Bills Sound Like They Could Repeat Nathan Peterman Disaster in Week 12

If the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result (an oft-repeated aphorism of questionable provenance, one must add)—then consider the Buffalo Bills insane. Possibly.

By now, pretty much the whole of the football-watching world knows that the Bills and Sean McDermott made a personnel decision on Sunday that will go down as one of the more inept in modern NFL history. McDermott, the rookie head coach, benched his dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor for another rookie, Nathan Peterman, for the Bills’ trip to the Los Angeles Chargers. Since the Bills moved to 5-2 on October 29 by beating the Oakland Raiders at home, their pursuit of an AFC Wild Card spot has skidded alarmingly into the long grass.

McDermott’s team lost to the Jets at MetLife Stadium, then got blown out by the Saints in upstate New York last week. To be fair to Taylor, who was under center for each of those losses, the latter result seems to be happening to most teams lately. Taylor’s insecurity may also be compounded by his status as one of the NFL’s harder-to-define quarterbacks. He takes care of the ball and makes LeSean McCoy a better player, but the knock on Taylor has been that he doesn’t take enough risks throwing the ball downfield. "Are you going to win a Super Bowl with Tyrod Taylor?" does feel more than a little like, "Are you going to win a Championship with Alex Smith?" Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Chiefs, too, have hit the buffers in recent weeks. A “game manager” can be great, but every single facet of the team around them needs to be working well at the same time for it to contend.

That’s enough, though, of defending McDermott. Peterman turned the ball over five times against the Chargers, who led 40-10 at halftime. The fifth-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh completed one more pass than he had interceptions. The game already having disappeared into the distance, McDermott benched Peterman for Taylor, who promptly threw a touchdown and didn’t turn the ball over—albeit in a second half that was all garbage time thanks to Peterman’s nightmare. Hilariously, or tragicomically, the Chargers were so far ahead that they could take Philip Rivers out of the game and put in Kellen Clemens for several snaps toward the end.

Has McDermott learned, then, that a conservative quarterback might actually be a nice thing to have, especially when his offense is geared toward McCoy and the running game? Not really—it seems like the Bills could give Peterman another start next Sunday, against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. "This is about not only winning now, but also in the future," McDermott told Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. Mike Rodak of ESPN reported that McDermott planned to “evaluate” his quarterback situation before the visit to the Chiefs.

That doesn’t sound like he is certain about going back to Taylor. The Bills could yet blow a Wild Card place by sticking with a guy who threw five picks in his first game. Football can be weird.