If nothing else it’s never a dull moment with the Buffalo Bills. After consecutive pitiful showings on defense I tweeted Monday night a prediction the Bills would cut a defensive tackle and sign a new one before they next play on Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers. Less than 24 hours later that’s exactly what happened, as Buffalo signed Deandre Coleman and waived Jerel Worthy.
On Wednesday morning Buffalo took it much further than anyone envisioned on the other side of the ball, declaring fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman as the starting quarterback Sunday and Tyrod Taylor, fresh off his 9-of-18 for 56 yards performance against the Saints headed to the bench, quite possibly ending his Bills career.
MORANALYTICS TAKE: There’s a narration in the move I totally understand — Taylor was never going to be back after this season so seeing what you have in Peterman now, particularly during the heat of a playoff race makes sense. Evaluating Peterman over these seven games (maybe longer) gives the organization comprehensive insight as to how much, if at all finding a quarterback will be this offseason.
Unfortunately that’s one of the few positives I take away from this, ONLY because the Bills are still 5-4 and legitimately “in the hunt” for a playoff spot. Even giving Peterman the benefit of the doubt and suggesting he grows into a very good starting NFL quarterback. Just like with the Marcell Dareus trade a few weeks ago it’s a move that feels exclusive to the future, despite the team maintaining the goal is to win now.
I also don’t feel like Peterman is being put in an advantageous position. Debuting at Los Angeles against a very good front seven followed by a road game at Kansas City and home against a New England squad now firing on all cylinders isn’t an ideal to start a career. Personally I would’ve stuck with Tyrod through those games and if Buffalo didn’t find a way to win two, then I make the move to set up Peterman’s first start at home against Indianapolis. Confidence is everything for a young quarterback and I fear that may quickly get wrecked with these first three opponents.
Furthermore I don’t like the message this sends to the locker room. Just two days ago Sean McDermott stood in front of the media and said “I believe in Tyrod. Tyrod’s our starter that’s what I said yesterday. I know what Tyrod’s done and I also know what Nate’s done, so Tyrod’s our starter.” Do a few players here and there start to question if their coach is full of shit?
There’s no refuting how horrific Tyrod played against the Saints on Sunday. I put next-to-no blame on him for the Jets prime time debacle, as no quarterback on earth was going to hold up and play well behind the manner in which he was under siege. Taylor was sacked eight times and most quarterbacks would’ve been dropped a dozen or more. His play against New Orleans, however, was indefensible. He played timidly and constantly settled for the easy check down. He targeted Kelvin Benjamin three times on the opening drive and didn’t look for him again. The nightmares of the Trent Edwards era were not only relatable but downright accurate.
Having said that, I won’t snub some very impressive performances this year. He outplayed Matt Ryan in Atlanta and Derek Carr when the Raiders visited Orchard Park. By no means was Tyrod a world beater, but played well enough to have this team in playoff position through nine games. If you deny Taylor having at least a moderately successful season on the whole, you’re doing so because you only see what you want to.
Like him or not and apparently most of you don’t, the guy doesn’t suck.
The list of QB this season with 10+ TD and 3 or less INT:
Tyrod Taylor pic.twitter.com/ZGhYWXICti
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 15, 2017
It’s quite apparent the Bills are being built with having a championship quality defense in mind. It’s one of many and probably the biggest reason McDermott was tabbed to be the head coach. Part of winning games on the strength of defense is having an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over. Taylor has a 1.54 career interception percentage, which according to the CBS Sports is the lowest of any quarterback with at least 1,000 pass attempts in NFL history. I’m frustrated with Taylor’s play at times like the rest of you —but I’m far more frustrated with the Bills inability to run the football and Dennison dialing up option pitches to Mike Tolbert and shovel passes to Patrick DiMarco than I am Tyrod’s overall play.
I feel genuinely bad for Taylor. Not only was he treated this past two seasons as a guy the organization settled for more than actually wanting, I don’t think he was put in a position to succeed either. Rick Dennison has done an appalling job as offensive coordinator when it comes to playing to his quarterback’s strengths. Taylor’s at his best moving around and making plays, so why are the Bills constantly calling straight back in the pocket plays? Again, I’m not endorsing his play against New Orleans, no one can defend that—but I blame Dennison as much if not more for this offense shitting the bed these past few weeks.
I also give Taylor credit for manning up and facing the media with a press conference almost immediately after the season.
I give Tyrod Taylor a lot of credit for stepping up and speaking at a press conference after being benched today. Sure didn’t have to do that. Most guys wouldn’t
— Sal Maiorana (@salmaiorana) November 15, 2017
Ultimately I think the move was made because McDermott and staff determined defending Tyrod has become too easy. New Orleans defenders were literally saying post-game all they had to do to be successful was make Taylor a pocket quarterback. While he’s an explosive runner capable of making plays running or extending plays with his legs few quarterbacks can make, his skill set is undeniably limited when it comes to delivering an accurate football. I don’t think this offense was ever designed to play to his strengths.
I want Peterman to succeed as much as the next guy. He started mini-camp fourth on the depth chart and outlasted Cardale Jones and T.J. Yates. He may go on to have a great career, but we all know the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the team, and I think fans are craving for the rookie with no real footing other than hating on Tyrod. Sorry, but coming in for mop up duty and leading the Bills to a touchdown against the Saints third string prevent defense isn’t grounds to be named the starter 72 hours later when you’re team would be in the playoffs if they started today.
I’ll say this much about McDermott, assuming the decision was 100% his. Today proves beyond a shadow of a doubt he’s not timid when it comes to making ostracized and even contentious 53-man roster choices. McDermott and Beane have repeatedly said moves made are designed for the future as much (or maybe more) than the present. No one can say they’re lying.
Buffalo’s realistic path to the playoffs goes through beating Los Angeles on the road, Indianapolis at home and sweeping Miami. Doing so would get them to 9-7 and a near-lock for the postseason given the way the AFC has shaped up.
I find it hard to believe the Bills have a better chance of doing that with Peterman than Taylor. I have no problem with the Bill jettisoning Taylor but feel like it should’be been done after the season or at least when/if Buffalo fell out of the playoff race. If someone wants to tell me how the Bills are more likely to beat the Chargers with Peterman on Sunday, by all means I’m all ears.