Nathan Peterman was the last player to leave the Buffalo Bills’ practice field Wednesday, tossing the ball to a couple of assistants days after being yanked from his disastrous season opener against the Baltimore Ravens and hours after losing his starting job to rookie quarterback Josh Allen.
“I’m happy with the move,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “Nate’s a good friend of mine. And he had his shot. We’ve got to move on. That’s the type of business it is.”
Peterman, making his third career start, didn’t lead the Bills to a single first down in the first half and with the Ravens ahead 40-0 in the third quarter, was replaced by Allen after his second interception. The 47-3 final score was not the result of some unfortunate series of events, but an accurate reflection of how lousy the Bills were across the board in just the latest ineffective performance of Peterman’s short career.
Bills coach Sean McDermott remained defiant in announcing the change to Allen on Wednesday, when asked whether he’d misjudged the quarterback situation by naming Peterman the starter heading into the regular season.
“Listen, I felt like it, just like (naming Allen), was the right move,” McDermott said. “I’ll take that to my grave. That’s how I felt about it. I’m always going to try and make the right move for our football team. Sometimes it’s going to work out, sometimes it’s not. I stand by it as a leader. I stand by those that work out and the ones that don’t.”
That McDermott believed Peterman provided the team its best chance to win based on his performance this preseason, largely against backups, seemed curious from the start, especially when the alternative was turning to Allen, the seventh overall pick in the draft and a clearly superior talent.
Peterman, mind you, is little more than a rookie himself, a 2017 fifth-round pick who had appeared in just four career games and bombed spectacularly in his first start, throwing five interceptions in a half against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Peterman has never completed a game he started, and he has never started consecutive games. He's completed just 43 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and seven interceptions. His passer rating of 0.0 on Sunday dropped his career mark to 25.7.
Peterman sat alone at his locker after practice.
“I think just try to be a pro about it,” he said about how he’s handling the demotion. “Realize the biggest thing is just being thankful. In every situation, God has you there for a reason, and it’s great to be a part of this team still, and I’m going to do everything I can to help us win.”
As the only other quarterback on the roster, Peterman’s primary role during the week is now to pilot the scout team, to help the defense prepare for each opponent.
“He’ll stay positive,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “He’ll continue to work and continue to give great looks on the offensive side of the football to help our defense win games, to help our team win games, but to help our defense better.”
But can Peterman be an effective backup?
It’s often preferable to have a veteran backing up a rookie, someone to serve as a mentor and a steady hand, in the event he's forced to play.
What advice can Peterman offer Allen?
“He’s a great player,” Peterman said, “so I try not to give him too much, because obviously the coaches are giving him a lot. And I’m a young player, as well. But if I see anything I think can help him and benefit him, then I’ll give it to him for sure.”
Allen expressed a willingness to listen.
“Anything that he says, I’m going to trust,” Allen said, “because he’s put in a lot of work, too. And we’ll go from there.”
Peterman said his confidence remains unshaken.
“Obviously, it was very disappointing, just the loss and not feeling like I played my best,” Peterman said. “It’s pretty disappointing at that time, but once that 24 hours is over you’ve kind of just got to move on and realize you’re still built for this, and I’ll be ready for when my next opportunity is.”
McCoy believes that chance could come sooner than later.
“Nate, I told him he’ll have another opportunity,” McCoy said. “Somewhere down the line, we’ll need him. But right now, what you can do is just support the team. And one thing about this team, we’re a close group. We really communicate all the time. And I love Nate like a brother, so I’m always in his ear telling him to keep his game fresh, practice and prepare like you’re the starter, because you never know in this business. You never know.”