The Buffalo Bills are 5-4 and in sole possession of the 6th seed in the AFC playoff picture. They are followed in the rankings by increasingly inept Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders, and Miami Dolphins squads. There’s no reason to think that the Bills are not in the driver’s seat of the final playoff spot.
And yet here we are. The Bills benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor for fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman because...because why exactly?
Taylor wasn’t a perfect quarterback, by any means, but over the prior six games Taylor completed 121 of 183 attempts (66.1%) for 1,279 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 1 interception, to go with 117 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. The Bills averaged 25 points per game during that stretch.
For a team that relies heavily on a rushing attack and a stout defense, that production should have been more than enough to remain competitive and the Bills went 4-2 over those six games.
And yet somehow Taylor finds himself in trouble for a defense that allowed an average of 40.5 points and 246 rushing yards over the past two weeks. Maybe trading your best run defending defensive tackle (Marcell Dareus) for a bag of peanuts isn’t the best strategy when you’re in the playoff hunt. And maybe moving on from your two best wide receivers in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods isn’t the best way to support your quarterback.
So instead of Taylor- who is 1-3 against the Patriots on 89 of 143 passes (62.2%) for 904 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions and a rating of 80.9, and 120 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns- the Bills will hand the keys of the offense over to Peterman, who is theoretically a better fit for the Bills offense.
Maybe he is. Maybe Peterman will take the Bills offense to another level and Buffalo will make their first postseason in roughly a billion years.
But the reality is that Peterman will get his first career start on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram- a duo that combined for a sack, 2 hits, and 16 hurries against Tom Brady and the Patriots just a few weeks ago- and then head to Kansas City to play the Chiefs in one of the most difficult road environments in the NFL.
No big deal. Just throw Peterman to the wolves.
I’m honestly not going to be surprised if the Bills eventually bench Peterman and bring back Taylor to a coaching chorus of, “we never doubted in Taylor and he was always out guy.” I’ll set the over/under at three weeks.
What this also means is that Taylor is likely done in Buffalo long term and should be at the top of the Denver Broncos’ wish list for 2018, and that the Bills are making one of the biggest gambles of any team in 2017. If this is the status of the team currently ranked 6th in the AFC, then Wild Card Weekend could be another snooze fest.
Is Peterman the Bills quarterback of the future? We’ll find out. It’s just another trip to the postseason at stake for Buffalo.