The Buffalo Bills drafted Josh Allen to be their quarterback of the future. After one of the most dismal season-opening performances in franchise history, the future is now.
Allen, taken with the No. 7 overall pick in this year's draft, will make his first career start when the Bills host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
The rookie from Wyoming was named the starter after Nathan Peterman floundered in last week's 47-3 mauling by the Baltimore Ravens. Peterman completed 5 of 18 passes for 24 yards with two interceptions, and produced only one first down in two quarters and two possessions at Baltimore.
That was enough for Bills coach Sean McDermott to pull the plug on Peterman and hand the keys to the offense to Allen, who had a rugged introduction to the NFL last week in relief of Peterman.
"I don't feel a need, honestly, to elaborate (on my decision)," McDermott said. "We talk a lot in-house about decisions and the right move. ... This is the right move for us."
Allen finished 6 of 15 for 74 yards after Peterman was yanked. The rookie absorbed three sacks and was flushed out of the pocket on numerous occasions, leading to his 26 rushing yards on five scrambles.
The Bills managed just 10 first downs and 153 total yards, were 2 of 15 on third down, and averaged just 2.5 yards per play, so the problems went beyond their quarterback play.
Allen said he thinks having played 32 offensive snaps against the Ravens will help him this week when he takes the field against the Chargers, who were burned by a series of big play in a 38-28 home loss to Kansas City last weekend.
"I took a lot from it," Allen said of his relief appearance. "First drive I was in, I was a little quick to get my eyes down, but as the game went on I felt a little more comfortable and just trusted the guys in front of me and the guys outside to go make some plays. I felt pretty calm."
As ugly as last week's performance was, Buffalo's last matchup against the Chargers less than a year ago was equally forgettable. Peterman made his first NFL start at Los Angeles on Nov. 19 and was intercepted five times in a 54-24 demolition by the Chargers.
Los Angeles has a history of slow starts -- the Chargers opened 0-4 last season before winning nine of their final 12 -- but did come alive offensively with a belated comeback against the Chiefs as quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards and three touchdowns.
"I'm not much of a cycling fan, but I compare the NFL season to the Tour de France," Rivers said. "It's all the stages, and that's what the NFL season is to me. There are 16 stages you get. You make sure you better win your fair share of them. It's a long deal. We're down. We're down after the first phase and we have a chance in Buffalo to go get a win and go 1-1."
Although the Bills lack the offseason weapons of Kansas City, the Chargers again will be without standout defensive end Joey Bosa. A Pro Bowl selection in 2017, Bosa has been battling a foot injury since early August and will "probably be gone for the next couple weeks," Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said Thursday.
Lynn, a former assistant coach in Buffalo, isn't worried about the Bills. He's looking for his team to rebound and expects a better performance from his players after the team was dominated in all three phases of the game by AFC West rival Kansas City.
"We couldn't have asked for a better opponent to start out with, the division champs, to come in here the first week just to tell us exactly where we're at," Lynn said.
Rivers usually plays well against the Bills, winning four of the five career matchups and tossing 10 touchdown passes to go with a rating of 110.0. Buffalo, though, is hoping the combination of being back at home and wounded pride will lead to a much better performance this week.
"We understand that we stunk it up in Week 1, we have to answer back stronger and I think that's what guys are licking their chops and getting ready to do," defensive end Jerry Hughes said. "It's not so much sulking, licking their wounds, guys are anxious to get back out there Sunday and answer the call."