By Ethan Kimmel
Preseason football is often assessed by fans as a preview of what the season may hold. While this may be partially true, the real focus in these games should be on the individual players rather than the final score. Last night, the Bills dropped their second preseason game against the Eagles 20-16, as the game ended on a TJ Yates red zone interception (Probably not the first time that has been written and certainly not the last).
The reason I don’t evaluate preseason records too closely is that I know come September, Yates won’t be under center in that situation, therefore it’s unfair to assess the team based off his performance. But let’s take a look at another Bills quarterback who has also had recent struggles: Tyrod Taylor. The Bills’ ‘franchise quarterback’ has underwhelmed thus far in the preseason, finishing with 53 yards, two interceptions, and completing just 44% of his throws on Thursday. That is not the performance expected from a quarterback who will be making $15 million this upcoming season.
Bills fans will look at the box score and see two interceptions. But the two throws that ended in turnovers did not seem to be clerical errors by Tyrod. The first one came on the first play of the game where his pass was batted down at the line and picked off by Mychal Kendricks. It was the right read, but the defense made a nice play. The second was intercepted by former teammate Ronald Darby. This throw didn’t particularly bother me as much because he was being aggressive and tried to push the ball down the field. It was a bit underthrown to Andre Holmes, but it was an easy play to make for Darby as there wasn’t much of an effort to fight for the ball. Head coach Sean McDermott reiterated last night that there is no quarterback battle and that Tyrod is the guy. I hope this is the case, but if not, his backup has looked sharp.
The biggest surprise so far this preseason has been fifth round pick Nathan Peterman from Pitt. Coming off of a solid performance against the Vikings in which he threw his first touchdown pass, the rookie had another really nice game, throwing for 167 yards and completing 50% of his passes. Some of his throws particularly impressed me, such as his back shoulder throw to fellow rookie Zay Jones. Peterman puts a zip on the ball that I haven’t seen in a Bills uniform in a long time. He made a variety of great throws last night, ranging from soft touch passes on fades, to bullets on a button hook. While it’s hard to speculate this much in just the preseason, it’s exciting to see Peterman have early success.
This week in practice has to be about the ball. Protecting it, holding it, and catching it. It’s hard to win games in the National Football League when you turn the ball over four times. That is something I know Coach McDermott will adjust and help prevent in the future. Remember, these stats cannot be indicative of the team’s performance in the regular season because many of these guys won’t be on the roster in a few weeks. It’s a harsh reality, but football is a business.
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