1 - Josh Allen developing through mental reps
When it comes to developing a prospective franchise quarterback, evident progress is more important than initial production.
While an elbow injury has kept Buffalo signal caller Josh Allen off the field in recent weeks, he has stayed on track in his development. The rookie has taken mental reps in practice, lining up directly behind the offense and going through plays.
“It’s important that we control the areas that we can control with respect to his injury,” head coach Sean McDermott said. “You’ve seen him out there on the practice field taking snaps, albeit not under center, but behind the offense at times, kind of shadowing and mirroring some things that are going on so that he stays integrated into what we’re doing.
“Then there are some things off the field we’re doing with him to make sure that he continues to develop as much as he can right now without being under center.”
Allen has completed 54 percent of his passes for 832 yards and two touchdowns in five starts this season.
Though the injury is preventing Allen from gaining valuable in-game experience, it’s not preventing him from adjusting to the NFL level. McDermott feels as though Allen is learning what it takes to be a starting quarterback while sidelined.
“We’re always trying to develop these players off the field as well as on the field,” McDermott said. “Even just rehearsing the huddle call is important in terms of communicating that, he makes that call to our quarterbacks coach David Culley, then he runs his own play. We continue to get him reps, again albeit it’s not with an offense out there, but we’re doing as much as we can to control the controllables right now.
2 - Nathan Peterman has ‘learned from’ past mistakes
With Josh Allen sidelined with an elbow injury and Derek Anderson in the early stages of the concussion protocol, it may be Nathan Peterman who lines up under center for the Bills in Week 9.
To say that Peterman’s career hasn’t gotten off to a strong start would be an understatement. The quarterback stole headlines in his rookie season after throwing five interceptions in his first career start, a 54-24 loss to the Chargers. After bouncing back and winning the team’s starting job in the 2018 preseason, he lost it after one half, as he was replaced by Allen early in the third quarter in Buffalo’s Week 1 matchup with the Ravens.
The former fifth-round draft pick has thrown 81 passes throughout his short NFL career, nine of which have been picked off.
While Peterman realizes that he has made mistakes in the past, he doesn’t let them impact his mindset. Instead, he uses his missteps as motivation, learning and growing from them as opposed to letting them damage his confidence.
“Like I said, the ball bounces your way sometimes and it doesn’t other times,” Peterman said. “Mistakes are in the past; I’ve learned from them and taken them to heart for sure. I’ll never forget them, but I’ve learned from them and I’ll move on. [With] football, it’s a new game every week.”
Should Peterman’s number be called this weekend, head coach Sean McDermott and the Bills’ roster will be comfortable in his ability to help the team win.
“I’m confident,” McDermott said. “And I believe his teammates are confident in Nathan.”
3 - Daboll on Wildcat formation, getting the ball to playmakers
Creativity is something that the Bills have lacked on the offensive side of the ball for quite some time. In Buffalo’s Week 8 contest with the Patriots, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll infused some much-anticipated ingenuity into his playbook.
The Bills operated out of the Wildcat formation three times on their opening drive and once more on their second series. LeSean McCoy received three direct snaps, picking up 10 yards. Chris Ivory ran for four yards on one carry.
Though the team did not score on either of their Wildcat-heavy drives, the plays showcased Daboll’s inventiveness. The coordinator found unique ways to get the ball into his playmakers’ hands, ways that were not on film.
Daboll wants to insert more creativity into his offense as the season progresses.
“Just trying to find ways to move the ball, create chunk yardage, give them some different looks,” Daboll said. “You know, we do that every week. Obviously, it’s easy to see with a Wildcat formation or something like that, but we’re going to try to continue to do that every week.”
Daboll’s offensive playbook is malleable, and he’ll continue to alter his philosophies based on his players’ strengths.
“It varies week to week, and it has to evolve based on who’s playing behind center,” Daboll said. “Each of those guys that have played, those three guys have different strengths. There are plays that weren’t in the playbook that [Derek Anderson] felt comfortable with that you have to kind of adapt and grow. With the other guys, there’s certain plays that they like versus some other guys. I think it’s just [you] pick pieces here and there. It’s evolving.”