Josh Allen currently is listed third on the Buffalo Bills quarterback depth chart behind starter AJ McCarron and backup Nathan Peterman. Of course, May depth charts are written in pencil, and there will be growing pressure to erase and rewrite this one before the Bills head to Baltimore for their regular season opener against the Ravens on September 9.
Radio talk show hosts and the wizards of odds in Las Vegas already have had a field day speculating which rookie from the Quarterback Class of 2018 will be the first to start. Right now, the betting money is on Lamar Jackson to supplant veteran Ravens signalcaller Joe Flacco in game one. Sam Darnold of the New York Jets is pegged by oddsmakers for game five, followed by Arizona Cardinals’ rookie Josh Rosen (game eight), Cleveland Browns No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield (game nine), and Allen (game 11).
Unless Allen blows people away in the off-season and preseason, he’ll start the regular season on the bench, and that probably is a good thing. The first-round pick out of Wyoming has the most upside and the most potential to be a bust. Yes, Allen possesses great size (6-foot-5, 223 pounds), a rocket arm capable of spiraling footballs through Lake Erie’s powerful gusts and is nimble and fleet of foot. But there are legitimate concerns about his accuracy, his ability to diagnose defenses quickly and the pocket coolness necessary to go through his progressions.
“I think you are looking at a guy that’s a wild stallion that needs to be refined and coached,’’ respected NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell said recently on the television show, “One Bills Live.” “But I think there’s a lot there. It’s always a debate between what can be coached and what can’t. But there are a lot of positive traits to work with.”
The Bills are in a good spot. They don’t have to rush Allen, even though fans and media will press them to do so. I know I’m in the minority among Western New York media, but I think McCarron is going to surprise people. I think he’s a better—and cheaper—bridge option than Tyrod Taylor would have been. Allen would do well to take his time and work on his flaws. To throw him out there right away could be disastrous, given the Bills schedule—five road games in the first seven weeks—questionable receiving corps, and revamped offensive line.
Collecting splinters and knowledge for several games might be beneficial for this wild stallion.
Speaking of depth charts, I’m amazed how quickly the Bills “McBeane” team of coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have remade the roster they inherited from predecessors Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley. Running back LeSean McCoy, tight end Charles Clay and right tackle Jordan Mills are the only returning offensive starters from the previous regime, while ends Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson, tackle Kyle Williams and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander are the only holdover starters on defense. Yes, this is a tad skewed because of the unexpected retirements of veteran center Eric Wood and Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito. Still, we’re talking a two-thirds turnover of the starting 22 in just 16 months. That’s what you call an extreme makeover.
I still think Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time, but LeBron James continues to close the gap with his clutch play in the post-season. That high-off-the-glass, buzzer-beating game-winner the other night against Toronto marked the fifth time King James has made a go-ahead shot in the final five seconds of regulation or overtime in the post-season. Jordan, his boyhood idol, achieved that feat two fewer times.
LeBron also recorded his 16 30-point, 10-rebound post-season game, breaking the record held by Michael. Earlier in the playoffs, some surmised that the 34-year-old James looked spent and might be slowing down. He swatted away those observations during the sweep of Toronto.
Interestingly, he is averaging more minutes (41.4 to 36.9), more points (34.3 to 27.5), more rebounds (9.4 to 8.6) and almost as many assists (9 to 9.1) per game than he did in the regular season. That’s not slowing down. That’s peaking at the right time.
Last week, I wrote about how Syracuse’s University’s Carrier Dome was named after Carrier Corporation, the air conditioning manufacturer. It reminded me of a funny story a friend told me. He seriously thought the Carrier Dome was named for the football program’s tradition of producing famous ballcarriers such as Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Larry Csonka and Joe Morris. I liked his rationale. Rather ingenious.
During the last several years, the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox appeared to have cooled down quite a bit. But I think that’s changing, and given the bevy of young star players on each roster, this diamond dandy could be blazing for another decade.
The condition of that 1952 Mickey Mantle card that recently sold for $2.8 million was rated a nine out of 10. Come to find out there are three known ’52 Mantles that are rated 10s. One expert in the field of sports memorabilia said that if one of the three mint-condition cards was put up for auction, it would garner at least $10 million. No wonder these cards have been called mini works of art.
Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.