ORCHARD PARK — Josh Allen may be the future quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, but for right now, he’s a rookie third-stringer, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
“To this point, it’s been Nate (Peterman) and A.J. (McCarron) splitting the 1’s and Josh has been with the 3’s,” coach Sean McDermott reiterated Thursday prior to the start of the Bills’ final OTA session of the spring. “It’s a fluid situation. It’s all part of doing what’s best for our football team and for Josh’s development overall. It’s just what’s the right thing to do at the right time.”
Meaning, when the Bills conclude their offseason program next week with a mandatory three-day mini-camp, nothing is changing because even though Allen was the seventh pick overall in the draft and is the player the Bills are hoping will become the franchise quarterback they’ve lacked for two decades, it’s simply not his time.
“It’s early in our process here; we have a plan and we have to stick with it,” McDermott said. “Doesn’t mean we don’t listen. We’ll keep our ear to the ground and our eyes peeled on what’s going on and adjust accordingly. That’s important, but the important part right now is to develop a good foundation and that’s what we’re doing.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is fully on board with the pace of Allen’s indoctrination into the NFL. Daboll has been presented the proverbial block of clay in the form of a physically-gifted 6-foot-5, 240-pound athlete with a rocket of an arm attached to his right shoulder.
It will be Daboll’s job to mold that block of clay into a beautiful piece of football art, but the presence of fifth-year veteran McCarron affords him some time in that endeavor. Things will likely ratchet up when training camp opens in late July at St. John Fisher College because at that stage, it would make no sense for the Bills to tap the brakes and not allow Allen to compete for the starting job.
“He’s working with the 3’s right now, but he gets enough opportunity to keep on advancing and progressing in the system in terms of scripting and of giving him different plays, putting him in different situations,” said Daboll. “I think with any young guy, that’s what you need to do in terms of building him from ground level.”
One thing about Allen that caught Hall of Famer Jim Kelly’s eye when he visited practice a couple weeks ago was Allen’s constant verbalizing with his teammates. To Kelly, someone who thrived as a leader, that’s an important step for Allen as he carves out his niche, a point McDermott agrees with.
“Jim is right in terms of communication, that’s a big part of playing quarterback,” said McDermott. “It can’t just be with the skill players, it has to be with o-linemen, tight ends, they all have to be involved. And as a leader, which that position is, you’ve got to be a man of the people, so to speak.”
As Allen navigates the shallow end of the pool, McCarron is diving into the deep end as the de facto leader of the quarterback room. He only has four career NFL starts, but he’s the senior member on the depth chart, and McDermott likes the way he has assimilated to that role.
“He’s done a good job with respect to being very passionate about the game, passionate about his approach day in and day out, habits on and off the field,” said McDermott. “The great part, as I’ve gotten to know A.J. and as you watch him, he’s one heck of a teammate which is a great compliment as a player and a quarterback. He has a nice rapport with Nate and Josh in the meeting room as well, which is important for that dynamic. He’s seen quite a bit of football and he’s been able to share that with those two who are a little bit younger, so that’s been a good thing to watch to this point.”