The Buffalo Bills completed their second week of OTAs and as training camp approaches, excitement among the fanbase is growing. During the offseason, Buffalo traded Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns and signed AJ McCarron in free agency. But the biggest move that the team made was trading up to select Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
With training camp approaching, we’ll be breaking down the top position battles for Bills’ fans to follow right here at Cover 1. First, we’ll dive into what is undoubtedly the most important and intriguing competition: starting quarterback.
Josh Allen vs. A.J. McCarron vs. Nathan Peterman
Nathan Peterman was Buffalo’s fifth-round draft pick last season and his rookie campaign was ugly, to say the least. The former Pitt signal caller threw five interceptions in the first half of his NFL debut and appeared in four games, making two starts. He completed just 49-percent of his passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns, proving why he was taken on the third day of the draft.
Peterman may eventually grow into a quality quarterback, but thus far, it’s hard to get on board with that assumption. He’ll likely slide down the depth chart as training camp progresses, leaving Josh Allen and AJ McCarron battling for the Buffalo Bills’ starting gig.
Making a case for A.J. McCarron
Signed to a two-year, $8.1 million deal with additional incentives, A.J. McCarron is very much in play to earn the starting job. McCarron won three national championships with the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, he still found himself drafted in the fifth-round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. With Andy Dalton cemented as the starter, McCarron was a backup for most of his four seasons.
McCarron appeared in 11 games, making three starts in that span, completing 64.7-percent of his passes for 920 yards, throwing six touchdowns and two interceptions. At Alabama, McCarron had the luxury of playing with an incredibly talented supporting cast but was incredibly efficient. He completed roughly 67-percent of his attempts while throwing for over 9,000 yards with 77 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions.
Prior to free agency, McCarron made it clear that he wasn’t looking for big money. He insisted that he wanted to compete and get on the field. He’s a competitor and has enjoyed success whenever he has been on the field.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”It’s not about money. I just want to play. Whoever gives me an opportunity. I’m not going to chase the huge contract and be put in a situation that I might not be one hundred percent comfortable with just because it’s a lot more money or whatever. I want to go somewhere where I can win and help the team win and we have a bright future together. I’m just super excited for this next chapter.”[/perfectpullquote]
McCarron, at worst, has the ability to, well, not pull a Nathan Peterman – toss five passes into the hands the opponent. At best, the fifth-year vet could be the game manager Buffalo needs while Josh Allen develops into the passer that the franchise believes he can be.
The Case for Josh Allen as Buffalo Bills’ starter
Buffalo’s front office and coaching staff obviously wants Josh Allen to earn the starting quarterback role in training camp. However, as physically gifted as Allen is, there are some flaws in his game that need some work. The 6-foot-5, 232-pounder has a rocket for an arm and speed to extend plays with his legs.
Allen is an enigma. He started for just two years and his production was underwhelming despite playing poor competition. He had a 56.3-percent completion rate for his career. In 2016, Allen threw for 3,203 yards (8.6 yards per attempt) with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. In 2017, Allen completed just 56.3-percent of his passes for 1,812 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
While history suggests that Allens’s collegiate career doesn’t lend itself to success at the NFL level quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler – each were sub-60-percent passers in college – while possessing great arm strength and found a way to develop into premier passers in the NFL.
It’s highly likely that Allen’s rare physical gifts will shine in training camp practices and he’ll make plays during preseason contests that McCarron and Peterman simply cant. As Nate Geary of WGR-550 and Cover 1 had similar sentiments in a recent post here.