It’ll be Derek Anderson against Tom Brady.
Buffalo Bills coach Josh Allen ruled rookie quarterback Josh Allen out Monday for the team’s Week 8 prime-time game against the New England Patriots, meaning the 35-year-old Anderson will make his second start for the team.
The first one didn’t go so well, as Anderson accounted for four of the Bills’ five turnovers with three interceptions and a lost fumble in an embarrassing 37-5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Anderson finished 20 of 31 for 175 yards – a passer rating of 39.8. Despite those numbers, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said “there were some promising things from D.A.”
“Obviously, the turnovers are killers, but the timing that he threw with when he hit his back foot and wasn’t holding onto the ball too long, that’s an instinctive thing that he’s had for a while playing in the league,” Daboll said. “To just come out and do it with some guys who you just started throwing with, we have to obviously make big-time improvements with some of the other things, but there were some things that he did a good job with.”
Anderson had just three practices as the starter to prepare.
“He spent a lot of time here. He’s a professional, he cares about it,” Daboll said. “Obviously, he hasn’t been in a camp, so what we were trying to do was go back through installs that we’ve had and plays he’s felt comfortable with and put together a package that he can go out there and know the verbiage of it, call the play. He can call it, see it in his head, be able to process it quickly. And on top of that, getting to the throws and the catches and the extra reps with the guys that he’s still getting used to a little bit here. It was a long week, lot of time spent. And that’s the type of guy that he is. He’s going to work at it. But obviously, we’ve got a ways to go.”
With a long week leading up to the Monday night game against New England, Anderson will have a little extra time to learn the offense.
“There’s a fine line between putting too much on him and then not enough,” Daboll said. “You don’t want a call sheet like that (holding his fingers a quarter inch apart), but you also don’t want to give him so many things. It’s important that he feels comfortable with the plays because again, he might be throwing a route in practice and then the next time he throws it in the game versus maybe 70, 80 times in an OTA or training camp form. You have to be smart with that.”
Just how long Anderson will start remains to be seen. The Bills have a home game against the Bears and a road game against the Jets before their bye week.
In addition to Allen, the Bills are listing defensive end Trent Murphy (knee) and running back Taiwan Jones (neck) as week to week. Murphy was hurt in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Colts.
Running back LeSean McCoy is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
McDermott doubled down on the idea that rookie receiver Ray-Ray McCloud not making the trip to Indianapolis and being inactive for the game was a “football decision.” That’s a curious explanation given that every other player who was inactive made the trip, which is the norm.
“We’re right back where we were a week ago, and looking to get going and have a good week here,” McDermott said. “Like I mentioned after the game, it was a football decision and we’ll leave it at that.”