When the schedule came out this summer, a lot of fans had this game circled on their calendars. It was supposed to be a showdown between two highly-touted rookie quarterbacks in Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. Sadly, the world will be deprived of that showdown (for now) as both first-year men recover from injuries, forcing their respective veteran reserves to man the controls.
Just when you thought ‘Petermania’ was back for good, Matt Barkley swoops in and becomes the Buffalo Bills’ fourth starting quarterback this season as he prepares to take on the New York Jets this afternoon. A disappointing (albeit better?) outing against the Chicago Bears last week is apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back as Sean McDermott seems to have finally seen enough of the Nathan Peterman experience.
As depressing as it is that the team is fielding yet another passer with less than two weeks of experience with the offensive playbook, this game might actually be one of the better chances the Bills will have to secure a win for the rest of the season.
Journeyman VS Journeyman
Ali versus Frazier, Hagler versus Hearns, and Barkley versus McCown. Synonymous, no?
All joking aside, this has the makings of a very frustrating afternoon for fans of both teams. On one side you have Barkley who, as Vic Carucci pointed out this week, will become the second quarterback the Bills have trotted out this season who had not thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2016 (Derek Anderson being the other).
In his three seasons of professional experience, the 28-year-old hasn’t had a lick of success. With a career quarterback rating of 63.7 and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8:18, it’s not exactly surprising that he was without a job when the Bills came calling last week. In his last meaningful game for the Bears in 2016, he went 10/14, tossing two picks in a 38-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, so clearly he’ll fit right into the Bills QB rotation.
On the other side of the field, you’ve got 39-year-old McCown who was actually pretty decent for the Jets last season. Playing for his eighth different franchise, he posted a quarterback rating of 94.5 (his highest since 2013) while registering 18 touchdown passes, a career-high.
Aside from the obvious storyline surrounding the quarterbacks, the Bills and Jets are actually having pretty similar years. One team stands at 2-7, the other 3-6, while their respective defenses have had their hands full while the offense continues to sputter.
Despite a handful of blowout losses, the Bills still rank third in the NFL in yards allowed, while the Jets currently sit at 13th in that category. Offensively, the Bills have the 31st ranked attack while the Jets are just ahead of them at 29th. The only team that has somehow displayed a higher level of offensive ineptitude than Buffalo is Arizona.
In the long-run, the fate of both franchises rests with their respective young quarterbacks. They’ll go as far as Darnold and Allen take them. Fans in both New York and Buffalo have switched to auto-pilot this season as they await the return of said franchise saviors. Until then, they’ll be spending most of their time searching for mock-drafts on the internet, trying to convince themselves that better days are on the horizon.
In a race to the AFC East basement, it remains to be seen which team can out-stink the other. Brandon Beane has stated that as long as he’s in charge, his teams will never tank, which is probably true, but this season, the players on the field have done an excellent job of taking it upon themselves to be terrible.
Look at the bright side; the Bills currently hold the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. That puts them in a position to select a franchise-altering presence, which at this point, they desperately need.
This one could end up looking like a baseball game in terms of the final score. If McCown even has a shred of competence left in those old bones, then the Jets should have no trouble securing a victory at home.
All Bills fans can do is hold out hope that Barkley isn’t bad enough to inspire McDermott to put Nate Peterman back on the field.
Final Score: Bills 10, Jets 21
Editor’s babble: The battle for the AFCE basement doesn’t look pretty. We can only hope the Bills can outscore the Sabres for a change. Thanks to Anthony Sciandra for helping us get through this painful season. You can find Anthony on Twitter @SciandraSports. He’s also a contributing writer for @diebytheblade.