Buffalo Bills: Grading the quarterbacks after preseason Week 1

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

All three Buffalo Bills quarterbacks had a great start to the preseason. We look at each performance and hand out grades right here.

After months of waiting, Buffalo Bills fans finally got to see their three quarterbacks in action.

Much has been made during the offseason and training camp about the quarterback competition and who would ultimately win the Bills starting quarterback job. Would it be the fifth-year veteran from Cincinnati, AJ McCarron? Would second-year Bill Nathan Peterman redeem himself after his forgettable rookie season? Or would it be rookie No. 7 overall draft pick Josh Allen?

After analyzing and over analyzing every training camp pass, drop back, and hand off we were finally able to watch the Bills three quarterbacks play in an actual football game last night. While it is preseason football (which is certainly very vanilla) it is still football and is a far better metric than anything you can really garner from a training camp practice.

Let’s take a look at how the Bills three QBs performed:

Nathan Peterman

In what was somewhat of a surprise Peterman got the start last night over AJ McCarron. Many believed that McCarron would get the start based on his veteran experience. However, the Bills decided to give Peterman the start and he certainly showed everyone watching just why the Bills coaching staff still believes in him.

Peterman finished the night going 9 for 10 for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He started the night going 9 for 9 until an unfortunate interception ended his evening. The interception, while thrown slightly behind the targeted Chris Ivory, should have been caught and really cannot be held against Peterman very much.

On his first drive of the game Peterman drove the Bills the length of the field and capped the drive with a beautiful 28-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Peterman looked good last night, and much better than many of not all Bills fans expected based off what they saw of  him last year.

Grade: A-

A.J. McCarron

The Bills signed McCarron in the offseason to be the veteran quarterback in the room and at the very least compete for the starting quarterback job.

Most analysts and experts predicted that he would ultimately win the Bills starting quarterback job based on his experience and the lack of experience by his competition on the roster. However, the race may just be tighter than many of us predicted with McCarron backing up Peterman last night.

When McCarron did get into the game in the second quarter he made his playing time count. In his time he went 7 for 10 for 116 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. McCarron displayed his veteran presence in the pocket and delivered several nice passes over the middle of the field. His highlight of the night was an excellent pass to wide receiver Brandon Reilly for a 59-yard catch and run that led to a Bills touchdown just a few plays later.

One knock on McCarron during training camp was that he appeared to hold onto the ball too long and take sacks. Last night, however, he stepped up in the pocket and showed excellent pocket poise and knew when to get rid of the ball. McCarron took only one sack on the night and it came on his very first snap of the night on a play in which he really stood no chance after an apparent offensive line breakdown.

Overall, McCarron showed the part of a competent veteran quarterback and displayed just why the Bills brought him into the fold.

Grade: A

Josh Allen

When the second half started fans got what they really came to see: No. 7 overall draft pick and hopeful franchise quarterback Josh Allen take the field.

While many fans want Allen to be thrown into the starting job right away based on his enormous skill set and potential, the Bills have shown that they are going to be deliberately patient with Allen and ensure that he is ready before they thrust him into that role.

Last night when Allen took the field he was working  primarily with the third and fourth-string offensive players against what one could assume was the Panthers third and fourth-string defensive unit.

What that means is that Allen was basically running for his life for most of his time on the field as the Bills third-string offensive line was unable to mount any kind of consistent blocking for him. However, Allen showcased his skill set right from the get-go, hurling a 65-yard bomb on his first snap of the night.

While the pass fell incomplete, it certainly showed all the fans watching just how strong Allen’s arm is and showed off the skill set that had him in the discussion to be selected as the first player in the NFL draft. Allen finished his night going 9 for 19 for 116 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

On some plays Allen looked like a rookie who needs more polish and on other plays Allen showed just why many believe he will be a franchise quarterback for the Bills. He certainly wasn’t helped by his supporting cast who failed to block, committed false start penalties and dropped a few passes.

Overall, it was a strong outing from the young quarterback from Wyoming and it leaves fans thirsting to see him in action again next Friday night against Cleveland.

Grade: B+

My overall impression of the quarterbacks last night is that it was a great night for all three. For the fist time in a very long time it appears that the Bills are not only dedicated to having a modern passing offense, but that they also have the parts to make it happen.

Just because Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron aren’t highly thought of around the league and Josh Allen is a rookie does not mean that they can’t have a successful offense and perform at a high level this year.

dark. Next. Bills show much promise in preseason opener

At this point I would say that it is a toss-up between McCarron and Peterman as to who will win the starting job with still a slight chance that Allen can play his way into that conversation by the end of the preseason. With three more preseason games left there is still plenty of football left to decide the quarterback race.