Despite an off-season filled with moves that seemed to indicate that Buffalo’s new front office was punting on the present in the hopes of building a better future, the Bills started this year with a surprising 5-2 record. Even after a puzzling loss to the Jets and an absolute thrashing at the hands of the resurgent Saints, the Bills were 5-4 and sitting in the AFC’s last playoff spot. Considering what was expected of the team heading into this season and that – as I am contractually obligated to tell you – the Bills haven’t made the postseason since 1999, it was hard to consider Buffalo’s 5-4 start as anything but a success.
Unless, apparently, you’re Sean McDermott, Buffalo’s first year head coach. After his team was pummeled 47-10 by the Saints, McDermott decided that the steady if unspectacular play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor simply wasn’t cutting it and instead inserted rookie Nathan Peterman (a.k.a. a guy that no one had ever heard of) into the starting lineup. It, um, didn’t go very well.
Nathan Peterman threw more interceptions in the first half than the Cowboys, Patriots and Rams have thrown all season. pic.twitter.com/j93vajF64H
— ESPN (@espn) November 19, 2017
The Bills may not be a dominant team like the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots, but they have a few pieces (an explosive running back, playmakers on defense and – here’s the troubling one – a steady quarterback) that give them a chance to win on any given Sunday. They’re not “start a developmental fifth-round pick at quarterback for no reason” bad. The AFC is a mess and the Bills have – or at least had – a legitimate shot at a playoff spot and, considering that their last playoff birth is almost two decades in the rearview, it’s safe to say the Bills’ “rebuild” has gone on long enough. At the risk of invoking Herm Edwards and enraging Process Truthers everywhere, let me be clear: the Bills should be playing to win the game.
Instead, McDermott decided that the oft-unfairly-maligned Taylor needed to be held accountable for the Bills giving up 298 rushing yards to the Saints and so Peterman got the start. The abysmal history of late-round draft picks playing quarterback as rookies almost guaranteed that Peterman would be bad. When he was much, much worse than that – so bad, in fact, that he got benched after playing only one half, giving the team back to Taylor – well, the internet noticed:
Tyrod Taylor’s last 14 games: 395 passes, 5 INT
— Dustyn Waite (@CallMeDBlock) November 19, 2017
how many interceptions does Nate Peterman have? pic.twitter.com/moyIrzSueP
— Meninist Sports (@MeninistSports) November 19, 2017
Nathan Peterman, who replaced Tyrod Taylor as the Bills’ starter, has five interceptions on 14 pass attempts… It’s almost impressive how bad he’s been. pic.twitter.com/AmQIhXGVfk
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 19, 2017
Nathan Peterman threw more interceptions in one half than Colin Kaepernick did in 11 starts last season btw
— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) November 19, 2017
That last one is particularly cutting. If McDermott thought that he needed an upgrade over Taylor, how was it that he turned to the utterly overmatched Peterman instead of someone like Kaepernick, especially given that the latter is an experienced, mobile quarterback whose skill set would allow him to easily step into an offense designed for Taylor? Then again, why was McDermott so determined to move on from Taylor in the middle of a playoff run anyway? The numbers clearly show that Taylor is the best quarterback in Buffalo and the Bills have banked too many wins to bottom out for a top quarterback in the upcoming draft, so what the hell is McDermott doing?
No, really. I’m asking.