Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen remembers it like it was yesterday.
Three years ago, in Week 2 of his rookie season, Allen was making his first NFL start against the Los Angeles Chargers at then-New Era Field in Buffalo.
He was coming off of a 6-for-15 mop-up duty performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 after Nate Peterman started and threw two interceptions before getting pulled in favor of the prized rookie.
Looking back on that start, Allen recalled being nervous and remembering how little he did know compared to what he knows now as a third-year quarterback.
“I was very nervous and obviously things didn’t turn out so great,” Allen said on Wednesday during a video conference. “When I look back at it and how little I knew about our protections and our schemes and what I should’ve, could’ve, done a better job if I can go back and do it now. But it did teach me some valuable lessons and I got to see some different things. Obviously, it being the first start of my career, in the early part of my career, it helped me, it really did.”
Allen completed 18 of his 33 pass attempts for 245 yards – which turned out to be a season-high – a touchdown, and two interceptions during his first career start. He was also sacked five times for 36 yards.
The former Wyoming quarterback did go on to throw for 2,074 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie, but he’s never stopped improving.
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A Second Matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers
Allen will get another opportunity to take on the Chargers on Sunday and with the type of season he’s having, the potential MVP candidate could lead the Bills to a different result.
Through 10 games this season, Allen ranks 7th in the NFL in both passing yards (2,871) and passing touchdowns (21) and is leading an offense that throws for the 4th most yards (278.9) per game. Allen has come a long way since his rookie season and at times it surprises him how much he didn’t know.
“Every game is a different experience and you learn as you go along,” Allen said on Wednesday. “If you look at guys who have been in the league 10 or 12 years, they are still saying they are learning different things. So, it is a process and you have to take advantage of every opportunity as best as you can.”
Just like Allen has grown throughout his career, the Chargers defense has as well. With guys like Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers defensive front presents many challenges for Allen and his offensive line.
They are currently ranked 11th in passing yards allowed (344) per game, but they’ve also gotten to the quarterback 17 times and have forced nine turnovers. So, Allen knows he and his teammates need to be ready.
“We’re going up against a really good defense this week with guys that know how to get to the passer,” Allen said. “So we have to be on our P’s and Q’s and understand whatever they throw our way we have to be ready for it. Whether it be me in protection and making adjustments or getting the ball out quick because they do have some guys that, like I said, can get to the quarterback often and can get to the quarterback very quickly.”
Facing Rookie Quarterback Justin Herbert
Just like the Chargers got to face a rookie quarterback in Allen two years ago, the Bills will get to face a rookie quarterback in Justin Herbert on Sunday.
So far through his first season though, Herbert hasn’t been your atypical rookie quarterback.
He’s thrown for 2,699 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions in nine starts and has thrown at least two touchdowns in seven of his nine starts. He’s off to a great start and McDermott recognized that on Wednesday.
“They have a good young quarterback that appears to be the future of their franchise with weapons around him on both sides of the ball,” McDermott said about Herbert on Wednesday during a video conference. “I think they are in a very good spot.”