Despite being firmly in playoff contention, the Buffalo Bills are turning to rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman.
Even with two straight losses, the Buffalo Bills are 5-4 and a legitimate playoff contender in the AFC. But after a 47-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, head coach Sean McDermott named rookie Nathan Peterman the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Peterman, a fifth-round pick out of Pitt last April, saw his first regular season action against the Saints. He went 7-for-10 for 79 yards and Buffalo’s only touchdown of the game in garbage time, after Tyrod Taylor went 9-for-18 for 56 yards with an interception.
Taylor is someone McDermott and new general manager Brandon Beane were stuck with from the previous regime, after his contract was restructured during the offseason. So in some way it’s not surprising that Peterman has been made the starter, apart from the team’s record that makes the move look like a concession to not making the playoffs this year.
But McDermott went full coach-speak to suggest the move is about this year too.
Taylor’s time in Buffalo seemed sure to end after this year, barring something unforeseen. But there is a financial implication for keeping him early in the 2018 league year, which the Bills will surely avoid.
The Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999, and they’ve finished above .500 just twice since then. The rest of their schedule features two games against the New England Patriots, and a Week 12 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs, so winning their other four games looks mandatory to earn a Wild Card spot. That will be a challenge, but it’s not impossible with the Chargers possibly being without Philip Rivers this week, a game against the Indianapolis Colts and two games against the Miami Dolphins.
Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News pointed out Taylor has been rendered a pocket passer. That does not play to his strengths as a mobile quarterback who adds something as a runner. So the move to Peterman seems to be about a perceived better fit as a strict operator from the pocket, along with not wanting to risk injury to Taylor that would invite having to commit to him again next year.