For a team that made the playoffs in 2017, the Buffalo Bills made a lot of changes to their roster, starting with the most important position: quarterback.
After trading incumbent Tyrod Taylor for the first pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Buffalo, which had plenty of draft capital at its disposal, traded up to select Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick. This after veteran signal-caller AJ McCarron was inked to a team-friendly two-year deal to compete for the starting QB job with second-year man Nathan Peterman.
So far during the preseason, Peterman and McCarron have each started a preseason game, while Allen is starting Sunday’s 4 p.m. home game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
We asked Football Outsiders for their take on who starts the year at QB for the Bills, and if that same QB would finish the year under center. (Note: this interview was conducted before McCarron suffered an injury during the 19-17 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 of the preseason and before Allen was named the starter of the third preseason game.)
“Oh man, are the tribalism, ‘the national media hates us!’ guys in this crowd going to hate me when this interview is over. It’s okay, I’m used to it. Just getting you prepared,” Rivers McCown said. “I don’t think highly of McCarron’s work in Cincinnati and think he’s this year’s Brock Osweiler/Mike Glennon. In an ideal world, Josh Allen would get a year to learn. I don’t think that’s going to happen. And then you’ve got Peterman, who I don’t consider a high-upside player but perhaps someone who could hold things up until Allen is ready in an ideal scenario. I would be stunned if one quarterback started all 16 games. I think McCarron will get the first look and the quick hook for Peterman, with Allen on deck if the season goes south.”
Allen’s play has generated plenty of buzz, and he has shown a lot of potential in completing 18-of-32 passes (56 percent completion rate), for 176 yards with two touchdowns and a 92.7 quarterback rating.
Peterman has been even better, completing 85 percent of his passes (17 of 20) for 231 yards with two TDs, one interception, and a 127.3 quarterback rating, tops among all quarterbacks with 20+ passes this preseason.
McCarron is coming off his worst game of the preseason, when he was 3-of-6 for 12 yards and zero first downs in Buffalo’s first two series vs. Cleveland before departing the game with an injury. In the preseason opener, McCarron went 7-of-10 for 116 yards.