Around the NFL, Nathan Peterman is a punchline. The Buffalo Bills quarterback threw five first-half interceptions in his debut as a rookie last season, so naturally that’s what fans and media members remember. This offseason, he took the first snap of training camp and the preseason and has done enough to secure the starting quarterback job for the beginning of the regular season, as well.
Peterman has been consistent, decisive, and efficient. While he has his physical limitations in the arm strength category, he has made up for it with his understanding of the offense and his ability to find an open target quickly and deliver the ball.
But there’s a catch here. He’s not going to be able to keep rookie Josh Allen on the bench all season.
Peterman’s throws in his only start of the preseason were of the short variety. He didn’t push the ball down the field. When defenses game plan and adjust to that, crowding the line of scrimmage with extra men and playing press coverage on the receivers, those passing lanes are going to go away. He will need to evolve or Allen will take over fairly quickly.
Allen showed a willingness to open up the passing game, pocket mobility and scrambling ability to keep teams honest, and the arm strength to make all the throws Peterman can’t. Once he hones the ability to make quicker decisions and trust the small margins of the NFL, he’s going to be in the starting lineup. He wasn’t able to do that in his start against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of the preseason last Sunday, so it makes sense for him to continue to develop that.
And what about AJ McCarron? Through three preseason games and three quarters of football, the veteran was in danger of being released more than he was in the running for the starting job. His play had been completely unremarkable until four fourth quarter touchdowns and an epic two-minute drive.
After the game, head coach Sean McDermott said McCarron was “absolutely” still in the quarterback competition, but he played every snap of the fourth preseason game with a huge group of players that won’t even make the final roster this weekend. It shows where he puts McCarron in the pecking order.
McDermott might not announce it until game time next Sunday, but Peterman is going to be the starter. For better, or worse. And once he makes the switch to Allen, there will be no turning back.