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Why Josh Allen's deep throw accuracy is a significant concern

Optimism reigns in NFL circles. The schedule is out. The economy is re-opening in some places. And, depending on where you look, the Buffalo Bills are projected to be the best team in the AFC East (they are currently +125 to take the division for the first time since the 1995 season on BetOnline). 

[Editor’s Note: PFF’s advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]

There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about the Bills. Defensively, they are among the best teams in the NFL, allowing the fourth-fewest yards per play in the NFL a season ago, and are guided by two of the best coaches in terms of getting the most out of their players in Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier. They drafted Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa with their first pick in last month’s 2020 NFL Draft, buying low on a guy who was considered a first-round talent at this time last year. They did the same thing with Josh Norman, who played his best football with McDermott in Carolina, while A.J. Klein and Mario Addison should be welcomed additions, too.

On offense, the Bills used their first-round pick to acquire a player who has been, at times, the best player on a good Minnesota Vikings team since entering the league in 2015, Stefon Diggs. They also took Utah superstar running back Zack Moss in Round 3 and UCF playmaker Gabriel Davis on Day 3 to see if they can build on quarterback Josh Allen‘s improvement in Year 2 — his PFF passing grade rose to 61.4 from 58.0 in his rookie campaign and his yards per attempt jumped two-tenths of a yard, as well.

However, significant questions remain about whether Allen can really be a franchise quarterback for the Bills. First off, for all of the improvement — especially when throwing underneath — Allen was the NFL’s worst quarterback at completing passes traveling more than 20 yards in the air a season ago (40.8 PFF grade) and threw the fourth-highest percentage of passes deemed “uncatchable and inaccurate” (26.0%). While Allen improved in other areas of play, the latter stat barely budged from his 26.7% mark in his 2018 rookie season, and he was actually better throwing the ball deep as a rookie (73.5 PFF grade).

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