On the schedule before the season started, the Bills facing the Jets in Week 10 seemed like a juicy premiere to the Josh Allen vs. Sam Darnold quarterback battle that each franchise hopes will carry on for more than a decade.
Darnold and Allen were the first two rookie quarterbacks to be thrust into starting roles with Darnold winning the job out of training camp and Allen taking the reigns in Week Two, but injuries are delaying this AFC East match-up under center, with Darnold out Sunday with a strained foot and Allen uncertain to play as he continues to work his way back from an elbow sprain that has had him out the past three games.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott is leaving the door open for Allen to return, but should he?
I have been saying for weeks that Allen should remain on the shelf until after the bye week. The risk vs. reward for bringing him back for one game to then just sit for a week doesn't seem worth it. Allen did not begin throwing until a week ago. While the players I have spoken to say that Allen seems to be throwing it just like he did before the injury, that is in practice. Once the bullets start flying and the QB can get hit we have ourselves a whole different ballgame.
Slowly progressing him with throwing to build strength back up as well as knock the rust off is good this week and even into the bye week, but the Bills should be ultra cautious with their 7th overall pick. I know this team could desperately use a win and there is one for the taking against the Jets, but moving to 3-7 won't thrust this team back into the playoff picture.
So who starts for the Bills if it isn't Allen?
Derek Anderson is officially out for the game as he remains in the concussion protocol.
The way McDermott talked on Friday, I wouldn't count on it being Nathan Peterman.
McDermott appears to finally be distancing himself from Peterman. Monday he was asked who would start if both Allen and Anderson couldn't go and he said Peterman "at this point in time." Days later there was no such commitment to the guy he has started in that same scenario last week.
That would leave things in Matt Barkley's hands, starting in a nearly identical situation as Anderson saw against the Colts after being on the roster less than two weeks.
I understand why laying the other options on the table like that may push anyone to the want to go with Allen even if he isn't 100%, but it is all about long-term vision.
The remainder of this season is all about Allen and his ability to play, make mistakes, and learn from them in game action so he comes into 2019 steps ahead of where he was as a rookie. If a setback occurs, that sets back this team's plans far more than a few games in a lost year.
So let's see Matt Barkley vs. Josh McCown on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
It really can't get any worse.