The Facts: There are many reasons the Bills' short passing game was poor in 2018. And there's no doubt Allen has plenty of improvement to make in his accuracy. But in theory, it's not hard to imagine Allen's accuracy improving by some degree simply by taking more "easy" completions. Brian Daboll acknowledged at the end of the season that Allen needs to hit his checkdowns better. "People are playing Josh a little bit different than they play some other people, whether it’s a deeper safety, the corners bailing off,” the Bills’ offensive coordinator said. “I think we can help ourselves, too, by taking what they give us on some of those verticals.”
Diehards Line:As News staffer Mark Gaughan suggested, Allen has a lot of low-hanging fruit to grab in his quest for better accuracy in the NFL. Allen completed an NFL-low 10.1 passes per game within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage in 2018. The league average for the 32 starting quarterbacks was 16.5 completions per game on "short passes," within 10 yards of the line, according to an analysis of data from Pro Football Focus. Allen also had the lowest completion percentage on short passes. The Bills rookie completed 75 percent of his throws within 10 yards of the line, which isn’t quite as good as it sounds. The league average for starting QBs was 81 percent. The Bills did not try to be a horizontal, possession-passing offense for most of 2018. That’s not necessarily best suited to a rookie quarterback. Allen’s big arm is a deep-passing threat to the defense, and the emergence of Robert Foster helped the deep passing game improve the second half of the season. The Bills, in fact, had the fourth-fewest pass attempts overall in 2018 on throws within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. The Bills averaged 14.8 a game. Pittsburgh led at 23.7 a game. Asked about the opportunity for more short completions, Allen put it in the context of his quest for all-areas improvement. "Yeah, I want to complete every pass I drop back and try to make," Allen told The News. "I'm getting better and familiar with the outlets, where my answers are. It's diving into the playbook and learning that as best as I can. So, yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to that." Improving Allen’s mechanics will be key to getting more completions in the possession passing game, but it's good to know the Bills have a plan for immediate improvement. Another year of experience for Allen should help, too.