It's not all Tyrod's fault
Peterman will make his first NFL start at quarterback on Sunday, replacing veteran Tyrod Taylor, who's led a struggling offense through the first nine games of the season. At the tail end of Sunday's 47-10 thumping by the Saints, Peterman came in early and completed seven passes to lead the Bills on their only touchdown drive of the contest.
After a 5-2 start that saw the defense give up 30+ points zero times, the last two games have gone down as major losses. The 34-21 loss to the New York Jets should've been 34-7, but two meaningless touchdowns in the waning minutes closed the gap like last call at the Galleria Mall. Sunday's atrocious 47-10 setback to New Orleans at home was the first loss in Orchard Park all season.
I thought (and still do) that a large part of the issue lay with the defense. After stalwart Marcell Dareus was shipped off to Jacksonville, the Bills handled the Raiders fairly easily with such short notice for adjustments. But in the two games since, it's clear the run defense is pining for someone like Mr. Big Stuff to plug the holes. New Orleans came to town as a team noted for its aerial attack under Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Instead, they kept the ball on the ground and churned out a franchise-record six rushing touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the offense has been average since Week One. They've scored fewer than 20 points four times while only putting up 30+ points once (in the Raiders game, the defense was responsible for a touchdown, meaning the offense only put up 27 points). The receiving corps has been particularly pitiful. Here's a look at the top five Bills in terms of receiving yards:
Taylor holds onto the ball for a long time. Yes he's a mobile quarterback, but increasingly more so out of necessity than as a true weapon. He has a tendency to draw out a broken play longer than usual, and the result is an average release time of 2.98 seconds. The only slower QBs in the league this season are Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and Brett Hundley. When he can't even release it, the result is a sack.
But the breakdowns also have other culprits - the wideouts and the offensive line. For some reason, the wide receivers are having a difficult time finding open real estate while Taylor is still in a good position to throw. That doesn't help an already-struggling offensive line, who tends to break down easier than most other units in the league. They struggle just as much in the run game, a primary reason LeSean McCoy has had issues putting up big numbers this season.
According to Football Outsiders, the Bills O-line ranks 22nd overall on rushing plays and 30th on passing plays. One key element that shows how weak they really are is their stuffed rank, a number calculated to determine how often a runner gets tackled immediately. Their figures show that Buffalo is the sixth-worst team in terms of allowing its backs to take quick hits, happening on 26 percent of its runs. It could be even higher if they didn't have a shifty, agile runner like McCoy.
Some analysts and announcers deduce that because he's a short quarterback, Taylor struggles to see over linemen when seeking a receiver. I don't buy that excuse. If anything, his primary problem is accuracy. He has a tendency to overshoot his targets, regardless of whether they're 80 yards downfield or eight. That's not an issue that stems from being three inches shorter than an "ideal quarterback." It's a very fundamental thing that should be rectified well before becoming the starting QB for an NFL team. One too many errant passes later, it's finally caught up with him. I just hope the switch salvages what was once a fairly promising season.
Editor's Note: Matt Birt is a former Buffalo Bills employee and possibly a future one as well.