BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Unlike many NFL teams, the Buffalo Bills won't be considering a change at starting quarterback.
The room around Josh Allen, however, could have an entirely new look.
This offseason will feature more change than the Bills have seen in some time, in part due to the departure of assistant GM Joe Schoen and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the New York Giants. As is common when NFL assistants leave for more prominent roles elsewhere, they are taking a significant group of Bills players and staff with them.
The Bills’ quarterback room has sustained the biggest hit. From Daboll to assistant quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney to practice squad quarterback Davis Webb, significant figures in Allen’s development will be elsewhere in 2022.
What impact that has on Allen, who had dealt with relatively little change in his NFL career, will be something to watch as he enters what should be the prime of his career.
Keeping Allen involved in the process of deciding who he'll be working with is a priority for general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott and a good starting point.
“We’d be crazy not to loop him in,” Beane said. “... I definitely wouldn’t want to bring someone in the quarterback room, player, coach, whatever, that might not allow Josh to be at his best.”
The departure of Daboll, who is the only NFL coordinator Allen has ever known, is the biggest loss. The two had a strong relationship.
But that led to Allen’s choice, quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey, getting promoted to replace Daboll. Former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady has been brought in as quarterbacks coach after Tierney left for the Giants.
The quarterback room will look different and the loss of Webb shouldn't be underestimated. He was a key part of Allen's development over the last three years and has been described as a player/coach.
“[Webb] has been a fantastic teammate, fantastic person off the field for me,” Allen said.
The other quarterbacks on the team in 2021 were Jake Fromm, who's now on the Giants, and Mitchell Trubisky, the former No. 2 overall pick. Trubisky is likely to get a shot somewhere to compete for a starting role.
“I’d love to have Mitchell back,” Beane said. “He was outstanding. ... I worried in-season if he was going to start getting the itch, like, man, I want to get out there and even someone called us at the trade deadline asking about him ... he was such a great fit for us I couldn’t part with him knowing the team we had. ... I’ve told him and his agent, if he doesn’t get what he wants, we’ve got a spot for him.”
Those close relationships are part of what the Bills will be looking to replace. Having a backup quarterback on the roster who can run the offense if Allen were to miss time is key, especially because of his physical playing style.
Three of the four quarterbacks who had the most rushing yards in 2021 missed time due to injuries -- Allen being the exception (Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray). Allen finished the season with 763 (third most) and took 201 quarterback hits, most in the NFL. Protecting him is a priority but that’s harder to do with a running quarterback. Allen suffered a left foot sprain in 2021 but did not miss a snap.
“[Backup quarterback is] an important position. We know how Josh is,” Beane said. “I’m up there screaming for him to get down plenty of times. I don’t ever get on to him for throwing interceptions, you know, or a fumble, or whatever happens. The only time I ever get on Josh is for taking unnecessary hits. That’s his play style, that’s why we love him, but a backup quarterback is very important knowing the way he plays the game.”
Beane said the Bills will look to free agency and the draft to find quarterbacks. The quarterback carousel is set up to create significant change yet again, and may leave the Bills in a favorable position to find a solid veteran to bring in. Former Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Teddy Bridgewater, who has a history with Brady, could be valuable additions.
These changes are the result of the Bills' success. Adapting to them and continuing to put Allen in the most favorable position possible is key to ensuring that success continues.
“You're always looking as an organization to find a quarterback that you can say, 'Hey, we've got him. He can do it.' And he can take your team to the highest level,” McDermott said. “Without a shadow of a doubt, Josh Allen has answered all those questions."