HOUSTON — LeSean McCoy shook his head, pursed his lips and took six seconds to find the words to answer a question Sunday about how much confidence the Buffalo Bills‘ offense had remaining in quarterback Nathan Peterman.
“I still have a lot of confidence in him,” McCoy eventually said. “We just gotta play better for him, make plays [and] make it easier for him build some confidence within himself.”
McCoy did his best to support his teammate after Peterman threw two more interceptions to doom the Bills in a 20-13 loss Sunday to the Houston Texans, but the Bills’ rationalization of continuing to stick by Peterman has reached an absurd point.
Unlike last November’s start against the Los Angeles Chargers or this season’s opener against the Baltimore Ravens, coach Sean McDermott did not intentionally insert Peterman into the lineup. An injury to Josh Allen forced Peterman onto the field Sunday, yet the results were as catastrophic as Peterman’s previous trips onto an NFL stage that is clearly too large for him.
Peterman, who has the fourth-worst passer rating in his starts of the 231 quarterbacks to start NFL games since 2001, should not have been put in a position to play. The Bills are not doing Peterman any favors by continuing to put him on the field and subject him and the team to ridicule.
McDermott should share some blame for the situation because of his all-too-obvious affinity for Peterman’s character traits in spite of a clear lack of ability from Peterman. General manager Brandon Beane should also face criticism for trading quarterback AJ McCarron at the end of the preseason and not signing veteran quarterback Derek Anderson until last week, five games into the season.
Either way, nothing has brought the organization more national embarrassment over the past year than its quest to prove itself correct and justify Peterman’s roster spot.
Backup quarterbacks in the NFL typically fall into two categories: graybeards, like Anderson, who can offer guidance; or young quarterbacks who can be developed into NFL starters.
Peterman, 24, fits into neither bucket. No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen is the quarterback whom the Bills are attempting to develop. As long as Allen is healthy, there should never be an opportunity for Peterman to see the field. Even if Peterman did play, the idea he could flash enough potential for the Bills to keep him on their roster alongside Allen, or for another team to trade for him, is laughable at this point.
So what value does Peterman bring to the Bills’ roster? There is no defendable explanation for a quarterback who has been intercepted on 12.2 percent of his pass attempts in the regular season and playoffs, the highest rate since 2001 for a quarterback with at least 50 career pass attempts.
If Allen’s elbow injury keeps him from playing next Sunday against the Colts in Indianapolis, the Bills should start Anderson and take their chances. Anderson has experience playing for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll with the Cleveland Browns in 2009, which should give him a frame of knowledge sturdy enough to put him on the field instead of Peterman.