for over 5,000 yards and 40+ touchdowns this season. And with everything at his disposal, Allen’s poised to unleash his biggest season yet.