Analytics week continued on the Pick Six Podcast and, of course, host Will Brinson and one of the NFL’s top minds kept the quarterback conversation rolling, breaking down a handful of signal-callers’ play as the 2020 regular season draws near. Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo was the latest guest for Thursday’s episode and he and Brinson spent the first segment of the pod diving deep into Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. 

Allen is a polarizing figure when evaluating quarterbacks as the Bills starter does possess a ton of talent, specifically with his arm strength and rushing ability. When looking at the advanced statistics, however, those numbers are not so kind to the 24-year-old. Last season, PFF gave Allen a 63.9 grade, which put him 27th among all players with at least 250 dropbacks (including postseason). 

“He’s graded poorly for us that last couple of years,” Palazzolo said of Allen. “That doesn’t project well for him going forward. It’s very similar to [Mitch] Trubisky the last couple of years. There are very similar vibes like a defense-centric team that buys into their quarterback and all that stuff. 

“I’d say the difference is Allen’s situation has continued to get better since he’s entered the league. You compare him to what Sam Darnold has had to deal with, Josh Rosen has had to deal with, of course, he’s not even playing, but it’s just night and day. I think Allen can not even get that much better this year and improve a lot statistically because of the supporting cast.” 

Because Buffalo has continued to surround Allen with players like Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary, and others since drafting him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Palazzolo does admit that the quarterback could put up some impressive stats that even put him in MVP conversations at some point, even if he doesn’t actually improve as a pure passer. 

“I think he has one of those years in him where it’s like 58% completions, 28 touchdowns through the air and another eight on the ground and it’s not him actually playing all that well, but at the end of the year he accounted for a lot of touchdowns and he’s an MVP candidate,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s this year, but I think Allen has that in him even if he’s not better so to speak.” 

After touching on the Los Angeles Rams situation and a potential bounce-back season for Sean McVay’s offense, Brinson and Palazzolo dove back into the quarterback discussion with Raiders signal-caller Derek Carr. The biggest development that they are hoping to see from him as the franchise makes the move to Las Vegas is him being a bit more aggressive with his downfield attempts. 

“I’m all over the place with Carr,” Palazzolo said. “In 2015 and 2016, he looked like a top-10 quarterback. He looked like that next guy and I thought him and Amari Cooper had this really good rapport — Carr can make every throw. I know that’s generic scout speak, but he literally can throw the ball down the field extremely well. When Alex Smith was super conservative, you were like ‘Do you really want Alex Smith throwing the ball down the field?’ and then he proved he could actually do it too when he unleashed it. 

“Here’s the comparison I’ll make with Carr: Matthew Stafford, before last season, was right in Carr’s territory as far as low average depth of target. Derek Carr had the lowest average depth of target in the league last year. Stafford had been bottom five for a couple of years. Stafford has a cannon. You want him unleashed. Last year, Stafford increased his average depth of target by four yards per attempt. He went from like 6.5 to like 10.5, which is absurd and he was incredible until he got hurt. 

“Carr, he’s doesn’t have Stafford’s arm talent, but he has that in him.”

Palazzolo also added that Carr is right in that third tier of quarterbacks with Stafford, Cam Newton and others. 

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