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Jim Kubiak: Grading the QBs in Bills' preseason opener

Jim Kubiak will be analyzing the play of the Bills quarterbacks throughout the season for BNblitz.com. Kubiak is the all-time leading passer at Navy, has played in the NFL, NFL Europe and the Arena Football League, and been a coach and executive in the AFL. He spent eight years as the radio analyst for the University at Buffalo and runs the Western New York Quarterback Academy to help develop the next generation of quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks are graded each quarter using a “Doing Your Job” grading system for every play. The Bills' offense entered their first preseason game under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, a Bill Belichick and Nick Saban disciple. Strong performances and solid efficiency by all three Bills signal callers. The “starter” has not been named, but we are getting closer to finding out who has the “command” to take the helm.

First quarter

Nathan Peterman was off to a fast start with a perfect 7-for-7 opening drive that resulted in a touchdown. High marks for poise, footwork, and accuracy. The Bills used the quick passing game to perfection as Peterman, 9 for 10 in the game, took advantage of short passes underneath the Panthers' pass coverage. Smart, quick throws kept the Bills on the move, while two screen passes to each side of the field stretched the defense.

The patience and command of Peterman was impressive to watch. His two best plays both came on third down. He was on the run to his right and made a tremendous throw to the sideline keeping the scoring drive alive. Then he demonstrated superb touch with a touchdown pass down the left side.

The interception on the “angle” route to Chris Ivory was an accurate throw. The turnover was unfortunate for Peterman and the Bills,
killing Peterman’s final drive and tarnishing his near flawless performance.

•••

Second quarter

AJ McCarron had an excellent outing as well, leading Buffalo to 10 points in the second quarter. He looked comfortable, confident, and in command. He was sacked on his first play, but overcame that negative by converting third-and-15 with a perfect throw into the middle of the field.

McCarron made another big play just before halftime, finding an open crossing route that went for 62 yards putting the Bills into
position to score right before half. McCarron didn’t throw for a touchdown in this game, but executed at a very high level.

McCarron’s performance is right there with Peterman.

•••

Third quarter

Josh Allen makes his much anticipated debut with a solid third quarter. He was everything we thought, big, physically gifted,
and surprisingly athletic. Brian Daboll did a nice job of trying to help Allen find his rhythm by mixing up the run and pass.

A false start penalty and a failed fourth-down conversion end the quarter with a dangerous play by Allen as he was scrambling on
to make something happen, when clearly the play was lost. The deflected ball could have been intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Fortunately it was not. Lesson learned for the young quarterback.

Allen also had good presence and command. He appeared to be in control and aware of his protections as well as where he
wanted to go with the football. His amazing arm strength was fun to watch.

•••

Fourth quarter

The fourth quarter was marked with less efficiency through the air and more scrambling than expected. Allen demonstrated his
competitive drive and mobility, improvising on several plays as the pocket broke down. These moments had us all holding our
breath, as the first round quarterback took off down the field for big gains.

Allen displayed arm strength and velocity that fans don’t see unless they are watching Joe Flacco or Aaron Rodgers. He
made throws off his back foot and down the field that very few players can make. His touchdown in the final minutes was a
rocket shot between two defenders.

Allen’s debut grades out to an 84% overall, more good than bad. He is a fighter, a competitor, and cares about growing as a player.

The 31 plays in the second half were equal to the playing time of Peterman and McCarron combined. This preseason developmental time for Allen will be important. He will learn that in the NFL it is not how many great plays are made, but how many mistakes or negative plays you can avoid that win games.

 

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