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It's hard to trust the process right now

The quarterback switch this week was a colossal mistake for Sean McDermott

Howard Simon
November 19, 2017 - 8:44 pm
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I have to start by saying thank you to Sean McDermott.

After one of the most miserable performances by a Bills team during the drought (which is really saying something) and at the end of a week where a first-year head coach benched his starting quarterback while in a playoff spot for a rookie who was taken in the fifth round, I needed something to make me laugh. Shortly after his team’s pathetic showing in Los Angeles, McDermott opened his post-game press conference by saying it wasn’t the result they were hoping for. Ya think??!!!

Last week, when McDermott was deciding what to do about the starting quarterback spot, I’m sure one of the things he considered was what if Nathan Peterman comes out and struggles? This was a huge game for his club, which looked terrible during back-to-back losses to the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, and has games against the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots coming up next on the schedule. 

Peterman and the Bills offense didn’t struggle. The rookie from Pitt and his cohorts on offense had the football equivalent of food poisoning. They basically puked non-stop for the entire first half.

If you asked your worst enemy to draw up the nightmare scenario for this game, I don’t think he or she could have come up with something this bad. While Peterman and company were making Bills fans physically ill, the defense continued a free fall too. It all adds up to one of the lowest points of the drought, and believe me that takes some serious work.

This isn’t Monday Morning Quarterback, but I would not have made the switch last week. I’m not trying to tell you I have that much faith in Tyrod Taylor, because I don’t. I just thought it was a bad idea to put a rookie quarterback in this situation, even though many of us felt he was a “better fit” for the offense that Rick Dennison is running with the Bills. Taylor was awful in the loss to New Orleans, but I would have given him one more game to try and salvage a victory. If he looked bad again and the Bills lost to the Chargers, at that point I would have thought about a change.

Peterman wasn’t at fault for all five of the interceptions, but when it started to snowball and the game began to go south, who would expect a rookie, mid-round pick to have enough confidence to bail out the team?  

The bigger issue with McDermott is whether or not he just lost the locker room. That may sound a bit extreme considering the Bills are still tied for sixth place in the AFC, but you know there are players, especially those that believe in Taylor, that are wondering what the heck McDermott was thinking? It might be tough to preach “trust the process” this week around One Bills Drive.

In the post-game press conference, McDermott was asked who he’d start at quarterback in Kansas City. The Bills head coach said he was going to take his time and evaluate it. I can save you some time, Sean. There’s no way you can start Peterman against the Chiefs. He still might get additional starts this season if the losses keep piling up and the Bills fall out of the playoff race, but there’s no way he can ask those players to believe in what he’s doing and then send Peterman back out there one week removed from a historically bad performance. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, no quarterback had ever thrown five interceptions and no touchdowns on 20 or fewer pass attempts. McDermott has to come back with Taylor in hopes of ending a streak that has taken the Bills from 5-2 to 5-5.

I’m trying to help McDermott out, since he really needs to spend his time trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding on defense. It's clear now that a unit with average talent was taking advantage of a whole bunch of turnovers that made them seem better than they are. The Bills had no takeaways in this game, which means they have just one in the three-game losing streak. A streak that has seen Buffalo give up 135 points, the most ever in a three-game stretch. Of course, not all of those touchdowns were given up by the defense.  

The pass rush remains non-existent and the pass defense was shredded once again. Phillip Rivers did whatever he wanted to do, and it looked like Bills coaches had circulated a memo that asked players not to cover Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen. He had 12 catches on 13 targets for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills defense gave up 429 total yards of offense to L.A. On a positive note, they did manage to force a punt in the third quarter, which ended a streak of 22 straight opponent possessions without a punt.

If you read my column after the Saints game, you might remember I said it would be hard to imagine a game that was worse than the Thursday night loss to the Jets. Yet the butt kicking by the Saints was indeed much worse. Amazingly enough, the Bills figured out a way to produce an even more hideous game than they did against New Orleans. I honestly didn’t think that was possible. A few weeks ago when we were talking about the wildcard playoff race, we got the occasional call or tweet asking us why we weren’t talking about the division being open. I’m laughing now as I think about that.  

When the Bills were 5-2, the idea of a losing streak was not out of the question. The Jets were playing better than many had expected. New Orleans was one of the biggest surprises of the season. The Chargers were a team that weren’t playing badly, but would always find some crazy way to blow a fourth quarter lead. But no one could have imagine the conflagration that is now this Bills team.  

The Chiefs are struggling since their hot start, but who isn’t thinking a five-game losing streak is now a certainty? 

Certainly not the results I would have been hoping for.

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