QB Allen, Bills passing attack still lacks punch despite win
Now it’s time to focus on continuing to develop rookie quarterback Josh Allen and a popgun passing attack.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re a finished product, and you can do that every week,” coach Sean McDermott said Monday, a day after a 13-12 win over Tennessee in which Allen finished with 82 yards passing. “I’m not trying to suggest that whatsoever. It’s got to continue to develop and evolve.”
Part of the evolution could potentially involve Buffalo adding veteran quarterback Derek Anderson to assist in mentoring the raw, yet strong-armed first-round draft pick.
McDermott said the Bills met with Anderson earlier in the day, but nothing has yet been finalized.
Without going into detail, McDermott would only say there’s “nothing out of the ordinary” when it comes to the next step in reaching a deal.
Anderson has 12 years of NFL experience, including the past seven as Cam Newton’s primary backup in Carolina.
The 35-year-old’s potential addition would mark a reversal in philosophy for the Bills at quarterback. By trading offseason free-agent addition AJ McCarron to Oakland on Sept. 1, Buffalo elected to open the season with Allen and second-year player Nathan Peterman.
The move led to the Bills thrusting Allen into action faster than anticipated. McDermott was left with no choice but to turn to the rookie once Peterman faltered badly in the first half of a season-opening 47-3 loss at Baltimore.
Allen is 2-2 and produced his first game-winning drive in setting up Stephen Hauschka hitting a 46-yard field goal as time expired against Tennessee. And yet, Allen and the offense hardly resemble a juggernaut with Buffalo (2-3) preparing to play at Houston (2-3) on Sunday.
The Bills have yet to top 300 yards of offense, and finished with just 223 against Tennessee — Buffalo’s lowest total in a victory since managing 209 in a 14-13 win at Tennessee on Oct. 11, 2015.
Allen’s 82 yards passing were the fewest in a win by a Bills quarterback who played the entire game since Drew Bledsoe had 81 yards in a 38-14 victory over Arizona on Oct. 31, 2004.
Allen did score on a 14-yard run against Tennessee, but the Bills leaned mostly on a running attack, which gained a season-best 144 yards, and an opportunistic defense forcing three takeaways to secure the victory.
McDermott acknowledged that’s not a sustainable model for success.
The problems don’t fall entirely on Allen, who has gone 65 of 122 for 748 yards with two touchdowns passing, a team-best three rushing, along with five interceptions and a lost fumble.
One issue is Buffalo lacking a dependable receiving threat.
Kelvin Benjamin has just eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown despite being targeted 26 times.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was able to stick with calling run plays against Tennessee because the score was close. He didn’t have a decisive answer when asked if Buffalo can lean on its passing attack when necessary.
“That’s what we’re aiming for,” Daboll said. “We need to be better in a lot of different areas, the passing game being one of them.”
Enter the possibility of bringing in Anderson to help groom Allen.
Daboll worked with Anderson when the two were in Cleveland in 2009. Daboll was the Browns offensive coordinator Anderson went 3-4 upon replacing Brady Quinn as the starter three weeks into the season.
McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane were previously in Carolina, where they became familiar with Anderson.
“I think highly of Derek,” McDermott said. “He’s got some good wisdom stored up in that brain.”
Overall, Anderson has a 20-27 record and earned his first and only Pro Bowl selection after going 10-5 with the Browns in 2007. He spent the 2010 season in Arizona before signing with Carolina.