Buffalo Bills Make Wrong Decision to Start Nathan Peterman in Week One


After getting fired as the Bills general manager in the spring of 2017, Doug Whaley crowed about leaving behind the gift of a couple of first-round draft picks. Whaley can also take credit for gifting the Bills a colossal $54 million in dead cap space this season.

Thats twice as much as any other team in the NFL. The Bills will be spending roughly 30 percent of their available cap space for people who arent playing. So why not start the regular season with their franchise quarterback, Josh Allen, not playing, either?

Not surprisingly, head coach Sean McDermott announced on Monday that Nathan Peterman would be his starting quarterback in Baltimore this Sunday. McDermott said Peterman earned the job and its hard to argue, based on Petermans precise passing performance during the preseason games.

I still would start Allen, who represents the future and will be the starter soon enough. The Bills traded up to take Allen at seventh overall in last Aprils draft. Thats the highest the franchise has ever drafted a quarterback. Thats a massive investment and its in the teams best interests to get Allen on the field as soon as possible.

Too much is made of the competition in camp. Peterman completed 80 percent of his passes, its true. Many of them came against backups. You could say the same thing about Allen. The point is, Allen is their guy. If Peterman is slightly ahead in terms of reading defenses and playing in rhythm, its not enough to keep the franchise guy off the field.

Its not as if Allen is deferring to Brett Favre, or even Alex Smith. Peterman was a fifth-round pick. He embarrassed himself in his big chance at the Chargers last season, throwing five interceptions in the first half. It was one of the worst passing performances in NFL history the worst, by some statistical measures.

OK, so Peterman had a good spring and good camp. He was good in practice a year ago, too. Thats why McDermott made his rash decision to throw him in for Tyrod Taylor with the Bills in the middle of a playoff race. Peterman clearly wasnt ready for the moment.

But were supposed to believe Peterman is ready to be the starter against live competition, against formidable defenses like the Ravens, Chargers, Vikings and Texans? I suspect he wont be nearly as confident and surgical with his throws when the games matter.

Im not saying Allen would be any better right now. Hes raw and will take his lumps whenever he plays. But if hes the future, why not let him find his way in real competition, against legitimate defenses and under true duress? In the first two preseason games, he seemed more advanced than critics had imagined. He has one bad half against a good Bengals D, behind a bad offensive line, and that goes out the window?

Theres a school of thought that the Bills dont want to get Allen killed behind an inferior offensive line. But its OK for McDermott to throw Peterman to the wolves?

Many of the top quarterbacks played behind weak offensive lines early in their careers. It helped them learn under pressure and get better. Itll be better for Allen in the long run. I dont buy the notion that getting hammered behind a bad offensive line could stunt a quarterbacks growth. If youre the real deal, you persevere. You make your line better.

Some of the rationale for this decision, I suspect, is that McDermott drafted Peterman in 2017. Dont forget, Brandon Beane wasnt around for that draft. McDermott, a rookie head coach with a defensive background, ran the draft and decided to take a pass on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes III. Who knows whether Whaley would have done the same?

McDermott felt Peterman was a hidden gem. He threw him in against the Chargers and it blew up in his face. Hell save some face if Peterman turns out to be a viable NFL quarterback. On Monday, he described Peterman as "a resilient young man" with "command of the offense." New coaches and GMs love their own picks, as we all know.

Still, it shouldnt matter in the long run. The Bills might be the least talented team in the NFL right now, based on the veterans on the roster. If you think they can make the playoffs with $54 million in dead cap space, perhaps you'd like to invest in some Venezuelan currency. Theyre likely to be 1-4 after five games. At some point, theyll go with Allen.

The days of letting rookie quarterbacks sit for a year are largely over. Of the 27 quarterbacks drafted in the first round in the last 10 years, 20 started more than half of their teams' games as a rookie. That doesnt include Watson, who took over in Houston's first game last year and set rookie passing records before going down with a knee injury before midseason.

It will be Allens job soon enough. Peterman has earned it for now, but in the long term hes no better than an NFL backup. Theres only one team in the league hes good enough to start for right now. Fortunately for Peterman, its the Bills.

Comments (7)
No. 1-7

"Yeah, well, you know, everyone is going to have an opinion. That's what makes the NFL great is there are a lot of ways to look at it. Nathan really prepares the right way and is a strong leader for our group. We did what we thought was best to put our team in a position to win, and we're going to continue do that. Great question."

  • McDermott / Beane
Bucky Gleason
Bucky Gleason


Sully was consistent about Allen going into the game, and he was right. The difference between Peterman and Allen's ability to read defenses is minuscule, so play the kid.


Sully, Do you think there is any truth to a member of the O-line not wanting to block for Peterman because of the disrespect shown to Tyrod? There is a clip of Bosa mic'd up and he is astonished at the lack of blocking. He says repeatedly, "He didn't block me."


Either way the O-line this year looks horrendous and I expect to see more games like the Chargers. I think its a bad idea to place our franchise QB behind this current O-line. I'm glad he is not out there week one. I kind of feel bad for Peterman because he is looking like a sacrificial lamb. As a lifelong Bills fan I have that all too familiar feeling where I'm trying to be hopeful about a season that looks bleak. Hey... Sabres might be good?


I disagree with Sully. Money shouldn't be the determinant in who starts when training over time has been proven to develop the strongest QB's. Those thrown into the fray in their first year often just don't make it.


Agree with many of your points...particularly that Allen will eventually play (and likely soon). However, why not play the guy that gives you best chance right now? Why not give Allen a chance to get a feel for regular season, the intensity, the prep etc.? Everything doesnt have to be black or white Jerry.


Ahh Buckey pro. Jerry con . Ok we can start the season now

Peace Frog
Peace Frog

Allen might not start against the Ravens but he could be playing the second half of the game. Personally, I would trade McCoy while he still has some value (and before any looming legal action or another injury happens) and keep building draft capital for next year. This is not a team capable of defeating the Patriots so we should stop kidding ourselves. Last year's non-occurring 'tank season' is quite possibly going to happen this year so embrace it.

Just saying. ¯_()_/¯