ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – One of the goals for the Bills starters to play in their final preseason game was to “knock the rust off” but it didn’t seem like Josh Allen and the offense had any rust to knock off.
After not playing in their first two preseason games, Allen played the entire first half in a 19-0 win over the Packers and it looked like he picked up right where he left off from last season.
On the Bills’ opening drive, Allen and the offense went 80 yards down the field in 12 plays, capped off by a 31-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis on 3rd and 20. Yes 3rd and 20. And it was an absolute laser.
“That play to Gabe we hadn’t thrown that ball at all. We had never gotten that rep just because we just never got that look so to be able to get a look like that and throw it and get a rep that counts, that’s gonna stay in the memory bank,” Allen said after the game.
“Again, it’s just one of those things where it’s just added reps, it’s knowledge to the memory bank there and I appreciate those reps.”
Of course you argue both sides if Allen should have played or not but it seems like that was, at least one benefit of his playing time.
“3rd and 20 obviously knowing the situation that we have with our long snapper too, you know trying to get it close to maybe be able to go for it on 4th down and it just popped and like I said we hadn’t thrown that type of ball and that read in OTAs, all camp, so to get that rep was great and Gabe did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Allen explained.
In the Bills’ first preseason game against the Lions with Mitch Trubisky starting, the emphasis was all about running the ball early. With Allen in there, it was, to no surprise, the exact opposite. In fact the Bills didn’t run the ball until the second play of the second quarter.
Allen started the game completing his first nine passes. On the tenth attempt, it was incomplete to Emmanuel Sanders followed by a sack for a loss of 10 yards. Allen bounced back with that touchdown throw.
“It was good to see, I thought Brian Daboll did a good job of establishing a rhythm for us on offense and I thought the execution was very high, in particular that first series,” Sean McDermott said.
Stefon Diggs did not play even though he returned to practice earlier in the week after dealing with a knee injury. But Allen didn’t miss a beat, spreading the ball out between Sanders, Davis, Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox on that opening series.
“I think as an offense that’s kind of where we thrive and where we’re comfortable and it just puts so much stress on a defense. There’s situations that we haven’t seen in practice that we saw today but it’s hard. If you ask our defense to go against us in practice, like when we make right decisions and we make the right reads on the outside positions, it just puts so much stress on a defense,” Allen said.
Allen went 20 of 26 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran once for four yards. Needless to say, he’s ready for week one.
Here are some other offensive observations from the Bills preseason finale –
Gabriel Davis is going to be a problem:
After a solid rookie season, Davis looks poised to follow it up with another big year which is impressive given the talent in this wide receiver room. Davis is going to be a problem for opposing defenses this year and Allen knows it.
“He just does things the right way, he practices hard, in the game he’s just so reliable. You know he’s gonna be where he’s supposed to be. He goes in there and he digs out safeties in the run game and he makes plays on offense when he’s asked to make plays. For a young guy going into his second year, it feels like he’s been in the league for a long time,” Allen said.
“He’s just got a natural calm presence to him as well, a guy that you have a lot of trust in and I have a lot of trust in. He consistently makes plays and to be in his type of role where he’s not asked to be the number one or really the number two but when his plays are called he makes them and he’s got so much potential. I’m so excited to see him grow this year and he’s gonna be really good for this offense and this team for a really long time.”
Davis led the team in catches with five for 75 yards and that touchdown.
Competition at guard continues:
The Bills starting offensive line went like this – Dion Dawkins at left tackle, Jon Feliciano at left guard, Mitch Morse at center, Cody Ford at right guard and Daryl Williams at right tackle. But Ike Boettger came in for Ford at right guard for the next two series.
Dion Dawkins takes a step forward:
After his battle with Covid-19 that left in him the hospital for four days, left tackle Dion Dawkins continues to make progress to get back to where he was before having the virus. Conditioning has been one of the biggest hurdles to clear and after the game he said this was another test for him.
Dawkins got his first action of the preseason last week as he started against the Bears and did once again against the Packers.
Depth at offensive tackle is a concern:
Even though McDermott said the injury isn’t believed to be long-term, Spencer Brown is still dealing with a knee injury which adds to the concern for the Bills’ depth at offensive tackle. Part of that is the injury, also because fellow rookie, Tommy Doyle has struggled this preseason. Doyle, along with Bobby Hart gave up a sack of Jake Fromm as both offensive tackles couldn’t hold up their blocks as defenders blew past them and to the quarterback. And it’s not the first time both Doyle and Hart have struggled. While Hart should and it seems like will get cut, I think Doyle will stick around but it’s clear he still needs time to develop before being thrown out there.
The Bills have to get their roster down to 53 by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. cut down day deadline and this year more than ever during the McDermott/Brandon Beane era, the Bills are going to have some tough decisions to make given the talent they’ve acquired at various positions.
“Every year it’s gotten more difficult to make, those decisions are always difficult when it comes to the talent on the roster it’s gotten more difficult because Brandon’s done such a great job and so you never like to see good players leave but we’re gonna be in that situation at some of the positions in particular where we’re gonna be saying farewell to some good players,” McDermott said.