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Sad but true: Bills could have had NFL MVP candidate Mahomes

scottteaser-215x160This is a tale of two quarterbacks. Of what is and of what might have been. This is a story about Nathan Peterman and Patrick Mahomes. A story about the Buffalo Bills getting it wrong. Again.

Peterman and Mahomes continued passing their way into the record books Sunday, in ways rotten and good. “Pick” Peterman tossed three more interceptions in a 41-9 loss to the Chicago Bears, though two of turnovers were as much on his receivers as on him. One of his hot-potato misfires was returned for a score, giving Peterman as many career pick-sixes (three) as career touchdown passes (three). His second interception made him the first quarterback in the Super Bowl-era to have 11 picks in his first 100 passing attempts.

While Peterman continued backpedaling into NFL infamy, Mahomes was buttressing his Most Valuable Player credentials, throwing for 375 yards and three scores in the Kansas City Chiefs 16-point rout of the Cleveland Browns. Mahomes has now passed for 300-plus yards in eight consecutive games, and needs just one more scoring toss to tie Hall-of-Famer Lenny Dawson’s franchise record for most TD passes in a season (30). Oh, yeah. We forgot to mention that the Bills are 2-7. The Chiefs are 8-1.

Hindsight is 20/20, and it can be risky business judging a draft after just one-and-a-half seasons, but it should be noted the Bills could have drafted Mahomes in the first-round in 2017. He was there for the plucking with the 10th overall selection. No need to trade up. Instead, they dealt that pick to the Chiefs, who deliberated for a nanosecond before choosing Mahomes.

Yes, the Bills parlayed what they received in the trade to plug several holes. With the Chiefs 2016 first-round pick they drafted Tre’Davious White, a guy who could be a lockdown corner for many years to come. They used the third-round selection they acquired from Kansas City as part of a package to trade up to take offensive tackle Dion Dawkins. And the extra first-round pick the Chiefs forked over enabled the Bills to move up in April’s draft and select the man they are banking on to be their franchise quarterback, Josh Allen.

You can make the argument that much of Mahomes’ early success stems from being mentored by coach Andy Reid, a noted quarterback guru who developed the likes of Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Alex Smith. And it’s plausible that Mahomes, a flamethrower from Texas Tech, wouldn’t have progressed as rapidly under the Bills coaching staff, which stresses defense and offensive conservatism in an era when teams are lighting up scoreboards. But you can’t convince me that Mahomes’ talent wouldn’t have eventually blossomed in Buffalo.

The jury is out on Allen, who arrived in the NFL a much less-refined passer than Mahomes and who, unfortunately, has lost a chunk of his rookie season to injury. With an abundance of moxie and the type of athleticism that enables him to make plays with his arm and legs, Allen still might become a star—though major accuracy and decision-making issues will need to be overcome. He could be back from his elbow injury as soon as this week against the struggling New York Jets. If Allen can’t go, the Bills are hopeful journeyman Derek Anderson will be cleared from concussion protocol.

But if neither is cleared to play that means another start for Peterman, the former fifth-round pick that coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have desperately depended on after the AJ McCarron bridge-quarterback experiment failed. It’s been a major miscalculation, one which the “McBeane” team should have moved on from long ago.

I don’t mean to pile on Peterman. In fact, I feel for him. But in the hyper-competitive, hyper-results-driven business of football, he has not played like an NFL quarterback. There are serious questions as to whether he ever will. And McDermott’s dogged belief that Peterman is an NFL-caliber signal caller (the coach reiterated that yet again after Sunday’s debacle) makes you wonder about this regime’s ability to assess talent at the game’s most vital position.

After a start that has seen the Bills offense score fewer than 11 points per game and pass for a league-worst 151 yards per game (Mahomes averages 166 yards – per half!), many Bills Mafia table-smashers have stopped trusting the process. I believe it is right to question “McBeane’s” judgment, but it’s too soon to demand heads on a platter. They’re going to get another season to get this right, but after that, all bets will be off. Ultimately, it will hinge on if they got it right with Allen. If not, McDermott will rue the day he passed on Mahomes.

***

Scoring clearly hasn’t been an issue for the Syracuse University football team. Led by duel-threat senior quarterback Eric Dungey, who’s produced 23 touchdowns, the 13th-ranked (that’s not a misprint) Orange men are averaging 43 points per game. And they figure to pad their average Friday night in the Carrier Dome against a moribund Louisville team that yielded 77 points to Clemson last week.

Scoring doesn’t figure to be an issue with the Orange hoops team, either. In addition to having all five starters back from a squad that averaged only 66.6 points and 5.6 three-pointers per game last season, SU’s long-range shooting should be bolstered by the addition of transfer Elijah Hughes and Jim Boeheim’s son, Buddy, who reminds some of former Orange sharp-shooter Andy Rautins. Tyus Battle, who averaged a shade below 20 points, and Oshae Brissett, “Mr. Double-Double,” will continue to be top options for a team with Elite Eight and maybe even Final Four potential. The biggest obstacle will be the stacked Atlantic Coast Conference, led by Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Clemson.

Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.

One comment

  1. True, Peterman is not an NFL quality QB, but Patrick Mahomes would not be very good with the Bill’s offense. Two of the picks thrown in last weeks game had the misfortune to be thrown right on the receiver’s numbers… When you have receivers with no hands, no speed, and a total inability to get any separation from from any defensive back (or even linebackers for that matter), no passer has a chance, Combine that with an offensive line that is barely a speed bump to any team’s pass rush, and Joe Montana or Peyton Manning wouldn’t look good (although waaaay better than Natan Peterman)!

    Tyron Taylor is starting to look pretty good as an interim from my vantage point…

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