After ending their long playoff drought last season, the Bills have as much uncertainty as ever at the quarterback position.
When the Buffalo Bills used their first-round pick on quarterback Josh Allen they hoped they selected their quarterback of the future. However, that future could be put on hold as Allen started training camp working with the third-string offense, which is the right move.
During Allen’s redshirt sophomore and junior years at Wyoming, he had just a 56% completion percentage. Since he was struggling with his accuracy in the Mountain West Conference, it makes it hard to believe that he is going to improve enough to be effective against NFL defenses right away.
And how well did each of our top 6 2018 NFL Draft QBs handle pressure in 2017? pic.twitter.com/W9ml9dqpon— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 28, 2018
Additionally, in his final college season, Allen had by far the worst numbers under pressure compared to other highly drafted quarterbacks. He had only a 58.5 passer rating under pressure, which shows an area he must improve in before starting for the Bills. If he doesn’t improve in this aspect, he will really struggle when defenses throw a variety of blitzes his way.
While Allen winning the job isn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities if he plays well in training camp and during the preseason, it is in Allen’s best long-term interest that he starts the season on the bench. That is why they decided to bring in AJ McCarron from Cincinnati to compete with second-year quarterback Nathan Peterman for the starting job Week 1.
The Bills remain optimistic about Peterman’s potential, but the reality is he hasn’t shown the ability to be an effective starter at the NFL level. In four appearances last season, including two starts, Peterman completed only 49% of his passes for 252 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2-5.
Everyone remembers Peterman’s disastrous first start where he had five first-half interceptions. While a few of those INT’s weren’t entirely his fault, he clearly wasn’t ready to start.
That leaves McCarron as the clear choice for Buffalo to start Week 1. When he signed with Buffalo, he had hopes of being their long-term answer at the quarterback position, but those hopes were squashed after the draft. That doesn’t mean McCarron can’t hold onto this job for most, if not all of the 2018 season. In limited action with the Bengals, he displayed a lot of what he could do if given a starting job.
In 2015, when Andy Dalton was out due to injury, McCarron appeared in seven games during the regular season, including three starts. He completed 66% of his passes for 854 yards, with a 6-2 TD/INT ratio. And more importantly, the Bengals were 2-1 in the games he started, which helped them secure the AFC North division title and a home playoff game.
McCarron didn’t play his best in the AFC Wild Card game (23-of-41 for 212 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he did put the Bengals in a position to win with a touchdown pass to AJ Green with only two minutes remaining in the game.
It isn’t a huge sample size, but it shows that when given the right pieces around him, McCarron can be a serviceable starter and the perfect bridge quarterback to Allen down the road.
Even though they have so many new pieces on this team, the Bills are coming off of a playoff berth themselves. They have an above average defense that forced the ninth most turnovers last year and an excellent running game led by LeSean McCoy. With McCarron as their starter, they will be able to remain competitive.
The Bills priority should be doing what’s best for Allen because he is going to ultimately be the deciding factor for how good Buffalo can be in the near future. What appears to be the best for Allen right now is to allow him to develop behind McCarron until the coaching staff believes he is ready to go sometime down the road.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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