A better-late-than-never Allen-like leap by Jones would also vindicate General Manager Dave Gettleman’s decision to draft him. The most popular N.F.L. trends are the ones that provide cover for mistakes, because the league’s most powerful motivator is not the desire to win, but the desire to remain employed.
Coaches will also benefit if Allen inspires a renaissance of delayed gratification. Any team-building model with two consequence-free years baked into it will be eagerly adopted by the league’s dedicated self-preservation specialists. It will be a refreshing change of pace from justifying losing seasons as a result of a much-needed “culture change.”
Some teams will try to copy the Bills’ formula more directly. The team’s offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, has become a hot job candidate as teams seek a head coach capable of slow-cooking their incoming or in-house quarterback prospects. By developing Allen over three seasons, Daboll appears to have cut the line in front of the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, who helped Mahomes become league M.V.P. in the quarterback’s second season.
Meanwhile, Anthony Lynn was fired as the Los Angeles Chargers’ head coach despite coaxing a 31-touchdown rookie season out of Justin Herbert. The N.F.L. never lets consistent logic (or anything else) get in the way of its hiring preferences.
Ultimately, Allen’s emergence is likely to encourage coaches and executives to do all the things they already like to do, only more unapologetically. Among others, they like to overvalue their favorite flavor of prospect; disguise risk-averse procrastination as prudent empire-building; promote from within the buddy system; and congratulate themselves when a plan that failed a dozen times finally succeeds once.
Some nuance is inevitably lost whenever N.F.L. teams attempt to copy one another’s success. Allen was truly a unique prospect, and the Bills invested heavily in his supporting cast (especially trading picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts to land Allen a No. 1 receiver in Stefon Diggs). Signs of Allen’s growth were unmistakable in the second half of last season.