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Rookie QB Peterman starts for Bills
Make no mistake: No decision is too big for first-year Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott.
Wednesday, McDermott announced that rookie Nathan Peterman will start Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles when the Bills take on the Chargers in a game they can ill-afford to lose. That sends three-year starter Tyrod Taylor to the bench at a critical time in the season, and speaks to the power McDermott wields in his rookie season as an NFL head coach.
"First and foremost, it was a decision made by myself," McDermott said. "The coaches were not involved with this decision, it was a decision that I made. I spoke with Brandon (Beane, the general manager) like I do about every decision, but really, it's about becoming a better team and the quarterback position is not different. I understand the headline part about it. I do."
It's an interesting decision because the Bills, despite two horrific one-sided losses in succession, are currently 5-4 and sitting in the sixth and final spot in the AFC playoff picture. It certainly seems like a tenuous position given how they played in losing 34-21 to the Jets and 47-10 to the Saints, but it's clear McDermott believes Peterman can get the offense back on track in a system that may be more suited to his skills than Taylor.
"I get that, and I understand that; we are 5-4, I understand that and we're in the playoff hunt," he said. "It will always - and for the time I'm here - be about becoming the best team we can become. We are made for more than 5-4 and I've come here to be more than 5-4."
Taylor admitted to being shocked by the move, but the Bills passing game has slipped to 30th in the NFL, Taylor is 26th in yards per attempt, and he's the third-most sacked quarterback in the league. Last week, he had the worst game of his NFL career - 9 of 18 for 56 yards, a passer rating of 33.6.
"Obviously disappointed," Taylor said. "I don't agree with the decision, but the decision was made and you have to move forward. Ultimately, coach McDermott has a vision for this team and what he feels is best for the team as well as the owner and GM. I have to move forward and continue to be the teammate and leader I am from a different role."
Peterman, Buffalo's fifth-round pick in April, made his NFL debut last week in mop-up duty against New Orleans. He completed 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards and threw a touchdown pass, though it was against as soft a defense as possible with the score 47-3 at the time. Still, McDermott liked what he saw, and has liked what he has seen since Peterman walked into the building seven months ago.
"I've been impressed with Nate's maturity as a rookie and at a very early point in his career," said McDermott. "He's certainly worked hard. When you look at Nate and what he was able to do through OTAs, training camp, preseason, and then the other day, I thought he did some good things, albeit it was a small sample size. That said, he has a lot of work to do like we all do."
This may be a good week to make the move. The Chargers rank 32nd in the NFL in run defense, so the Bills theoretically should be able to ease Peterman in by relying on LeSean McCoy and the offensive line to control the ball. Also, the StubHub Center isn't exactly a loud, raucous stadium, so playing on the road as opposed to home in his first start should be minimized.
SERIES HISTORY: 35th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 22-10-2. The teams have also met three times in the playoffs and the Bills won the first two in 1964 and 1965, winning the AFL championship, the franchise's only two championships. The Chargers won the last meeting 22-10 in 2014. Buffalo has not beaten the Chargers on the road since 1981, a 28-27 victory in San Diego.