Professional negligence in the NFL

I am not watching any NFL games right now. I think you know why. At least, I already told you.
However, I can read numbers, and my Twitter feed is alive.
The numbers and Twitter told me that Nathan Peterman, promoted to the starting quarterback position today for the Buffalo Bills to replace Tyrod Taylor, who, in the age-old jargon of pro football, was benched, came into the game at the start today against the San Diego Chargers and proceeded to throw 5 interceptions in the first half. Whereupon, he was removed from the game, and Tyrod Taylor, the man he replaced, was re-instated as the quarterback.
The Bills were down 40-7 at halftime when Peterman was replaced. They ultimately lost the game 54-24.
In other words, with Peterman under center, the Bills were outscored by 33 points. With Tyrod Taylor under center, the Bills gained back 17 points on offense, but gave up another 14 on defense.
Peterman was a good college quarterback not playing on a title-winning team. The Bills had drafted him in the 5th Round this year, and he had won the number 2 spot on the quarterback chart in the pre-season. So, with the Bills seemingly no longer convinced that they could win with Tyrod Taylor, he was The Man when they decided to bench Taylor.
Now, I keep reading all of the time these days that the NFL is nothing like college on offense. Most college teams do not run NFL-style offenses any more, relying heavily on read-option-based offensive schemes that require limited check-downs by mobile quarterbacks. The lament I read is that many college quarterbacks are nowhere near ready to run an NFL-style offense out of college. This implies that many rookie quarterbacks are essentially “project” players, not expected to play for at least 2 seasons.
Peterman’s scouting reports out of college reveal a smart, fairly accurate passer, but one lacking the deep-throw arm strength prized by many NFL coaching teams.
So, I wonder: just what the hell were the Bills doing throwing a 5th round draft pick with limited pre-season game experience and only mop-up regular series experience into a game at a crucial point in the season, with the Bills’s season finely poised at 5-4?
What possible improvement could he provide over Tyrod Taylor?
He does not have a cannon for an arm, so the idea that the Bills could suddenly become a vertical passing team makes no sense. That is before you even look at the Bills’ receiving corps, which does not scream “deep threat”. In fact, it doesn’t even scream “receiving threat”. The Bills do not have a single top-drawer receiver, and their best current receiver, Jordan Matthews, was inactive for today’s game. So Peterman did not exactly have much in the way of likely downfield targets. He can scramble, but lacks the fleet-footed elusiveness of Taylor, who has excelled in the past at escaping from seemingly hopeless broken-play situations and making something happen, usually with his legs.
At this point some bright spark will say “but…Tom Brady!”.
OK Weisenheimer, let’s look at Tom Brady.
Brady was drafted in the 6th round out of Michigan. He was the number 3 quarterback for all of his first season, mostly inactive on game days. In his second season, he moved up to the number 2 spot on the quarterback chart. He was then promoted early to starter after Drew Bledsoe suffered a serious chest injury.
At the time of his promotion, Brady had already been in the Patriots’ system for over a season, and had played in 2 seasons’ worth of pre-season games. By any objective standards, he was far more experienced in the NFL than Peterman was when he ran out on the field today. As history shows, Brady was ready and able to assume the quarterback role for the Patriots at the time of his promotion. As today shows, Peterman was not.
But this is not just about Peterman.
It’s also about the team. Peterman was not expected to be the starter, so he had limited work with the first-team offense in the pre-season, and he and the team had 1 week to prepare for the game. Peterman is a fundamentally different player to Taylor – he is basically a pocket passer with some scrambling ability. Taylor is a scrambler first and foremost, and his pocket skills and check-down abilities are said to be weak, which is probably part of the reason that he was benched.
Most importantly, this decision is about leadership.
Bad leadership.
The decision to insert Nathan Peterman today was professionally negligent. If it was mid-December, with the Bills at 4-9 or similar and already eliminated from the playoffs, the decision would have made a lot of sense. With Taylor on an option year for his contract, it would be time to play the rookie and see what he can bring to the team. But, for crying out loud, the Bills were at 5-4, and still very much in the hunt for a playoff slot. Playing Peterman has resulted in a blowout loss, which leaves the Bills at 5-5, and in a much weaker playoff position.
Now…I can think of a reason why the decision was made to start Peterman today. The head coach for the San Diego Chargers, Anthony Lynn, had been the offensive co-ordinator for the Buffalo Bills the previous season, and the coaches may have decided that Lynn, experienced in the play and behavior of Tyrod Taylor, would create a game plan for the Chargers to disrupt a Taylor-led offense.
While this is all logical, swapping quarterbacks at the last minute only works if the team and the new quarterback are prepared to execute a different sort of game plan. As we saw today, that was not the case.
The decision and resulting loss has left the quarterbacks in a bad place. Taylor was benched last week, a signal (probably already received) that he has no real future in Buffalo. Peterman was thrown into the fire, and has been severely singed, with 5 interceptions in 30 minutes of play ringing in his brain. That will shake any quarterback, especially a rookie.
But the bigger negative message will have made its way to the team. By benching an established starter and experimenting with an unproven rookie, the Bills leadership has essentially told the team that they are quite prepared to throw away the season. That is a horrible message to send. It may actually cause the team to quit on the coaching staff.
No matter which way you analyze the decision to play Nathan Peterman, it was a terrible decision. The only saving grace is that the coaches realized that they had made a big mistake and re-inserted Tyrod Taylor for the second half, but with a leaky defense, and a second-rate offense, even Superman would have struggled to bring the Bills back from a 40-7 hole.
It would not surprise me if one or more heads roll in Buffalo next week. There was no saving grace, no visible upside from today’s events. There is nothing that the coaching staff can point to that was obviously good. They might argue from game tape that Peterman did X better than Taylor, but 54-24 as a box score will blow any of that pretty-pretty analysis to hell and back. If Twitter is any indication of fan reaction, the Bills fans were furious with the outcome, and they blame the coaching staff. Something may have to change.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutube

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Healthprose pharmacy reviews