CAPACCIO: Bills should hope Allen's jump in second year mirrors Mitch Trubisky's

May 23, 2019 - 12:13 pm
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Last week, I was co-hosting the afternoon show with Bulldog. He asked me a simple question: "What would be a good second season for Josh Allen?" Bulldog really wanted me to answer with numbers and statistics, but after thinking about it during a five-minute commercial break, I came back and answered:

"Mitchell Trubisky."

If the Bills' second-year quarterback can replicate the kind of season the Bears' then-second-year-quarterback had last season, fans and media will consider it a good step and even a successful year.

Of course, Trubisky's team was also really good. The Bears finished the season 12-4 and won the NFC North by three-and-a-half games. Much of their season's success came on the back of a terrific defense which led the league in both fewest points per-game (17.7) and yards per-play allowed (4.78).

All Trubisky had to do was not screw it up, and he didn't. But he also led an offense that finished with the ninth most points scored per-game and finished 14th overall in passing yards per-play. Trubisky was, by no means, in the upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks last year, but he was good enough to complement a great defense, and productive enough to have the offense rely on him when needed.

Here are Trubisky's and Allen's stats from their rookie years:

Now see Trubisky's progression from Year 1 to Year 2:

That's quite the jump.

Those numbers placed Trubisky 14th overall in completion percentage, 20th in yards passing, and 14th in touchdown passes. Trubisky even ran for 421 yards, good for fifth most amongst all quarterbacks. Allen was second in that department, with 631 yards rushing, behind only Lamar Jackson's 695.

I'll make this clear: I think Allen's ceiling is higher than Trubisky, who was taken with the second overall pick a year before Allen was chosen seventh overall. Maybe even much higher. However, Trubisky took a great step from Year 1 to Year 2, and Bears fans are feeling good about the direction their young quarterback is headed. That's what Bills fans want to feel about Allen, and he has everything set up for him to do just that.

I asked Bears beat reporter Chris Emma from 670 The Score in Chicago, to provide some insight into Trubisky's progression from Year 1 to Year 2 and what that might mean for his future. Here's what he wrote:

"As a rookie in the NFL, Trubisky showed glimpses of promise amid many struggles while working in an ill-fitting offense and playing alongside a poor supporting cast. That all changed with the arrival of Matt Nagy and some talented playmakers.

In Trubisky's second NFL season, he was tasked with grasping an entirely new system under Nagy, leading an offense built around his strengths, and pushing his team past its years of poor play.

The 2018 season for Trubisky will be remembered for how his improvements helped the Bears go from worst to first and back into the playoffs. His steady growth under Nagy's watch was revealed during the course of the season."


Another reason I chose Trubisky as a good barometer for Allen's second season is because of the similarities in how each organization has concentrated on building their teams - and especially their offenses - to help each quarterback heading into his second season. The Bills have followed a similar path to what Chicago did last offseason when the Bears signed free agent wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, as well as tight end Trey Burton. After running back Tarik Cohen, those players were the next three leading pass catchers on the team for the season, combining for 176 catches for 1,991 yards and 12 touchdowns. That's close to 2,000 yards added to a roster that wasn't even there the year before.

The Bills signed wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, as well as tight end Tyler Kroft (who is out right now with a broken foot), pass-catching running back T.J. Yeldon and veteran running back Frank Gore. That group will join returnees Robert Foster and Zay Jones, who combined for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns between each other.

Buffalo also drafted two more tight ends (Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney) and running back Devin Singletary, who rushed for 66 touchdowns in three years of college football. On top of that, they completely revamped their offensive line with the addition of six veterans and a second round pick in Cody Ford. General manager Brandon Beane made no bones about it as soon as last season ended: the 2019 offseason was going to be about helping Allen by surrounding him with better talent and protection. That's exactly what they did.

Just like the Bears did.

Now it's time for Allen to take advantage of all those additions and make the jump that's not only hoped for, but expected by many.

Just like Trubisky did.



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