By MARK LUDWICZAK
The Associated Press
ORCHARD PARK — Josh Allen has the big arm. He has the size. And, now, he has the opportunity to take over as Buffalo’s starting quarterback.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday the rookie will make his first career start on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Allen replaces second-year pro Nathan Peterman, who struggled badly in a 47-3 blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. Peterman threw for 24 yards and two interceptions before being replaced by Allen in the second half.
McDermott declined to elaborate on his thought process behind the decision, instead saying it was “the right move” for his team more than 10 times.
“I don’t feel the need, honestly, to elaborate,” McDermott said. “We talk a lot in-house about decisions and things and what we’ve got to do and the right move at the right time, and right now, with all respect to your question, this is the right move for us.”
The move is a jarring and significant change for Buffalo, which planned on bringing along the strong-armed, raw passer at a calculated and methodical rate before inserting him into the lineup.
The Bills, however, were forced into making a change following one of the worst losses in franchise history.
“Whoever’s the quarterback, we’ve got to roll,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “I’m confident in Josh. He’s very talented, he’s extremely smart, intelligent. So I’m happy with the move. Nate’s a good friend of mine, he had his shot. We’ve got to move on. That’s the type of business this is.”
Allen did his best to downplay the significance of his first career start while acknowledging that it was a lifelong dream.
“I’ve got game experience and now I’m just starting a game,” Allen said. “I’m just looking to do my job, try and be 1/11th of this team and this offense, and just help this team in any way possible to win football games.”
“Obviously I’m super excited and thankful for the chance to be the starter of this team. This is something I’ve dreamed for a long time. But now that it’s here, come Sunday I’m just trying to do my job. I’m not trying to do too much. Trust in those around me and ultimately trying to be the quarterback that this team needs.”
Allen got a taste of regular-season action Sunday against Baltimore, entering the game when it was well out of reach in the third quarter. He showed some flashes while enduring his share of growing pains, completing 6 of 15 passes for 74 yards while being sacked three times.
McDermott saw some positives in that time, noting Allen wasn’t overwhelmed by the circumstances.
“I thought his command of the offense was there,” McDermott said. “There were some things that he did well in getting us in and out of the huddle. Those are the things you don’t take for granted when a young player’s out there. And then after the snap, executed fairly well at times, and there were other times where we need to execute better.”
It’s not just the quarterbacks who struggled against Baltimore, however, and the Bills will need a lot more from their other positions to have any chance of rebounding against the Chargers. The Bills were blown out by Los Angeles last season, 54-24. That was Peterman’s first career start, when the QB tossed five interceptions in one half. Now the Chargers will face Allen in his first career start.
“The one thing I’m going to talk to the offense about, especially the skill guys, is that (the key) for a rookie quarterback to have a good game is to make it easy on them,” McCoy said. “Catching the ball, giving him confidence, moving the chains … everything to get that extra advantage is critical and big for a rookie’s confidence.”
“If I had to draft a quarterback, I would draft a kid like him,” McCoy added. “He’s mobile, he’s tall, he’s strong. He’s not afraid, he’s smart and has a big arm.”