1. Where Nathan Peterman can have the biggest impact in Sunday’s season opener
A strong preseason allowed Nathan Peterman to win the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback job. However, the real challenge still lies ahead.
Peterman, a second-year man who threw less than 50 passes in his rookie season, is set to enter the regular season as a starting quarterback for the first time of his professional career. While some fear that the bright lights may get to the 24-year-old, the Bills’ coaching staff has a great deal of confidence in Peterman. In fact, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will allow Peterman to alter the play at the line of scrimmage should the quarterback see a better look.
“We’ll give him the plays and if he sees something he needs to get to, that’s the job of a quarterback,” Daboll said. “We don’t have crystal balls, and sometimes there will be a play, probably, that won’t be the best versus that particular look. Nathan can do what he needs to do to put the offense in a good position.”
Daboll stressed just how important it is for a quarterback to have the ability to change a specific play.
“I think it’s key in every situation: running game, pass game, red-zone, third down, two minute,” Daboll said. “Look, it’s important to know what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and play fast and do the details right and try and take it to them.”
General manager Brandon Beane praised the quarterback’s intelligence and decision-making ability.
“He’s not flashy, but he really does a good job of getting the play called,” Beane said. “I think Nate really does a good job of figuring out what the defense is in to know where to go with the ball.”
2. Will the Bills defense be able to rattle Baltimore’s Joe Flacco?
Whether or not Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback is a topic that football fans have debated for years. Although the Baltimore Ravens’ signal-caller hasn’t played at an elite level in some time, he’s still a talented quarterback, someone who opposing teams have to account for when crafting a defensive game plan.
The Bills will travel to M&T Bank Stadium to battle Flacco’s Ravens in Week 1 of the 2018 season. Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who served as Baltimore’s secondary coach in 2016, mentioned Flacco when asked about preparing for the season opener.
“You don’t want to ignore Joe Flacco,” Frazier said. “[He’s] an outstanding player, one I’m very familiar with from my time in Baltimore. I have a lot of respect for Joe.”
Frazier feels as though the team needs to rattle Flacco early and often on Sunday.
“We need to be, and that’s every week, to be able to affect the quarterback,” Frazier said. “We’re counting on our guys up front to be able to rush the passer and not let Joe have a ton of time to throw the football. He’s an outstanding quarterback as it is, so you’d like to be able to have him under duress at some point.”
While Frazier kept Flacco in mind when preparing for Baltimore, Bills’ safety Micah Hyde does not feel as though the former Super Bowl MVP’s presence will alter the secondary’s game plan.
“Each and every week in this league you play some really good, elite guys,” Hyde said. “Whether it’s a quarterback, tight end, receiver, offensive lineman, there’s some really good guys in this league on every team. I would say [Flacco] being a quarterback and us trying to get as many interceptions as we can, it really doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, we have to play our game.”
3. The offense must do this to keep Baltimore’s defense off balance
The Baltimore Ravens and strong defenses go together like peanut butter and jelly.
The Ravens seem to deploy a solid defense each and every year, dating back to their inception in 1996. Baltimore finished the 2017 season with the league’s 12th best defense. Statistically speaking, the Ravens, who narrowly missed out on the postseason in 2017, had a stronger defense than six playoff teams last season.
Bills’ linebacker Lorenzo Alexander knows that Baltimore has a talented defense. The veteran described the Ravens’ defense as a talented unit anchored by Terrell Suggs, a player who Alexander feels is Hall of Fame bound.
“Any time you play a team like the Ravens, you definitely want to play behind the sticks,” Alexander said. “Obviously they love to dial up blitzes, exotic things. Obviously they got Terrell Suggs, probably one of the top defensive players of the last 10, 15 years, I don’t know how long he’s been in the league. But he’s definitely going to be one of those guys that’s probably a Hall of Famer.”
Alexander feels as though Buffalo’s revamped offense, coached by new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, will have to keep the Ravens on their heels in order to find success on Sunday. The linebacker said that picking up yardage on first and second down will be paramount in wearing Baltimore down.
“You can’t allow those guys to get comfortable,” Alexander said. “We just want to keep them off balance to where they can’t just sit back and pin their ears back and be in 3rd-and-12 all day. You’re not going to win that game. We’re not going to win it just because of the way they’re built, they like to play field position, punt the ball, pin you back, run the ball, grind you, take their shots. If you allow them, defensively, to win on first and second down, it’s going to be a long day for our team.”
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