The Buffalo Bills have a new quarterback.
Coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday that he's benching Tyrod Taylor, the team's starter since 2014, in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman.
“First and foremost, it was a decision made by myself," McDermott said. "The coaches were not involved in this decision. Certainly, I spoke with (general manager) Brandon (Beane), like I do about every decision."
McDermott stressed the move was "about becoming a better team." The Bills are 5-4 and still in the playoff hunt, but they have suffered back-to-back blowout losses against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints.
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Though the Bills' run defense was overwhelmed in both defeats, the team also had issues on offense. Against the Saints, Taylor had the worst performance of his NFL career, with his lowest passer rating of 33.6.
McDermott said the move "isn't an indictment of Tyrod Taylor," adding: "He will continue to be an important part of our team moving forward."
On the question of how the rest of the locker room would respond to benching a veteran starter in favor of a rookie while the team is still in the playoff hunt, McDermott said, "I get that; I understand that. Really, it's about becoming a better team. That's what we're here for.
"We are 5-4, I understand that, and we are in the playoff hunt at this point. It is always and will forever, for the time that I am here, will be about becoming the best team that we can possibly become. We are made for more than 5-4 and I've come here to be better than 5-4."
McDermott said he has been impressed with the maturity that Peterman, a fifth-round draft pick from Pittsburgh, has shown at an early point in his career.
"And he's certainly worked hard," the coach said. "When you look at Nate and what he was able to do, through OTAs, through training camp, through preseason and then the other day (against the Saints) I thought he did some good things, albeit that was a small sample size of a regular-season game."
After replacing Taylor in the fourth quarter against New Orleans, Peterman completed seven of 10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 126.7.
"That said, he has a lot of work to do, just like we all do," McDermott said.
In nine games this season, Taylor has completed 163 of 254 passes for 1,684 yards and 10 touchdowns, with three interceptions, with a passer rating of 91.4. He has rushed 53 times for 237 yards and two touchdowns.
Since joining the Bills as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, Taylor has completed 674 of 1,070 passes for 7,742 yards and 47 touchdowns. He has rushed 252 times for 1,385 yards and 12 TDs.