BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For many Bills players this Sunday could be their first win against the Patriots including quarterback Josh Allen.
He’s 0-3 against New England but one of those losses actually helped his game. In last year’s first meeting, the Patriots beat the Bills in a close one, 16-10 in Orchard Park. But the score doesn’t show just how ugly it was for Allen.
He threw three interceptions and was sacked four times but Allen said that was a turning point for him and helped change his approach to minimize mistakes like that.
“I think maybe just kind of a mindset change instead of home run first, thinking working bottom up instead of top down. Just little tweaks in that, making sure that I’m very comfortable with the game plan that we’re putting in,” Allen said.
“And letting coach Daboll know if there’s any concepts that I don’t like. You know he’s been very gracious to take them out and very gracious to work around what I like and what I don’t like. I attribute that to guys getting open and going and catching the ball for me as well as the front five guys blocking and doing their assignments as well.”
Allen’s teammates also noticed how much that game changed him for the better.
“I really think that’s the game that turned it around for him last year. I feel like after that game he started playing a lot better in those situations where he’s scrambling, trying to find guys and make plays. He learned a lot from that game and it’s good to see a guy react that way. They can either go in the dumpster or they can get better from it and he’s the type of guy that got better from it,” Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley said.
“When you have games like that as a player, I’ve had them, everybody’s had them, you’re embarrassed of what you put on film. You can really tell that it hurt him and he felt like he let the team down even though it takes all 11 to win a game so we would never, I would never put blame on anybody. I always look at myself and say what can I do better to help him?”
Trying not to play hero ball was something Allen struggled with as he started his career that often led to mistakes like we saw in that game last year. But starting this season, he really improved on his deep ball issues that he had trouble hitting in 2019. In the first four games of the season, this passing attack made some explosive plays that led them to a 4-0 start.
Part of that is because of the addition of Stefon Diggs who not only helps Allen, but other receivers like Beasley and John Brown.
But things have really cooled off the past three games, starting against the Titans. They’ve seen more zone defense that they have to adjust better to, not to mention John Brown has been dealing with a knee injury but should return against the Patriots.
The Bills had just two pass plays of 20-plus yards against the Jets as Allen connected with Beasley for 23 yards in the first quarter and then Tyler Kroft for 38 yards in the fourth. They only had two total against the Titans and Chiefs. Compare that to the 21 pass plays of 20-plus yards they had in the first four games.
So those explosive plays have certainly died down but against the Jets, even though they didn’t find the end zone, Allen did a solid job of driving down the field with small chunk plays.
“It’s different than what I’ve always been used to and just kind of the mentality change that I’ve had, trusting the guys underneath and allowing them to catch the ball and create some positive rack. If that’s what we gotta do, that’s what we’ll do, I’ll adjust and when we’ve got big plays that present themselves we gotta make sure that we capitalize on them. It’s a game plan that I’m willing to work with and it’s still football and we gotta find ways to move the ball and win the game,” Allen said.
Beasley was a big reason for that type of success against the Jets with career-high 11 catches for 112 yards.
So back to that Patriots game from last year, that change in mentality for Allen will come in handy if opposing defenses continue to play heavy zone coverage and take away their big pass play options.
“It makes you want to run through a wall for him because you can tell he cares. Some guys deal with things a little different but you know 100% that he wants to win and that’s all,” Beasley explained.