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Josh Allen Was The Problem

Josh Allen flips the ball
Elsa/Getty Images

It's hard to be the least effective quarterback in a game that featured one's Achilles tendon rolling up like a window shade and another method acting as a deer in headlights, but Josh Allen turned out to be a liability that the Buffalo Bills could not overcome. As the Bills just barely forced overtime before losing on a punt return, the former All-Pro showed his worst tendencies again and again as the Jets defense munched on his mistakes.

When he's at his best, Allen is a thrilling signal-caller with wheels and a beefed-up arm who can fearlessly toss touchdowns in the clutch. Particularly in the games he's played against Patrick Mahomes, Allen has made a memorable case for himself as one of the best in the world. But when those instincts misfire, and Allen goes on blind faith that he can try anything and turn out OK, he can be one of the league's most turnover-prone quarterbacks. Due to Week 1 adrenaline, or overconfidence, or a belief that any bold throws of his would be worth the risk because his defense could stop Wilson on the other end, Allen consistently found trouble on Monday night. And trouble's name was Jordan Whitehead.

Allen's first pick to the Jets' sticky-fingered safety was pardonable, because it was a prayer on third down that pinned the Jets deep in their own territory. After that, though, he was just plain erratic, and Whitehead took advantage twice. An ill-advised heave into double coverage on second down gave the ball away early in the third quarter, and later, setting up the Jets' game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth, Whitehead absorbed an underthrown, telegraphed ball to give New York new life.

Allen's issues didn't stop there. On the first play of the next drive, he couldn't corral the snap and delivered the ball right back to New York in field goal range.

As much as Allen's reputation was made in the squeaky-clean games he played in January of 2022, this is the kind of disorganization that tempers the excitement he provides. Allen's play is neither calm nor methodical, and for all the games his hero ball wins, it can lose them, too.

“I hurt our team tonight. I cost our team tonight. It feels eerily similar to last year, and I hate that it’s the same,” Allen said in the postgame. “It sucks when you feel like you’re the reason, and I am the reason we lost tonight.”

It's easy to forget this given how poorly the team finished last season, but the Jets do actually boast a muscular defense, with Sauce Gardner coming off an all-time great year as a rookie corner, plus a swarm of scary pass rushers who sacked Allen five times on Monday. Last year's model held teams to just 18.6 points per game, and perhaps there's no great shame in the Bills being just a few bounces of the ball away from a much more routine opening night win. That final punt return by Xavier Gipson is what turned Allen's performance from troubling to genuinely debilitating, and there are 16 games left, most against softer defenses. But if the Bills can't overcome these kinds of mistakes when the other team features the do-over that is Zach Wilson, they really can't afford to make them against offenses that will punish them properly. Josh Allen needs to be the best quarterback on the field, or the Bills are in trouble.

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