CARSON, Calif. – Well, that was something, wasn’t it? What does rock bottom look like, exactly? Here are my 10 observations from the Bills’ unbelievable, 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
1. The Nathan Peterman Era could not have gotten off to a worse start. The rookie quarterback was intercepted four times – FOUR – in the first 17 minutes of the game. The quarterback he replaced, Tyrod Taylor, has been intercepted three times all season.
Whether you want to put all the blame on Peterman for those picks or not (the first one, for example, is definitely not on him) really doesn’t matter. It’s not a stretch to say that this is the worst decision of coach Sean McDermott’s brief time with the Bills and quite possibly one of the most disastrous things a coach has done in franchise history. The only possible comparison is Doug Flutie getting benched for Rob Johnson before a playoff game, and that might not even approach it. Peterman added another pick in the second quarter for a grand total of five before mercifully being benched for the second half.
The impact of this decision will have ramifications well beyond Sunday.
2. Let’s not forget the defense. It’s obvious now that the takeaways the team was getting earlier in the season were a mirage. This defense is horrible. Worse than anything Rex Ryan put on the field during his two-year run as head coach -- let that marinate for a minute. That’s on McDermott, just as much as the decision to switch quarterbacks. Asking fans to “trust the process” after the last three weeks is a joke.
3. Things got off to a terrible start right away for the Bills. No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin suffered a knee injury on the fourth play of the game. He was quickly ruled out — which is never a good sign. Benjamin was hurt after making a 20-yard reception on a slant pattern over the middle — exactly the type of play the Bills want more of in their offense. Unfortunately, he might not be able to provide those any time soon.
4. There has been plenty of talk about McDermott “losing the locker room” with some of the decisions the team has made this year. I didn’t put much stock into that — before Sunday. That’s how bad Peterman was. Failing to own up to his mistake after the third interception … or the fourth … and turning to Taylor sooner was a bad look on a horrible day for the Bills’ coach.
It was also weak to see McDermott kick a field goal down by 33 points in the third quarter. Not exactly a bold choice there.
5. Is Shaq Lawson at "bust" status? Probably not yet, but feels like he's approaching it. Not real interested in hearing about his run defense. He was drafted in the first round (yes, by a different front office) to be a pass rusher. When's the last impact play he's made in that regard?
6. Joey Bosa against Jordan Mills went exactly as you would expect. Calling that a mismatch isn’t nearly strong enough. Bosa’s strip-sack of Taylor in the third quarter was picked up by Melvin Ingram and returned for the Chargers’ second defensive touchdown of the game. That put Los Angeles up, 47-10. This is the first time the Bills have allowed 47 points in back-to-back games in team history.
7. The Bills aren't eliminated from the playoff race, and likely won't be for a while, but make no mistake: it's time to start thinking about the draft. If one thing can definitely be said after Sunday, it's this: Quarterback is the No. 1 priority. We know how the team feels about McDermott, and 30 minutes of football from Peterman was more than enough.
8. Even if the decision to kick it was ridiculous, props to Stephen Hauschka. His 50-yard field goal in the third quarter was his 13th straight from 50 yards or longer, setting an NFL record. He also tied a team mark with his sixth field goal of 50 yards or more in a season. That's impressive.
9. It hasn’t gotten a large amount of attention, but Jordan Matthews has had a bad year as the Bills’ supposed No. 1 receiver. Matthews missed his second game of the year Sunday, with a knee injury keeping him out of the lineup. In eight games, he’s made 22 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown. He’s on pace for just 39 catches, 450 yards and two touchdowns, all of which would be career lows. With the Bills acquiring Benjamin at the trade deadline, the likelihood of the team keeping Matthews after this season went down.
10. Benching No. 4 cornerback Shareece Wright for Lafayette Pitts qualified as a surprise. Wright, however, is coming off two tough performances in place of the injured E.J. Gaines. Pitts, who joined the Bills before Week Eight, played in eight games with Miami last season and six this year with Jacksonville before coming to Buffalo.