Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott made a controversial move when he benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman. And McDermott justified the move by saying, “We are made for more than 5-4. And I’ve come here to be more than 5-4.”
The first-year coach’s “calculated risk” backfired in the worst way possible as Peterman played terribly in his first-career start. The University of Pittsburgh product completed 6-of-11 passes for 66 yards and five interceptions.
This is the most interceptions ever thrown by a quarterback in one half since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. And McDermott mercifully yanked Peterman at halftime and instilled Taylor back into place. The end result was a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Obviously this was a bad decision in hindsight, and it gave Buffalo no chance to compete against LA. But the unfortunate thing for the Bills is that this dilemma could cause an even bigger downward spiral.
Bills’ Schedule Only Gets Tougher
The Bills, who’ve been dominated during their three-game losing streak, face the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) and the New England Patriots next (8-2). Based on the way things have been going lately, Buffalo is going to be big underdogs in both games.
They’ve been outscored 135-55 over the past three losses. This is the most points ever allowed in a three-game span in franchise history. Additionally, this is the fourth-most points allowed within three games since the merger.
McDermott’s Message Falls Flat
McDermott was calm after the team lost 34-21 to the New York Jets in Week 9. But he showed far more urgency after the Bills lost 47-10 to the New Orleans Saints.
Still qualified for an AFC Wild Card berth at 5-4, McDermott made the baffling decision to bench his starter in favor of an unproven rookie.The coach wanted to show that this wasn’t last year’s regime, and Buffalo would no longer settle for mediocrity. But this team might wish for mediocrity by the end of the season.
Sign of Things to Come?
Much of McDermott’s focus has been put on the quarterback in recent weeks. But it’s the Bills’ defense that has been falling flat.
They gave up 37 points to the Chargers in the first half, which is the most for the team in 40 years. The devastating loss not only puts the Bills at .500, but it also pushes them out of a Wild Card spot after Baltimore’s victory over Green Bay.
McDermott tried spinning the situation favorably by saying that “all teams go through this.” But it’s hard to write this losing skid off so easily when they’ve been historically bad.
Perhaps this would be understandable if Buffalo were a rebuilding team like the Cleveland Browns. But they fired head coach Rex Ryan in the offseason last year because he failed to make the playoffs in two seasons. Now, it doesn’t look like McDermott is moving the team any closer to this goal in 2017.
How can Buffalo Fix their Issues?
In fact, Buffalo was unable to force a punt from the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss to the third quarter of the San Diego game. Adding this up, the Jets, Saints, and Chargers went 22 consecutive possessions without having to punt. And in these possessions, the three opponents scored 10 touchdowns, made seven field goals, missed one field goal, fumbled one time, and took knees to end the half three times.
The defense’s biggest problem has been stopping the run game. They’re allowing 212 yards on the ground over the past three contests.
Buffalo was hoping that Peterman would help the team get into a rhythm with short passes. And by moving the chains consistently on each drive, the defense would be more rested and able to stop the run. However, what really happened is that Peterman threw some really terrible passes that put the defense in even worse spots.
What’s Ahead for Buffalo?
Not long ago, McDermott was guiding a 5-2 team and included in talks for coach of the year. Now he’s stuck answering questions about why he made such a baffling quarterback move. What’s more is that he’s got to find a way to fix this defense as the schedule heats up.
Odds are that Buffalo can win at least two more games this season with Taylor at quarterback. But any hopes of making the playoffs are long gone after this recent losing streak.
Everybody in Buffalo wanted to avoid another lost season. But as it looks right now, the Bills will simply be playing for pride over the last six games of the year.