Where QB competition is headed going into final preseason week


Buffalo's final preseason game is just three days away and a decision on the starting quarterback by head coach Sean McDermott might be gaining some clarity. Here's where things sit 13 days away from the season opener.

Josh Allen

Much like AJ McCarron's outing the week prior, Allen was under a lot of duress in his full half of action with the starters. He was sacked five times and pressured on several other pass plays. It compromised his effectiveness as a passer as he finished 6-12 passing for 34 yards, with his longest completion going just 11 yards.

He had some trouble getting out of the huddle on time, which left he and his center with less time to survey the defense and diagnose what might be coming. The Bengals were not playing elaborate coverage schemes, but without that time at the line pre-snap the speed of the game got to him at times.

"Getting out there with the ones it's moving really fast. To see that speed, it was eye opening," Allen said. "But in a game when you have to call plays and you're working against the play clock… sometimes when the play clock got low and I couldn't dissect or understand what they were doing that's tough on a quarterback. So that's something else I have to get better at and learn from."

There were also instances where Allen admitted he held onto the ball too long.

"I didn't do a good enough job of getting the ball out on time and getting it our playmakers," said Allen. "Holding onto the ball too long won't lead to good results most of the time."

On one particular play Allen was pressured and hit with his head hitting the turf hard. He was examined for a head injury, but was subsequently cleared to return to play, but never re-entered the game.

The step up to starter level looked to be a big adjustment for Allen in several ways.

AJ McCarron

McCarron did not play against Cincinnati due to the shoulder injury he sustained in the Cleveland game. He was lightly throwing late in the week in practice, but sparingly.

Head coach Sean McDermott however, gave indication that McCarron could be back throwing as early as the Monday afternoon practice.

"I think AJ continues to have a good camp and the important part is that we get him back healthy, which it looks like he is and ready to go these next couple of days," said McDermott.

The time missed isn't McCarron's fault, but could impact how the quarterback competition plays out.

Nate Peterman

Peterman had another solid outing, albeit against second and third stringers. Through the course of the preseason, Peterman has been able to raise the level of play of those around him and that counts for a lot with the offensive staff and head coach Sean McDermott.

His statistics alone put him well ahead of Allen and McCarron as he has a completion percentage of better than 80 percent (80.5%). Sunday's game wasn't much different as he went 16-21 (76.2%) for 200 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating in the preseason is 124.7, more than 40 points higher than Buffalo's other two signal callers (87.5, 82.6).

"When you look across all three games to this point, including practice, but let's just take the games, he has shown that consistency, which is good to see," said McDermott. "A young player just in the start of his second season who has shown some poise and some understanding of how the NFL works in terms of defensive schemes. So I've watched him grow and develop, which is good to see. Still more work to do, but I think he has been consistent, which is important at the quarterback position."

Perhaps what is most impressive about Peterman's game is his ball location. Not only is Peterman accurate most of the time, but his ball placement is almost always in a place where only his receiving target can make a play on the ball and not the defender.

"I think he's been accurate," said McDermott. "We noticed that in college as well. Certainly, there are some throws he'd like back from practice to games, but again he gives the guys a chance to run after the catch, which is important."

Peterman was responsible for orchestrating both of the team's touchdown drives in the second half. He's a rhythm passer, who has generally made good decisions and been extremely accurate. That counts for a lot in the NFL. It appears he's put himself in the best position to be named the starter, but he's not assuming anything.

"It's a decision that's not up to me," he said. "I definitely have put my best effort out there. There are things I could've done better and things I'll work on and get better at. We did some good things (Sunday), but we left a couple of drives out there and it could've put us in a better position to win the game. I'll be ready to go regardless of what the decision is."

Photos from Buffalo's 2018 preseason Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.