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Josh Allen must take a huge step forward if Bills are to be truly competitive

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Buffalo coach Sean McDermott had helped lead the Bills to the postseason for the second time in his three years at the helm. Whilst the Bills, like the Texans, have had a potent running attack this year, they made it to the postseason on the back of a smothering defense, which ranked third overall in the league.

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll bolstered his credentials as a head coaching candidate for upcoming vacancies this offseason with some superb play calling on the game’s opening drive. Calling an entirely run-orientated series of plays, including a quarterback sweep for Josh Allen, the offence set up a seeming end around run for receiver John Brown. Instead the former Ravens and Cardinals wideout launched the ball downfield to his quarterback who took the pass in for a touchdown.

Throughout the first half in fact, the Bills looked most dangerous when running the ball behind either explosive rookie Devin Singletary or Allen. What ultimately undid the unit was its lack of production in the passing game.

General manager Brandon Beane will be tasked with adding a number of weapons in that regard this offseason, whilst McDermott will probably be hoping Daboll sticks around to develop Allen as a passer. The Bills simply weren’t able to turn long offensive drives into touchdowns, instead having to settle for field goals as promising possessions fizzled out in the Texans half of the field. That didn’t matter too much as Houston struggled to score points in the first half, but it meant Buffalo failed to put the game away by half time whilst their defence dominated Watson and the offence.

It’s hard not to look at Buffalo in this game and see a striking resemblance with the Chicago Bears from this past offseason. It was ultimately the Bills’ defence which gave them the opportunity to win this game, but so much depends on Josh Allen taking a step forward as a passing quarterback. Beane and McDermott only need to look west to the Windy City to see how a quarterback with limitations as a drop back passer can hamper a franchise’s progress.


The head coach said after the game that Allen simply tried to do too much in this game, and it’s clear that Allen’s anxiety or determination to win led to some perplexing decisions: whether it was a deep ball heave to his fullback Patrick DiMarco or a decision to attempt to lateral the ball whilst being tackled after a big run. That came after two big sacks of Allen, the first of which was made worse by the Buffalo quarterback attempting to make a play whilst being taken to the ground resulting in an intentional grounding penalty. The ex-Wyoming quarterback will learn from this experience, but has to become more cerebral and timely as a passing quarterback. This game showed that you cannot win in the modern NFL purely on the ground.

Ultimately the impressive performance of Buffalo’s defence was all for nought in the end. They utterly dominated Houston in the first half at every level, and certainly didn’t make it easy on the Texans to get back into the game. It took a few moments of magic from Watson to swing the game back in Houston’s favour. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will certainly have won some more fans in front offices around the league as teams look for a head coach who can bring discipline and a focus on the fundamentals to their franchise.

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