Stefon Diggs has spoken highly of his chemistry with Josh Allen, a relationship developed through mid-summer repetitions and training camp practices, plus the occasional Call of Duty game.
Yet for all that work, it takes real game action to learn some things. For example: Diggs said he was unaware of just how mobile Allen was before the quarterback rushed for a game-high 57 yards and a touchdown during the Bills' 27-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
That, and he was impressed with just how poised Allen remained through the highs and lows of the game that was full of them.
"He's still got a little bit of kid in him so when he's out there," Diggs said. "He's out there having fun and I enjoy it You know, I'm always in his ear trying to keep that positive energy going just because I can't imagine how hard it is to play quarterback.
"But when I see him out there having a good time, it gives me a little bit of a push in the back, a little motivation to say, 'You want to go play for this guy.' You want to go hard for this guy because he's damn sure gonna go hard for you."
Allen completed 33-of-46 passes for a career-high 312 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first Bills quarterback to eclipse 300 passing yards in a game since Tyrod Taylor in 2016.
It was a promising start for an offense bolstered by the addition of Diggs, who joined a deep receiving corps that already featured John Brown and Cole Beasley and also added fourth-round pick Gabriel Davis, a training camp standout.
As Chris Brown noted in his postgame observations, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll made use of that depth by leaning on three- and four-receiver sets throughout the game. Allen spread the ball to his three veterans, targeting Brown 10 times, Diggs nine, and Beasley seven.
The quarterback commanded the offense with poise and confidence, particularly in the first half. He squeezed a pass between two defenders to Brown on the team's first touchdown drive. On the next drive – which ended with a Zack Moss touchdown – he eluded pressure to create big gains on back-to-back plays, one through the air to Brown and another with his legs.
Though there was no true home-run ball, Allen completed passes of 20-plus yards to each of Beasley, Brown, and Diggs.
"We started off with a lot of really good play calls, kind of get me in a rhythm," Allen said. "I think I did a good job today of letting the game come to me and trying to force things early on. I know people want to see the deep [ball] to Steph and the deep [ball] to John and, shoot, I want to throw those. But, got to be smart and check down when necessary.
"I think that's what we did a good job of today. Our guys underneath were patient and when they caught the ball they made some guys miss and got some yards after the catch. … I expect us to continue to get better."
Allen flexed his play recognition on a second-quarter touchdown to Brown, when he recognized a blitz and audibled to a quick screen to the receiver. Brown waltzed 17 yards into the end zone with help from a block by Diggs.
"It was a great call by him and the offensive linemen," Brown said. "The receivers did a great job blocking and it was just a walk in the end zone."
For all the positives, the game was not without blemishes. Allen fumbled twice in Jets territory, on the Bills' first offensive drive and later with the team nursing a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter. He brought up both those mistakes – as well as a missed touchdown pass to Brown – unprompted at several points during his postgame session with the media.
Bills center Mitch Morse echoed Diggs when referencing the quarterback's poise, saying Allen handled himself "with the utmost maturity" following the opening-drive fumble. It showed in the end result.
"Those fumbles aside I thought he played great, smart football," Morse said. "It was fantastic to see. I know he feels like he's got a lot to work on, but we all do."
Additional notes from Allen's Week 1 performance:
- Became first Bills quarterback with consecutive Kickoff Weekend wins since Jim Kelly won six straight between 1988 and 1993
- Completed his 11th career game with a rushing and passing touchdown - the third-highest total for quarterback in his first three NFL seasons (Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, Steve Grogan)
- Passed Joe Ferguson for the second-most career rushing yards for a quarterback in team history. Trails only Tyrod Taylor (1,575).