Gap between Mac Jones, Josh Allen not as wide as you think

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For those unfamiliar with the fairyland of mystical groupthink and magical echo chambers that is Twitter, you are likely unaware of the sensitivity of Bills fans. What we’ve learned from the reaction to Bills-related content posted by the various programs at WEEI is that invoking Josh Allen’s name, whether in a positive or a negative manner, results in a bombardment of hateful replies, direct messages, and threats from Bills fans.

They’re almost as sensitive as Patriots fans, but not quite.

Compare Allen to Mac Jones, in literally any way? Get your affairs together, because Bills Mafia will find you and burn your house down.

Let’s make one thing clear to the fraction of Bills Mafia that made it past the headline and to this point:

I AM NOT SAYING MAC JONES IS BETTER THAN JOSH ALLEN. NO ONE IS SAYING MAC JONES IS BETTER THAN JOSH ALLEN. NO SANE HUMAN HAS SAID THAT THIS SEASON. I THINK JOSH ALLEN IS BETTER THAN MAC JONES. I’D TAKE JOSH ALLEN OVER MAC JONES 100 OUT OF 100 TIMES.

Clear enough? Good.

There are three separate discussions when comparing Allen and Jones:

–How do their rookie years compare to one another?

–How do they compare this season?

–And how good of a chance do each give their team to win this weekend?

Even Bills fans (I hope) would agree the first question is such a landslide that it doesn’t even warrant discussion.

Many in the knee jerk, hot take media dubbed Allen a bust after a rookie year in which Buffalo’s offensive line was 28th in pass blocking efficiency and he was throwing to the corpse of LeSean McCoy, notable elite tight end Charles Clay, and the wide receiver version of The Grimace in Kelvin Benjamin. Even so, Allen was 34th in adjusted completion rate from a clean pocket among qualifying quarterbacks. Whether it was a supporting cast issue or not, the “as a rookie” nod goes to Jones.

But no one really cares about that debate because it’s so obvious, and it has little bearing on Saturday’s matchup.

Likewise, comparing the two this season doesn’t entirely tell the story of what both quarterbacks project to play like this Saturday. It’s a bit futile to compare a rookie to a fourth-year starter, but looking at the year as whole the nod obviously goes to Allen. Allen is certainly the more erratic passer and at times holds on to the ball too long, resulting in him being the most pressured quarterback in the NFL this season, but aside from his wide receivers Allen’s supporting cast on offense is inferior to that of the Patriots.

More importantly, much of Buffalo’s offensive success this season can be credited to Allen’s ability to run the ball, designed or otherwise. The gap between Allen and Jones' seasons isn’t massive, since turnovers are the most important metric in football aside from points, and Allen’s frenetic tendencies are a massive deterrent in any potential quarterback comparison.

But Allen and Jones’ season-long metrics also don’t really matter this Saturday as much as how they’re playing right now. And right now, it’s pretty close to a wash.

Focusing on just December and January, both quarterbacks have hit a lull. Aside from the last time these two teams faced each other, Buffalo’s passing game has been pretty unspectacular. Allen and Jones are 22nd and 23rd in adjusted completion percentage in this timespan respectively. Allen's yards per attempt has plummeted to 25th in the league in that span, with no help from the 10 dropped passes by his pass catchers since the end of November.

Allen is the second-most pressured quarterback in the league in the same span of time, but his very middle of the road under pressure metrics remain relatively unchanged whether he faces pressure or is gifted a clean pocket.

Jones, on the other hand, is being kept cleaner than Walter White’s laundered drug money. But when Jones has been pressured in the past month, the results have looked quite different than the rest of the season did. When pressured in Week 1 through Week 13, Jones had the 11th-highest completion percentage in the NFL. That number has fallen to fifth-worst since. Jones’ supporting cast isn’t letting him down either, as New England’s running game has been cooking and their pass blocking efficiency is third in the league. Jones just isn’t playing well.

Neither is Allen, at least as a passer. He’s getting less help from his supporting cast than Jones and his pass catchers are letting him down as of late. Allen the runner is winning games for Buffalo. One could make the case that Allen the runner has opened things up for Devin Singletary as well, whose 4.7 yards per attempt are fifth in the NFL among backs who have run the ball more than 52 times since the end of November.

One could make the “in a vacuum” argument for saying Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and is miles better than Mac, but no quarterback steps on the field in a vacuum. The gap between Allen and Jones is much closer than it’s being made out to be, because Jones’ supporting cast is humming while Allen’s is a bit out of tune.