When the Buffalo Bills take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, they'll be using their third starting quarterback in just seven weeks. On Wednesday, the Bills announced that veteran quarterback Derek Anderson would be the starting quarterback against the Colts.
Anderson, 35, was signed by the Bills just eight days ago and has been cramming all through the week to get up to speed on the offense, but the Bills likely had no inclination that the veteran would be pressed into duty as soon as he is. Anderson will take the starting job from the injured Josh Allen, who was diagnosed with a sprained elbow and will miss at least the game against the Colts.
Head coach Sean McDermott reiterated on Wednesday that Allen is week-to-week, but also indicated after the latest test results that the rookie quarterback would not require surgery "at this point." McDermott then kept the door open on a potential Allen return to action this season, but would not commit to the notion when pressed for a definitive determination.
Anderson gets the start over the embattled Nathan Peterman, who had yet another game unravel by the interceptions that he threw. Peterman will remain with the team, as the backup quarterback to Anderson against the Colts.
Joe B's Take
- Since the start of the new millennium, the Bills haven't exactly enjoyed the wealthiest history of quarterbacks, and the notion of Derek Anderson starting a game for the team less than two weeks after joining them ranks right near the top of the most bizarre we've seen.
That's right. The theatre of the absurd included a few go-to names here in the regular season:
Kelly Holcomb, Brian Brohm, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel (well, kind of), Nathan Peterman last year, and now... noted backup quarterback Derek Anderson, who spent months leading up to his signing with the Bills mostly spending time with his family.
Now, in the Bills' defense, they probably wanted to sign Anderson a bit sooner than they did, but for whatever reason, it didn't happen, and now the quarterback is in cramming mode. There can be no other evidence than practice on Wednesday, when instead of having the running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends warm up during individual drills as they mostly do, all the skill players got together with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and went through specific plays to help get Anderson up to speed.
For an NFL practice, and for how the Bills have practiced all year, that is exceptionally abnormal -- but this is an unusual situation. A situation that they certainly didn't want to be in, but the decision to start Anderson was the right one.
The Bills cannot start Nathan Peterman by choice after what he did on Sunday, and what he's done almost every time he's entered a game. Peterman practices well, he works extremely hard before, during, and after practice, but when the pressure escalates, and he's on the field, he crumbles.
It's not as though it's an unfair criticism at this point. That is what Peterman is as an NFL player right now, and perhaps he'll get chances to turn it around down the line, but it is not the time to keep giving Peterman opportunities, by choice, with a defense that is playing out of their minds at the moment.
Defenses know he's a liability, and they weaponize Peterman's inadequacies against himself. Cornerbacks bait him into short-to-intermediate throws to the sideline with the strategy to jump the route as soon as Peterman starts his windup. Making matters worse, Peterman usually stares down that target, too.
If the Bills want to maintain a chance to win the game, and for the opposing defense to be caught off guard at least a little bit, they could not in good conscience put Peterman on the field -- even if Anderson has all of four practices under his belt to date.
If you think the offense looked stripped down against the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago with a run-heavy approach, that might pale in comparison to what we see the Bills do with Anderson Sunday in Indianapolis. I would not be surprised to see the Bills dress all three running backs that they use on offense, and to instead go into the game with only four wide receivers to maximize the effectiveness of their players.
No, it certainly isn't going to be pretty on Sunday if you're someone that likes watching a good offense operate. No matter how ugly it looks, though, it was the decision that they had to make for Week Seven.