Derek Anderson to start at QB in place of Allen for Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Derek Anderson went from having the Buffalo Bills lure him out of semiretirement one week, to taking over the starting job for injured rookie Josh Allen the next.
So much for the 35-year-old having any chance of easing his way back into football some 10 months since attempting what Anderson once thought might well have been the last pass — an incompletion — of his 12-year career.
“Things that happen in this game never amaze me,” Anderson said after practice Wednesday, a day after being informed he’ll start in Buffalo’s game at Indianapolis on Sunday.
“I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into coming here,” he added. Obviously, not ideal. But we’re going to do the best we can.”
It’s not an ideal situation because Anderson was signed to serve as Allen’s mentor. Allen, however, is now listed week to week after the first-round draft pick sprained the right elbow on his throwing arm in a 20-13 loss at Houston last weekend.
What’s also troubling is how the Bills (2-4) had little choice but to go with Anderson ahead of turnover-prone backup Nathan Peterman, who has already thrown four interceptions in less than four quarters of playing time this season.
Coach Sean McDermott acknowledged Peterman’s struggles as playing a factor in his decision, before adding: “I feel like this is the right decision for our football team right now.”
That leaves the Bills putting their trust in a newcomer unfamiliar with their playbook and personnel. There’s also the rust factor, given Anderson attempted just eight passes in three games with Carolina last season, and is 2-2 in four starts over the past seven years.
“Yeah, I think that’s obvious,” McDermott said of Anderson’s limited playing time.
On the plus side, McDermott said: “He brings experience, leadership, presence to the table and he’s worked hard the last week and a half here to get himself up to speed.”
Anderson laughed when asked how long it might take to become accustomed to starting again.
“Hopefully, very quickly,” he said. “It’ll take a minute to get used to it. But I think we’ll have a good plan.”
That plan remains a work in progress, with Anderson preparing to inform offensive coordinator Brian Daboll by kickoff which plays he’s comfortable visualizing and which ones he can’t so they can be removed from consideration.
“I’m not a rocket scientist, but I’m pretty smart,” he said. “Yeah, we’re getting there.”
Anderson, who has a 20-27 record as a starter, is at least familiar with several coaches.
McDermott was the Panthers defensive coordinator during most of Anderson’s seven seasons in Carolina. Daboll held the same job in Cleveland in 2009 when Anderson went 3-4 in replacing Brady Quinn as the Browns starter.
Anderson is also reunited with receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who spent his first 3½ seasons in Carolina before being traded to Buffalo a year ago.
Anderson will become the third quarterback to start this season and ninth to start a game since the Bills selected EJ Manuel in the first round of the 2013 draft. The list includes Matt Cassel, who took the first snap on a trick play in the 2015 season opener before giving way to Tyrod Taylor.
The Bills’ intention to gradually develop Allen as a backup was scrapped after Peterman faltered in a 47-3 season-opening loss at Baltimore. Allen started the next game and is 2-3 since.
The 23-year-old’s development will now be limited to watching from the sideline and studying game film.
“I’m looking at it as a blessing in disguise right now to see how he operates,” Allen said, referring to Anderson.
Allen spoke while wearing a brace covering most of his right arm.
He was hurt while being struck from both sides by Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. Mercilus hit Allen’s throwing arm just after the quarterback released the ball for a 39-yard completion to Benjamin. He stayed in the game for one more play — an incompletion to Zay Jones — before going down to one knee.
“I knew at that point that me staying on the field was going to hurt the team,” he said. “It (stinks) but it is what it is.”
Allen said it was the combination of being hit twice that caused the injury.
McDermott said a second medical opinion confirmed the initial diagnosis of Allen’s injury being a sprain and not requiring surgery.