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5 reasons why McDermott made a QB change

Posted Nov 15, 2017

There’s no question that Sean McDermott has made a bold decision in deciding to go with rookie Nate Peterman as his starting quarterback this week at Los Angeles. Here’s a look at why that decision was made.


1 – McDermott doesn’t wait to address deficiencies
As we’ve already seen more than once, when Buffalo’s head coach spots a deficiency affecting his team’s performance he addresses it. He and GM Brandon Beane have made a number of roster decisions when performance hasn’t been at a level he deems necessary.

That’s why Marcell Dareus was traded. Sure, his salary didn’t match the results they were getting from him on the field, but money was much lower on the list than how his quality of play was impacting the team.

At a position like quarterback a lack of production is even more pronounced because it impacts everyone else on the offensive side of the ball. Taylor’s passing yardage failed to eclipse 185 yards in five of his nine starts this season.

It led to a team passing game ranked no better than 27th since Week 1. The lack of production in the pass game allowed opposing defenses to key on Buffalo’s run game and render it ineffective.

That problem reached critical mass over the last two games and McDermott made the decision to address it.

2 – He wants to uphold a standard
There’s a common perception that first-year head coaches will spend most of their first season on the job molding the roster and developing a culture. Winning consistently and reaching the postseason isn’t often expected to be part of the result in the first year. That’s simply not how McDermott sees year one for him and his team.

As he has said time and again, he expects to win now and in the future. His mantra of ‘Playoff Caliber’ is not just a phrase. It’s a way he carries himself in his role as head coach and everyone underneath him as coaches and players must do the same.

That’s not to say that Tyrod Taylor wasn’t working every day in a playoff caliber fashion. He was to the letter. Unfortunately, his performance in games did not follow suit.

Playoff caliber is not only about doing things a certain way Monday through Saturday. Performing in playoff caliber fashion must also happen on the game field on Sundays. Taylor is not alone in falling short of that of late, but it’s clear McDermott believes that inserting Nate Peterman into the lineup will do the most to collectively raise the level of play of the offense.

Whether it raises the functionality of Buffalo’s attack remains to be seen on Sunday. But it’s clear McDermott feels there’s a strong likelihood that going with Peterman will do that. So, if his team can get closer to the standard he’s set by making that change he’s going with it.

3 – He sees an opportunity
At 5-4 Buffalo currently sits in the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. They’re in a position where they control their own destiny. One more loss this week however, and that situation changes dramatically.

In an effort to stay ahead of the pack of teams pursuing the Bills, McDermott believes utilizing a quarterback, whose style is rooted in playing in a timing-based scheme like that of the Bills, will help to increase the consistency of his offense.

If it does, Buffalo should be able to string more positive plays together, keep opposing defenses honest and serve as a more viable complement to the team’s rushing attack. That ultimately, should help in putting more points on the board.

4 – He’s not afraid of risk
The timing of any quarterback change is always noteworthy, but to do it with a team that has a winning record is rare. There is an inherent risk with things will play out, especially knowing that it is a rookie quarterback that is being inserted into the lineup.

“As a decision maker you have to be able to, or willing to, take calculated risk to get to where we’re trying to go. I’m comfortable doing that,” he said. “That’s my responsibility.”

All rookie quarterbacks make mistakes, due mainly to inexperience. Obviously, McDermott has taken this fact into consideration in deciding to go with Peterman as his starting quarterback this week.

“That’s part of that process,” said McDermott. “I’ve been around a similar situation before, similar situations to this so it’s not my first time going through it. As a head coach, yes it’s my first time. I expect Nate to go out and do his job. Be one-eleventh of the offense, be one-eleventh of the team. Nothing more, nothing less.”

McDermott doesn’t make any decision concerning his team lightly. He has weighed the risks of starting a rookie quarterback and thought of all the possible pitfalls that could negatively affect his team. In his mind the benefits of Peterman’s skill set, maturity for a young player and leadership offer more rewards in his mind for his team.

5 – The team comes first
This decision will undoubtedly impact McDermott’s relationship with Tyrod Taylor. Even though McDermott stated that his decision is not an indictment on Taylor and his play, it will be very hard for Taylor to feel he has the full support of his head coach going forward after he decided a rookie quarterback would be a better option for a team in the thick of a playoff race than him.

McDermott clearly knows this, but held to his own credo that every decision he will make will be in the best interest of the team.

“Really, it’s about becoming a better team. That’s what we’re here for,” said McDermott. “We are 5-4, I understand that and we are in the playoff hunt at this point. It is always and for the time that I am here will be about becoming the best team that we can possibly become.

“We’re here for more than five wins. That’s why I’m here and why I was brought here. That’s the vision. It’s nothing more than that. It’s about getting us to where we’re trying to go, to win a championship.

“Everyone wants to get to the playoffs and that’s important. At the end of the day it’s about trying to become that football team that the fans of Western New York and the Buffalo Bills fans of the world have dreamed of for years.”