Bills QB Anderson to start against Colts
Two weeks ago, Derek Anderson was out of football. Last week, he was signed by the Buffalo Bills to be a mentor to rookie quarterback Josh Allen. On Sunday, he will be the Bills' starting quarterback against the Colts in Indianapolis.
Things have happened fast for the 35-year-old Anderson, who last played in an NFL game last January, when he got into a playoff game for the Carolina Panthers for one play against the New Orleans Saints after Cam Newton was sacked. Anderson threw one pass, an incompletion, in that postseason loss.
The last time Anderson started a game was 2016, when he started two games for the Panthers, losing both.
But now Anderson is a starting quarterback again.
"It's football," Anderson said this week. "Things that happen in this game never amaze me; just gotta be ready at all times. I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into coming here. Obviously, it's not ideal, but we're going to do what we can."
Anderson got the starting nod because Allen is sidelined with a right elbow injury and because the Bills apparently don't have much faith in Nathan Peterman.
Peterman replaced the injured Allen in last week's game against Houston, and he threw one touchdown pass and two interceptions in the 20-13 loss to the Texans. One of the interceptions came late in the game and was returned for the winning touchdown. Peterman has thrown one touchdown pass and four interceptions this season and has three scoring passes with nine interceptions in his six career NFL games.
"It's the right move for our team," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said in making Anderson the starter.
Anderson has a major challenge on his hands. Buffalo (2-4) averages just 12.7 points per game, last in the NFL, and the Bills' passing game is also last at 123.0 yards.
Plus Anderson might be a little rusty.
"It will take a minute to get used to it," he said regarding the speed of the game. "But I think we'll have a good plan and I feel good about the things that we had in today. Just going out there, football is football to me. Physically I feel good. Last week I pushed myself quite a bit just to kind of see where I was at. I knew what I was doing, but pushed myself pretty good through the week, ran pretty hard Sunday. I felt good today, legs feel good, arm feels good, mentally we're working on it, putting a lot of hours in just trying to catch up with these guys. It's my job to do what I can to catch up to where the guys are at."
Working in Anderson's favor is the fact that the Colts (1-5) have lost four games in a row, rank 26th in the NFL against the pass and are 30th in points allowed.
However, the Colts have an excellent pass rush and are tied for third in the NFL with 19 sacks. Margus Hunt and Darius Leonard share the team lead with four sacks apiece.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck leads the NFL in pass completions and he is second with 16 TDs, but he has thrown eight interceptions.
Luck faces a significant challenge too. The Bills rank No. 3 in the league in yards allowed, and they are tied for third in sacks with 19. Defensive end Jerry Hughes leads the Bills in sacks with 4.5.
"They're getting a lot of pressure and of course that will be a factor on Andrew this week," said Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was a backup quarterback for the Bills for nine seasons. "No doubt they're getting a lot of pressure on the defense. This is probably the best defense we've played so far this season and I think it's because of their pass rush as they do get pressure. They find ways to pressure with four rushers and still play zone coverage behind it and when you can do that, that's a winning formula."
Luck was not sacked in last week's 42-34 loss to the New York Jets, but staying upright will be more difficult against the Bills.
In the loss to the Texans, the Bills sacked Deshaun Watson seven times and forced him to fumble three times (he lost one).
The Colts have been pretty good offensively, averaging 25.3 points and 369.2 yards per game. They rank 10th in the NFL in passing yards per contest.
But their only win came on Sept. 16 -- a 21-9 victory over the Washington Redskins.
"Losing is not fun," Luck said this week. "What we cannot allow to happen is that losing becomes OK and that you start to buy into an excuse or you start to search for -- make it OK. I learned this when I was a rookie and walked into this locker room. ... There is a proud winning culture on this team and we need to find that again a little bit. I think we are close. I think we have the people to do it, but we've got to take those next steps and so that makes me excited for this week."
Luck may have Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton back this week after he missed two starts. Hilton was scheduled to test his sore hamstring in practice late in the week to see if he can go on Sunday. But he was a full participant on Wednesday, suggesting he will play.
"My less than (100 percent) is better than a lot of people," Hilton said, when asked if he could play injured.
Updated October 18, 2018