Buffalo Bills' quarterback switch backfires in a big way
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
DENVER (AP) — Switching quarterbacks midseason is fraught with danger, especially for a team with a pulse, as the Denver Broncos discovered in 2006 when Mike Shanahan benched Jake Plummer after a 7-2 start, only to see rookie Jay Cutler go 2-5 and miss the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills rookie coach Sean McDermott benched Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman on Sunday in the NFL’s biggest backfire of Week 11.
Taylor had thrown three interceptions in 254 pass attempts when he was benched, and it took Peterman, a fifth-round pick from Pitt, eight throws to match that number against the Los Angeles Chargers.
He finished with five interceptions and six completions before retreating to the bench at halftime of Buffalo’s 54-24 loss, the Bills’ third straight blowout.
“I’ve had tough games before and coach always says we never lose, we learn,” Peterman said. “And that’ll definitely be my mindset moving forward. I’m going to learn a lot from this and make sure it never happens again.”
Did McDermott learn from this, too?
“I don’t regret my decision,” McDermott insisted. “I regret the result.”
McDermott said Monday he’s not sure whether he’ll give Peterman another start or return to Taylor for Buffalo’s game at Kansas City on Sunday.
The Bills (5-5) have been outscored by 81 points during their three-game skid and they still have two games left against Tom Brady and the Patriots in their quest to end a 17-year playoff drought.
PLUNGING PACKERS : The Packers are also 5-5 after getting shut out at home for the first time in more than a decade. But coach Mike McCarthy is sticking with his fill-in QB Brett Hundley while awaiting Aaron Rodgers’ possible return from a broken collarbone.
“Brett Hundley’s our starter,” McCarthy declared after Hundley threw three interceptions and lost a fumble on a strip-sack by Terrell Suggs in the Packers’ 23-0 loss to Baltimore.
Hundley has two TD passes and seven interceptions this season.
“I believe in Brett Hundley,” McCarthy said after Rodgers’ backup fell to 1-3 in his starts. “It didn’t go very well obviously today. We have a standard that’s been set here. We’re all part of it. Brett Hundley’s part of it, too.”
DIVING DENVER : Brock Osweiler said he wouldn’t look over his shoulder following the Broncos’ latest loss, a 20-17 heartbreaker to the Cincinnati Bengals, who won in Denver for the first time since 1975.
With the Broncos (3-7) mired in a six-game skid, their longest in a single season since 1990, they will likely soon want to see conclusively if Paxton Lynch can play in this league. The 2016 first-round draft pick from Memphis who was twice unable to unseat Trevor Siemian was active for the first time Sunday and could get an audition now that Denver appears to be done.
“I’m not worried about that,” Osweiler said. “I’m never going to look over my shoulder. I’m just going to show up in the building every single day and be myself, work as hard as I possibly can, and everything will take care of itself.”
Osweiler is 0-3 since supplanting Siemian, who was 3-4.
Broncos rookie coach Vance Joseph on Monday replaced offensive coordinator Mike McCoy with quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.
McCoy’s second stint in Denver lasted 10 games. His first, from 2009-12, went much better. He designed an offense on the fly for Tim Tebow in 2011 and helped Peyton Manning embark on the second chapter of his storied career.
That earned him the Chargers’ head coaching job, but he was out after 4-12 and 5-11 seasons the last two years, and when he returned to Denver he said he was glad to be calling plays again, if not the shots like he did in San Diego.
“I’ve got a burning desire to call plays, and I did not do that the last four years and that was something hard,” McCoy said back in January. “So, I’m excited to get back into this and call plays.”
But McCoy stubbornly stuck to three-receiver formations that proved ineffective and even dangerous to his quarterbacks, whom he also overburdened with complex game plans.
ALTITUDE ACCLIMATION : Bill Belichick decided to stay in Colorado last week after the Patriots played Denver to acclimate to the altitude of Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium (elevation 7,200 feet), and practicing at the Air Force Academy (6,621 feet) sure paid off.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio kept his team at sea level all week, just as he did a year ago leading up to Oakland’s win over the Houston Texans in Mexico City.
“It’ll be interesting really to look back and take some after-action review from the two experiences that we’ve had, not that we’re going to share with each other,” Del Rio said.
No need, New England’s 33-8 win Sunday says it all.
ELWAY’S DIG : John Elway called out his team Friday night with the Broncos’ playoff hopes dangling. He said “to be dead honest with you we got a little bit soft” after starting 3-1 following a perfect preseason.”
His coach said he was “initially offended” but ultimately agreed with his boss.
The reaction in the locker room ranged from anger to acceptance.
“Everybody in this organization is accountable for how we are playing right now,” suggested star cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
That evidently includes Elway, who hasn’t drafted an All-Pro since 2011 and has a spotty record in free agency since Manning’s retirement.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton