The big question going into this week was, "What is wrong with the Buffalo Bills offense? "Granted preseason doesn’t matter, it still is discouraging to see the offense play so badly and in addition to that, see the starting quarterback really struggle. In fact, because of the struggles, fans wanted to see rookie 5th round pick Nathan Peterman get some playing time with the 1st team. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but due to a Tyrod Taylor concussion, Peterman got an extended look on Saturday with the first team offense. His best drive of the night was his 2-minute drill, let’s take a look at every pass he threw at the end of the 1st half.
Bills start off inside their own 20 down 3-0. This is a good pass on 1st and 10, a quick 3-step drop. Peterman reads the flat defender, he widens to create the window and it is a nice 9-yard gain on 1st down. These types of quick/simple reads and throws are a strength for the young QB.
Another curl/flat(wheel?) type concept, this time on 2nd and 1. A deeper drop and the protection holds up well but the throw completely misses. Tough to know if it is a bad pass, bad route, or combo of both.
3rd and 1 out of a bunch formation to the left, the Bills run one of their favorite route combinations of the preseason. This is a “counter play” to combat the tendencies of another route combination that is frequently run from this formation. It is common for Charles Clay to run a quick route to the flat out of this formation and that would make sense on 3rd and 1. Instead the Bills use Brandon Tate to clear out the middle on a quick drag and run Andre Holmes and Clay on two quick angle routes to the middle of the field, essentially double slants with some window dressing. The throw has some mustard on it and the coverage is tight, but you still would like to see it caught.
After a 4th down running into the punter penalty, the Bills take over just inside the 2-minute warning at their own 31. During the preseason, the Bills have run this play a ton. Double slants to one side and slant/flat to the other. Zay Jones has getting open consistently on slant routes and does it again here. The throw is out in rhythm and Jones makes the catch in traffic for a good gain on 1st and 10.
One of the many passes knocked down by the Ravens on Saturday night and this one might have been a lucky break. It appears that Peterman was looking for the quick in route. However, if you look at the inside linebacker on the play, he reads it very, very quickly and might have even had a shot at an interception had the ball not been tipped at the line of scrimmage. I would imagine during the regular season we will see teams try to get their hands up versus the Bills as so many passes have come from short drops in the preseason.
If the slant route has been Peterman’s best pass route to throw in the preseason, the seam is a close 2nd. Very nice route by Clay to widen the linebacker to give Peterman a larger throwing window and the young QB throws a very catchable ball. It is a disappointing drop by the tight end, but to focus on the positive, everything else was well executed.
Best throw of the drive is this out pattern to Nick O’Leary. A worrisome problem this preseason has been the pass protection and this play is a good example. The Ravens only rush five and the Bills have six in to block yet a rusher comes free between the right guard and tackle. This illustrates a big benefit of the quick passing game; even though there was a big mistake up front, the ball is out before the quarterback can get sacked. The accurate throw also allows some run after catch yardage to pick up the 1st down.
After an offsides penalty on the Ravens, it is a quick out to Charles Clay for a 1st down. As much trouble as Tyrod Taylor has had finding the big TE, Peterman appears to have a fondness for him. The big reason Clay was signed for so much money was his ability to not only block but also get open vs. man coverage. He does so easily here and picks up a nice gain. It is another nice illustration of the quickness that Peterman gets rid of the ball. He continues to impress in this regard.
This is a called deep shot on 1st and 10 as time is winding down in the 1st half. The Bills keep seven to block and have two go routes being run on the outside. Peterman looks left before quickly coming back to his favorite target, Zay Jones. With a lot of contact as Jones and the cornerback run down the field, the referee throws the flag for pass interference. The ball was put in a good spot for Jones to go up and get it and it shows the confidence that the rookie QB has in his fellow rookie.
The last pass of the drive is another slant to Jones. It is a designed clear-out by both slot receivers to allow Jones to run underneath. I’ve been very impressed by the rookie wide-out’s ability to catch in traffic. He hasn’t shown any fear in the middle of the field and snags the ball nicely with his hands. Jones is the primary read on the play so Peterman never sees the mix-up on the other side of the field that leaves Tolbert uncovered. Jones gets stopped at the 1 and on the very next play Tolbert punches it into the end zone for the touchdown.
This is now twice in the preseason that Peterman has shown some talent in running the two-minute drill. Obviously, the rest of the game was not as pretty for anyone on the Bills side of the football but when looking at preseason it is important to look at both the positives as well as the negatives. What will be most interesting to me is that if the rookie ever does see some regular season time, how will he adjust to teams sitting on the short passing game? He appears to have good timing on the short stuff and it will be the intermediate throws that will be the true test of things.