Bills Stretching the Limits of Offensive Futility

For the fifth time this season, the Bills were held to a single-digit point total, which hasn't happened since 2003.

Nathan Peterman was a problem Sunday afternoon, and that is not a news flash. Just about every time he has taken the field in a Buffalo uniform, Peterman has put forth performances that belong in a time capsule to be opened decades later to recall just how poorly an NFL quarterback can play.

In Sunday’s 41-9 loss to the Bears at New Era Field, Peterman pulled off another neat trick. While finishing a start for the first time in four career tries (no, that wasn’t the trick), Peterman established another record of futility that makes your head spin.

He completed 31 passes for just 189 yards, the lowest number of yards in league history for a quarterback who completed at least 30 passes. With 49 throws, Peterman’s average per attempt was 3.85 yards. If you’re at six yards per attempt, you’re close to practice squad range. Imagine 3.85.

Yet after the game, coach Sean McDermott, when asked if he felt Peterman was a viable NFL quarterback, replied, “I believe he is.”

At some point, McDermott and the Bills are going to come to their senses and figure out that he’s not. He threw three more interceptions in this game, and while two were not his fault, they go on his ledger which now includes 13 picks and an interception rate of an astonishing 9.5 percent. Incredibly, in throwing three against the Bears, that figure actually dipped down from 11.1.

“I don’t feel snake-bitten,” he said. “I never feel like I’m a victim or anything like that. It’s football. It’s life. Things don’t always bounce your way. I mean that ball’s not round, it bounces all different ways. So you just have to be able to take it how it comes and learn from it.”

Props to him for keeping his head up. Many quarterbacks would have crumbled emotionally by this point, but Peterman continues to be philosophical about the awful start to his NFL career and hoping that better days will be ahead.

In truth, while Peterman didn’t come close to playing well enough to engineer an upset, this debacle could not be pinned solely on him.

The offensive line has played progressively worse as the season has churned on, and that’s quite a feat given that on opening day, it was already in the lousy category. Against the Bears, McDermott took to rotating players at right tackle (Jordan Mills and Jeremiah Sirles) and left guard (Vlad Ducasse and Wyatt Teller) in what amounted to preseason mode.

“It’s always open in terms of trying to find the right combination,” said McDermott. “I want the best 11 on the field, whether it’s offensive line, defensive line, you name it. We’re going to find the best 11.”

That will be a tough task with this offensive line.

As for the wide receivers, the worst group in the NFL thought it was getting an infusion with the signing of Terrelle Pryor. Despite just three practices, he got the start when the Bills opened in a three-wide set and played 75 snaps, yet he caught just two passes for 17 yards and had one pass go through his hands for an interception.

And then there’s the running game, once Buffalo’s primary mode of attack. There is no running game this season, as evidenced by LeSean McCoy’s 24 yards on his last 24 carries. Because the line can’t get any push, and no opposing defense fears Buffalo’s aerial game, McCoy has been overwhelmed by defenders and has now taken to sulking and not facing the media.

On Monday, McDermott actually said, “We do have wins, although they’re not always on the scoreboard ... in the midst of a game, I saw some things yesterday that is the Buffalo Bills style of football we want to play.”

OK, coach. Tell that to the fans.

PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Nathan Peterman completed 31 of 49 passes for just 189 yards with three interceptions, a passer rating of 45.4. He also ran eight times for 46 yards and a TD which led the team.
  • RB LeSean McCoy has reached an unimaginable point now after a 10-carry, 10-yard day that gave him 24 yards in his last 24 attempts spanning three weeks.
  • WR Terrelle Pryor made his Bills debut and caught only two passes for 17 yards and had one ball go off his hands which resulted in an interception.
  • RB Chris Ivory had 36 yards on seven carries before leaving the game late in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds was inactive due to the concussion he suffered the previous week against the Patriots.
  • QB Derek Anderson was inactive, also because a concussion incurred against New England. That injury prompted the Bills to sign QB Matt Barkley Wednesday, and he served as the backup QB against the Bears.
  • TE Charles Clay suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and never returned to the game.
  • TE Logan Thomas had a career-high seven receptions for 40 yards, but also committed a dumb personal foul penalty that gave the Bears a drive start at the Bills 37 prior to their first TD of the game.
  • P Colton Schmidt, who was re-signed last week to replace injured Corey Bojorquez, had a rough day with a net 28.6 average and a gross 37.6 average.
  • LB Julian Stanford filled in for Edmunds and had a team-high eight tackles and a forced fumble which the Bills did not recover.
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