After two preseason games, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the Buffalo Bills and their quarterbacking situation. The starter didn’t look very good, the rookie flashed talent between stretches of playing like a rookie, and the veteran backup is now third on the depth chart.
Let’s take a step back and look at everything here.
Tyrod Taylor needs to play better (and he also needs some help)
Let’s be absolutely clear: Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. Any serious discussion to the contrary is at least two months premature and is probably best saved for early offseason.
That said, as it stands, Taylor needs to be better for the Bills to be successful. He also needs those around him to be better, especially when it comes to the offensive tackles. I can’t say that Taylor looked like a completely different quarterback during Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he certainly seemed like he was missing the recently-traded Sammy Watkins in going 8-of-18 with two picks and a quarterback rating of 12.
Jon Ramsey looked at a few of his passes from the game on Friday. He had some good plays, some awful ones, and some where the protection let him down. He generally plays well on the run, but if the Bills are going to have any semblance of success in 2017, he’ll need to be effective when he has a clean pocket.
Nathan Peterman has been solid in the preseason, but it’s time to pump the brakes a bit
For the most part, Peterman has looked like a decent NFL prospect through two games of preseason action against the backups for the Eagles and Minnesota Vikings. He’s missed on some easy throws, but made a few tough ones, especially at the end of the first half against the Eagles.
That said, any talk of him being ready to even sniff some action with the starters is ridiculous. Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News floated the idea in a mailbag on Friday, citing Taylor’s poor performance and the possibility of Peterman fighting for a starting role after the season.
There’s nothing wrong with giving Peterman some more responsibility, but one of my major takeaways from the Eagles game is that if the Bills want to win anything in 2017 they need to give Taylor as much work with his receivers as they possibly can. Whatever chemistry he’s built up with Anquan Boldin is in short supply, and if Jordan Matthews can see the field at all this preseason the Bills can’t waste that time with a rookie who isn’t going to see meaningful snaps this year.
Of course, I’m operating under the assumption that the Bills are trying to win in 2017. If they’re not, or if the season falls apart early on, then we can talk about this again. For now, though, let’s keep Peterman where he belongs on the depth chart.
What about T.J. Yates?
Remember him? The guy who was supposed to be the backup before an awful performance in the loss to the Vikings relegated him to second-half status?
He’s still on the roster, but at this point it would be a surprise to see him move back into the number two role on the depth chart. The main storyline around Yates is whether or not the Bills should even keep him on the roster, possibly deciding to jettison him while rolling with only two quarterbacks in 2017.
For the life of me, I can’t see any reason to do that. First of all, Yates is a veteran quarterback who has experience in Rick Dennison’s system. He may not be good, but he’s a better option on the roster than someone fresh off the street.
More importantly, however, is the question of what to do with the roster spot that releasing Yates would create. Releasing Yates is only worthwhile if there’s a good player who would lose a spot because there wasn’t enough room on the roster, and most of the players who would fit that description are likely bound for the practice squad anyway.
So where do we stand right now?
Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback.
Let me say it again: Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback.
Once more for the people in the back: Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback.
Nathan Peterman has some potential, but he’s not ready to be a starting quarterback on a team that’s trying to win.
T.J. Yates isn’t good, but it’s better to keep him around than it would be to carry four tight ends or seven wideouts or something like that.
Finally, if the Bills start losing early, forget everything I just said.