Buffalo Bills: Assessing the quarterback battle after first week of OTAs

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 03: Nathan Peterman #2 of the Buffalo Bills holds the ball while warming up before a game against the New England Patriots on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 03: Nathan Peterman #2 of the Buffalo Bills holds the ball while warming up before a game against the New England Patriots on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

With Week 1 of OTAs completed, we review how the competition is proceeding, as the Buffalo Bills aim to find their starting quarterback for the 2018 season.

With Tyrod Taylor now gone, the battle for the Buffalo Bills‘ starting quarterback job is a leap into the unknown. At this stage this is no way of knowing who will be under center come Sept. 9, when the Bills take on the Ravens in Baltimore.

First up there’s AJ McCarron, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal in March. With a career 93.6 QB rating and 66.7 winning percentage, he sounds enticing enough.

However, the reality is McCarron only has three starts under his belt in four NFL seasons, along with another eight appearances off the bench. He has essentially been brought in as insurance at the position.

Next, there’s Nathan Peterman. However, the mere mention of his name is likely to elicit groans from the majority of Bills fans.

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That’s because Peterman’s first NFL start last season led to five picks, in one half. Head coach Sean McDermott may call the quarterback battle an open competition, but the reality is the sophomore has the worst chance of starting the opening week of the 2018 campaign.

Finally there’s Josh Allen, who is undoubtedly the player receiving the most attention among the QBs. That’s what happens when a team trades up in the draft, so they can select you with the seventh overall pick.

The 22-year-old has all the tools you want in a potential franchise quarterback; size, arm strength, mobility. However, whether he starts in Week 1 is another thing altogether.

Interestingly, even though Allen is the long-term hope, he has yet to work with the first-string offense. Instead, he ran the third team offense during the first three days of OTAs.

This was an interesting move, with one possibility being McDermott doesn’t want to put any undue pressure on the youngster at this early stage. Regardless, as noted by Matthew Fairburn of Newyorkupstate.com, Allen looked like anything but a third-string quarterback during Thursday afternoon, which was the first OTA session open to the media.

The Firebaugh, California native looked confident enough, as he mixed up his passes. His scouting report out of college indicated he can make any throw, and this was only reinforced during Thursday’s session.

Allen discussed his progress afterwards with the media. As reported by Fairburn, he said:

"“I’m going out there and I’m trying to do everything right. I’m not trying to do too much. Whatever Coach (Brian) Daboll and Coach (David) Culley are preaching to me is what I’m going to go out there and I’m going to do. I’m going to trust my teammates, put the ball where it needs to be, let them go make some plays, and it’s as simple as that.”"

While Allen dazzled with the third team unit, McCarron and Peterman were taking it in turns to run the first-string offense. Thursday was Peterman’s opportunity to impress.

The 24-year-old may be perceived as the outsider. However, he is still doing everything possible to give himself the best chance to compete.

As reported last month by Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, Peterman has been working on his throwing mechanics with QB guru Tom House during the offseason, in California. House is renowned for working with some of the top quarterbacks in the game, including Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

The Jacksonville, Florida native looked decent enough on Thursday. However, he clearly still has major issues with his accuracy, which resulted in one interception off a high throw.

Peterman also spoke to the media afterwards. Again reported by Fairburn, he said:

"“I mean any time you get to play the game and get reps, it’s fun, it’s what you love to do. Have the greatest job in the world. It’s great to get out there and throw the ball around. For that to be your job is awesome, so the opportunity’s been great, just to have that. I’ve been learning so much even these past couple of days, and I know I’ll continue to do that.”"

Overall, it’s obviously early days, but at this stage the depth chart would probably have McCarron as the starter, with Allen as the main backup. However, it will be interesting to see how the QB battle plays out over the remaining seven days of OTAs, which will take place on May 29-31, June 4-5 and June 7-8.

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What’s your take on the battle to be the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback come opening week in Baltimore? Who do you predict will be under center, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.