The rise of Josh Allen, and more NFL players improving (and declining)

Stephen A: Brady isn't the Patriots' problem (2:08)

Stephen A. Smith doesn't fault Tom Brady for the Patriots' offensive struggles this season. (2:08)

It's no secret that some analysts were down on Josh Allen as a quarterback prospect when Buffalo took him seventh overall in the 2018 NFL draft. Allen didn't have a great rookie year as a passer, finishing 33rd out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks in Football Outsiders' passing DVOA metric. He came out as 36% less efficient than average when we measured his success against an average baseline determined by down, distance, and opponent.

Allen didn't start his second season very strong either. Although the Bills started 4-1, Allen had five touchdowns but seven interceptions. His entire performance worked out to -25% DVOA, a little better than his first season but still ranking Allen among the league's worst passers.

But that's not the Josh Allen we've seen since Buffalo's Week 6 bye. Starting in Week 7, Allen has 11 touchdowns with only one interception. He's also improved from 6.9 to 7.2 yards per attempt over the past seven games. Altogether, Allen has become an above-average quarterback since Buffalo's bye, with his 7% DVOA ranking him 16th in the league over that time.

So which Allen should we expect to see as the surprising Bills jockey for playoff position and even a long-shot chance at an AFC East title? I went back and looked at the last four seasons, analyzing the players with the biggest improvements and declines between the first six weeks of the season and the next seven weeks. What happened to those players in the final month of the season?