Bills quarterback Josh Allen has been surrounded by familiarity and consistency for most of his NFL career. Allen had just one offensive coordinator in his first four seasons, had the same quarterbacks coach for three years and played alongside familiar faces at the backup quarterback position for multiple seasons.
This year is quite different for the fifth-year quarterback. He's now the only consistent piece left in his quarterback room.
Allen is now working with a new quarterbacks coach in Joe Brady and getting adjusted to having his old quarterbacks coach be his new offensive coordinator in Ken Dorsey. While Allen misses some of the old pieces, he isn't afraid to work with new people in 2022. And Brady knows building a successful QB room starts with QB1.
"I think it helps when you have a great player like Josh (Allen), naturally," Brady said. "You got a guy that obviously has performed on the field, so he has all the intangibles on and off the field in terms of how he sees football. So as a coach you're trying to figure out what can we put around him. The biggest thing we were looking for was a guy who first understands their role."
The Bills found two veterans who they believed would be a great fit with helping Allen in the next step of his career. They traded for quarterback Case Keenum and signed quarterback Matt Barkley who played for the Bills from 2018 to 2020.
"It's got to work together and fit together like a puzzle because of the importance of that position and how that relates to winning football games," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said of the quarterbacks room. "It's an interesting dynamic because Josh (Allen) is obviously the guy in that room right now and those other two players have to support Josh, but at the same time get themselves ready to go with very limited reps."
Another part of putting that puzzle together is building chemistry, making sure everyone is on the same page and ensuring there's an open line of communication. In just a few short months of being together in OTAs and minicamp, Keenum, who has played for six NFL teams, feels lucky to have landed in Buffalo.
"This has got to be one of the best quarterback rooms I've been in," Keenum explained. "I'm not dogging any other quarterback rooms but the amount of experience, the number of games started, games won, playoff games, yards, college yards. I mean, you go through the statistics of that room and us three guys have probably 25 years of experience between the three of us. We also have a couple of the best offensive minds in the game coaching us up, so it's great."
Brady has quickly become a respected offensive mind in the QB room. He coached an explosive LSU offensive in 2019 and spent 2020 to 2021 as the offensive coordinator for the Panthers. At the age of 32, Brady is excited to bring some fresh ideas to the group.
"Joe's (Brady) been awesome in terms of fitting in well in the quarterback room," Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey said. "He's hungry to learn the way we do things while putting his own spin on it, which I think is important so he can take ownership of the room."
"He's smart as heck," Keenum said of Brady. "He really is, and he's eager to learn from everybody. We're all chatting it up and learning from each other. I've learned a lot from him."
Coaching next to multiple 10-year vets, Brady wants to make sure he's not the only teacher and wants to lead a room where everyone is entitled to have ideas and opinions on what works within the offense.
"It's unique because it's such a veteran-based group," Brady added. "I think Barkley is like a year younger than me, so we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football. We kind of have that mindset of being able to bounce things off each other. So, we can turn on a play and I can be like, 'Hey, Josh, how do you see this play? Hey Case, how do you see this?' So being able to piggyback off Dorsey and having guys like Josh with experience, it's a lot of fun going to work."
Barkley believes Allen has grown a lot in experience since he was last on the team. Now coming back to Buffalo as a backup quarterback for a player who's in his fifth season, Barkley understands his role will shift more to being a second set of eyes instead of teaching the X's and O's.
"He's matured in a lot of ways, but we still have fun," Barkley said of Allen. "His work ethic, how he approaches things, just constantly taking steps to mesh with the offense and to maximize the talent we have at the skill position. He's always looking at ways to do that, whether it's different concepts, plays or just getting a better understanding of defenses. He's come a long way since that first year."
"I've been with Matt (Barkley), so our relationship there is pretty special," Allen shared. "We were with each other for a couple years prior to this. We live near each other, we get to hang out quite a bit, his family is awesome. And then bringing in a guy like Case (Keenum) who is here just to help out as much as he can and give us everything that he has.
"He's been around the league. The knowledge that he has and the expertise that he has in this game is going to help us out."
Even though there are some new faces, Allen is excited to be around players and coaches who can help take his game forward. As the group continues to work to get on the same page, they can't avoid thinking about how special the offense could be in 2022 with the mix of old and new players.
"The pieces that we have on this offense and then what we were able to add was great," Brady said. "It was exciting getting into OTAs and being able to see some of these guys up close and some of the draft picks and new additions. From a quarterback standpoint, our big thing is let's just focus on the next completion. You have skill with Diggs, you have the running back group, the tight ends, we have so much depth at the positions. We just have to focus on doing our job and finding that next completion and the rest will take care of itself."