NFL News & Analysis

Josh Allen isn't being rushed into his recent bad decisions, he's just trying to do too much

Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks of the field after fumbling the snap that turned into a Vikings touchdown.

Before his Week 7 bye, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was off to the best year of his career.

Over the season's first six weeks, he had earned four elite PFF grades. His 90.9 overall grade ranked first among QBs, and he had thrown just four picks across 239 pass attempts.

From Week 8 to Week 10, he has put up a PFF grade of just 62.1, 21st among 36 qualifying quarterbacks. Over that same span, he also leads the league with six interceptions, and no one else has thrown more than four.

So, what happened to Allen, and is it a cause for worry?

Over the last three weeks, Allen has generated a PFF grade of 11.3 on passes that resulted in an interception, the lowest of all quarterbacks who have thrown a pick.

And while this may sound obvious, that PFF grade highlights the fact that all six of Allen’s interceptions were his fault. They were each the result of bad decision-making and not due to bad luck, such as a receiver tipping the ball to a defensive back.

The only exception, to some extent, is Allen’s first interception against the Minnesota Vikings, which came on a fourth down. And as Allen alluded to in his post-game interview, there was no use in throwing the ball away or eating a sack on that play.

Josh Allen: Passing Statistics
Week 1 – 6 Week 8 – 10
PFF passing grade 83.5 62.1
Yards per attempt 8.3 7.4
Adj. Comp. % 78.1% 68.8%
Average depth of target 8.3 11.4
Big-time throw % 7.3% 5.6%
Turnover-worthy play % 3.6% 7.0%

A common theme can be found in his recent string of poor decisions: Five of his six picks have come on plays when he was not blitzed. Since Week 7, no other quarterback in the league has a higher turnover-worthy play rate on non-blitzed dropbacks (7.9%), and Allen's 61.6 passing grade on these plays ranks 20th among 33 qualifying passers.

So, Allen has not really been rushed into bad decisions. Actually, it is more the opposite. While he was willing to take the checkdown options late in the play in the first part of the season, he has recently been more inclined to try to make a big play when his first read is not there. This has led to him throwing the ball into windows that either never existed or were closing as he released the ball.

I would not consider any of the turnovers to be plays where the defense successfully deceived Allen. Instead, they were more cases where the Buffalo signal-caller knew what the defense was doing and still tried to make a play with high difficulty — and he has paid for it.

Passing statistics on non-first-read throws
Week 1 – 6 Week 8 – 10
aDOT 8.5 16.4
Checkdown % 35.6% 16.7%
Big-time throw % 3.2% 2.8%
Turnover-worthy play % 6.3% 12.8%

It is important to highlight that the Bills still averaged 24.7 points a game in the last three games — which would rank eighth in the NFL over the full season — so the sky is not exactly falling in Western New York. Allen still makes a number of incredible plays every week, but the issue is that his bad plays have crept back and are turning into interceptions at a high rate.

However, over the years, he has made strides in cutting down these plays, and there is no reason to suggest he cannot do that on the fly during the season.

The solution is the same as before the bye: The former Wyoming quarterback needs to take fewer risks late in the play and trust the talent around him on both sides of the ball. He doesn't need to be Super Man all the time — his teammates helped him earlier in the year, and they can help him down the stretch.

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