It’s fairly well-established by now that I think Josh Allen should be starting for the Bills in Baltimore on Sunday. But if fans are searching for reasons to be optimistic about Peterman heading into his Opening Debut as a starter, I’m here to serve.
We all know that Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half against the Chargers in his first NFL start last November. It’s understandable if many in the national media are puzzled by Sean McDermott’s decision to start him over Allen. But coaching and preparation for a season opener can make a big difference for a QB entering his first regular-season opener.
In fact, the last five quarterbacks to make their first Opening Day start for the Bills combined for — are you ready for this? — zero interceptions. Over 300 minutes of football, they didn’t throw a single pick. Peterman threw five in 30 minutes last year in Los Angeles against the Chargers.
The last five QBs to make Opening Day debuts as Bills starters, in reverse order:
Tyrod Taylor, 14-for-19, 195 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int. In 27-14 home win over Indianapolis in 2015; EJ Manuel, 18-27 for 150 yards, 2 TDs and O Int. In 23-21 loss at New England in 2013; Ryan Fitzpatrick, 17-25, 208 yards, 4 TDs and 0 Int. In 41-7 win at Kansas City in 2011; Trent Edwards, 19-30, 215 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int. In 34-10 home win over Seattle in 2008; J.P. Losman, 17-28, 170 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int. In 22-7 win over Houston in 2005.
Not bad at all. The Bills went 4-1 in those games, winning those four by an average margin of 21.5 points. It didn’t end well in those years, of course. Losman lost his job three weeks later. Edwards lost his confidence and the Bills lost eight of their last 10. Fitz cracked a rib and they lost eight of their final nine in 2011; Manuel lost his job early in the 2014 season; Taylor started for three seasons and helped the Bills break a 17-year playoff drought, but was traded to the Browns last March.
So while expectations should be most for Peterman on the road against a very good Ravens defense, you simply never know when they start firing real bullets. Like Fitz in ’08, Peterman might light it up on the road against a heavily favored opponent on Sunday. If not, well, at least fans can look forward to Allen’s inevitable succession to the No. 1 quarterback job.
Oh, the last quarterback to throw a pick in his first Opening Day start as a Bill? Drew Bledsoe, who threw two in a 37-31 overtime home loss to the Jets in the 2002 opener. That ended a streak of five straight losses by quarterbacks in their Opening Day debuts for the Bills. Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Todd Collins and Jim Kelly all lost.
Kelly, as older fans might recall, completed 20 of 33 passes for 292 yards, three TDs and no interceptions in a 28-24 loss to the Jets on Opening Day in Orchard Park in 1986.