At this stage of the preseason, there really isn’t more that Nathan Peterman can do to win the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback job.
Through three preseason games and one start, Peterman has displayed the best grasp of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense, completing 80.5 percent of his passes (33 of 41) for 431 yards and three touchdowns.
During Sunday’s disappointing 26-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at sunny New Era Field, Peterman provided a spark where rookie Josh Allen failed. He started and played the entire second half, completing 16-of-21 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown.
By comparison, Allen was 6-of-12 with 34 passing yards and five sacks in the first half. The prized rookie barely had two seconds to search for a receiver downfield on most of his passes due to porous play from the offensive line. Playing behind most of the same offensive line that was pushed around by Cincinnati’s defensive line in the first half, Peterman continued his outstanding preseason performance Sunday.
Maybe it is because he has an extra year playing with many of the key Bills offensive players, but Peterman has been the only Buffalo signal-caller to look comfortable directing the first-team offense so far in the preseason. Allen represents the future, but right now, playing behind a patchwork offensive line struggling for consistency, Peterman seems to be the answer at QB for the Bills in 2018.
“I don’t know. The decision is not up to me,” Peterman said when asked if he has done enough to earn the Week 1 starting nod against the Baltimore Ravens. “I’ve definitely put my best effort out there. There’s things I feel that I could’ve definitely done better, even [Sunday], some plays I wish I had back, things I’ll work on though and get better at. I’m going to be ready to go though regardless. You know, whatever the decision is, I’ll be ready to play.”
Through three preseason games, Peterman ranks fourth among all QBs with 431 passing yards, and he is fourth in average yards per completion (10.5 yards). He has completed at least 76 percent of his passes in every preseason game thus far, including 90 percent of his passes (9 of 10 for 118 yards with one TD and one INT) during a start vs. the Carolina Panthers, and 80 percent of his passes (8 of 10 for 113 yards with one TD) in a win over the Cleveland Browns.
Comparing Buffalo’s three QBs — Allen, Peterman, and AJ McCarron, the numbers tilt considerably towards Peterman in the race to be Buffalo’s starter.
Allen has completed 54.5 percent of his passes (24 of 44) for 210 yards with 2 TDs, 0 INTs, seven sacks, and a QB rating of 82.6.
McCarron has completed 62.5 percent of his passes (10 of 16) for 128 yards with 0 TDs, 0 INTs, two sacks, and an 87.5 QB rating.
Peterman has completed 80.5 percent of his passes (33 of 41) for 431 yards with 3 TDs, 1 INT, two sacks, and a 124.7 QB rating.
Given how much criticism Peterman dealt with after his inauspicious 2017 NFL debut — when he tossed five first-half interceptions during a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers — the preseason performance has so far been both validating and vindicating for the Pittsburgh product, drafted in the fifth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
“Yeah, it’s been great. Again, I’ve kind of moved on from last year. I’ve learned so much from it. But, you know, it’s about every next snap … trying to appreciate the moment at the same time. Just trying to be better every snap I take,” said Peterman, who ranks fifth among all QBs with a 124.7 QB rating this preseason. “I come up every time I’m on the field, I think it’s a blessing. I try to go out there and compete, and try to win, and drive the offense down the field. We did some good things tonight, but again, I thought I left a couple drives out there that we could’ve scored and could’ve put us in a better position to win.”