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Bills bench QB Tyrod Taylor; Nathan Peterman to start

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In a surprise decision Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills benched Tyrod Taylor in favor of a rookie quarterback.

Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters that Nathan Peterman will start against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

"This is about becoming a better team. Tyrod has made improvements," McDermott explained to reporters. "This is not an indictment on Tyrod. He is an important part of our team and will continue to be an important part of our team.

"I've been impressed with Nate and his maturity at a very early point in his career. He has certainly worked hard. ... The other day, we [saw] some good things, albeit it was a small sample size in a regular season. That said, he has a lot of work to do, just like we all do."

Taylor has been Buffalo's starter for two-plus seasons, save for a Week 17 benching last year. The seven-year veteran started the first nine games of this season, completing a career-best 64.2 percent of his passes and throwing 10 touchdowns to three interceptions.

The midseason QB change comes as a shock for a team with playoff aspirations currently pegged as the sixth seed in the conference. Just three weeks ago, the Bills were media darlings and were thought by some to be in contention for the AFC East title.

Since starting 5-2, the Bills have lost two consecutive games, both in which LeSean McCoy and the running game essentially disappeared, hamstringing the offense and tiring Buffalo's previously stout defense. In last week's demolition by the Saints, New Orleans held the ball for over 41 minutes to Buffalo's 18-plus. Peterman entered the game with Buffalo down 40-3 and led the Bills' only touchdown drive of the game, a six-play, 75-yard march keyed by five Peterman completions, including two to new acquisition Kelvin Benjamin. Peterman's relief appearance looks to have secured him the starting job this week.

"Nate's come in, he's handled himself well. He handled himself well in the game the other day," McDermott said Wednesday. "He's poised, he's mature beyond his years, he's worked hard. ... The success that he's had to this point, he's ready. I wouldn't make this move if I didn't think he was ready."

For the Bills this season, there remains a lot of unknown. The same goes for Tyrod.

Thanks to a contract restructuring, the Bills have the opportunity to cut bait with Taylor after this season, surrendering over $8 million in dead cap space in 2018.

Benching Tyrod appears to signal that Buffalo is ready to move on without him as its starting quarterback, though McDermott suggested that this move is being made in the best interest of the team at this moment.

"We are 5-4, I understand that. We're in the playoff hunt at this point," the coach said. "It is always and will forever, for the time that I'm here, it's about putting out the best team that we possibly can. We are made for more than 5-4."

McDermott continued: "This is about becoming better as a football team and see if this will make us a better team. As the decision-maker you have to be willing to take calculated risks to get to where we're trying to go. And I'm comfortable doing that."

Peterman, a fifth-round pick out of Pittsburgh, enters the fray at an interesting time of Buffalo's season and the franchise's trajectory. In the first year under McDermott, it could be argued that the Bills have overachieved thanks to great vision and scheming from their rookie coach. They've overhauled the roster, shipping high-priced studs Sammy Watkins and Marcell Dareus and welcoming Benjamin and Jordan Matthews in their stead. These are all signs of team-building.

Buffalo has already displayed a willingness to part with its most marketable stars. Will Tyrod be the next to go?

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