It took only one week for it to become apparent that the Buffalo Bills botched their quarterback situation.
Trading away AJ McCarron and settling on Nathan Peterman as the placeholder for rookie Josh Allen was not the way to go. After Peterman’s disastrous season debut, coach Sean McDermott on Wednesday did the only thing he could do and named Allen his starter.
There’s no denying Allen’s impressive skill set. The No. 7 overall pick of the draft has great size at 6-5 and 237 pounds. He has a strong arm as well as good athleticism and the ability to extend plays, giving him an overall skill set that some have compared to that of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
However, he has accuracy issues, and he has displayed some struggles both with reading defenses and making quick decisions. Given those issues, McDermott and the Bills didn’t feel comfortable playing Allen right away and instead hoped to let him learn in a backup capacity.
But now it's go time for Allen.
“It's the right move for our football team,” McDermott said on Wednesday. “I'm not going any further than that. I've got confidence in Josh, and it's the right move for our football team.”
Throwing Allen into the fire now could wind up hurting his chances for long-term success. But with no more competent passers on the roster, the Bills have few other options as their coach works to maintain credibility with his locker room and position his team to win games.
So, what can McDermott and offensive Brian Daboll do to help mask Allen’s deficiencies, position him for effectiveness right now?
The key is to both simplify things for Allen and to protect him.
The run game is a young quarterback’s best friend. LeSean McCoy, who topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of the last two seasons, should have an even more prominent role moving forward as Buffalo looks to control the clock and avoid shootouts. A healthy run game also sets the Bills up for an effective play-action attack because it will buy Allen more time to operate.