These sneaky Bills.
The Bills surprised everyone this morning with the news that Nathan Peterman will be the starting quarterback over Tyrod Taylor on Sunday in Los Angeles. This was shocking because Sean McDermott insisted on both Sunday and Monday at his press conferences that Tyrod would be the starting quarterback going forward.
How should fans feel about the decision? Tyrod has underperformed, to say the least. Through 56 minutes of NFL football on Sunday, Taylor managed just 56 yards, 3 points & an interception. It's the second time this year he only helped the offense score 3 points (Carolina, the 9-3 loss where he threw for only 125 yards.)
Opposing teams have begun to strategize his ineptitude, saying, "We're going to make Tyrod Taylor play quarterback." That's never a compliment to a QB's play. It implies that you struggle to throw the ball consistently. It means that as long as they can stop the run and force you to throw, they think they can beat you. That has happened in the losses to Cincinnati, Carolina and New Orleans. In the Jets loss, the offensive line's inability to block would've made it difficult for any quarterback to have success.
Is Tyrod a bad quarterback? No. But what makes Tyrod a good quarterback? Is it his ability to lead his team to wins? He's hovering right around .500 for his career. Is it his ability to throw the ball all over the yard? Far from it; he averages 152.7 yards per game. Before the Tampa Bay win, Tyrod had never won a game when he was forced to throw the ball more than 30 times: he was 0-11. It isn’t his ability to extend plays and run the ball, either; teams have figured out how to stop him from breaking the pocket and it's nearly eliminated his ability to scramble.
But he protects the ball, right? He's thrown 10 TDs and just 3 INTs. That's like saying a running back is good because they don't fumble. Not fumbling is important, but if you only average 1.5 yards per carry, you're not a good running back at any level.
Tyrod Taylor's best feature has been to extend plays with his feet and aid the offense in their rushing attack, but neither of those things have added up to too many big plays this year. How many times does Taylor run or throw for only 5 yards after extending a play? Most NFL QBs can find a receiver 50 yards downfield who has gotten open with all the time they were bought.
Fans have said that Peterman isn't ready to be a starter. How does anyone know? We've seen him play four minutes of quarterback in a regular season NFL game and he threw for 79 yards and a touchdown. He outperformed Taylor in every statistical aspect in just four minutes. Although that isn't a good indicator of what Peterman is, it doesn't mean the Bills don't need to find out. The coaches must think he's ready to play, and their opinion is a lot more important than any fan's.
Peterman may be good. He may be terrible. He may be average. In an upcoming offseason in which the bills have a lot of draft currency, it's imperative to know what you have in him. Do you need to draft a first round QB, or can you use those picks for linemen or weapons? If they don't find out what Peterman can do, they may foolishly pick in the wrong direction.
Is the timing strange? Possibly. The Bills still sit in a playoff spot, so it is weird to make a change, but the Bills also can't afford these two losses to turn into a longer streak. Tyrod may not have been the problem in both of the losses, but he certainly hasn't been a solution either.
None of this is to say that Peterman is really good. It does say, that after two and a half years, Tyrod may not be very good.
What if Peterman is good? What if he shows the ability to deliver the ball on time? What if he throws for 300 yards and 3 TDs a game. What if he takes the Bills to the playoffs this year? These are all things Tyrod hasn't done in his time as a starter.
One thing is for certain, no matter what side of the aisle you're on, Sunday's game just got a lot more interesting.