This week the Bills head to Indianapolis with more questions than answers at quarterback. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen is “week-to-week” after suffering an elbow injury in the Bills’ 20-13 loss to the Texans and isn’t expected to be healthy enough to start against the Colts leaving the Bills with newly signed Derek Anderson or second year QB Nathan Peterman to start.
With that in mind, here are four storylines to watch ahead of Sunday’s game.
Josh Allen’s Health
The rookie’s health is the most important thing moving forward, especially considering the Bills drafted him seventh overall to the be the future of the franchise.
After a solid outing on the road against the Vikings, Allen’s play has tailed off and he’s thrown for only 317 yards over the last three games, which includes the 84 yards he had before leaving the game in Houston.
Head Coach Sean McDermott told reporters on Monday Allen was “week-to-week”. According to reports, the rookie isn’t expected to play against the Colts.
Bills rookie QB Josh Allen will not start this Sunday and there is concern he will miss weeks per sources— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) October 16, 2018
We’ll likely get a health update on Allen and how long he could potentially miss on Wednesday.
What’s next for Peterman?
While McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll publicly said they remain confident in second year quarterback Nathan Peterman, it’s hard to imagine the head coach allowing Peterman on the field to take a meaningful snap again.
“I thought the early part of his game where he came in, made some good throws, had the touchdown to Zay [Jones], moved the ball a little bit for us, had some what I thought were good throws on 3rd down: one to Chris [Ivory] in the flat, one to Andre [Holmes] over the middle on a 3rd and long. And then the second part of it wasn’t good enough. Turning the ball over… can’t do that.”
That’s the problem: Turnovers. Sure, Peterman helped lead the Bills to a win over the Colts in a blinding snowstorm and provided a spark to the offense with the touchdown to Jones on Sunday. But, the positives have been few and far between.
From the five interception game against the Chargers, to the debacle in the season opener against the Ravens to Sunday’s meltdown against the Texans, Peterman has thrown nine interceptions in his 79 career attempts.
QUICK MATH: one out of every nine passes he throws is picked off.
“You forget, Nate’s a young player too. He’s only played a few games. Obviously, the production hasn’t been there when he has played,” Daboll added. “But, he’s a very hard worker. He takes his craft very seriously. It’s very important to him. One of the hardest working guys we’ve got. We need to continue to build him up and improve him and get him better.”
Peterman said he wouldn’t let the interceptions or results in Houston define him.
How quickly can Derek Anderson get up to speed?
A week after being signed to be the veteran voice and mentor in the quarterback room, Derek Anderson could very well be the starting quarterback against Indy.
But, with only 11 days to understand the playbook presents it’s share of challenges.
“He’s picking (the offense up),” Daboll told reporters on Monday. “To come off the street and come in, he’s upstairs right now, he’s upstairs all the time. I don’t think you can put the whole thing on him. He’s played a long time, so concepts are concepts. It’s understanding the language. He’s grinding it out.”
McDermott called Anderson a “work in progress.”
We’ll get an update on which direction the Bills are heading for their Week 7 gam when McDermott meets with the media Wednesday morning.
Penalties & Discipline
The Bills were flagged 12 times for 104 yards in the loss to the Texans. Six were called on the offense, three on the defense and three on the special teams.
“Inexcusable. Some of them are young players, but they’re not all young players, and when you beat yourself pre-snap, that’s hard to come back from,” McDermott said Monday. “We had the ball at I think it was first and ten at the plus 36 yard line on the first drive, and we jump offsides, and take ourselves outside of what potentially could’ve been three points. That speaks to being disciplined and pre-snap penalties are inexcusable.”
Buffalo currently ranks fourth in the league in penalties and averages nearly eight per game. That’s not a recipe for success, especially for a young team.