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Ask a former NFL player: Is Josh Allen going to improve at QB for the Bills next season?

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In this week’s mailbag, Geoff Schwartz talks Josh Allen’s ceiling, headsets, and what a player’s gameday routine is like.

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Bills QB Josh Allen sits on the field with a disappointed look on his face
Josh Allen helped get the Bills to the playoffs, but they blew a big lead to the Texans in the Wild Card Round.

Time for the weekly Friday mailbag. What a crazy Wild Card Weekend last week, and now we are heading into a Divisional Round. I think the weekend’s games should be excellent!

But first, mailbag questions. And don’t forget to holler at me on Twitter or Instagram if you have a question next week.

What is Josh Allen’s career floor/ceiling? Should the Bills be looking to move on?@jdiz1617

This is Josh Allen: Josh Allen is a below replacement-level quarterback.

He’s started for two full seasons now, and the success rate of quarterbacks who’ve started their first two seasons under replacement and become even a solid starter in the last 20 years is narrow — basically, it’s Alex Smith.

Allen is just good enough for the Bills to be competitive in most games, as they were against the Texans last weekend. But he’s not good enough for this offense to ever put away teams. He still misses on far too many easy throws, and while he’s not had many big games so far, he has come up short in many of them (like against the Patriots and Texans).

When you think of a franchise QB, you want someone who’s going to elevate your team when the stakes are highest, and his play doesn’t match that. I know what Bills fans will say to me: “Well, he improved so much this season.”

Yes, and most quarterbacks make their biggest jump between the first year starting and their second. Yet, Allen’s “jump” in the rankings still left him 24th in QBR, 27th by Football Outsiders, 22nd by PFF, 23rd in adjusted yards per attempt, and dead last in completion percentage. So, not ideal.

The Bills should not be looking to move on, though. They drafted Allen and will hope for the best next season as they add more weapons for him and continue to build the offense around him. However, the Bills entering 2020 feel like the Bears from last season and the Jaguars the season before that: great on defense, not so great at the quarterback position. I believe they will take a big step back next season.

The NFL sidelines are a closed circuit network with all the coaches plugged in and the interns running around with cables. The link between coach and QB’s helmet is over air waves. Could someone with a scanner app not hear that chatter? @johnsms3

Good question. The play is radioed in from the headset of the playcaller to the QB’s helmet. And for those who don’t know, this happens on defense also. One player on defense gets to wear the “green dot helmet” so he’s able to get the call from the defensive playcaller.

So in theory, I guess someone could grab the chatter somehow. But, how useful would it be?

I think it would be extremely tough given the 40 seconds between plays to intercept the chatter and then decipher those calls in time to get them back into the players on the field. Remember, 15 seconds before the end of the play clock, the communication cuts off.

Also, I think it’s just an overload on the system to have all this information sometimes, especially if the information isn’t relayed properly. You have your offensive or defensive call, plus the opposing look on the field. You go through your pre-snap process and then boom, you get word of the opposing call. Is this call correct? How do I adjust? Where do I look?

It’s just so much. Then the ball is snapped and you’re just standing there thinking.

I’ve always been curious: What goes into gameday for players (say a noon kickoff)? When do you get to the stadium and what’s the process up until warmups? You said before you guys are creatures of habits, so what exactly goes on while all of us crazy people are partying in the parking lot?@bburtonn

Awesome question. Let’s use a 1 p.m. ET game. Whether it’s a home game or an away game, you must be in the locker room two hours before the kickoff, so 11 a.m. Before every game, including home games, you stay at a hotel. There’s a wakeup call, normally around 8:30 a.m. for breakfast. I would wake up around 7:30 so I could eat and get to the stadium early, normally around 9:30.

At home, we drive and on the road, there are two buses. An early bus would normally arrive to the stadium by 10 a.m. and then a second arriving at 11 a.m. Once you’re in the locker room, there’s a schedule posted for warmups. If you want to go through warmup on your own, you’re free to get that done.

Before you head out for warmups, guys are getting taped, stretching, in the hot tub, and getting treatment. When it’s your position’s time to head out, then you go out for warmups. The linemen are the last ones out, normally around 12:20. You warm up for 15 minutes and then go back inside and get ready for the game.

My personal routine was this:

  • 9:30: arrive
  • 9:40: bathroom
  • 9:50: get my ankle warmed up in the training room
  • 10:30: I’d just lounge around, maybe go for a stroll on the field. Just relax
  • 11:30: I’d get dressed, everything but my pads, and go outside for my warmup
  • 11:50: back in the locker room to relax
  • 12: get my pads on, followed by my hands taped
  • 1: game time

I hope that answers your question!