Where does this leave Josh Allen?
That's the obvious question that loomed once Nathan Peterman was tabbed as the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback to open the 2018 season.
The seventh overall draft pick’s development remains “on schedule,” according to coach Sean McDermott.
“I've been very pleased with the way he's developed to this point in time,” McDermott said. “Listen, you learn a lot from the first game of the regular season, whether you're playing or not playing, when it's your first time. I can just go back to my first time of being a part of the first game, in my career, and you learn an awful lot. That being said, I expect that Josh will be ready to go when his number is called, whenever it is called. That's his focus right now.”
Allen admitted Monday to being disappointed by the team’s decision, but said “first of all, I’m for the team.”
“Coach is going to make the best decision for the team. As a competitor, you want to play,” he said. “To not play, that's going to hurt anybody's feelings. But at the end of the day, it's football. We're part of a team. I'm going to do whatever I can to help Nate and help this team win football games, starting now.”
McDermott met individually with Peterman and Allen to deliver the news. None of them were very forthcoming about what those conversations entailed, saying that the focus is now on the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo’s Week 1 opponent.
“Again, as a competitor I want to play,” Allen said. “That's what everybody on this team wants to do is play football. But you know, I can't do anything about it except put my head down, continue to work … and help Nate in whatever way possible. At the same time, I've got to prepare and be ready to play football in case something happens.”
Allen was asked if failing to win the starting job was a step back in his development.
“No, not at all,” he said. “If you look around the league, rookie quarterbacks that start, it might not be Week 1, it might not be their first year. I think as long as you're able to take the mental reps that you're looking at in practice, you're doing the right things, you're developing a routine that a professional quarterback should have, that's what I'm trying to do right now. I'm still trying to learn this way of being a professional quarterback. I don't think it's a step back, and ultimately it's going to help me in my progression.”
As for what he wants to improve on, Allen said “just consistently putting the ball where it needs to be, on time, with anticipation.”
Allen will run the Bills’ scout-team offense in practice against the starting defense.
“That’s reps of throwing the football,” he said. “That's reps of going through the mechanics of the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, looking at what the defense is doing. We've got cards up that are telling us where to throw, but sometimes I'll go off the script a little bit and just try to challenge the defense a little more.”
The harsh reality of life in the NFL was made crystal clear over the weekend, when the Bills traded quarterback AJ McCarron to the Oakland Raiders and made more than 30 cuts, several of them to rookies like Allen.
“As a rookie it's hard to see that,” he said. “The vets here are like, ‘that's what happens every year.’ Nothing that they've seen now can surprise them. They've seen it all. It's a business. It's definitely kind of a crazy world that we live in. I'm in a fortunate enough spot where I really didn't have to worry about that, for now at least. I've got to be on my Ps and Qs and continue to grow and learn this game of football at the NFL level -- continue to develop as a quarterback.”