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Bills Today: Starting QB will be open competition

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1 - Starting QB position will be open competition:With no incumbent starter on the roster, it was largely assumed, but head coach Sean McDermott confirmed it this week. He announced that the starting QB job will be decided through competition. The Bills signed AJ McCarron earlier in the offseason and Nathan Peterman is still under contract with the team after he was made a fifth-round draft choice last spring.

"We've got open competition at the position. We've got two good players at the position," McDermott said. "Two, good, young players and we're excited about both of them. Both have done a lot of winning, albeit at the college level. Both quarterbacks have a lot of room to grow and are very encouraged about the opportunity to compete to start for the Buffalo Bills."

McDermott wanted to change the culture of the Buffalo Bills last year. Now, his goal is to develop that culture.

"In an ideal world we've got great competition. The way we do it at our place, I've just been around it enough to know every guy has to earn his spot on our football team or earn his starting spot," he said. "We embrace that type of mindset in Buffalo and I think that's the right way to go about it."

For the newly acquired McCarron, the key thing in McDermott's mind is opportunity. McCarron has been the back-up for Andy Dalton for the past four seasons, only starting four regular season games and one playoff game after Dalton injured his thumb.

"When you look at his resume, he's a player that has won a number of games when given the chance to start," said McDermott. "You go back to his high school career, his college career and then the opportunities he had in the pros. He's had success at all three markers if you will. So there's a highly competitive person in there and also a leader. So when you start to look for the DNA that we're looking for those are all good qualities. The rest will take care of itself in due time."

McDermott praised Peterman's mental toughness after he threw five interceptions against the Chargers, using the difficult outing as a learning experience.

"He went and won a football game for us against the Indianapolis Colts, so he's a tough competitor," McDermott said. "He's a guy who as a rookie… there's not a lot of young quarterbacks who got the amount of experience last year that our young quarterback got. Going through different experiences, starting some games and winning a game at the same time. That's an advantage for us and an advantage for Nate going forward into his second season."

There is always the third option as well. A lot of people are speculating that the Bills will be drafting a quarterback in the next few weeks, but if that happens there could be a three-way competition.

2 - What is a catch?League owners approved a new catch rule at the owners meetings this week, that will go into effect for the 2018 season. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the vote passed unanimously.

The new rules defining a catch include:

  1. Control of the ball. 
  2.  Two feet down or another body part. 
  3. A football move such as: 
     -A third step; 
     -Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain; 
     -Or the ability to perform such an act.

Al Riveron, NFL senior vice president of officiating, announced the Competition Committee recommended simplifying the language of the catch rule.

Around the NFL writer Kevin Patra reported that the new rule is not expected to get rid of all confusion.

The rule change won't remove all the gray areas in the rule, nor nullify all confusion. Most also expect the new definition to result in an uptick in fumbles. However, it's a significant step in clarifying a rule that confounded everyone involved in the NFL for years.

With the rule change, Riveron said the overturned Kelvin Benjamin touchdown from week 16 of this past season would now be considered a touchdown.

Bills owner and CEO Terry Pegula when told of Riveron's reference to the Benjamin play as a touchdown in the wake of the rule change said the following.

"I wish he had said it back during the game," Pegula said. "You missed one Al."

Riveron was the person who reviewed the play in New York in the Bills-Patriots game in Week 16 and overturned the touchdown call on the field.

3 – Where Bills sit in ESPN power rankingsIf you expected to see the Bills at least in the teens, you'll be upset looking at the latest power rankings released by ESPN. In the rankings, ESPN's power panel ranked Buffalo 23rd overall. 

With the rankings being based on a head-to-head prediction, the Bills are clearly not seen as having many favorable matchups for next season at this point.

The AFC East as a whole can be found near the bottom of the rankings with the one outlier being the New England Patriots. The Pats are ranked second in the league while the New York Jets are ranked 26th and the Miami Dolphins are dead last in the rankings.

In ESPN's Way-too-early rankings, the Bills were ranked 21, but it appears the trading of Tyrod Taylor played into the lower standing.

Tyrod Taylor helped end a 17-year playoff drought in Buffalo, so naturally the Bills made a switch at quarterback. After trading Taylor to the Browns, the Bills signed AJ McCarron and seem intent on drafting a quarterback in the first round.

For context, ESPN ranked the Bills 26th for its 2017 post-free agency rankings. Also, the future Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles ranked 21st in that same edition.

Coach McDermott may have another tool to fuel an underdog mentality for the Bills again.

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