ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For a guy who grew up outside Fresno in a place called Firebaugh, who played his college football in Laramie, who wound up playing professionally in Buffalo, Josh Allen has acclimated well to the limelight of NFL stardom.
When you have an unflappable attitude like Allen, paradise is where you happen to be living.
“I understood my strengths and weaknesses and feel like I still understand what my strengths and weaknesses are,’’ Allen said in a Zoom call with members of the Denver media Wednesday in advance of the Broncos’ game Saturday against Allen’s Buffalo Bills. “Self-knowledge is a huge tool in the maturation process and how to be patient with yourself. It was my goal to find out how to be the best quarterback and the best teammate I could be for the Buffalo Bills. I’m still finding ways to do that, and there’s no doubt that I need to improve on a lot of various things.
“We’re sitting at 10-3 and it feels good to be in the position that we’re at, but we understand that the job is not finished.”
It was some time after the 2018 draft, where Allen went No. 7 to Buffalo (the Broncos at No. 5 took edge rusher Bradley Chubb), when he went back to California to train with QB guru Jordan Palmer. There Allen met Broncos’ second-round pick Drew Lock, who was getting for the 2019 draft.
“He's a competitor in everything he does, not only football,’’ Lock said of Allen on Wednesday. “So, I think that's another thing that really helps him out. He wants to win extremely bad.”
“We get along really well, and we have a good time working together,’’ Allen said of Lock. “It’s more of a hangout-type vibe than a, ‘Let me tell you how to do things.’ He’s a talented player and he’s starting to put it together now. He’s extremely fun to watch and he’s a real good buddy of mine.
“I will say this—he’s a 10 times better dancer than I am. He’s got the moves and he can shoot some hoops. He’s a very athletic guy and a fun guy to be around.”
Allen posted a 5-6 record as a rookie with 10 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions, but he also rushed for 631 yards and 8 touchdowns. Last season, his second, he guided the Bills to a 10-6 record as he improved his passing to 20 touchdowns against 9 interceptions. He rushed for another 510 yards and 9 touchdowns.
This year, he and his Bills are 10-3 needing a win Saturday against the Broncos to clinch the AFC East – which would be Buffalo’s first since 1995, or the year before Allen was born. Allen has 28 touchdowns against 9 interceptions this year while completing 68.6 percent of his passes – up from 52.8 percent as a rookie – and has added another 350 yards and six touchdowns rushing.
Allen is generally running third in the NFL MVP discussion, behind only the otherworldly Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
“He's having a hell of a season,’’ Broncos head coach and defensive play-caller Vic Fangio said of Allen. “He's a big, strong guy who can run. He's tough to tackle in the pocket and he's tough to tackle when he breaks out of the pocket. They have some designed runs for him. He's seeing the field very well and throwing it very well. The guy has really emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and I can remember when people were saying there wasn't enough good quarterbacks for the league and it seems like we're playing a good one every week, so I think that's disappeared.”
Eleven months ago, the Los Angeles Rams surprisingly hired away Brandon Staley, a relatively inexperienced Broncos outside linebackers coach, to be their defensive coordinator. Eleven months later, Staley has proven to be the best assistant coaching hire of 2020. The Rams are No. 1 in total defense with 285.8 yards per game, after they were 13th last year with 339.6 yards. And they are No. 3 in scoring defense this year compared to 17th last year.
Prior to his one year in Denver, Staley coached two years with Fangio in Chicago. And that’s it for his NFL experience. The Rams’ Sean McVay, who is still one of the league’s youngest head coaches, went after Staley because of his youthful potential and as an offensive playcaller, he wanted to bring Fangio’s difficult-to-beat defensive system to his own team.
“Brandon was paid a good compliment,’’ Fangio said. “I had a call from a potential head coach for next season—called me and asked me if I have any more Brandon Staley's to come be his defensive coordinator. Brandon's done well for himself, people notice it, and they're calling me to see if I have another one for them.”
Lock was named FedEx Air Player of the Week in a vote by the fans after his big game against Carolina. Rodgers finished second in the voting. …
Broncos safety Justin Simmons received the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award for the third consecutive year in a vote by the media. Williams was a Broncos’ starting cornerback in 2005-06 who was killed in a drive-by shooting in downtown Denver in the early hours of January 1, 2007. …
Fangio said running backs Melvin Gordon III (shoulder) and Phillip Lindsay (hip) should be good to play Saturday. …
Backup QB Jeff Driskel and practice squad defensive lineman Darius Kilgo were activated from the COVID reserve list Wednesday. The team also officially signed cornerback Parnell Motley off the 49ers practice squad. Motley has a 53-man roster exemption as he must pass COVID protocols. He will be available next week. …
With Brandon McManus self-isolating in a local hotel as a high-risk, close-contact with someone who has the virus, practice squad kicker Taylor Russolino has moved from “quarantine” kicker, where he worked with special teams coordinator Tom McMahon in non-team practice hours, to getting the team practice reps this week.
McManus has continued to test negative for the virus. If he tests negative through Saturday morning, it’s his understanding he’ll be the Broncos’ kicker Saturday afternoon against the Bills.