Nathan Peterman is Better Than Josh Allen - For Now

Bucky Gleason

Veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron played the whole game in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Bears, a clear indication the Bills most experienced passer finished behind Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen in the quarterback competition.

Bills coach Sean McDermott still hasnt named his starting quarterback for the season opener, and he could wait until just before kickoff against Baltimore to announce his decision. But based on performance, he would be hard-pressed to keep Peterman off the field come Sept 9.

The quarterback situation has been unsettled since the Bills signed McCarron and drafted Allen with the seventh pick overall. However, if you listened to McDermott over the past several months, there was a sense he felt most comfortable with Peterman.

Not much has changed.

Really, what once had the makings of a difficult decision actually became an easy one. McDermott has to start Peterman in the opener against the Ravens.

Lets be realistic. The Bills, who play five of their first seven games on the road, would be fortunate to finish .500 this season. Las Vegas oddsmakers see them winning four or five contests. Some are calling Buffalo the worst team in the NFL no matter who plays quarterback.

Many fans and media have argued McDermott needed to determine whether he wanted to win right away and give the Bills a chance to remain in contention or start planning for their long-term future. It doesnt need to be one or the other. McDermott could do both. He could start Peterman and simultaneously develop Allen.

It may have been the plan all along.

McDermott entered training camp with McCarron, who signed a two-year deal worth $10 million, as the most tenured quarterback on the roster. Many in the national media automatically assumed he would be inserted into the starting lineup. But that wasnt the case before he injured his collarbone two weeks ago in Cleveland.

Peterman has been most effective of the three since the start of training camp. That much is indisputable. He played extremely well when selected to start the first game. He was consistent with the third team in the second game and was solid Sunday in the third after relieving Allen.

The numbers:

Peterman: 33 of 41 (80.5 percent) for 432 yards, three touchdowns, one interception.

Allen: 24 of 44 (54.5 percent) for 210 yards, two touchdowns, no INTs.

McCarron: 23 of 50 (46 percent) for 284 yards, three TDs, two INTs.

McCarron rallied the Bills to a 28-27 victory Thursday with three touchdown passes and a rushing TD in the second half. He didnt help his cause when he was 5 of 13 and with two interceptions in the first half, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He completed 13 of 34 passes for 156 yards, three TDs and two INTs in the game.

The Bills still could consider cutting McCarron and look for a cheaper option to run the scout team and clean up in an emergency. Then again, they might need to keep him given the sorry state of their starting offensive line.

McDermott wasnt about to risk the health of a potential starter Thursday, but he needed somebody to call the plays against the Bears. He handed the offense to McCarron for a scrimmage between scrubs and prayed he didn't get injured.

Now what?

The Bills likely will stick with Plan A, which was trying to win while developing their young players. McDermott can multi-task, you know. Last year, the goal was winning while rebuilding the roster. The Bills slipped into the playoffs while making major changes in personnel.

McDermott doesnt need to rush Allen into the starting lineup. Allen is making a big jump from mid-major football at Wyoming to big-time football in the NFL. Whats the harm in watching a few games for a team with a top-heavy schedule and likely going nowhere?


Allen's time will come. He'll be more prepared when it does if he continues to make progress without the pressure to perform.

Sure, theres a chance the Bills would accelerate his development by playing him right away, but thats assuming Allen proved he was capable of running the offense.

Allen had one solid game against the Browns second-team defense. It wasnt as if he was lighting up the league. Against the Bengals, in his only performance against a first-team defense, Allen struggled while running for his life.

Peterman is far more equipped at this stage to read defenses, make better decisions and quickly get the ball out of his hand. In case you didnt notice, such qualities would be handy while the Bills offensive line works to come together.

Lets not forget the credibility issue.

McDermott was ripped royally last season because he had the audacity to start Peterman and bench Tyrod Taylor. Critics argued McDermott would undermine his players because they believed Taylor gave them the better chance to win.

The same applies in this case. The players are the first to know who belongs in the lineup. They want to win, too. The players on offense were paying attention during training camp. They were in the huddle with Peterman and Allen. They knew who was winning the quarterback competition long before McCarron started Thursday.

Clearly, it was Peterman.

If the winner of the competition isnt rewarded with the starting job, whats the sense in conducting one?

Comments (12)
No. 1-6

This is an interesting discussion but with the offensive line they have assembled I think that relatively early on in the season the Bills will be forced to play whoever is still healthy at QB rather than who they would like. Maybe Joe Webb will be available from the Texans after roster cut down...


I agree start the rookie and let him learn, if your going to be scared he's gonna get hurt because of the inept line play what was the sense of drafting him at number 7 then?


I started watching Peterman during his junior year at Pitt. He reminded then & now of Drew Brees. Best case scenario for me would be at the end of next season that we have the same situation the Chargers had after the 2005 season, two top tier NFL quarterbacks in their prime. Keep one & get a great return for the other in a trade.



I agree that Peterman won the competition, but as far as "win now", Iwe're talking about the difference between winning one or two of their first six games. Allen needs to be the starter sooner rather than later. Top QB picks don't sit long in today's NFL.


Peterman has my vote!!!

Peace Frog
Peace Frog

I was about to post a comment but I have to go throw up again after watching that putrid display. Be right back...