Stefon Diggs discusses how his 'by-the-book' approach changed after playing with Josh Allen

By , Audacy Sports

Stefon Diggs was a very, very good wide receiver in Minnesota. He found himself firmly entrenched on the NFL Top 100 list three years in a row, the latter two of which saw him go for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with Kirk Cousins under center. He far outplayed his fifth-round value as soon as he stepped on an NFL field, averaging over 100 yards per game over his first four career contests. Every year he seemed to get better and better, even as tensions mounted between him and the Vikings organization.

But upon joining the Bills in 2020, Diggs was a whole different animal, as he posted perhaps the greatest debut season with a new team that a wide receiver has ever had. His NFL-best 127-catch total was more than double what he had in Minnesota the year before, and he also led the league in receiving yards (1,535). Perhaps it was a change of scenery, or a new coaching staff, or a new offensive system. It was almost certainly a new quarterback that played a part, and Josh Allen's ascension also likely had something to do with the fact that he now had an elite wide receiver on his side.

Diggs shed light on another factor that helped him to succeed, one that wasn't just the fact that Allen may be a better overall quarterback than Cousins or the fact that Buffalo's offense ran plays that better suited his skill set. As he shared in an interview with Michael McCarthy of Modern Luxury DC Magazine, playing with Allen allowed for a complete change in Diggs' previous mindset.

"I like to buy into a process, and I want to blend in as much as I can and let my play stand out. This is going to sound crazy, but I'm a by-the-book guy," Diggs said. "Josh will just look at me and say, 'Stef, just get open and catch the ball. I really don't care what you do before that.' And that's hard to hear because I'm so used to timing routes and doing things in a certain type of way. But this is where the creativity comes in. I can mix things up a little bit, and the quarterback trusts me. The only way you can build that trust is by making plays."

By the book? That's not the Josh Allen way. We've come to expect him to be at his most dangerous when he can improvise and use his athleticism (and incredibly strong arm) to extend a play and find an open receiver down field. That evidently becomes exponentially easier when you have a route-runner of Diggs' caliber lined up on the outside. Pro Football Focus gave Diggs the second best receiving grade (90.6) of any wideout from the 2020 season, trailing only Davante Adams (91.9). He had previously never recorded a receiving grade higher than 84, so something definitely clicked with the less restrictive play style with Allen as opposed to his "by-the-book" past.

Oh, and we shouldn't forget that this was only their first year together, a campaign which came in a season that was unlike any other in terms of preparation and preseason training. If leading the league in receptions and yards is what Diggs could do under those circumstances, what will he be able to accomplish going forward?

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