Josh Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but he did not start out that way.
The Buffalo Bills signal-caller famously completed fewer than 60% of his passes in college at Wyoming before being selected seventh overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, then struggled as a passer in his first two years in the NFL. In 2020, however, Allen broke through as an MVP candidate, leading the Bills to the AFC East title — the first time a team not named the New England Patriots won the division since 2008.
In every season since 2020, Allen has completed well over 60% of his passes for over 4,000 yards and at least 30 touchdowns and is on pace to do so again this season as the Bills attempt a late-season push against the Miami Dolphins to capture their fourth straight AFC East crown.
Allen’s ascent reminds longtime Patriots head coach Bill Belichick of another AFC East quarterback who flipped a switch in his third NFL season to become one of the league’s elite players — Tom Brady.
“It’s kind of like Brady,” Belichick told media members this week. “Once Brady got to a certain point there in , that’s pretty much what he was the rest of his career. Wasn’t like that in ‘02, wasn’t like that in ‘01, certainly wasn’t like that in 2000. But once he got to a certain point there about the midseason of the ’03 season, and then in the playoffs and from then on, his level of performance and play and consistency was at the very top of the league.
“[Allen has] a different style of play, obviously, but once those quarterbacks get to that point, they’re able to sustain it. Sometimes, you don’t know what the growth pattern’s gonna be.”
While 2003 was technically Brady’s fourth NFL season, it was his third as the Patriots’ starter for the majority of the year, and while it was not as much of a statistical breakthrough for him (Brady actually led the league in touchdown passes the year prior with 28) it was the first season in his career he received MVP votes. Of course, Brady would go on to win six Super Bowls with Belichick in New England and then a seventh with Tampa Bay in 2020.
Belichick is preparing to face Allen for perhaps the final time as Patriots head coach and rumors swirl around his future in New England. If this is indeed Belichick’s final year with the Patriots, then Allen will hold the status of having been the final quarterback to defeat a Belichick-led Patriots team in the playoffs after leading Buffalo to a 47-17 blowout of New England in the 2021 wild-card round.
Brady, meanwhile, is enjoying his first full season of retirement before starting his new career as FOX Sports’ lead NFL analyst in 2024.
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