Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills is not necessarily a ‘running quarterback’, but he certainly gets himself on the move frequently. The fourth-year veteran has recorded 300 rushing attempts over the course of his first three seasons, averaging 100 per year on the nose, and he’s picked up 1562 yards with 25 touchdowns, to his credit.
In other words, his ability to move the ball with his legs is an important threat the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to take seriously on Sunday afternoon, and defensive coordinator Keith Butler, for one, seems to welcome the challenge of him turning himself into a runner against his front.
“I hope he does try to finish like a running back. We’ll treat him like a running back”, he told reporters on Thursday. “If he wants to be treated like a running back, we’ll do that, too. He’s a big, physical guy. He is. That’s why I said he reminds me of a young Ben Roethlisberger. But you don’t see Ben run as much as he used to, do you?”.
Allen has drawn comparisons to the Steelers’ quarterback since he was still in college, but that tends to apply to pretty much any large, big-armed quarterback with mobility who comes out of college. Still, the two are very different players, even comparing them at identical points in their respective careers.
Roethlisberger, for example, never ran the ball nearly as much as has Allen. Roethlisberger hasn’t even hit 500 rushing attempts, and hasn’t even hit 40 in a single season since 2009—and those numbers include kneeldowns.
Allen’s do as well, of course, but he is also clearly a different kind of ‘runner’ than was Roethlisberger even at his physical peak. And a smart, physical defense like Pittsburgh’s intends to make him think twice about the amount of running he might do.
“That’s an important position, and if you’re gonna run the ball—that ball attracts a lot of attention in the National Football League”, Butler said about quarterbacks moving the ball with their legs. “And there’s usually a price to pay. We’ll see what happens in the game”.
Allen did run the ball six times against the Steelers last year for 28 yards, which was more or less the average of what he did throughout the year. He recorded seven rushes against the Steelers the year before that, also for 28 yards, but he also put one in the end zone.
They’ll be looking to deprive him of that, and the ball, when they take the field for their season opener on the road in Buffalo. Their sideline-to-sideline linebackers should prove to be a significant asset in this endeavor, if they’re up to the task.