This was no surprise. In our day-by-day unveiling of the 30 projected Most Valuable Bills for 2021, quarterback Josh Allen was headed for that first and final spot all along at the start of training camp.
After all, he was second in the NFL's MVP voting last season after leading the Bills to the AFC Championship Game.
His 4,544 passing yards and 37 TDs against just 10 interceptions in the regular season represented a breakout from the previous two seasons, when he struggled with decision-making and ball security on his way to a 15-12 record.
Now he's back for Year 4 as the Bills believe they have the quarterback and all the pieces around him to win.
Last year was something hardly anyone saw coming, and this year it's not unreasonable to expect him to keep trending upward because of far less restrictions placed on teams in this second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Allen and his teammates were able to get on the field together for OTAs and mandatory minicamp this spring.
Today, they take the field for the first time in training camp with a strong sense that they have all the pieces required to bring this franchise its first Super Bowl title.
Here's the thing, though. Despite the quantum leap Allen made in 2020 (with major help from wide receiver Stefon Diggs), he landed a ranking of just 40th among the league's top 50 players by Pro Football Focus heading into this season.
Here is author Sam Monson's reasoning.
"Allen was spectacular in 2020, but it was such a giant leap forward from his previous baseline — his overall PFF grade jumped from the mid-60s to 90.9 last year — that the smart analysis is to expect some degree of regression, given what we know about player development at this level.
"It was certainly a breakout season, but players rarely maintain a development curve with a trajectory to the moon year over year. Allen’s most impressive improvement came in terms of accuracy, where he went from a player with an adjusted completion rate dead last as a rookie to ranking fifth in the league in 2020."
Looking at it from another perspective, because Allen and Diggs (45th) are the only Bills on PFF's list, it underscores how much Allen was able to accomplish with so little.
What could work to hold Allen back this season are the restrictions the NFL has placed on players who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19. Allen during the offseason program repeated his concerns about the vaccine and said he wanted to get more information before getting the shot(s).
Negotiations continue as well for a massive contract extension, and there's no telling how that process could affect Allen's performance.
Nevertheless, Allen is back and the Bills are thinking Super Bowl because they know they have the right quarterback now.