Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have been friends for several years. They've attended camps together, worked out together, and even lived together while both were training and preparing for the NFL Draft last year with QB Coach Jordan Palmer.
Of course, both were also drafted in the same 2018 NFL Draft class, just four spots apart. Darnold to the New York Jets at No. 3 overall and Allen No. 7 to the Bills.
This offseason, the two second-year QBs both went back to their home state of California to train again with Palmer, and each other. But this year is very different. Both QBs now have one year of NFL experience. Both knew exactly what city and team they'd be headed to for offseason workouts. And they even have an NFL game played against one another. Those experiences were something they were able to share with each other while running, lifting, and throwing.
"It was good," Allen said this week when asked about his return to training with Darnold. "We tried not to talk about a lot of football, but it comes up when we are on the field together and just talking about experiences and different defenses that we played and how we adapted and what we thought of them. Even going over how our offenses were and how we thought of our offense and obviously he's in a different situation. He's got a new OC and a new head coach and me being here with the Bills."
The Jets beat the Bills 27-23 in December in Buffalo in the only game the two rookie signal-callers played against each other. The Bills did beat the Jets 41-10 a month prior to that, but Allen was out with an elbow injury while Darnold watched while dealing with a foot issue. Matt Barkley and Josh McCown started that game for their respective clubs.
"Obviously, being in the same division, you're going to see each other twice a year," Allen said prior to the first matchup between the two. "We're excited for it and we hope this is a matchup for a long time, at least I do. I want to be here for as long as I can be and as long as I can play football. This is where I want to be."
The first year may not have played out quite like ether QB thought it would, but Allen knows there will be plenty more chances for the two to go head-to-head and hopes the relationship and training they've done together makes the rivalry even better and stronger.
"It's a good, friendly relationship to have," he said this week. "But at the same time, we want to compete and just to make each other better, and that was kind of our goal in the offseason."
They won't have to wait long to play each other and renew acquaintances this season. The Jets host the Bills week one.
By Sal Capaccio