Josh Allen's growth is a testament to work ethic, competitiveness 

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Buffalo Bills vs Los Angeles Rams, September 27, 2020 at Bills Stadium. Josh Allen (17) Photo by Craig Melvin

Josh Allen gives little thought to statistics. The Buffalo Bills quarterback insists the one number he cares about is the one in the win column and that he can do without the others.

And yet – through three games in 2020 – Allen has compiled numbers that not only stack up among the NFL's best but stand unparalleled in Bills history. Consider the number of Bills players who have accounted for four or more touchdowns in back-to-back games:

Josh Allen. That's the list.

Allen's 1,041 passing yards are the most by a quarterback through three games in team history, surpassing the record set by Jim Kelly in 1991. He is the first quarterback in league history to pass for 10 touchdowns and rush for two others through his team's first three contests.

Yes, it has only been three games. Allen will be the first to tell you that. He is more inclined to point out the ways he could improve on the second half of Buffalo's win over Los Angeles on Sunday than he is to expand on his exploits in the first. Which speaks to the greater point.

Allen's numbers through three weeks are a testament to his willingness to learn and commitment to improving. It's an intangible that Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll saw as early as their first meeting in Wyoming, back before the team selected Allen with the seventh overall pick.  

"He's made improvements since he's been here," Daboll said. "Completion percentage is one thing, accuracy is another thing. It takes a ball to be delivered to the right spot. It also takes receivers to make plays on it and the tight ends and the backs.

"He's continually trying to improve whether it's his base, his pitch, his delivery. But I think also understanding what we need out of him offensively. I think he has a good grasp of what we do. We try to tailor things to his strengths the best we can as a coaching staff. But he's got other pieces around him, too, that are helping that. It's a group effort."

Allen has completed 72.33 percent of his passes, up from 58.8 in 2019. His yards per attempt are up from 6.7 to 9.1. He is already halfway to matching last year's mark for passing touchdowns (20) and a third of the way to matching his career mark for passing yards (3,089).

NBC's Peter King wrote in his Football Morning in America column about Allen's efforts during the offseason, which saw him pick the brain of former Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo in addition to working with quarterback Jordan Palmer. His question to Romo: "How can I be better?"

"I think you're seeing a lot of what we've seen in practice and really going back to training camp with the way he's approached his offseason," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said. "Even before training camp to now, tremendous amount of growth."

Players have lauded Allen's practice habits since the start of camp. Stefon Diggs deflected credit for his hot start toward the quarterback, complimenting Allen's willingness to work day in and day out to grow a rapport with his receivers.

With maturity has come mental growth, too. Allen pointed to his second-and-25 throw to Diggs on the final drive of Sunday's game as a product of his maturation. Where in the past he may have tried to force a heroic heave to the end zone, Allen settled for the play that set up a manageable fourth down.

"I wasn't trying to force the ball in the end zone," he said. "I was taking what they were giving us and I knew we had time. I wasn't trying to panic. Our team wasn't panicking. I think, especially in that situation, they look to the quarterback to kind of be cool and calm. That's what I was trying to be and our guys made some plays."

One by one, teammates took turns following the win over Los Angeles declaring the confidence they have in Allen. The rollercoaster ride of a game-winning drive saw the quarterback take a sack as he fought to keep a play alive and draw a 15-yard penalty for dragging a defender down by his facemask. Yet the Bills went into each huddle with a belief that they would get the job done.

"I can't say enough about one-seven," tight end Tyler Kroft said. "Josh is just competitive as hell. He's gonna make sure that we're in a position to win. And you see it out there – he's trying to stiff arm four dudes and still throw the ball."

Take that competitiveness and apply it to practice and preparation, and it's no wonder Allen has evolved to this point.

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