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Bills Mailbag: Is it time to move on from Nathan Peterman entirely?

As you might imagine, Nathan Peterman's meltdown in Week 1 inspired plenty of questions for this week's mailbag. Let's get to them ...

Brendan Sweet asks: What are the chances the Bills bring in a veteran quarterback and release Nathan Peterman? If so, who would it be? Any chance they'd sign Colin Kaepernick?

Brian Vattimo asks: Don’t you think the Bills should add a proven veteran quarterback to the roster to help mentor the other two?

Daniel Thorwart asks: Do you believe after the Ravens debacle that the Bills have full confidence in Nathan Peterman to be the backup quarterback long term, or will they be looking to replace him as soon as possible, especially if Josh Allen shows well against the Chargers?

Jay: I’d be very surprised if Allen and Peterman remain the only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the entire season. Part of that is I’m skeptical they’ll stay healthy behind a struggling offensive line. The other part, and it’s what Brendan and Daniel are getting at, is I have serious reservations about Peterman being an NFL quarterback. Even as a backup, how could the team have any faith in him if he has to come into the game? Any quarterback signed would need some time to get up to speed, so I wouldn’t expect Peterman would be gone any time soon. Coach Sean McDermott clearly has a soft spot for Peterman, but after two of the worst performances in NFL history, it becomes clear that he simply can’t be on the field.

As for Kaepernick, he’s clearly the most qualified quarterback on the market, but at this point, it simply does not appear like he’s going to get another shot in the NFL. He’s suing the league, claiming that owners have colluded to keep him unemployed. Regardless of how that case turns out, it seems like a long shot that he signs with Buffalo or any other NFL team.

To Brian’s question, the Bills had that in the form of AJ McCarron. He spent four years in Cincinnati behind Andy Dalton. Even though he didn’t play a lot with the Bengals, McCarron has been in the meeting rooms. He was a good teammate who was willing to help younger quarterbacks. I think it was a mistake to trade him.

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Rick McGuire asks: I think the one positive Bills fans are clinging to is that the team will have megabucks to spend on free agency next year and that it's being viewed as the quick fix. Do you see Brandon Beane paying the outrageous prices for the superstars or will he go after less-valued quality players?

Jay: Given the number of holes on this roster, it’s going to be a combination of both. Unfortunately for the Bills, the number of quality free agents has diminished in recent weeks, particularly at wide receiver. Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Stefon Diggs have signed contract extensions with their current teams. The same is true of Taylor Lewan, the top offensive lineman whose contract was set to expire. Tampa Bay guard Ali Marpet figures to get a big contract. That might not be the sexiest position to go after, but it’s undoubtedly a huge need for the Bills. Whether it’s Marpet or somebody else, bank on the Bills spending some of their cap space to upgrade the offensive line. They could also use a pass rusher. Buffalo previously lured a former No. 1 overall draft pick away from the Houston Texans when the team signed Mario Williams. Maybe that could happen again with Jadeveon Clowney.

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Alex M. asks: How is switching to Allen not a knee-jerk reaction by the Bills’ coaching staff? I find it really hard that they put as much thought in Josh Allen starting in Week 2 starter as they did with Nate Peterman for the first week.

Jay: They definitely didn’t have as much time to settle on a Week 2 starter, but that’s true of any week once the season gets going. The coaching staff had the luxury of going through an entire offseason program, training camp and four preseason games before settling on Peterman. It took one half of football for that to be thrown in the trash. Starting Allen may very well be a knee-jerk reaction, but my question would be: What’s the alternative? Peterman has shown that he is not a viable starting option in the NFL. That puts the team in nearly an impossible situation if they don’t think Allen is ready – one of their own doing because they traded AJ McCarron. It’s important to remember that the coaching staff felt good enough about Allen to start with him as the backup, which put him one play away from being called upon. Again, they wouldn’t have traded McCarron if they were that concerned about putting Allen on the field.

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Paul Catalano asks: Is Shaq Lawson a goner, if not this year, but next year for sure?

Rick McGuire asks: Think Shaq Lawson is on his way out now that he’s injured yet again?

Jay: I think Lawson makes it through this season, given that Trent Murphy still has yet to show he can stay healthy and be a quality starter at defensive end. I totally get the frustration among fans about Lawson, though. He has had multiple opportunities to show why he was drafted in the first round by the previous front office, and has never done much of anything with them. That includes last week, when Murphy was on a pitch count, and Lawson proceeded to suffer a hamstring injury that will likely keep him out in Week 2.

It’s not going out on much of a limb to suggest that Lawson does not factor into the Bills’ long-term plans. He’s one of only two players drafted by Doug Whaley still left on the roster, with guard John Miller being the other (he, too, might not be back after his contract expires following this season). The release of Adolphus Washington this week was the latest example of the current front office moving on from the players acquired before they got here. As mentioned above, pass rusher is shaping up to be a major need for this team in the offseason. One of the big problems against the Ravens was not being able to make Joe Flacco uncomfortable.

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Bernie asks: Did the Bills pressure Shawne Merriman not to slam people through tables? Seemed harmless enough, lol.

Jay: That’s one question I didn’t get to this week out at One Bills Drive. As you might imagine, the mood wasn’t exactly jubilant around the team. It’s a good bet, though, that the Bills would prefer one of their former players doesn’t slam fans through tables in the parking lot – even if Merriman offered to have people sign waivers. Even typing that sentence felt ridiculous. How getting slammed through tables became a tradition at Bills tailgates remains one of life’s great mysteries.

Why would anyone object to a Bills fan event called 'Slam Fest?'

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Erran Morad asks: I’m noticing the center head bob more than ever. They seemed to have called a false start on Ryan Groy this past game, but they don’t call it anywhere else. Is it a communication thing between the center and quarterback? Either way, we all know it’s meant to simulate the snap, too, right? Why is it legal?

Jay: It’s not legal, hence Groy being flagged. His was a blatant example of this, but I agree that it appeared at times like the same thing happened at other times of the game, by both teams. If you watch closely, you’ll notice that some movement along the offensive line is permitted, like when they turn to hear an audible. It seems to be a case of a center seeing just how much he can get away with before getting a flag. It makes sense that getting his head up before the pass rush can get started would be an advantage.

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Anthony Fasso asks: What week are they retiring No. 34?

Jay: The ceremony to retire Thurman Thomas’ jersey will take place in Week 8, during halftime of the Monday Night Football game against New England. Here’s a question for you guys: Now that Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and Thomas have their numbers retired, is there another player worthy of that honor?

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Mark Ricotta asks: For all of the focus and discussion in the preseason on Brian Daboll’s offensive philosophy of presnap motion to help the quarterback identify matchups and defensive schemes, it sure didn’t seem like the Bills did that at all against the Ravens. Or did I miss it? Thoughts?

Jay: I went back and watched the game and counted 16 times the Bills used some sort of presnap motion or shifting, on 61 total plays. Of those plays, 13 of them came when Peterman was at quarterback, including 12 in the first half. By the time Allen got into the game, the Bills were running no huddle quite a bit and, frankly, just trying to get the game over. Once you’re down 40-0, it doesn’t make much sense to put anything of substance on tape for other teams to see.

Count Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner among those who was not impressed by the Bills’ offensive game plan in Week 1. “I have no idea what they were trying to accomplish on a lot of their pass concepts? I'm sure they had their reasons, but I just couldn't figure them out!” Warner tweeted.

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Robert Goodwin asks: Why do they call getting tackled in your own end zone a safety? What’s safe about it? Couldn’t stomach an actual team question.

Jay: It’s going to be a long season, isn’t it? Thanks for all the questions this week!

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