Nathan Peterman is over it.
The Buffalo Bills’ second-year quarterback is beyond ready to put a rocky rookie season behind him.
“I mean, talked about last year a lot. To be honest, I’m kind of on to this year,” Peterman said last week after the Bills’ third practice of the spring. “I learned so many great lessons last year. I thought I had some ups, some downs as well. As much as those things happen, it’s just on to this year and it’s a fresh start, learning a lot. It’s a new offense, new players, new coaches, and it’s an exciting start.”
Saying he was moving on to 2018 is as close to controversial as the even-keel Peterman gets. It’s understandable why he’s ready to turn the page, though. Peterman’s “downs” are well documented. He threw five interceptions in the first half of his first career start – not hyperbole to say that’s one of the worst quarterback performances in NFL history. Fans haven’t forgotten that, but the team looks like it has.
Peterman took the bulk of starting reps at last Thursday’s practice, which was open to the media. He’s part of a three-way competition for the job with free-agent addition AJ McCarron and rookie first-round draft pick Josh Allen. Plenty can change between today and September, but it’s clear at least for right now that Peterman is in the mix.
“We’ve all been out there getting reps,” he said. “It’s OTAs, you’re kind of working with a bunch of guys, which is good. We’ve got so many new guys on our team, so it’s good to get reps with everybody and kind of build chemistry with everybody, because you’ve got to be ready.
“I 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. 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.”
Change has been a constant for Peterman in his career. Going back to college, he’s on his fifth different offense in the past five years.
“Football is football at the end of the day, but there’s definitely some nuances, some different things we’re doing,” he said. “The NFL game’s a little bit different from the college game. Obviously last year was a big transition for me, but I think it’s helped where the lessons I learned last year are going to be helpful for this offense and what we’re doing this year. I’ve been able to tell that so far.”
The Bills’ switch from Rick Dennison to Brian Daboll at offensive coordinator is intended to jump-start a unit that finished 29th in total yards per game (302.6), 31st in passing yards per game (176.6) and 22nd in points per game (18.9).
“It’s been great as far as being detailed in what we’re doing and having a reason for everything that we’re doing, too,” Peterman said. “What’s really great about this offense is it gets us to understand the play completely; not necessarily just one, two, three, this is our progression, but hey, understand where I’m going versus certain coverages, what we’re trying to get out of this play. I think everybody’s really bought into it, too. … I mean, it’s our job, but guys you can tell love what we’re doing. I think that goes a long way.”
Even though the Bills are installing a new offense, Peterman has noticed a difference in his mental comfort level from where he was this time a year ago.
“With having a new offense, it adds a little bit to it, where it’s not quite as, hey, I’m completely comfortable with everything that’s going on, but as the days have gone, as the weeks have gone, I’m more and more comfortable,” he said. “It’s been great to kind of get a little bit of off time to get a breather, kind of look back at things from a broad perspective. Coming into OTAs last year, you’re kind of going home studying every night and just trying to keep your head above water. While it’s a new offense this year, it’s a little bit different getting to go through the OTAs, phase one, phase two, go through things a couple times before we’ve actually repped them on the field.”