By Chris Losey
In what could very well be another lost season for the Buffalo Bills, one would wonder if quarterback Nathan Peterman will get a legitimate shot at leading the offense at some point during the year.
The Bills clearly look like they’re headed for the bottom, whether completely intentional or not, and should probably give Peterman some starts before the season ends.
The word “tank” has been tossed around so much lately, especially since receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby were traded for draft picks and lesser players. That being said, I wouldn’t consider myself to be in the “tank” camp.
However, one has to be a realist in this type of situation, and from the product on the field, to some of the roster moves that have been made, it’s becoming clear that the Bills will have a very hard time getting to .500, let alone breaking a 17-year playoff drought.
The decision to bring back incumbent starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was a questionable one, especially after the trade of Watkins. Perhaps the organization was trying to save face and make an effort to be competitive while rebuilding.
Yet, they drafted Peterman in the fifth-round, whom some projected as a third round pick. If the Bills are truly going all-in on drafting a top collegiate quarterback in next year’s first round, should they not give Peterman a shot at the job to at least see what he can do?
Peterman has looked much more comfortable under center than Taylor in coordinator Rick Dennison’s offense, and has shown a much quicker release, compared to Taylor, who hangs on to the football too long.
While his statistics have been far from impressive, Peterman definitely has passed the “eye-test”, showing poise and command that Buffalonians have not seen at quarterback in quite some time.
That being said, this is not a ringing endorsement of Peterman to be the franchise quarterback for the next 10-plus years.
Still, analysts and fans alike have been so bad at guessing on whether a college quarterback will succeed in the pros.
For example, in 2014, quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater were first round picks, while the quarterback gem of that draft was Derek Carr, who was selected in the second round.
Carr led the Raiders to a 12-3 record and a wild card berth last season, and was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. Bortles has played poorly with Jacksonville, Bridgewater’s career could be over due to a catastrophic knee injury sustained last year, and Manziel was out of the league by 2015.
This would lead some to believe that since the Bills invested a draft pick in Peterman, they should at least see what he has to offer. He could turn out to be a long-term answer for Buffalo, something they’ve not had since Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly retired at the end of the 1996 season.
If the Bills live up to their low expectations this year and finish near the bottom, the season would be lost, other than serving as a test for first year head coach Sean McDermott and certain players on the roster.
Taylor is already looking like the odd man out, and Peterman is the next guy up, so I would want him to get as much playing time as the starter as possible. This way I can know for sure what he has to offer as the quarterback.
If Peterman ends up getting starts this year and is less-than-stellar, it would make perfect sense for the Bills to go all in on drafting a blue-chip option in the first round of next year’s draft. But if he ended up being good, that plethora of picks accrued by Beane could be used to plug the numerous holes on Buffalo’s roster with quality young players.
The most likely situation is that Taylor will start the year as the lead guy, but Peterman could squeak in some starts if Taylor continues to be ineffective or sustains an injury. The Bills still should draft a quarterback next April if this is the case, and run an open competition for the job between Peterman and the rookie.
But, if the Bills neglect to give Peterman a chance at the job this year, what was the point in picking him?
Whatever ends up happening during the 2017 regular season, all eyes should be on Peterman to see whether he can handle the weight of a franchise that has not been playoff bound in what very may well be 18 years at the end of December.
I am definitely in favor of drafting a top talent next April at the quarterback position, as it’s the most important position in football, and a team needs a franchise guy to have any sustained success in the NFL.
That being said, the Bills really should give Peterman a shot this season, so they can at the very least exercise all options in their punishing search for their “guy”.