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ben volin | on football

NFL Week 2: I was wrong about Josh Allen; he is spectacularly average

In Sunday's win over Miami, Josh Allen (24 for 35, 417 yards) posted a 147.0 passer rating.
In Sunday's win over Miami, Josh Allen (24 for 35, 417 yards) posted a 147.0 passer rating.Michael Reaves/Getty

Today, I’m going to be the bigger person and admit I was wrong about Josh Allen.

In articles and radio appearances over the last two years, I haven’t been very kind to the Bills' third-year quarterback. I have used words like “terrible” and “dancing chicken” to describe his play. I have said things like, “The Bills won 10 games in spite of Allen, not because of him,” and predicted that they would take a major step back this year.

I was wrong. Allen isn’t terrible, as he proved with another electric performance in Sunday’s 31-28 win at Miami. He’s spectacularly average — and that could be good enough to make the Bills dangerous.

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Allen’s hot start to the season is where we start the Week 2 Review:

▪ In Week 1, Allen had his first career 300-yard passing game. In Week 2, he had his first 400-yard passing game, and what a stat line it was: 417 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a sparkling 147.0 passer rating.

Allen is just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 700 yards, six touchdowns, and no picks through two games, joining Peyton Manning (2013), Tom Brady (2015), and Patrick Mahomes (2019).

Allen has always been an electric runner with a big arm, but he was too much of a wild stallion. In his first two seasons, he showed little touch on his throws and bolted from the pocket too early. Good defensive coaches like Bill Belichick never had a problem stopping him.

But Allen is now clicking in his third year with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who has done a great job of reining him in and getting the most out of his talents. On the road against a division opponent, Allen led two long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to overcome a 4-point deficit.

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Most impressively, Allen is completing 70.4 percent of his passes this year, compared with 52.8 and 58.8 percent his first two seasons.

It’s only two games, and they came against perhaps two of the worst teams in the Jets and Dolphins. And Allen will still have accuracy issues, and he still makes risky decisions with ball security (two fumbles so far).

But he is definitely good enough to get the Bills back to the playoffs and make some noise. And he’s a lot better in Year 3 than I thought he would be.

▪ On a fun day of football, one of the biggest stories, unfortunately, was a brutal spate of injuries. Two stars were lost for the season when Giants running back Saquon Barkley and 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa tore ACLs. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also will be out for the foreseeable future with ankle injuries. The Broncos lost quarterback Drew Lock to a shoulder injury, and receiver Courtland Sutton to an ACL tear. The Vikings lost four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr for the season with a torn pectoral. And the Chargers were without quarterback Tyrod Taylor after a mysterious pregame chest injury, though rookie Justin Herbert was impressive in his place.

The NFL is the only major sports league in which star players drop like flies every week.

▪ Everyone is ripping on the Falcons and coach Dan Quinn today, and deservedly so. The team that forever will wear “28-3” as a Scarlet Letter suffered another humiliating defeat, losing, 40-39, to the Cowboys despite leading by 20 points after the first quarter and by 15 points late in the fourth. The Falcons clearly didn’t know the onside kick rules, which is nothing but a reflection of poor coaching.

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But owner Arthur Blank really deserves the blame for this one, and for the state of the lowly Falcons, who are 0-2 and staring at another lost season. Blank has been loyal to a fault with Quinn, whose team has never recovered from the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

The time to fire Quinn probably was after a 7-9 season in 2018. And Blank definitely should have fired him after another 7-9 season in 2019. But Blank stubbornly has stuck by his coach, and is now stuck with an undisciplined, poorly coached team.

▪ The Jets have a bye in Week 11, and it will be a miracle if Adam Gase is still employed by then. They dropped to 0-2 with a 31-13 home loss to the 49ers, and were embarrassed from the opening snap, when Raheem Mostert rumbled for an 80-yard touchdown on the game’s first play. Jerick McKinnon also ripped off a 55-yard run on a third-and-31 play that was designed to just get into position to punt. There is absolutely nothing positive to say about the Jets or their head coach.

▪ Much like Allen is proving doubters wrong, so is Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw four touchdowns with no picks in a 33-30 win over the Jaguars. Tannehill entered the season amid doubts that he could recreate his fantastic 2019 season, but the Titans are 2-0 and Tannehill has a 120.7 passer rating. The Titans are AFC contenders again, and Tannehill is proving he was worth the $91 million investment in the offseason.

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▪ The Chiefs are one of the NFL’s most dangerous teams with Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, et al. But their best weapon may be kicker Harrison Butker, who nailed two 58-yard field goals — including one at the buzzer — to help the Chiefs pull off a 23-20 comeback win over the Chargers. With the most electric passing quarterback in the game, and a kicker who can bang them home from midfield (Butker claimed that he hit a 70-yard field goal during halftime warmups), the Chiefs will be tough to beat.

Harrison Butker tied the game as time expired in regulation (above), then nailed a 58-yarder in overtime to win it.
Harrison Butker tied the game as time expired in regulation (above), then nailed a 58-yarder in overtime to win it.Ashley Landis/Associated Press

▪ The funniest part of Week 2: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz getting booed off the field by the virtual fans after a poor third-down throw in the loss to the Rams. The NFL did promise that the artificial crowd noise would be authentic.

Tracking former Patriots

▪ Titans K Stephen Gostkowski: A great day of redemption in the win over the Jaguars. Gostkowski hit a 51-yarder at the buzzer in the second quarter, drilled the game-winning 49-yarder with 1:36 left, and hit 3 of 4 extra points (though the miss was one reason the game was tied late). I agreed with the Patriots' decision to move on from Gostkowski, but he might be a better option than Nick Folk and Justin Rohrwasser.

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▪ Falcons K Younghoe Koo: Went 4 for 4 on field goals in the loss to the Cowboys, and is 6 for 6 this season. The Patriots released Koo from their practice squad last year after choosing Folk, but may have made the wrong call.

▪ Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski: Had zero catches, had a mixup with Brady that led to an interception, and his only real contributions were drawing a pass interference penalty and pouncing on an onside kick. No one expected Gronk to look like his vintage self this year, but boy, does he look slow and old.

Rob Gronkowski had just one target and zero receptions.
Rob Gronkowski had just one target and zero receptions.Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

▪ Giants RB Dion Lewis: Had 10 carries for 20 yards and a touchdown, plus four catches for 36 yards, as Barkley’s injury replacement in a 17-13 loss to the Bears.

Former Patriots coaches

▪ Bill O’Brien, Texans: Was noncompetitive in losses to the Chiefs and Ravens, and is staring at 0-3 with a trip to Pittsburgh Sunday.

▪ Matt Patricia, Lions: Saw a 14-3 lead over the Packers turn into a 42-21 blowout loss. Since the start of 2019, the Lions are 2-7-1 in games in which they led by double digits. They are the first team in NFL history to lose four straight games in which they had a double-digit lead. Patricia was lucky to keep his job last offseason, and his seat is currently on fire.

▪ Brian Flores, Dolphins: His team is 0-2 and his defense is a mess, ranked 30th after allowing 524 yards to the Bills.

▪ Joe Judge, Giants: His team is 0-2 but at least fought hard in the second half, almost coming back from a 17-0 deficit to the Bears.

▪ Mike Vrabel, Titans: A good sign: Pulling out two wins by 3 points or fewer.

Stats of the Week

▪ Before the Falcons lost to the Cowboys, NFL teams had been 444-0 since 1933 when scoring at least 39 points with zero turnovers.

▪ No player in the Super Bowl era had ever passed for 300 yards and rushed for three touchdowns in a game until Sunday, when Dallas’s Dak Prescott accomplished it in the second half alone. He also became the first player with 400 passing yards and three rushing scores.

Dak Prescott goes in for one of three rushing touchdowns against Atlanta.
Dak Prescott goes in for one of three rushing touchdowns against Atlanta.Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

▪ The Packers joined the 2019 Ravens, 1998 49ers, and 1991 Bills as the only teams with 80 points and 1,000 yards through two games (85 and 1,010 for the Packers). Matt LaFleur’s offense is exploding in his second year.

▪ Herbert joined Otto Graham and Cam Newton as the only players with 300 passing yards and a rushing touchdown in their NFL debut. Herbert, the No. 6 pick in April’s draft, didn’t learn he was starting until a few minutes before kickoff, and played with impressive moxie.



Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.