Beane: We saw Allen 'take a giant leap of maturation'

January 09, 2020 - 1:09 pm
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Now that the 2019 season is over for the Buffalo Bills, preparations have already begun for the 2020 season.

The season ended for Buffalo after a 22-19 overtime loss to the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card Round this past Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston. This after the Bills took a 16-0 lead in the third quarter, only to eventually see it fall apart.

Despite the early exit in the NFL postseason, the Bills really took some strides overall this season.

The defense finished the year as one of the top-ranked units in the NFL under the leadership of head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Buffalo finished ranked third in yards per-game this season (298.2), while also ranking third in points per-game (16.2), fourth in passing yards per-game (195.2), and 10th in rushing yards per-game (103.1).

The offense may not have excelled as much as the defense as a unit this season, but when the defense was on top of their game, the Bills were often able to get just enough production to come away with a win. Buffalo finished the regular season ranked 24th in yards per-game (330.2) and 26th in passing yards per-game (201.8), but they did see success in the run game, finishing eighth in rushing yards per-game (128.4) this year.

In his second season under center, Josh Allen had plenty of ups and downs for the Bills, but he was a factor in helping the Bills to 10 wins in a season for the first time since 1999. The 23-year-old finished the year starting in all 16 games for the Bills, racking up 3,089 passing yards, while completing 58.8% of his passes with 20 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. On the ground, Allen rushed the ball 109 times this season for 510 yards, while scampering into the end zone a franchise record nine times.

While the 2019 season was a step in the right direction for the Bills, the 2020 season will certainly bring higher expectations for the team overall.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane spoke plenty this week of the team's 2019 season, and took some time on Wednesday to join Howard Simon and Jeremy White on WGR. Beane spoke of Allen's progress throughout the year, as well as his expectations for Allen in 2020, the impact of the team's salary cap strength this offseason, and more.

Here is some of what he had to say:

Beane on Josh Allen's biggest improvements this season:

"He did a good job overall of not trying to hit the home run ball as much. I know he wasn't as accurate as any of us would have liked, and he would put himself as No. 1 that was frustrated with the lack of [hitting] the deep ball. I thought his decision making, especially after that [Week 4] New England [Patriots] game, I thought we saw him really take a giant leap of maturation. He might have, at some point, even pulled back a little bit too far. I knew he threw [an interception] in the Tennessee [Titans] game, but really after that he went [five games] without throwing one. I thought there was probably a few times that Josh would have normally would have tried to fire one in there, but he was trying to develop and mature. The intent is right, and it's him finding that balance of being who he is and trying to protect the football."

Beane on Allen being protective and not turning the ball over:

"Some games are going to be 13-10, and our defense has got the other offense stymied, so it's okay to punt. I think that's part of, when I talk about decision making, him understanding this is not a game that we need 25-plus points. This is a game that we need not to turn the ball over, play field position, and maybe it is mainly a field goal game. We always want touchdowns when we can get them, and on Saturday last week we probably should have found a way to convert at least one of those field goals into touchdowns and it might have been a different outcome. That game was a little bit different, but if you notice some of the games we've played this year truly were field position, get points when you can, and I think Josh is understanding that and I think that will continue to improve in Year 3."

Beane on what Allen needs to work on heading into his third season:

"The obvious thing is continuing his footwork and his mechanics like any young guy. Sometimes you don't get your feet right, you get a little quick, you feel the pressure, you know you have got to get the ball out and sometimes you rush it. He missed some throws at various times of the year that if his feet had been right maybe he gets it, but his feet and mechanics have improved... He's trending up, and I'm very proud of Josh. Unfortunately in this day and age, people want to focus on the things that a quarterback didn't do, but if you look around the league at young quarterbacks, I'm very proud of where Josh is in comparison."

Beane on having the cap space to work with this offseason:

"We want to make sure we always have the funds to keep as many of our guys that we have drafted and developed here. Maybe it's a young guy that we claimed if we didn't draft him but we like where they're heading, or it's someone that we traded for. The worst thing do to is spend too much money this year or next year. Then in 2022, we have to watch guys walk out or we have to start releasing these guys to keep other guys. It's hard to stay in cap strength in this league, especially the teams that have to pay a quarterback what they cost. Hopefully we'll have to pay Josh one of these big contracts that teams are paying now, and we want to be able to handle that and not have to turn around and release guys and watch them walk out the door."

Beane on the class of wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft:

"It does look strong right now. The one thing I would say is we haven't had a chance to meet these young men, and so it's important to find out how smart they are. Some of them you see the skill set, but maybe they have a limited ability to run a full route tree, so how quickly are they going to come in and develop? It's similar to when we talk about quarterbacks that come out of systems that are one read and run or things like that. Talent wise, physical skill set, I do agree you see what people are talking about with some of these flash players. The next step for us will be to get around these young men and find out their knowledge of the game. We've been doing the background on what type of kids they are and do they love ball, are they pros or have they been in trouble... There are some guys that are talented that I'm aware that do have some things that we already know that we have to look into. Sometimes that will shrink the field for us. I'm not saying that will shrink it for every team, but we're pretty particular with what type of person, beyond the player, that we want to bring in here."

You can listen to the entire interview below:

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