The Broncos are going to have a new starting quarterback on Sunday against the Browns. With Joe Flacco down with a neck injury, Denver is turning to backup Brandon Allen to be the starter in Week 9.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio sent shockwaves around Broncos Country when he revealed that Flacco would not play in Week 9 against the Browns.
“Joe’s not going to play this week. He’s got a disc or neck injury and he’ll definitely miss this week. Then, we’ll reevaluate after the bye and see where it’s at,” Fangio said.
So, what are the positives and negatives in Allen’s game? I broke down what little preseason film there is of him. I also went back to my scouting notes from the 2016 NFL Draft when I scouted Allen and wrote him up at the Senior Bowl.
Here’s my report:
Allen comes from a football family. His dad is involved in football and his brother Austin got a chance with the Buccaneers in 2018. Coming out of high school, Allen was considered one of the best pro-style quarterbacks in the country.
Allen began his career at the University of Arkansas as a redshirt freshman in 2011. The next season he was a backup to Tyler Wilson and eventually made his way into the starting lineup. As his college career went on, Allen had to fight through adversity. Early in his career, Allen had his truck egged and then in a separate incident had his truck torched by angry fans.
He stuck with the program and continued to improve each season. Allen ended up as the all-time leader in touchdown passes in Razorbacks history. In the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jacksonville made Allen their pick. He spent time with the Jaguars and the Rams before making his way to the Broncos.
The first thing that stands out about Allen when you watch film is his quick decisions as a passer. He does not hold onto the ball too long and he zips passes quickly when he sees his man open. Allen doesn’t just check down a bunch of passes to inflate his stats. Instead, he will push the ball down the field and attack a defense vertically with his strong arm.
Allen passed for 442 yards and six touchdowns in the game featured in the video above – and that wasn’t his best game of his senior season.
He can bootleg with the best of them. Allen is comfortable operating from under center, and he does a good job of throwing on the run. He will work intermediate routes with great accuracy and is not afraid to throw to the middle of the field.
Allen has a strong arm and he does a good job of setting up cleanly before he lets a pass rip. Even when he’s throwing on the run, Allen uses proper hip torque to get rid of the ball with proper velocity. He’s not afraid to challenge tight windows downfield and is known as a fiery leader on the field.
The Broncos have to craft a game plan that stays away from these parts of Allen’s game. First and foremost, the team needs to give him early options in his progressions. Allen ran about 40 percent of his plays using play action, and when he finishes his fake, he likes to fire the pass. When forced to go to another read, Allen’s eyes drop from the field as he looks to run.
He’s athletic enough to buy time with his legs, but Allen is not going to be a scrambler at the pro level. Allen usually locks onto his first target and will fire a pass in that direction. The Broncos need to make sure he’s got an easy second option when bootlegging or rolling out as a passer.
Allen had the smallest hands of any quarterback invited to the 2016 Scouting Combine. His hand size (8 7/8″) was a big conversation around his game when he came out of college, but Allen didn’t have ball-security problems at Arkansas. As a senior in 2015, Allen only had four fumbles.
There may not be that many downfield throws on the sideline for Allen. His deep sideline passes seem to lack touch. Perhaps things will work out anyway due to a target like Courtland Sutton on the outside, but that throw is not Allen’s best.
Senior Bowl and Pro Comparison
I watched Allen down at the Reese’s Senior Bowl back in 2016. Going through my practice notes, Allen’s footwork stands out. I liked the way he set up to throw and the way he kept a good rhythm as a passer.
He wasn’t the best quarterback down there, as that was the year that Carson Wentz stole all of our hearts. Allen did have a good week of practice – not a great week – but he did turn in a solid performance during the game.
Usually, an average week of practice and a good game doesn’t mean that much. The week of practice is much more important than what happens during the actual game. I’ve seen MVPs of the Senior Bowl like Pat White flame out in the NFL. Allen had a good game and that’s important to note, but I thought Wentz was much, much better during the week of practice.
In my scouting report for Allen I wrote at the Senior Bowl, I compared him to Brian Hoyer – another player I saw on the All-Star road trip (East-West Shrine Game) years ago. Like Hoyer, Allen is a smaller prospect but has a good arm and will make quick decisions with the football.
I don’t think he’s as good as Kirk Cousins, but Allen is a great fit for this Shanahan/West Coast system.
This season has gone off the rails, but it will be interesting to see what Allen can do as the starter on Sunday. He has good mechanics, athleticism and a strong arm. All three of these traits can help him greatly on the football field in this offense.
Allen has had some time to get up to speed in this offense, mainly with the language of the system – and he’s ran a similar system when he was with the Rams. Go back and watch the preseason game between the Rams and Broncos when Allen looked pretty good against the Denver defense.
I don’t believe the Broncos have any sort of Tony Romo-like find here in Allen. However, they might have a decent spot starter in Allen.
The offense in 2019 has been boring and ineffective, averaging less than 16 points per game. Allen could inject some life into this offense. His athleticism and ability to bootleg will look vastly different from Flacco. We’ll see if he can lead the Broncos to victory in Week 9.