QB not lone Bills’ concern in preparing to host Chargers
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills can change quarterbacks all they want following their second-most lopsided loss in franchise history.
Running back LeSean McCoy knows the abrupt switch from inexperienced and interception-prone Nathan Peterman to raw rookie Josh Allen won’t make much of a difference if everyone else on offense fails to perform Sunday in Buffalo’s home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Maybe Nate didn’t play well with the turnovers, but we helped out with that,” McCoy said, referring to a season-opening 47-3 loss at Baltimore in which Peterman threw two interceptions and was yanked after Buffalo managed one first down on 10 possessions.
“We gave up pressures, we had penalties, second-and-longs, third-and-longs. We didn’t make plays for him,” added McCoy, who finished with 22 yards rushing on seven carries. “It’s a team thing. Collectively, we didn’t play well.”
The meltdown, which included numerous blunders on defense and special teams, left coach Sean McDermott with little choice but to reverse course at quarterback.
A week after McDermott was comfortable with Allen developing on the sideline, the coach sped up the first-round pick’s timetable by making him the starter in saying: “It’s the right move for our team.”
At the very least, the switch spared Peterman from revisiting the dreadful memories of the last time he faced the Chargers in his first career start 10 months ago. McDermott’s decision backfired then, too, when Peterman was pulled after throwing five first-half interceptions of a 54-24 loss.
It’s now on the strong-armed and mobile, 22-year-old Allen to mask the numerous deficiencies of an offense featuring a patchwork line that surrendered six sacks, and a mostly unproven cast of receivers.
Quarterback certainly isn’t an issue for the Chargers after Philip Rivers topped 400 yards passing for the 10th time of his career in a season-opening 38-28 loss against Kansas City. What hurt were several dropped passes and the Chargers’ inability to stop Tyreek Hill, who had 169 yards receiving and two touchdowns, and also scored on a 91-yard punt return.
“We’re (ticked) off. No one around here is happy,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “But I’m not going to panic after one game.”
A number of things to watch for as the Chargers attempt to beat Buffalo for the fourth straight time:
NO LOOKING BACK
Lynn says the Chargers overwhelming Peterman in their last meeting means little in preparing to face another first-time starter.
“Yeah, we were hitting on all cylinders that day, getting good pressure on the quarterback and turning the ball over. But that was last year,” he said. “You can’t bring wins and losses over from last year to this year.”
The question is how much pressure the Chargers can apply with defensive end Joey Bosa expected to miss a second straight game with an injured left foot, and tackle Corey Liuget serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
The Bills so-called bend-but-don’t-break defense mostly broke in allowing Baltimore to score touchdowns on each of its six drives inside Buffalo’s 20. The Bills didn’t allow six red-zone TDs total until their sixth game last season.
“We went up and stunk it up,” defensive end Jerry Hughes said. “We’ve certainly got to answer back stronger. And I think guys are really licking their chops, not so much sulking, licking their wounds.”
McDermott hopes his players haven’t forgotten how they trailed the Chargers 37-7 at halftime last year.
“As a competitor, that would drive me, and I hope it drives our football team,” McDermott said.
McCoy is leaning more on how the Bills responded the following week in a 16-10 win at Kansas City, which sparked a 4-2 season-ending run that led to Buffalo snapping a 17-year playoff drought.
“OK, we lost by a lot in the past, how do we move on?” McCoy said. “If we win the next game by a point, all that before doesn’t even matter.”
As well as Rivers played, his numbers could have been even better if not for a number of dropped passes , including two by running back Melvin Gordon.
“I haven’t seen that before from these guys,” offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. “You just move forward. I don’t expect that to happen again.”
The Chargers also struggled in converting just 3 of 11 third-down situations.
PEGULA PREACHES PATIENCE
Bills co-owner Kim Pegula is preaching patience, understanding there’s no quick fixes to a roster that underwent a significant offseason overhaul.
“For me, it’s about how are we going to fix things and what are we doing next week, because the team is set, the players are set,” Pegula told The Associated Press. “I don’t believe that’s our team from what you saw on Sunday. Just come in and look forward. And knowing Sean (McDermott), that’s how he thinks as well.”