Despite dropping two games in a row, the Buffalo Bills are 5-4 and, as of now, a playoff team for the first time since 1999.
Nevertheless, Bills head coach Sean McDermott has benched Tyrod Taylor in favor of Nathan Peterman.
Is this the right move?
“Well, it remains to be seen, but certainly they’ve made some giant decisions of this nature throughout the course of McDermott’s short tenure here in Buffalo,” Bills legend and NFL on CBS analyst Steve Tasker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They’ve made a handful of trades. Some of the best, most recognizable names on the roster were traded away for draft picks and other players as well. All of those moves have seemed to be a positive. They’re in the playoff mix at the halfway point of the season, they feel like they’re in a good spot, but of late, defenses have begun to take Tyrod Taylor away and that means LeSean McCoy has been easy to focus on for the defenses. They have needed a spark. They have not been able to stay on the field with first downs.”
Against the Saints, for example, the Bills had just 10 first downs. New Orleans had 32 – and rushed for 298 yards and six touchdowns.
“In order to get some complementary football going, the Bills offense has to stay on the field,” Tasker said. “Tyrod Taylor was not doing that. They felt they needed a spark to make it happen, and they made this move.”
But will the Bills make the playoffs with a fifth-round rookie under center?
“Well, they certainly could,” Tasker said. “They’re going to have to get a spark on offense. Earlier in the season, they were doing extremely well and they were getting a lot of wins. When the season started, there was no way you could have said that they were going to beat Atlanta, they were going to beat Denver, they were going to win a game against Tampa Bay and then beat Oakland as well. The Bills beat all of those teams, and they were doing it because the Bills defense was churning out turnovers at an incredible rate.”
The Bills have forced 2+ turnovers in all five of their wins. They have one turnover or fewer in three of their four losses.
“That is what has fueled their run to the playoffs,” Tasker said. “Other than that, when those turnovers dried up, as they have in the last two games, they looked bad against the Jets and they looked horrific against the Saints. Unless Nathan Peterman can come in and spark an offense to score some points, I don’t know if the Bills can make that run. But if he can and this defense get more opportunities to be on the field when a team is not playing with a double-digit lead, the turnovers will start to come again. This is a team that could do that.”
Especially given the competition. Buffalo is trying to fend off Baltimore (4-5), Oakland (4-5), and Miami (4-5) for the final playoff spot.
“It’s out there to be had in the AFC,” Tasker said. “Those last two Wild Card spots are up for grabs.”