First up, Draw Play news: I will be traveling for a wedding soon, so no comics till maybe next Friday. I also messed up my wrist somehow a couple weeks ago and it’s still kinda bugging me, so I might not update very much at all between now and the opener on Sept. 8th, just to give the tendons a nice fulfilling rest before the big season push begins and I’m doodling like mad every Sunday.

Now onto this week’s soapbox bugaboo

I saw some interactions online recently regarding Josh Allen and it made me kinda annoyed. Basically, someone said Josh Allen was bad for two years and we’ve forgotten about it, and swarms of Bills fans came in to attack that idea. It annoyed me because while I don’t necessarily agree that Josh Allen was truly bad in his first two years (I think he was very inconsistent), it is weird how the narrative around him changed once he took the leap forward. He wasn’t what he is now, and I think it’s disingenuous to say otherwise. But this is a phenomenon I’ve witnessed in action many times over many years with many players.

As sports fans we’ll always latch onto players and root for them. This is normal and expected and part of the fun. All of us have opinions on all of these dudes so we can talk to each other at the bar or with friends and family. But when it comes to players on your team, a fun blindness creeps in that’s both endearing and obnoxious. When Josh Allen got drafted, a lot of Bills fans were unhappy about the choice. A lot of people labled him a bust. A lot of people laughed. I was one of those people. Even admitting I didn’t have a deep opinion due to my lack of college watching, years of fandom had tailored me into seeing Josh Allen as a bust. All of those people, many, MANY of them Bills fans, were wrong.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of those fans admitting it now. Many of them will actually admit to being upset on draft day, but then they’ll go on to say things like “I knew he was the guy when he hurdled Anthony Barr” (a specific thing I saw said many times). But I was there too. Josh Allen was an inconsistent mess for two years and a lot of these folks were skeptical even if they were fans who believed in him. Josh Allen not throwing for 300 yards in a game ever was a legitimate meme for a while.  For every cool run or sweet bomb, he also had a plethora of overthrows and mental mistakes. For his first two seasons he looked pretty much like what many people originally labeled him as: a guy with all the physical tools who couldn’t seem to put it all together consistently enough. The potential was there, but could he actually reach it?

As soon as year 3 happened and he took that leap forward, it was like the entire discussion changed. Turns out he was always great and you filthy casuals just couldn’t see it. Fans taking victory laps because they were always right. It always strikes me as silly, because yeah, take the victory lap on your guy, but don’t pretend you were always right just because you supported him. Every fan supports pretty much every player on their team from the moment they end up on the roster. I’m on Daniel Jones’ side and I’ve wanted him to succeed since he was picked even if I don’t think he’s very good and expect him to fail. Trying to pretend you didn’t have doubts during those years after he panned out is a little silly. It’s funny, because if Daniel Jones does somehow take the leap this year (unlikely, but not impossible), there are a ton of plays and moments and excuses we Giants fans could use to cover up our previous skepticism the same way Bills fans have paved over their own previous reservations now that Allen is the man.

It’s all mostly harmless but I think the reason it annoys me, specifically with Allen, is it feels like it actually takes away credit from him and the Bills organization. If Josh Allen was actually this great QB the whole time, that reduces his story and makes him less interesting. Frankly, I think Josh’s ability to take charge and develop is a far better and more worthwhile narrative. It’s amazing to see how he’s grown as a professional. It’s been great to see him take the leap and prove the doubts wrong. He deserves credit for the strides he’s made and he deserves his fair share of the blame for his struggles before this. The Bills deserve credit too, for developing him, for keeping his coaching consistent, to giving him better support to facilitate his growth. Was it a coincidence that Allen took a massive leap the same year the Bills got Stefon Diggs? No. Diggs and Allen made each other better players. Allen wasn’t some dude who was secretly good the whole time but had nobody to throw to, Diggs made him better as a QB.

We need to stop praising players, especially QBs, in such vacuums. The Bills as a whole deserve a ton of credit for how they’ve developed Allen into an all-star. This is a team sport and nothing happens alone. We are more than happy to give players we like all the excuses in the world when they struggle, we have to acknowledge the work of everyone else when they succeed too.