1 - Can Peterman boost Bills big play numbers?
The Bills offense hasn't been able to produce many high-yardage plays this season. Buffalo exploded for the most big plays in the NFL last season. Rookie quarterback, Nathan Peterman, will look to bring that threat back to the offense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Peterman was a prolific passer when throwing deep last season at Pittsburgh.
With the announcement that Tyrod Taylor will be benched for the Chargers game, the Bills will look to rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman to lead the offense. Peterman, the Bills fifth-round pick in 2017, had a passer rating of 123.0 on deep passes (20-plus yards in the air) last season at Pittsburgh, which ranked fifth among all FBS quarterbacks.
Big plays, as designated by the league, are runs of 10-plus yards and passes of 25-plus yards. The Bills had 77 runs and 23 passes last season with such yardage. Those 100 combined rushes and passes led the league.
Buffalo has struggled to rack up the big-chunk plays through nine games this year. The offense has tallied 27 big play runs, ranking 14th in the league. Through the air the team's completed 14 big play passes, which is tied for 22nd.
The last three weeks we've seen some regression with the long plays. In Week Eight against the Raiders the Bills produced four of those plays. The following game in Week Nine against the Jets the offense only recorded three. Most recently in Week 10 against the Saints only two big plays were rattled off.
Peterman mentioned in Wednesday's press conference some of the things head coach Sean McDermott is stressing to the offense.
"We had a team meeting Wednesday and coach McDermott kind of talked about details and fundamentals. I think maybe we were missing those a little bit in certain aspects and that comes out in big ways," he said. "That's something that we're focused on this week. I'm focused on my fundamentals and my football, trying to do what coach McDermott is telling us to."
Buffalo's rookie QB will have one more day of practice before heading to Los Angeles to make his first start against the Chargers. We'll see on Sunday just how prepared Peterman is to boost Buffalo's offense.
2 - Inability to pressure QBs continuesIt's been about as uncharacteristic as it gets for Buffalo's defense the past two games. It all starts at the line of scrimmage and the Bills defensive front has been losing those battles.
Buffalo didn't record a sack against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10. In two of the past three games the team has gone sackless. Defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, explained what's leading to the inability to pressure opposing QBs.
"Some of it in the last couple of weeks is, when you're not defending the run well you can find yourself in predictable situations that you're not able to get the pressure you'd like because you're trying to defend the run," he said. "That's part of it. We have to get people in more third-and-longs, second-and-longs, and try to get some pressure that way. But it still comes back to our run defense."
The D-line will be tested on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Their record (3-6) doesn't show it, but they've dominated the line of scrimmage all season. The Chargers have only been sacked 11 times, good for third-fewest in the NFL. The Bills have recorded 14 sacks in nine games, ranking 28th in the league.
The pass rush couldn't penetrate the line against the Saints. Frazier and his unit will presumably dial up something new for the Chargers on Sunday.
"Each team is a little bit different for the most part," he said. "The team we're playing this week, they're schematically different than the Saints. The operation is going to be different, so our plan will probably be different."
3 - Bills rookies rank sixth in snap count
Each season various rookies play a vital role in their team's success. For the 2017 Bills, that's especially true compared to most teams in the NFL.
Buffalo's rookies have played in 1,597 snaps through the first nine games. That ranks sixth in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Steve Palazzolo of PFF praised the Bills rookies for what they've done during those snaps.
*White is off to a great start as his 88.1 overall grade ranks eighth in the NFL and he's tied for the league lead with 10 pass breakups. WR Zay Jones has been a starter since Week One and leads all rookies with his 429 snaps. OT Dion Dawkins has filled in admirably at left tackle with a 70.6 overall grade on 315 snaps. *
Across all three phases of the game the 2017 rookie class is being tested. Whether it's Tanner Vallejo on special teams, Tre'Davious White on defense, and now Nathan Peterman leading the offense, these rookies will have a huge impact on the end result of this season.
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