1. How Josh Allen grew in year two and thoughts on his future
Second-year quarterback Josh Allen finished the season passing many milestones as a Buffalo Bill. Allen recorded nine rushing touchdowns which was a franchise best for a quarterback in a single season, it was also the most out of any NFL quarterback in the regular season. Allen also had a +17.1 passer rating increase from 2018 to 2019 which is the highest out of all quarterbacks to start 10 or more games in the last two seasons. Head coach Sean McDermott thinks Allen made a lot of progress in year two but knows there are still things to improve on.
"He's made a tremendous amount of progress," McDermott said. "Let's start there, let's recognize the work that this young man has put in and the growth that he has shown. Is there still work to do? Yes. He'd be the first to tell you that, that is, in fact that the case. The game did not end the way we wanted it to end. The reason is because we didn't play well enough in the second half in particular, we scored field goals and we needed touchdowns."
As the team hits the offseason, many players will focus on improving their technique. When it comes to Allen, McDermott wants to see him get some rest after a long season and focus on things he struggled with, one being the deep ball.
"I thought he did a good job this year of staying healthy, which is a number one—availability," McDermott explained. "Then working with Jordan [Palmer] in this case and making sure that he's working on techniques. Obviously the deep ball has been a conversation, and so he's very aware of that, his feet. There's plenty for Josh to work on. I'll just start there and Josh is very aware of that and that's the greatest part about Josh is he's aware of it and he's self-critical. He'll take that and combine that with his tremendous work ethic and I think he'll have a great offseason."
Allen referenced many times this season his tendency to resort to playing "hero ball" when a game comes down to the wire. The quarterback showed growth in not resorting to putting it all on his shoulders as much as he did in his rookie season, but McDermott wants him to continue to trust the pieces he has on offense. Part of that solution is also continuing to give Allen more weapons he can use.
"I think it all comes back to just for Josh is trying to do too much, that has been something we've talked about," McDermott said. "That's been something he has to continue to handle as he moves forward and as he continues to grow in his career. I'm confident that he'll do that. I think that's the next step for Josh, is that awareness maturity. However you want to phrase it, it's the understanding that I don't have to do it all myself. I'm mature, I'm a tremendous generator and playmaker, but I've got pieces around me as we continue, in all honesty, to build a roster. That's what we have to do is to continue to give him pieces that he trusts. In addition to the ones that he already had."
In 2019, the Buffalo Bills celebrated their 60th season as a franchise by going 10-6 in the regular season and clinching the AFC's fifth seed. It is the second time in three seasons under Sean McDermott that the Bills have qualified for the playoffs, and was a great way to celebrate the 60th season of the Buffalo Bills and the 100th season of the NFL. Scroll through to view the top photos and moments from the season.
2. Turning the pain of the Wild Card loss into growth for 2020
After Saturday's 22-19 overtime loss to the Texans on Wild Card weekend, McDermott pointed to the pain that he and his team still feel. But, it's not just the pain that's important, McDermott wants his team to use the pain as fuel for the future.
"The game certainly did not end, the way we wanted it to end," McDermott said. "It did not go the way we wanted it to go in particular in the second half and because of that it's been a painful couple of days for all of us, and I recognize that. My hope is in time that if it's handled the right way, the pain will turn into strength and that strength will turn into growth."
McDermott wants his team to approach the offseason with a "tremendous" amount of urgency to tackle what each player needs to improve on in order to win more games.
"We've got to score more points and I think everybody knows that I know that," McDermott said. "We have to find answers to do that, that's part of our offseason."
McDermott also pointed to the lack of tackling in key moments as a breakdown in the game.
"You have to be able to have high level of execution of your fundamentals in key moments of the game, and we didn't," McDermott said. "Then, we have to continue as coaches to go back and look at and say why schematically were we putting the players in the position, all of that. That's really just what we have to do is evaluate from top to bottom."
Concentrating on the development that can come from a loss that stings until next season begins is what's most important for McDermott and his team.
"As I told the team and as I told you guys after the game we'll never stop fighting," McDermott explained. "That's been my career to this point and I expect the Buffalo Bills to never stop fighting."
3. What does McDermott plan to do with his staff for next season?
We have seen turnover on the coaching staff after the first two seasons with Sean McDermott as head coach, but after a 10-win season, McDermott wants to keep his staff together heading into next season.
"We're going to continue to evaluate our whole football team and that's a piece of it," McDermott said. "But for right now, I don't plan on any changes at this point."
McDermott believes consistency in players and staff will help his team grow and improve.
"We've got some thoughts on where we need to improve, and certainly continuity is important," McDermott explained. "Not just from coach to player but coach to coach, player to player and so, and the list goes on. The more we're around each other, the more continuity. That's where we talk about as I said, keeping this team as intact as possible."