Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
ORCHARD PARK – When it comes to developing quarterbacks, Buffalo has been a futile destination for young passing talents.
Failed quarterback projects J.P. Losman and E.J. Manuel remain all too fresh on the minds of Bills fans. Now, both the fans and the franchise have put their faith in the latest first-round draftee, Josh Allen to be the QB they’ve longed for since the glory days of Jim Kelly.
Those are some lofty expectations to put on a gunslinging but raw talent like Allen. Which is exactly why the Bills brass is doing their best to ease him into his eventual role as franchise quarterback.
With Buffalo wrapping up their third and final session of OTA’s this week, Allen has yet to take any reps under center beyond the third team. According to head coach Sean McDermott, that’s by design.
“It’s early in our process here and we’ve got a plan, we’ve got to stick with it,” McDermott said of Allen’s early restriction to the third team. “[It] doesn’t mean we don’t listen and keep our ear to the ground and our eyes peeled for what’s going on and adjust according; that’s important. The important part right now is to develop a good foundation and that’s what we’re doing.”
Patience is something past Bills regimes have failed to show in their attempts to develop young quarterbacks. This group, however, led by McDermott, seems hellbent on not repeating the franchise’s past missteps. Committed as the organization may seem to bringing Allen along slowly though, he’s not necessarily stuck as third-string for this upcoming season.
“Yeah, so that’s a fluid situation with respect to Josh,” McDermott said of the current QB depth chart. “[But,] in terms of the reps, it’s been, to this point, as I mentioned, Nate [Peterman] and AJ [McCarron] have split the ones and then Josh is working with the threes.”
With mandatory minicamp on the horizon next week and training camp looming in August, there is still plenty of time for Allen to rise up the depth chart. Given McDermott’s adamancy to stay the course though, it’s unlikely the Wyoming product will find himself starting under center come Week One.
For all intents and purposes that job belongs to McCarron in 2018, who signed a two-year deal with Buffalo this past offseason. In theory, the Bills can start the former Bengals QB and give Allen time to sit and learn. It’s the scenario teams dream of being in when they draft a potential franchise-changing quarterback – pairing him with a veteran to avoid starting him right away.
That process is even smoother when the vet slated to start is willing to serve as a mentor to the rookie. And while McCarron knows he has work to do in earning the starting role – it’s not in McDermott’s nature to hand out jobs willy-nilly – he’s been able to put his individual competitiveness on the backburner at times, to do just that.
“The great part, as I’ve gotten to know A.J. is, you watch him and he’s one heck of a teammate, which is, to me, a great compliment as a player, as a quarterback,” McDermott said. “He has a nice relationship with both Nate and Josh in the meeting room as well, which is important for that dynamic. He’s seen quite a bit of football, and to be able to share that with those two, who are a little bit younger, in this case, has been a good thing to watch to this point.”
McCarron’s guidance combined with the Bills’ willingness to execute patience in developing Allen, could go a long way in the No. 7 overall pick, becoming that quarterback Bills fans have longed for.