Amidst raised expectations for the 2020 Buffalo Bills, the biggest question was how Josh Allen would look in Year 3 with the best talent around him on offense to this point of his young career.
Allen passed the first test of the season and recorded career highs in pass attempts (46), completions (33) and yards (312), while also ending the Bills' streak of 81 regulation games without a 300-yard passer. I’m not going to put the Bills' passing offense up there with the best in the league because the Jets look like they will be one of the NFL’s worst teams this season, but it was a step in the right direction for sure.
The only negatives from Allen’s performance were a pair of lost fumbles on runs and a badly overthrown pass when John Brown was wide open in the Jets end zone.
He made good decisions with his passes, spread the ball around and used his legs effectively on scramble runs to keep passing plays alive. He had good touch on screen passes, which were a very effective part of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s game plan.
Allen made sure to get the ball to his top-two targets in the passing game. Brown led the Bills with 10 targets and Stefon Diggs had nine, so 19 of Allen’s 46 passes were directed towards those two receivers. In his Bills debut, Diggs caught eight of those nine targets for a team-best 86 yards.
As opposed to 2019 when the Bills had some slow starts, the offense put up a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter and had 21 points on the board by halftime. That was more than they averaged per-game last season (19). The Bills could have hit the 40-point mark were it not for Allen’s two fumbles, which both happened in scoring territory, and a pair of missed field goals from rookie kicker Tyler Bass.
Allen and company certainly took advantage of a Jets defense that was playing without its best defensive back, Jamal Adams, who was traded away, and its best linebacker, CJ Mosely, who opted not to play this season due to COVID-19.
We anticipated the Bills would throw the ball more this season, and that storyline played out in the opener. Allen threw the ball 46 times, while running backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for just 18 carries. It did make sense since the Jets were vulnerable in the secondary, but the strength of the offense is its stable of receivers. We should expect to see this approach more often than not.
The offense finished with 404 total yards, converted 50% of their third downs, made eight trips inside the red zone and had the ball for more than 41 minutes.
There were two areas in which the offense had some issues.
They never got the running backs going. Singletary and Moss had those 18 carries combined but managed only 41 yards. The red zone offense began the day well recording a touchdown in each of its first three trips inside the Jets' 20 but they couldn’t find their way into the end zone on any of the next five drives that progressed into that area of the field.
The biggest concern out of the opening day victory came in the form of injuries as both Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano left the game. After Allen, you can make a case that Edmunds would be the next player whose loss would hurt the most. Either him or Tre'Davious White. Edmunds and Milano, who made a nice interception dropping into coverage, are both every down players and keys to the Bills defense. On top of that, the depth at linebacker has more questions and unknowns than any other position.
While the score may have been close, the game was certainly not. This looked like the biggest lock on the Bills schedule and the game played out that way.