Collinsworth has theories on Allen's shoulder, Diggs' production and Daquan's impact


Staff member

The Buffalo Bills will be on “NBC’s Sunday Night Football” for the third time this season when they face the host Miami Dolphins for the AFC East title.
Will the real Josh Allen please stand up?

Allen hasn’t been at his best during a “SNF” win over the New York Giants and a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals or a Saturday night win over the Los Angeles Chargers on NBC’s streaming service Peacock.

“I'm sure it's my fault,” cracked NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, who is working his fourth Bills game this season alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico.
Collinsworth is expecting to see Allen at his best Sunday.

“I always expect to,” said Collinsworth. “I mean, honestly, I've seen so much of the incredible stuff. You know, the Kansas City playoff game. I know what he's fully capable of and I've got a lot of respect for him.”

“He hasn't been physically completely right for some time now and he's still running as hard as he can. It’s got to hurt to throw a ball with a bad shoulder and yet he's still as strong as anybody. So what do I expect out of Josh Allen? I expect a great performance. But I honestly do every time I turn him on.”

In a wide-ranging 20-minute telephone interview, Collinsworth discussed why Bills receiver Stefon Diggs hasn’t had a big impact in recent games, letting fans contribute one-third of Pro Bowl voting and the importance of Sunday’s game to the Super Bowl hopes of both the Bills and the Dolphins.

He noted that the Bills have had great success recently against the Dolphins.

“But you've got the offset of each of these teams I think is 7-1 at home. And the significance for me, somebody who lost two Super Bowls, let me just preface it like this: The only thing I care about is winning Super Bowls. I don't care about winning playoff games. I don't care about the Pro Bowl.

“The one thing that always crushed me is that I didn't actually win a Super Bowl and I think these two teams probably feel like I feel, too. But the possibility of either of them becoming the No. 2 seed and getting to play in either Miami or Buffalo and the advantages that gives that team is almost essential in some way to that team winning a Super Bowl, right? Or at least it feels like it at this point. I know the Bills may have to win to get in. But, to me, it's all about winning a championship.”

He is concerned that the Bills’ four victories to get to 10-6 and be in position to win the AFC East may have damaged Allen.

“The only question you have about Josh is, did they have to go into playoff mode so soon? That his ability to run around and run over people and do all the great things that he does, has he just taken too many hits too soon where ordinarily they're clinched … the playoffs. But he's had to slug his way into the playoffs this year. I think he's been hurting for a month and a half, not to where he can't play.”

Collinsworth doesn’t know what to think about the Bills' offense.

“I think that what they've established with that team on offense is that it's more than Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs,” said Collinsworth. “I mean, it's been a while since we've seen Stef Diggs go off. That's a possibility. Right? They're a much more balanced team. It's been a couple of games since James Cook had his Dallas breakout and Dalton Kincaid is a deep threat now, apparently. … You legitimately have to worry about Khalil Shakir.

“But it all comes back to this team is Josh Allen … and really for the last three quarters of the New England, it seemed like they just went back old school Josh Allen, shotgun snap, let him drop back, let him create, and run around and make some plays.”
He has a theory on why Diggs hasn’t gotten a lot of yards lately.

“I think there's a lot of scheme changes that were going on. There were a lot of getting five guys out with the new offense and sometimes when you do that, it forces quicker throws and he's been a little bit more down the field kind of player in the past. I think that basically may have something to do with it. I don't know. But that would be my first thought.”

Collinsworth thinks highly of the Bills' defense.

“I don’t know why we're talking about the offense,” he said, changing course. “The defense is why these guys are where they are right now.”
That surprises him because of the injuries.

“When you lose arguably your best player at all three levels, it's hard to say you're going to end up with the top three defense kind of thing in almost every category,” he said.

The story of cornerback Rasul Douglas since he was acquired really has impressed him.

“He probably played the best quarter of football I've ever seen a defensive back play,” said Collinsworth of Douglas’ two interceptions and tipped pass in the victory over New England. “He just utterly dominated the game.”

He also thought the return of tackle Daquan Jones in the Patriots game was “really significant.”

“If you watch the tape, he really impacted the game and he's going open things up for those rushers, maybe in particular, Ed Oliver.”

Collinsworth was a big fan of Oliver in the Bills previous "SNF" games. You might have expected the publicity would have propelled Oliver into the Pro Bowl. However, he was only named a third alternate.

Offensive tackle Dion Dawkins and Cook were the only Bills to make the roster on a vote of fans, coaches and players. Allen and Diggs were first alternates.

“There's nothing about the Pro Bowl that surprises me,” said Collinsworth. “I'm glad the fans get to participate. But honestly, it's too bad that the process is what it is like … The best players aren't always the ones whose names that you know. And sometimes the same guys just get voted in year after year, but they don't take into account a great year and that's really too bad.”

“But the guy that I don't know if he made it or not, did Leonard Floyd make the Pro Bowl this year?” asked Collinsworth.
Floyd was named a second alternate, as was center Mitch Morse.

“Think about where this team would be this year with Von Miller's injury if Leonard Floyd doesn't come up with double digit sacks,” said Collinsworth. “There could have been 31 other teams that claimed him. It took so long for him to get a job.

“What (linebacker) Terrel Bernard has done this year is incredible. Everybody was like, 'Oh, Matt Milano is out, they're dead, where's their leader?' You’ve got to give Bernard credit. He's had a great year.”

And then there was Allen, who was a first alternate at quarterback behind Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.
Collinsworth didn’t know where his website, Pro Football Focus, graded Allen off the top of his head.

“We got him rated by far the highest on the Buffalo Bills and a 91 grade puts him in the elite category,” said Collinsworth.
Then he promised to get back to me.

Fifteen minutes later, an NBC publicist told me PFF has Allen graded first at quarterback. Dallas’ Dak Prescott is second, Jackson is third and Tagovailoa No. 4.
In a few days, Allen gets another chance to finally show why on “SNF.”