The off-season has begun! With a record of 6-10 following the 2018 NFL season, the Bills are slated to pick 9th in the 2019 NFL draft. Fortunately, one position the Bills will not have to worry about is quarterback. The starting job and room for that matter has already been locked down and demonstrates one of the most stable positions on the roster. Today’s post begins a series of articles reviewing the 2018 regular season from an injury standpoint, players that were injured, their outlook, and whether they will come back in 2019. Today’s topic is quarterback.
There were a total of 4 starting quarterbacks to take a snap under center for the Bills in 2018 in the regular season. They were: QB Nathan Peterman, QB Matt Barkley, QB Derek Anderson, and QB Josh Allen. A fifth, QB AJ McCarron was slated to be the starter in preseason before an untimely injury derailed his chances. As a collective whole, the Bills passing game put up stats as follows: 271/499 for 54.3% completion for 2794 yards, 13 TD’s, 23 INT’s, and 41 sacks ranking 31st in the league.
Never making to the regular season for the Bills was QB AJ McCarron. He was signed from Cincinnati as a free agent in the off season, expected to be the starter and before his injury, was trending in that direction. Unfortunately, McCarron suffered an injury to his collarbone during a hard sack that was initially diagnosed as a hairline fracture against the Browns. However, he had a second opinion which reversed the original diagnosis and it was re-diagnosed as a contusion. He was able to return after several days, but as he was healing, this allowed Peterman to move forward and take the season opening job, leading to the trade of McCarron to Oakland for a 5th round pick in 2019.
QB Nathan Peterman began the season as the starter but quickly played himself out a job. The 2nd year player out of Pitt earned a second chance despite his inauspicious start to his career last year. His 2018 season stats were as follows: 44/81 for a 54.3% completion, 296 passing yards with 1 TD, 7 INT’s, and 7 sacks along with 2 starts. Peterman started the forgettable home opener, losing 47-3 to the Ravens followed by a Week 9 start, losing to the Bears 41-9. While Peterman was not injured during this season in Buffalo, he was wholly ineffective which led to his eventual release on November 13th. He eventually did find his way to Oakland Raiders practice squad but his release thankfully ended the Peterman experiment here in Buffalo.
Next is QB Matt Barkley. The veteran journeyman started the year with the Cincinnati Bengals before being released with an injury designation with a Grade 3 MCL sprain in the preseason. On October 31st, the Bills signed Barkley to a one year deal as insurance while Allen was recovering from his injury. Unfortunately, the starting QB at the time, Derek Anderson was unavailable due to injury and Peterman wasn’t trusted to play, leading to Barkley to start. He lit up the Jets defense in a 41-10 win with his stat line as follows: 15/25 for 60% completion, 232 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 INT’s, and 1 sack. With that performance, Barkley earned himself a 2-year contract as the backup to Allen going into next season. Overall, his injury risks appear minimal, his preseason injury will not be a concern moving forward, and he has shown he is a capable back up in spot starts.
QB Derek Anderson was able to come out of semi-retirement to help mentor Josh Allen as he progressed through his rookie season. Unfortunately for him, he was forced into playing several games including against the Colts and Patriots. His stat line was as follows: 42/70 for 60% completion, 465 yards with 0 TD’s, 4 INT’s, and 5 sacks. In addition to the rough stat line, Anderson suffered a back and calf injury against the Colts which appeared to be more bumps and bruises after not starting for several years. Regrettably, Anderson also suffered a concussion at the end of the MNF game against the Patriots after a sack from LB Kyle Van Noy which sidelined Anderson for 5 games.
While concussions are all too common in football, most resolve after a short amount of time. Each concussion is unique and has its own timeline for healing, it is concerning that Anderson took this long to recover from his injury. It is not uncommon to see concussions take that long to fully recover in the normal population, but considering that he was out that long during the NFL season makes me question his availability for the future. We already know that once a player sustains a concussion, that increases the chances that they suffer future concussions. Prior to this, he had one documented concussion during his time with Arizona. Normally, a concussion lasting that long would have forced him to the IR to clear up a roster spot. However, his role has been defined as assisting in developing Josh Allen into a franchise quarterback and that appeared to be the case which is why they avoided placing him on IR which would have prevented him from tutoring Allen. While he can play in spot starts and will be back on next year’ roster having signed a one year deal, he is far from the answer if a long term need is required. He is one player that I hope never sees the field next year. I hope he helps to continue to mentor/coach, and rides off into the sunset next year before another concussion or serious injury forces him to retire.
The big injury of the season was QB Josh Allen. As it has been widely reported, Allen suffered a sprained elbow, more commonly referred to as a UCL injury. He suffered the injury during the loss to the Houston Texans. To recap, this was the result of a bang bang play as Allen got hit from the left by Clowney, followed by Mercilus hit from the right, coming up underneath, hyperextending the rookie’s elbow. As a result, he missed 4 games with the injury but was able to return a more complete player and with bracing to the area to provide protection and support. This injury overall will not be something that will cause problems in the off season, it will not require surgery, and it will almost certainly not affect him as his career progresses.
At this point, the injured tissues in the elbow have mostly healed up and he should be asymptomatic with regards to all his throwing activities. With further rest and strengthening in the off season, he will come back 100% and should not have to wear a brace in the fall. It’s quite possible that this may become an injury that will be forgotten as his career progresses. How he injured his arm was unfortunate, but the recovery and response moving forward is calculated and ensure his long term health. Despite the injury, Allen still put up respectable stats for the season. Allen’s stat line for 2018 was as follows: 169/320 for 52.8% completion, 2074 yards with 10 TD’s, 12 INT’s, and 28 sacks. In addition, he had 89 rushes for 631 yards and 8 TD’s. Expect him to start next season, continue to grow as a quarterback, and eventually lead the Bills back to the playoffs.
Overall it was a very rough season for Bills quarterbacks for injuries. The QB carousel should stop next season with Allen, Anderson, and Barkley all under contract and the established starter in Allen. In addition to the stability at the quarterback position, there is a lot of optimism that the front office that they will shore up the offensive line to provide the protection that is desperately needed in order to help make the offense flourish along with some receiving weapons. This is the first time in a long time that things look good at the quarterback position for the Buffalo Bills.
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