NASHVILLE – It is time for the Tennessee Titans’ annual checkup with Josh Allen. In fact, it is a little overdue.
For the fourth season in a row, the Titans will face Allen and the Buffalo Bills in mid-October. The matchup has taken place in Week 5 in each of the last three years. This time it will be Week 6 on Monday Night Football.
That unlikely consistency in scheduling for teams that are not in the same division has given Tennessee’s players and coaches an opportunity to gauge Allen’s professional development. Without a doubt, they are impressed with what they have seen from the seventh overall pick in the 2018, who likely will test them this time around more than they will him.
“Yeah, I think if you’re talking about the most improved player in the league over the last three years, it’s definitely him,” safety Kevin Byard said. “He’s playing at an MVP level right now. He has their offense operating at a really high level – best team in the league right now. So, it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
With each successive meeting, Allen has attempted more passes and has thrown for more yards against Tennessee’s defense. Overall, the numbers have not been overwhelming. He is 59-for--92 (64.1 percent) for 564 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
His average yards per game (188.0) and passer rating (77.4) against the Titans are well below his career figures, and he and the Bills have not scored more than 16 points in any of those games. But he has been on the winning side in two of the three.
A game-by-game look at Allen’s statistics against the Titans:
“I think the deep ball accuracy is really good,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said. “I think maybe a couple years ago he was airmailing a couple of those, I don’t know. I think back and they were taking shots and maybe he was overthrowing some guys. He is really accurate. He made a throw (last week) to his left, down the seam, and they couldn’t have defended it no matter what they had called.”
Allen has completed one pass of 35-plus yards in every game this season and is tied for second in the NFL with five completions of 40 yards. Aided by that big-play potential, Buffalo (4-1) enters the week as the NFL’s highest scoring team with an average of 34.4 points per game with one of nine offenses that currently average better than 400 yards per contest.
Allen is among the top 10 quarterbacks in passing yards (1,370), touchdown passes (12) and pass attempts (183). He has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four straight games (11 total over that span) and has thrown for more than 300 yards in three of the previous four.
On top of all of that, he is his team’s second-leading rusher with 188 yards on 35 carries. In a victory over Kansas City on Sunday, Allen rushed for a team-high 59 yards with one touchdown and threw for 315 and three touchdowns.
“We know they’re going to use the quarterback a lot,” Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said. “… They want to keep the ball in his hands, and that’s a challenge for us. We will accept that challenge. We’re ready for that challenge.
“He’s the reason why their offense is why they’re at today. I think if we can control him, we can take him out from doing what he likes to do … [and] we’ll have a good game.”
Vrabel noted that the easy part of every week is to formulate a gameplan. The hard part is for players to execute that plan and make it work during the game when things rarely go as expected.
The Titans know well what they’re up against in Allen. They just have to show they can handle him.
“He has a physical skillset where he can make every throw, but he can also run you over and get first downs,” Byard said. “So, super-excited to play a quarterback like him and the way he’s playing right now.”