It’s no secret by now that Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL.
The same player that’s getting league MVP buzz heading into 2020 is also facing criticism for his poor passing accuracy numbers and inability to hit on the deep ball in 2019. Add former NFL general manager-turned-media analyst Michael Lombardi to the latter group.
Lombardi, who spent over 30 years as a scout or executive in the league, appeared on “One Bills Live” on Wednesday to discuss the Bills heading into a season where expectations within the fan base are quite high. Lombardi said he loved what Bills general manager Brandon Beane has done with the roster and thinks it would be easy to pick Buffalo to win the AFC East.
There’s just one problem, he said: the quarterback.
“THIS TEAM should be the favorite of the East. But the resigning question is Josh Allen. If you put Lamar Jackson in there instead of Josh Allen, they’re probably gonna be the team competing for a Super Bowl. But they picked Josh Allen over Lamar and you’re gonna have to deal with some of these inaccuracies,” Lombardi said. “It happened iN college. Remember coming out, Josh Allen was viewed as a quarterback, not an athlete. Today he’s viewed more as an athlete than a quarterback. And the other issue is he doesn’t run with it enough to utilize his skillset.
“I think that’s the big question with the Bills. I love the Bills’ team from front to center. I’d easily support them to win the East but I have real questions. You go back and watch that Patriot game in New England. There were guys open in that game … (Allen) just misses them. And then the second half of the Houston game, he just misses them. We can all hope he gets better at it, and I hope he does. But I’ve yet to see a quarterback improve significantly his accuracy. It’s a hard thing to do.”
ALLEN IMPROVED his completion percentage six points from his rookie season to his second year, but he still ranked last in the league at 58.8% in 2019. In Allen’s final four games (he only played for a quarter against the New York Jets in Week 17), he failed to post higher than 53% passing, including a 24-for-46 performance in the Houston playoff loss.
“I wouldn’t mind him being 58% completion percentage if he hit a couple of those deep balls. Too many long foul balls,” Lombardi said. “When you look at the Bills … they’ve got depth on the defensive front. They’re much better on the offensive line than they’ve been in years. They’ve got stability up front. Everything rides with Josh Allen. ... If you just looked at the teams (in the AFC East) and said who has the most balanced team and the complete team, you would say the Bills.
“However, that being said you have a huge hole at quarterback, and can he make up the difference? The schedule is gonna get harder; it’s gonna be a lot tougher and they’re not gonna be taken lightly. (The Bills ranked) 27th in the league in passing yardage and 22nd in overall yards per attempt. If that yards per attempt doesn’t get up into the top 10 we will not be talking about Buffalo as a Super Bowl team next year.”
ALLEN accounted for 29 total touchdowns last season (20 passing). Only five players in the NFL had more.
Jackson won the league’s MVP award last season after putting up insane numbers in the regular season (43 total touchdowns and over 4,300 yards of total offense). But in the playoffs, Jackson’s production dipped significantly for the second year in a row. In two career playoff games Jackson has posted a 48.3 completion percentage (2018) and 52.5% (2019). Jackson is 0-2 in the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led his team to the Super Bowl last season and his 6.5% deep completion percentage was the worst in the NFL among starting quarterbacks during the regular season.
Allen struggled on the deep ball, too, but only two quarterbacks in the NFL had more throws dropped by their receivers: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (36) and former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (34). The Bills dropped 31 passes last season.