Josh Allen's first playoff game is one he'll remember for a long time, and not in a good way. The quarterback's competitive nature still had him stewing a day after the team's especially painful 22-19 loss in overtime.
"I won't be over this until we start playing again, for sure," he said. "I'm very self-driven. I understand that things could've gone differently and I'm going to learn from it and I'm going to use it and I'm going to grow from it. This will be a chip on my shoulder until we start playing again."
Allen's play in 2019 was truly amazing at times and puzzling at others. But it never lacked supreme effort or a desire to win. For a 23-year old, Allen is also very self-aware and smart enough to pull everything he can out of his first playoff game to help him going forward.
"The experience of being in that game, that type of game, feeling the flow (will help)," he said. "Obviously, there are little things about the game. Finding completions and taking care of the football. There's stuff to learn from and it's going to be every week. Every year you're going to find a way to learn something and get better and improve on yourself and that was no different with what happened at Houston."
Where there is no debate is the positives with Josh Allen's game in 2019 certainly outweighed the shortcomings.
His production was up across the board. There was a six percent jump in completion percentage. A 50 percent jump in touchdown passes. A 38 percent jump in total touchdowns and a 33 percent drop in interceptions despite attempting 140 more passes this season. His passer rating also increased by almost 20 points (67.9 to 85.3).
Over the last 11 weeks of the regular season, Allen had the third-best touchdown to interception ratio (15:2) in the NFL.
"For his second year I think he had a great season. He's just going to continue to grow," said Jon Feliciano. "He'll continue to see things in the NFL. You need time to understand what defenses are doing, and the way defenses are trying to attack him. I think this year he realized there are only so many ways that defenses can attack a player like him. I think he learned over the year how to combat that."
Allen also became a more efficient short-to-intermediate passer and a better passer from the pocket. According to NextGen Stats Allen's completion percentage inside the tackle box went from 58.8 percent in 2018 to 63.4 percent in 2019.
His touchdown to interception ratio in the pocket went from 1:1 last season (9 TDs, 9 INTs) to 5:2 this year (15 TDs, 6 INTs). His passer rating in the pocket rose from 75.9 to 90.8. And perhaps most important, his time to deliver the ball shrank from an average of 3.22 seconds to 2.86 seconds.
More often than not, the only thing that stopped Allen from being more successful in 2019 were some of his own inefficiencies.
Though his completion percentage rose to almost 59 percent (58.8) it still ranked last among starting quarterbacks. His offensive yards per game (224.9) ranked 28th and his passer rating (85.3) ranked 24th.
"Teams usually go how their quarterbacks go and I have to be better for this team," Allen said.
For a glimpse into what this offense can become if Allen can improve his series-to-series efficiency, one need look no further at the difference in Allen's figures in Bills wins versus Bills losses.
In losses, Allen's completion percentage was under 50 percent (48.6). In wins it was almost 65 percent (64.9). Passing yards per game (157.8 to 214.8), touchdown to interception ratio (5-3 to 15-6) and passer rating (67.8 to 95.9) were all noticeably higher for Buffalo's quarterback in Bills victories.
Simply put, the Bills were 7-1 when Allen had a passer rating of 90 or above.
Buffalo's signal caller intends to take a much deeper look into what the formula was for his success and the offense as a whole in the offseason. His competitive drive will also push him to perfect his physical and mental skills.
"There are a lot of things to do mechanically just trying to shore some things up there, watching more film more so on myself than anybody else and just finding out what went good and what went bad and try to give myself a real honest self-assessment," Allen said. "I'll talk with our coaches before we leave here and try to develop a plan of what I need to work on in their eyes too and training with my quarterback guy."
Allen intends to take a couple of weeks off to let his body recuperate, but as is his nature, he'll be back to the grind in short order.
"I'll be getting back in the weight room and trying to put myself in peak physical condition for OTAs and then training camp and the season," he said. "It's going to happen quick. That's what happened this offseason, the months tend to fly by and I am anxious to get back practicing again. I wish we were doing that today but it is what it is."
"I think the next step for him is taking some time for his body to heal, letting his mind decompress and then come back with just a fire that he has," said Mitch Morse. "He's such a competitive dude. We don't want him to be different at all. We don't want him to change that at all. He'll just learn to hone it, and we don't want him to lose that competitive spirit at all because that just absolutely brings that out in everyone else. It's fun to be a part of."
And knowing Allen's work ethic, Morse sounds even more excited about his quarterback's career trajectory than his competitive fire.
"If you look at Josh from game one to game 17 (in Houston), the player that he's grown into not just in the huddle, his presence, but the calmness and the fire that he brings it was special," Morse said. "So if he can make that kind of jump from game one to game 17, it's going to be tremendous to see what he can do next."