photo: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images
By Nic Gelyon
The love affair between myself and Josh Allen has been a bumpy ride from the start.
I’ll admit that I went into a fit of rage three years ago when the Buffalo Bills drafted Allen seventh overall. I’ll admit that I was discouraged, angry even, with Allen’s lack of progression the past couple seasons.
And the Bills’ collapse in last year’s Wild Card game didn’t exactly boost my confidence.
But here we are. We’re wrapping up what has been an amazing September for the Bills.
Allen – and the Bills in general – are now the stereotypical “media darlings” in NFL circles.
Allen is suddenly an MVP candidate. The ‘Bills-could-make-the-Super Bowl’ bandwagon is growing stronger by the minute. I should be elated, perhaps overcome, with joy: My team and my city are finally relevant.
But I can’t believe the Bills will live up to that hype. Not until I see better from Josh Allen than I did on Sunday.
Late in the Bills’ 35-32 tire-fire win against the 2-0 Los Angeles Rams, the immaturity I’ve witnessed for three years returned to haunt the Buffalo Bills.
Everything I’ve grown to love about Josh Allen turned into everything I can’t stand about him.
The Bills built a 28-3 lead on the back of Allen’s steadiness. He stood in the pocket, welcomed pressure, and got the ball out quickly over the middle. Everything was clicking— until it all unraveled.
It all unraveled when a well-thrown Allen pass was caught by Tyler Kroft, and then wrestled out of his hands by Rams safety John Johnson.
It was a controversial call, at best. Allen became visibly upset, like most Bills fans, when officials announced their ruling of an interception. It fired him up. Allen was ready for revenge.
And I have no problem with Allen getting angry, I was ready to punch a hole in the TV myself. But the best-of-the-best know how to control their fire. They can single-handedly shift the team mentality to an urgent coolness. A calm confidence.
But it’s apparent Allen has not yet learned to control his fire. Instead, he panicked.
He started overthrowing receivers. He took too long to read coverages. He started running away from Rams defenders who weren’t really there.
He lost his cool.
In moments of crisis, Allen has always seemed to lose focus. He plays with his heart and not his head. His fundamentals, which I can tell Allen worked on in the offseason, are lost in the heat of passion.
And I’ll give credit where it’s due- no matter what penalty was called at the end of the game, Allen still threw the game-winning touchdown to – guess who – Tyler Kroft. Someone must have sat him down for a second, refocused him, shown him what good leadership looks like. He calmed down, and he came in clutch to get the Bills to 3-0.
But it shouldn’t have come to that.
In year three, I wanted Allen’s immaturity to end. Whatever progress Allen made fundamentally in the offseason won’t matter if he can’t improve his mindset come crunch time.
We all saw prime erratic Josh Allen on Sunday. And that worries me come playoff time.
PAT MAHOMES – sorry, Patrick Mahomes – was responsible for three passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, and 274 total yards in the first half of the Chiefs’ dominant 34-20 performance against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
The Ravens couldn’t contain the Chiefs’ passing game in the first half. But it had more to do with the Ravens’ defensive strategy than their players.
The Ravens blitz a lot, and Monday night was no different. I call it the Wink Martindale special.
But this week, the Ravens’ tunnel-vision blitzing allowed Chiefs receivers the room to get wide open, exploiting the resulting lack of coverage. Mahomes took full advantage.
The Ravens beat themselves in the first half. They shot themselves right in the foot.
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK NATIVE and Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, after he was placed on the Falcons’ COVID-19 reserve Friday.
It would have been an easy knee-jerk reaction for the NFL to shut down all activity between the Bears and Falcons on Sunday. Take as many precautions as humanly possible. Wrap them all in bubble-wrap.
But the NFL was smart enough not to panic.
Instead, the NFL quickly responded by contact-tracing Terrell. Their conclusion: the Falcons and Bears were able to safely play their game on Sunday,
We’ll see in the coming days if any more COVID-19 cases arise from either of these teams. But as of now, it looks like the NFL made an educated, common-sense decision. Good for them.
Speaking of the Bears… quarterback Mitch Trubisky probably would have been better off Sunday if the game had been canceled. Head coach Matt Nagy yanked Trubisky early in the third quarter during the Bears’ 30-26 comeback win against the Falcons.
Who completed the comeback? None other than Nick Foles himself. The God.
The benching of Trubisky is a move Chicago fans have anticipated – and welcomed – for the better part of three years. It’s become obvious that when the Bears win, it’s in spite of Trubisky, not because of him.
But did the Bears even give Trubisky a chance on Sunday? His coaches’ actions say that they did.
His coaches have overseen his progression. They’re the ones who knew whether Trubisky’s last pass of the game – an interception – was caused by a lack of whatever it is that makes a quarterback good.
Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s decision to pull Trubisky means that they’re just not getting through to him. And if that’s the case, we’ve probably seen the last of Trubisky with the Bears.