- Signed by Buffalo just 11 days ago, the 35-year-old quarterback was on board to serve as a mentor to rookie Josh Allen. But now the Bills have no other option but to turn to him as the starter—their 20th since Jim Kelly’s retirement.
Derek Anderson will start for the 2–4 Bills on Sunday against Indianapolis in place of the injured Josh Allen and in favor of the presumably confidence-injured Nathan Peterman. This makes Anderson the 20th starting quarterback for the Bills franchise since Jim Kelly retired before the 1997 season, a statistic that would probably be a hotter topic of discussion if the Browns hadn’t dominated the quarterback carousel conversation for the past two decades. But I digress.
There is no doubt that Anderson is the best option to lead Sean McDermott’s team to a win on Sunday. Yes, that means Anderson—the former Pro Bowler in Cleveland and longtime backup to Cam Newton in Carolina, who had been forgotten by many as a veteran quarterback option nearly halfway through the season and was signed just nine days ago—is a better choice than Peterman, who’s been in this organization for two seasons.
We should give these Bills a pass on the quarterback ineptitude over the years, for McDermott and GM Brandon Beane shouldn’t have to answer for what came before them. Together they selected the quarterback of their future in Allen (whose two wins are admittedly two more than I thought he’d have by now) and injuries are part of the game. But what boggles the mind is not only how Peterman won the starting job over Allen to start the season, but also how he remained Buffalo’s second-best option until a week ago.
But what further bakes my noodle is why a veteran like Anderson hadn’t been present until nine days ago. The Bills went into training camp with the rookie Allen, Peterman (five appearances and two starts) and A.J. McCarron (12 appearances and four career starts). That’s a quarterback room sans veteran leadership with an average age of 24.3 years and next to no in-game NFL experience.
“The great part about it right now is [Allen] can watch a veteran handle things the way they’re supposed to be handled in terms of the walk-through we just came from, practice,” McDermott said Wednesday before later repeating the same for Peterman. “So this will give Josh a front-row seat to experience that.”
With Allen week-to-week, the Bills would realistically be grateful for any wins Anderson can give them, even with their defense playing lights-out right now. It probably shouldn’t have taken seven weeks and multiple games started by Peterman to realize they needed a veteran, but at least the Bills figured it out before it got too late in the season.
Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Sign up for The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.
NOW ON THE MMQB: The first episode of Tim Rohan’s nine-part series into the mystery of Steve McNair’s death is now available. … Kalyn Kahler delivers our first mock draft of the season. … Jenny Vrentas with five quick takeaways from the NFL’s owners meetings. ... Robert Klemko brings the heat in his column on why the NFL needs to take drastic measures on Vontaze Burfict. … and more.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: John Elway couldn’t be dropping any more hints about Vance Joseph’s future. … Vrentas looks at why NFL defenses stink all of a sudden. … Get your power rankings here! … and more.
1. A shocker out of London: Jaguars owner Shad Khan has pulled his offer to buy Wembley Stadium.
2. Injuries are mounting in the Eagles’ secondary and Philadelphia is going to have to turn to fourth-round rookie Avonte Maddox, writes Les Bowen.
3. Scott Fowler and the Charlotte Observer have done a great job putting this podcast and docuseries project together as Rae Carruth readies to be released from prison.
4. Justis Mosqueda goes deep on the Rams offense and finds that Jared Goff hasn’t thrown a straight drop-back pass from under center in the past three weeks.
5. To no one’s surprise, NFL owners are concerned about the long-term viability of the Chargers in Los Angeles.
6. Tyrod Taylor (one of the 20 quarterbacks who’s started in Buffalo since the start of the 1997 season) admits he’s frustrated to be riding the bench in Cleveland right now.
The NFL did the smart thing and shrunk the size of the once-very large Walter Payton Man of the Year jersey patches. Much more aesthetically pleasing.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at firstname.lastname@example.org.