The Buffalo Bills have lofty dreams ahead of the 2022 NFL season. They came within a hair of advancing to the AFC championship game for a second straight year, and are looking to prove that they are as formidable as any team in the conference. With a rising star under center, this could be the campaign where the Bills elevate from intriguing playoff team to legitimate Super Bowl contender.
There might be not a player more important to his team’s fortunes this season than Josh Allen. He has yet to win an NFL MVP award, but there is a very realistic scenario in which he captures that honor this season if the Bills are the first overall seed in the AFC.
Buffalo essentially just ran out of time in the Divisional Playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs, but Allen proved that he was every bit as good as Patrick Mahomes in that game. Whenever the Bills needed a play, or a response to keep the game close, the former Wyoming star delivered. It was a shame that someone had to lose that game, but the disappointment from that night should serve as a significant motivator for the team in 2022.
Coming into the NFL, Allen was known for having a powerful arm, which is important to drive the football down the field during inclement weather games. His accuracy has also improved throughout his career, and Allen has spoken about improving on hitting receivers in stride so they can rack up yards after the catch. Even though many would rank him among the top five quarterbacks in the game today, Allen continues to look for ways to improve.
It will be intriguing to see whether the Bills decide to deploy Allen as a runner as much as they did last year. He set career highs in rushing attempts and rushing yards in 2021, which put defenses in an impossible position. The threat of using his athleticism is what part of what makes Allen and the Bills’ offense so dangerous, but could also put the franchise signal caller in harm’s way more often.
Like most teams with star quarterbacks in the NFL, Buffalo will hope that Allen is available for each and every game this upcoming season. However, if he is forced to miss time, the Bills have a capable veteran backup who can produce as a fill-in. 34 year-old Case Keenum has certainly bounced around the league in recent seasons, but has proven he can be a caretaker of an offense. He won both of his starts with the Cleveland Brows last season, posting a 65 percent completion percentage in those games. Keenum also led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship game during the 2017 season.
In case something happens to Allen and Keenum, Buffalo would turn to 31 year-old Matt Barkley. The former USC quarterback has been a deep reserve in the NFL for several years. He spent the 2021 season jumping from team to team as emergency depth, but did not appear in a game. Barkley did spend the 2018-2020 campaigns with the Bills though, so should be relatively familiar with the offense in case he was forced to suit up.