Josh Allen is making a case for NFL MVP
Throughout the offseason, the main storyline surrounding the Buffalo Bills was whether Josh Allen could establish himself as a franchise-caliber quarterback.
Early in Allen’s third season, the former No. 7 overall draft pick out of Wyoming has made his case as the Bills’ quarterback of the future and is a sleeper pick for NFL MVP.
Bills off to best start in more than a decade
Through four games, Allen and the Bills are 4-0, a record the franchise hasn’t seen since 2008.
Congratulations to the Buffalo Bills getting to 4-0. Josh Allen is playing fantastic and making big plays. Stefon Diggs has been a huge addition and the Bills are playing with a lot of confidence right now.— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) October 5, 2020
Back then, the Bills offense was led by quarterback Trent Edwards and a young Marshawn Lynch. Buffalo defeated the Seahawks, Jaguars, Raiders, and Rams to start the season but ended the year 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
A 4-0 start in Buffalo was much more auspicious in the 1990s, when the Bills reached the Super Bowl both times (1991 and 1992) they began 4-0.
In 2020, the Bills’ hot start may be a combination of Allen’s rising star and a somewhat mediocre schedule. Wins against the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins don’t speak much to a team’s dominance, but a narrow victory against the Rams in Week 3 and a road win in Las Vegas do more to pump up Buffalo’s résumé.
Allen key in all four victories
The constant across all four wins has been Allen’s obvious step up in play. In Week 1, he registered 312 yards (a career high at the time) on 71.7% passing. He also tallied two touchdown passes, a rushing score, and ran for 57 yards on 14 carries.
The next week, Allen passed for 415 yards against Miami and threw for four more scores on 68.6% passing — his worst completion percentage in a game in 2020.
Through Week 4, Allen’s completion percentage is 70.9%, a significant leap from his first two NFL seasons. In 2018, Allen completed 52.8% of his passes across 12 games, then 58.8% across 16 in 2019.
Allen's stark improvement in accuracy is in part because of an upgrade in personnel. Last season, the Bills led the league in drop percentage (7%), while Allen mainly relied on John Brown (1,060 yards, six touchdowns) and Cole Beasley (778 yards, six TDs) in the passing game.
Then the Bills acquired Stefon Diggs from Minnesota via trade. Diggs has a team-high 403 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Beasley has added 260 yards and a score, and Brown has pulled in 194 yards and two more touchdowns.
Allen is cleaning up mistakes
Allen is also throwing the ball away less. He has tossed 12 touchdown passes against one interception, but his ball security could still use some work.
In Week 1 against the Jets, Allen lost two fumbles, and one led to a New York field goal. His third fumble of the season came on a sack by the Rams’ Aaron Donald. Los Angeles turned the opportunity into a touchdown and briefly stole the lead from Buffalo with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Allen made up for the blunder with a game-winning touchdown pass with 15 seconds left.
How Allen can win MVP in 2020
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the MVP frontrunner, but he took a slight step back Sunday, in a close win at Miami. Wilson threw his second interception of the season on a goal-line pass intended for D.K. Metcalf. He also managed just two touchdown passes, after he put up 14 over the first three games.
If Allen wants to contend with Wilson in the MVP race, the next five games are crucial. Allen will face the Titans and Jets on the road, and Kansas City and New England at home. All but the Chiefs currently rank in the top 12 in takeaways, while Kansas City has allowed the third fewest passing yards per game (202.7).
Who is your pick for 2020 MVP?
In Week 9, Allen will go head-to-head with Wilson.
A win against Seattle, plus one against Patrick Mahomes or Cam Newton, will certainly grab voters’ attention, especially if Allen continues to put up the kind of numbers he has through four games.
The Bills dual-threat has already surpassed his passing touchdown total from 2018. His 1,326 passing yards also rank second in the league, behind Dak Prescott, and put him on pace for more than 5,000 yards this season.
Those kind of stats earned Mahomes the MVP in 2018 and can do the same for Allen in 2020. If nothing else, they would answer the Bills' biggest question of the offseason and solidify Allen as the franchise's quarterback of the future.