When the Buffalo Bills signed AJ McCarron and then drafted Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, many assumed Nathan Peterman would be relegated to a backup role for the second straight season.
That may no longer be the case.
The former Pitt Panther has been arguably the Bills’ top quarterback throughout training camp and the first three preseason games. Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with Jon Scott, who covers the Bills for Spectrum News Buffalo, to get his thoughts on Peterman.
“He has been the best of the three quarterbacks in the Bills’ competition,” Scott told PSN. “Through three preseason games his numbers are drastically better than everyone, whether he’s performed first team, second team or third team. He’s been consistent and that’s truly what you would think matters most in regards to an evaluation.”
Peterman is 23-26 passing this preseason for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His 80.5 completion rate ranks third among all NFL signal callers.
Sean McDermott says he has still doesn't know when he's going to name a starting QB. Here's what the two who played today had to say about if they feel they've done enough to earn that job. #Bills pic.twitter.com/JxXwWD46FD
— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) August 27, 2018
McCarron suffered a shoulder injury during a preseason contest against Cleveland, and Allen has been up and down. Through all of it, Peterman remained steadily consistent, engineering scoring drives with all three units.
“It hasn’t gone unnoticed from his teammates,” Scott said of Peterman. “They have spoken openly about how nothing seems to really move the needle one way or the other with Nate. He’s calm, collected, and goes after his job just the same way.”
Peterman made a push last year as a rookie to potentially steal the job from incumbent Tyrod Taylor, but Scott never truly believed the staff considered the rookie for the Week 1 gig. Nonetheless, he believes the former Panther has handled himself differently compared to a year ago, approaching it like, “a guy who has been in a competition before and a guy who is not in his second year,” Scott said.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 26, 2018
Peterman is most known amongst fans for his disastrous debut against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11 last year. The rookie threw five first-half interceptions and was replaced by Taylor in the second half. Peterman spent the next week practicing with the third team, but eventually moved back up to No. 2 on the depth chart, even filling in for an injured Taylor late in the fourth quarter during the team’s playoff loss to Jacksonville.
Despite a rocky first year, Scott had several conversations with team officials during the offseason that reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to Peterman.
“From [head coach] Sean McDermott to [general manager] Brandon Beane to even the owner, Terry Pegula, I spoke to all of them in the offseason at separate points,” Scott said. “And they all made a point to single out Nathan and how impressed they’ve been with his ability to not only move on from that performance, but really just move on in his career and take steps forward on multiple fronts.”
Those interactions led Scott to believe Peterman would be strongly considered for starting 2018 as the team’s No. 1 quarterback in spite of the front office moves.
“All three of them unprovoked would always bring up Nathan Peterman,” Scott said of the team’s head coach, general manager and owner. “It stood out to me because he was the forgotten guy.”
POLL: Each of the #Bills 3 QBs have gotten a start in the preseason. From what you’ve seen, who should be the opening day starter against the Ravens? Vote and tell me why!
— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) August 27, 2018
Allen’s performance in the team’s second preseason game earned him the starting nod on Sunday against Cincinnati, but he struggled behind an offensive line that failed to protect the organization’s anointed quarterback of the future. Peterman replaced the rookie and led a second half scoring drive, throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass.
While Peterman lacks Allen’s arm strength, his decisiveness and ability to get the ball out quickly might be the determining factor in who starts Week 1 against Baltimore. Scott said the local media would have limited access to McDermott over the next several days but to expect a decision soon. While he’s not committed to saying Peterman will get the starting nod, the decision would not surprise him.
“Again, they [front office] would mention his work ethic and how he has showed a lot of character bouncing back from that debut in Los Angeles,” Scott said of Peterman. “They’ve maintained their feelings, and they like his development from year one to year two.”