In past seasons, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was a roller coaster of rifle-armed passes, stupendous runs and head-scratching turnovers.
As Allen has matured into one of the game's best quarterbacks in 2020, the aforementioned turnovers and bad decisions have largely gone to the wayside. A major factor in that has been Allen's ability to stand up to the opposition's blitz and cut down defenses in the process.
Despite Allen's success against the blitz this season, as he heads into Saturday's AFC Divisional Round matchup against the blitz-heavy Ravens, the Bills QB can expect Don Martindale's defense to stay true to form with its pass-rushing ways.
"He knows that there is going to be pressure, that's for sure," Martindale said Wednesday, via ESPN. "That's who we are. That's what we've done."
The Ravens' 45.4 blitz percentage -- including the playoffs -- is the highest in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats. They've been in the top three in blitz percentage in all three seasons under Martindale -- though their 27.0 quarterback pressure percentage when blitzing this campaign is 26th in the league.
As for Allen, he has 15 touchdowns and just two picks against the blitz this season, per Next Gen. The touchdowns are second-best in the NFL and the TD:INT ration is fourth (also including the playoffs). Going further, Allen's been able to evade pressure caused by the blitz at a 22.5% clip, which is second-highest in the NFL.
What remains to be seen Saturday is whether the new-look Allen can find success against a Ravens defense that previously harried the old (err, younger) version of Allen.
In two previous meetings against the Ravens – one in 2018 off the bench and a start in 2019 – Allen was sacked a combined nine times, fumbled twice (lost one) and the Bills lost both games.
While the Ravens will remain steadfast in their attempt to flock to the quarterback, Martindale realizes full-well that Baltimore is facing a much-improved Allen.
"Usually when you evaluate a quarterback and he's not accurate, it's hard for them to shed that tag," Martindale said. "What he's done in the offseason and what he's done this year is amazing to see. It's accuracy on the move. It's accuracy out of the pocket. Everything he's done, he's become more accurate with it."
In the '20 regular season, Allen produced a completion rate of 69.2 -- just about 10 points better than his last campaign. Along the way, he set Bills records with 396 completions, 4,544 passing yards and 37 touchdown passes -- which came against 10 interceptions and a career-low 26 sacks.
Allen's always possessed the big arm and mobility to combat a blitz, but now he's exhibiting the poise and accuracy to do so. It's paid off with an AFC East title and a trip to the Divisional Round.
The Ravens are coming -- just as Martindale's defense prides itself on doing -- and Allen's going to stand up to the blitz as he's done for most of the season or he's going to come crashing down as he's done against Baltimore in the past. Saturday will tell the tale.