There’s now a path for Josh Allen to win the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback job.
Not that AJ McCarron was going to hold off Allen very long, but McCarron might not be a factor for Week 1 anymore. He has a reported hairline fracture in his collarbone. Bills coach Sean McDermott said tests on McCarron were inconclusive and he’s getting a second opinion before the team sets a timetable on his return.
Perhaps McCarron comes back quickly, though that seems unlikely at the moment. If he’s out for a while, Allen is clearly the Bills’ best quarterback, even though he’s a rookie. McDermott said Allen would take first-team reps at practice on Monday, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak and others, after Nathan Peterman did so on Sunday. That indicates the Bills are at least considering making him their starter before Week 1 of the regular season.
(UPDATE: On Monday afternoon the Bills announced Allen will start Sunday’s game, which is typically the “dress rehearsal” for starters.”)
Even though Allen is the future and has looked good in two preseason games, starting Allen in the season opener probably isn’t the spot the Bills wanted to be in.
Will Josh Allen start the regular season?
Let’s assume McCarron isn’t healthy for Week 1. If he is healthy the Bills will probably start him, even though that’s not exactly an exciting option.
If the Bills don’t want to rush Allen, they could start Nathan Peterman. You may remember Peterman from him throwing five interceptions in a half against the Los Angeles Chargers after McDermott made the mind-blowing decision to start him over Tyrod Taylor last season.
Starting Peterman wouldn’t energize the fan base, though the coaching staff seems to have an odd affinity for last year’s fifth-round pick. But starting Peterman would allow the Bills to slow down with Allen’s development. That might be a higher priority for the Bills than what happens early this season.
Allen is raw, but is the Bills’ most talented quarterback
Allen, as everyone who follows the NFL knows, is a phenom physically but needs work as a quarterback. He was drafted seventh overall, but with the expectation that he would need some time to work on his game. He was inaccurate at Wyoming and wasn’t even first- or second-team all-Mountain West last season. There were some NFL-ready rookie quarterbacks in this year’s class, but Allen wasn’t one.
The Bills also aren’t set up on offense to make things easy on him. Buffalo has perhaps the worst offensive talent in the NFL, with a thin receiving corps and offensive line that lost three good starters from last season. They have LeSean McCoy and that’s about it.
But through two preseason games, Allen is clearly the Bills’ most talented quarterback. He’s capable of making plays that McCarron and Peterman simply can’t. It will be hard for the Bills to not give Allen the Week 1 start, given their other healthy options, even if they know it’s probably not ideal for their rookie quarterback.
Tough call for the Bills
Allen will get at least some of the first-team reps this week in practice, and the Bills’ decision on who to start in the third preseason game will be interesting. The third preseason game is the so-called dress rehearsal, and starters usually play at least a half and usually more. Starting Allen would indicate he’s also going to be the choice to start Week 1, assuming he performs well and McCarron doesn’t have a rapid recovery.
Starting Allen at the beginning of the regular season would make the Bills more entertaining, at least. Whether you believe Allen has a bright future due to his physical skills or doomed to fail because of his college track record, he’ll be fun to track.
McCarron’s injury means we might get to see Allen in real games sooner than anticipated. The Bills have a tough decision to make about that.
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