2018 Buffalo Bills Have a Choice To Make at Quarterback
by DS WilliamsonThe 2018 Buffalo Bills are still waiting to see if AJ McCarron will be healthy enough to serve as the team's pivot this season, while rookie Josh Allen and incumbent starter Nathan Peterman battle over the remainder of the preseason. McCarron headed back to the practice field on Wednesday, August 22nd, which was a sight for sore eyes, and fans are eager to see what the former backup in Cincinnati can continue to produce. Coach Sean McDermott shot down reports that McCarron had suffered a broken collarbone in the team's 19-17 win over the Cleveland Browns in NFL Preseason Week 2 .
McDermott described the injury as a hairline fracture. McCarron should resume practicing, but he won’t immediately become Buffalo’s first-string quarterback because the team hasn’t decided on Week 1’s starter. All training camp, McCarron, Nathan Peterman, and Josh Allen have duked it out for the starting job. Which one will be selected to start for the 2018 Buffalo Bills?
QB AJ McCarron
Pros: Not only does McCarron have starter’s experience, he has playoff experience. In the 2015 season, then with the Cincinnati Bengals, McCarron started against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wildcard game. He completed 23-of-41 for 212 yards with a TD pass and an interception. Although McCarron played well, Cincinnati lost 18-16.
Cons: In 2017, McCarron almost joined the Cleveland Browns. The Browns failed to file the paperwork in time, which invariably voided the deal. This was vintage Cleveland buffoonery. Concern revolves around McCarron’s collarbone. It’s not broken but even a hairline fracture could affect a quarterback’s play, and durability is everything when it comes to laying foundation for any team enduring growing pains. As enticing as the potential of McCarron is, there's no telling if he's the future of the franchise. Nobody's pretending like the former Alabama star is anything more than a place holder.
QB Nathan Peterman
Pros: Peterman has shown resilience and poise, which he's needed because his career got off to one of the worst starts of all time. Even after becoming a veritable laughing stock, Peterman has bounced back with some solid performances in preseason. His campaigning for the starting job of the 2018 Buffalo Bills began with a solid outing which included 9-of-10 completions for 118 yards, one touchdown and a lonely pick. That was followed up with a similar showing in the second game of the preseason where he amassed 113 yards on 8-of-10 passes with a touchdown and zero turnovers against Carolina. He doesn't look like the guy who threw five interceptions in his first go as a starter last year.
Cons: Preseason performances don’t often mean much. The big downside is that it's going to be hard to convince fans that the 2018 Buffalo Bills are off to a fresh start with Peterman at the helm. Fans won't forget how pedestrian he looked in 2017 when he averaged a 12.1 quarterback rating. There's upside, but asking for patience at this point might be a bit much. Plus, the ceiling on Peterman is admittedly pretty low.
QB Josh Allen
Pros: Allen’s got a rocket arm. He can throw a 60-yard pass no problem. Like Peterman, he’s performed well. Allen completed 9-of-19 with a touchdown versus Carolina. Against Cleveland, he completed 9-of-13 for 60 yards and a score.
Cons: Accuracy issues that plagued Allen while at Wyoming plague him in Buffalo. Long, inaccurate throws are worthless. Pundits have been rightfully all over the map in gauging Allen as a long-term starter. The fact remains that he's probably better off holding a clipboard instead of firing off errant long balls during his rookie season.
Also, the Bills have a new starting left tackle this season, Dion Dawkins, after they traded last year’s starter Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati. Does McDermott want to put Buffalo’s prized rookie quarterback into harm’s way in Week 1?
Remember the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”? If Buffalo believes in that phrase, they should start AJ McCarron. He gives them the best chance to win now.
Allen won’t learn to throw accurately in a single training camp while Peterman hasn’t proven he can perform well in a regular season game. McCarron's logically their guy while Buffalo figures out if Dawkins can play left tackle as well as Glenn did. The Bills should trade Peterman. They could get as high as a fourth round pick, or even a utility offensive lineman who can play guard or tackle.
The market for Peterman doesn't mean much in the grand scheme for the 2018 Buffalo Bills because the investment in rookie Josh Allen is sky high. Protecting him as both a near-term asset and a potential long-term solution is more important than making the playoffs this season. McDermott should put Allen on the bench until Dawkins’ proves he can protect the weakside.