NFL Offseason

Question mark at QB for the Bills.

This past week, NFL teams began to get to work at training camp. Every NFL fan knows that training camp is a painful time period that comes around right before preseason where rumors swirl among every team and unfortunate injuries plague teams potentially for the rest of the season. Even though training camp can be a painful and tormenting time period for most NFL fans, it also does help spread good news of players who are trying to prove that they deserve a spot in the final 53-man roster following preseason. Rookies often are the most closely watched during this point in the off-season as everyone is excited to see how they perform with the rest of the veterans that fans know and love from their squad. Along with rookies and vets, some teams do not have a solid starter option at QB and the starter will be chosen during this training camp time period. Although training camp does give us some insight to how players will perform during the season, it is only practice and no one really knows all the player’s true talents until they step out on the field during game time.

Trusting the process

Following last year’s dramatic end of the record 17 year playoff drought of the Buffalo Bills, Sean McDermott seemed to be the answer at head coach to many Bills fans. But, will Sean be able to take his talent and help the Bills consistently make the playoffs? During this season, NFL fans will be seeking the answer to that question. Sean McDermott and his vengeful Buffalo Bills set up camp at St. John Fisher on July 26th, which will function as the Bills’ proving grounds for rookies, vets and even typical main stays on the team until August 15th.

Individual QB Analysis

The Buffalo Bills took a what most have said to be a “big risk” in drafting QB Josh Allen at the 7th spot in the first round after trading up to get him. Most saw this pick as really risky and some would even say stupid because everyone knew coming into the draft that during Josh Allen’s 3 years in Wyoming, he displayed a less than great completion percentage. But, his incredible arm strength and size seems to balance him out. Per usual, there are a lot of question marks surrounding Buffalo as a team, but this season more specifically, there is a big question of who the starting QB will end up being week 1 of the regular season and will they remain the starter for the rest of the season. Along with Josh Allen in their arsenal, the Bills acquired AJ McCarron on a 2-year, 10 million dollar contract after his 4-year tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals as a solid backup. The Bills also have Nathan Peterman as he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 draft by the Bills. All 3 QBs available to the Bills right now seem to be decent options, but none seem to be a clear number 1 candidate. Fans hoped that training camp would help everyone see who the clear cut starter will be, but training camp only seems to raise even more questions.

Nathan Peterman: Nathan Peterman seemed to be a solid prospect coming out of Pitt in the 2017 NFL draft. Showed that he had the leadership skills to command an offense and the versatility to be able to play in different formations, making the correct motions, reading different patterns correctly, etc. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, Jon Gruden is even quoted as saying, “Peterman is ready to walk in and be a contributor from day one…” pre-draft (https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/jon-gruden-made-wild-prediction-about-nathan-peterman-before-2017-nfl-draft/). However, following a huge loss to the New Orleans Saints with Tyrod Taylor at starting Quarterback, the Bills coaching staff made the decision to start Nathan Peterman during their week 11 matchup against the Chargers and the outcome was less than ideal. Nathan Peterman ended up setting a record in his first career start! …For the worst starting debut for a QB in NFL history, having thrown 5 interceptions in the first half of the game. Now, although this was an incredibly poor first showing, not all the blame should be placed on the fifth-round rookie quarterback. The coaching staff for whatever reason, made the conscious decision to throw a fifth-round rookie QB to the wolves behind a mediocre o-line along with their not being many dependable targets to throw to. Peterman was also put in for the last drive of the wild card playoff game against the Jaguars while only being down by 1 score, after Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury. The drive started off promising with a Peterman picking up a first down on a nice play using his feet, but quickly ended in a controversial interception by Jalen Ramsey, causing the game to slip out of Buffalo’s grasp. Such a Buffalo way to go out. Despite the seemingly poor performances Nathan Peterman had put on, fans still believe that he has what it takes to be a talented NFL QB. This year is a much different situation from last year’s situation for Nathan Peterman. Peterman came into training camp knowing he would be the backup behind Tyrod Taylor and was hoping to get tips and guidance while backing him up, but this year he now has a chance to act as a bridge QB for Josh Allen or even become the franchise QB of the team if he plays well enough.

Josh Allen: Josh Allen came from rural farm town in California and out of high school, he didn’t get any looks (despite putting up over 5,000 yards and 63 touchdowns in his 4 years in high school), so he decided to go to Reedley Community College in California for the 2014 season. After one season he then transferred to Wyoming for the 2 remaining seasons of his collegiate career was drafted at the number 7 pick after Buffalo traded up to get their (hopefully) future franchise QB of which they have been looking for since Jim Kelly who retired in 1996. Allen was a great prospect coming out of Wyoming after 2 seasons with the cowboys. Allen had displayed excellent leadership skills and incredible arm strength built into his seemingly ideal 6’5” 237 lb frame for a QB. But, Allen had only completed 56% of his passes during both his sophomore season (2016) and junior season (2017) while bringing his interceptions down from 15 in his sophomore season to 6 in his Junior season. But, his low completion percentage can be accredited to the style of offense Wyoming ran, most passes were deep balls and as Beane (Buffalo’s general manager) stated, “no gimme throws” were involved in their offense. Another common criticism Allen had faced going into the draft was his footwork which Allen has worked on in the off-season with his quarterback coach, Jordan Palmer. (https://www.buffalorumblings.com/2018/7/20/17593106/buffalo-bills-brandon-beane-sean-mcdermott-discuss-development-process-for-rookie-josh-allen-2018) During the weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, fans and analysts kept hounding on Allen for his completion percentage and said that he may be the worst/riskiest choice of the big name QB’s in the draft. Allen is used to overcoming adversity ever since high school, Sean McDermott and the rest of the Bills front office must have seen something special in him because they traded their number 12 pick and 2 second round picks to trade up in order to get Allen and he and everyone else knows he was drafted to be the quarterback of the future for the Buffalo Bills.

AJ McCarron: AJ McCarron signed with the Bills on March 14th for what most saw to be a steal for the Bills as they only paid 10 million for a two-year deal with a solid free agent QB that was a backup for 4 years behind Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. The signing was assumed to be a bridge QB option while the Bills try to land a franchise QB in the draft. This is the most likely outcome with the acquisition of the veteran backup. But, the starting spot for AJ is far from guaranteed. AJ has to prove that he has the skills to be the obvious first option at the QB position. This is AJ McCarron’s first chance at a starting job in the NFL aside from when Dalton went down with injuries throughout McCarron’s time with the Bengals, and he really has to capitalize on this in order to carve out a solid starting career in the NFL. McCarron had a good performance in his first playoff start on the Bengals in the 2015-2016 season where he threw for 231 yards and a TD with 1 INT all while only losing by 2 points to the Steelers. AJ has shown promise throughout his playing time in the NFL and was amazing in college during his tenure at Alabama, where he put up 9,019 yards and 77 TD’s and led his team to 2 BCS National Championship wins. Some Bills fans think AJ is the obvious starting QB option because he has been in the league the longest and has most of his mechanics down.

Training Camp Talk

The QB competition so far in training camp has been a matter of who’s hot on each day. Josh Allen is said to have made some excellent reads and incredible throws that the other two QB’s would have never even thought of making. Sean McDermott But, it was also stated that he has had some bad plays where he makes the wrong read or overthrows/underthrows. Nathan Peterman has seemingly been the most inconsistent of the 3. One day Peterman looks really good and the next he’s not doing too well and it almost seems he’s out of the competition. Peterman just needs to find his rhythm and get into it while consistently coming out prepared to compete. News on AJ is sometimes he will hold the ball too long and frequently takes the checkdown throws instead of looking down field. This is Bill’s fan’s worst nightmare, because during Tyrod’s time with the Bills, he had developed the nickname “Mr. Checkdown” because he would frequently take the checkdown option(s) as opposed to looking down field and taking shots deep. Although AJ was reported to have been taking lots of check down options and holding the ball a bit too long, he also is seen as the most mechanically sound of the 3 QB’s and is the most experienced. The Bills have been giving each quarterback reps with the first, second and third teams all throughout camp. This inconsistency may not be very beneficial to the confidence and consistency of each quarterback but, it may be necessary to find which QB is best suited for the number 1 spot.

Prediction:

I believe that Josh Allen is the answer to the Bills’ QB situation and he will be the QB of the future for the Bills. But, I think he would benefit from sitting out for at least his first season and learning under AJ McCarron as the starter. I also believe that Nathan Peterman will be groomed into a solid NFL quarterback in the near future but, unfortunately I don’t see that happening with the Bills. I think what Peterman needs is time to learn from a veteran quarterback in an established system with a reliable quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. To summarize, I think Bills fans should trust the man in charge, Sean McDermott, because he seems to be a promising coach that could potentially be a part of the Bills organization for years to come and they should trust him to make the right decision on who to start week 1.

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