Bills QB Josh Allen focused on 'making the smart play' after throwing six interceptions in three weeks

EDITOR'S NOTE: The NFL announced on Thursday that Sunday's game between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills has been moved from Buffalo to Detroit's Ford Field due to a snowstorm scheduled to hit Western New York.

In just a few short weeks, the Bills went from AFC darling to third place in the surprisingly rugged AFC East.

It's not difficult to spot what's changed for Buffalo: ball security. Josh Allen has developed a tendency to turn it over in key moments in recent weeks, throwing two interceptions in each of his last three games and driving his total up to a league-worst 10 on the year.

Add in his fumbled snap on the goal line in Week 10 -- an unlikely play that gave Minnesota, a team staring directly at defeat, new life -- and Allen is officially giving folks a reason to be concerned. He knows he has to be better in the weeks ahead.

"Decision-making is No. 1, trusting the game plan, trusting the guys around me and trying not to do too much," Allen said this week. "It's not hard to try to tweak that mindset of trusting the other guys around me, taking the check-down when it's there and just making the smart play."

The recent development has a tinge of nostalgia. Coming out of Wyoming, Allen was a top prospect because of his big arm, but concerns remained regarding his accuracy and tendency to throw interceptions. It was an issue early in Allen's career in Buffalo, but the Bills exercised patience, surrounded him with a quality staff, and eventually realized their vision for Allen, a superstar quarterback and primary reason Buffalo is now considered to be an NFL power.

"It's that constant, I can make a play or I can trust somebody else to make a play that I've battled with my entire football career, and trying to do too much sometimes," Allen said. "It'll hurt you."

Lately, Allen is making uncharacteristic mistakes and feeling the pain he described. An elbow injury suffered in the final moments of Buffalo's Week 9 loss isn't helping, of course, and neither will the conditions anticipated in Orchard Park, New York, this weekend, where forecasts project the region to receive nearly two feet of snow.

Allen is no stranger to playing in snow games both in college and the NFL. The timing of this snowstorm, though, is not ideal for a quarterback trying to be better at protecting the football.

Buffalo's Week 11 matchup isn't exactly the worst imaginable. Cleveland's defense has struggled to play consistently for much of the season and just gave up 39 points to the Bills' AFC East rival Dolphins. But Allen's recent struggles offer a key detail that could prove significant -- if either team can even throw the ball at all Sunday.

Seven of Allen's 10 interceptions have come versus zone coverage this season, tied for the most such interceptions thrown in the NFL. Cleveland primarily relies on zone coverage, using it on 75.6 percent of coverage snaps this season.

The good news: If the weather permits it, Allen will bring a deep passing attack that is certain to hurt the Browns. He leads the league with 21 deep pass completions for 784 yards, and Cleveland is allowing the third-highest opposing passer rating on such attempts.

If the weather is poor, the Bills may be forced to turn to a running game they often ignore. In that moment, the responsibility could again fall on the shoulders of Allen, who will be tasked with not only moving the chains, but avoiding mistakes.

Bills coach Sean McDermott remains confident in his quarterback. He just wants him to reel in the risks a bit in order to get back on track.

"It's a balance. He makes plays, he makes spectacular plays," McDermott said. "I believe in him and we just got to do a better job of taking care of the football and taking what the defense gives us at times."

Allen's next opportunity to do so arrives Sunday. Get the snowplows ready.

Related Content