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Bills 2017 player profiles: It must suck to be Tyrod Taylor 
ORCHARD PARK, NY – JANUARY 03: Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills acknowledges the crowd after the Bills beat the New York Jets 22-17 at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Storyline:
It must suck to be Tyrod Taylor.

Place holder. Bridge-gap. Game manger. That’s what it seems the consensus is on Tyrod Taylor. Don’t let the Bills “We are going to give him every opportunity to shine” line fool you. Sure, maybe there’s some validity to that as Tyrod probably won’t lose his job this season. I think we all know, however, that there’s a very good possibility that next year’s starting QB is currently playing in college. I think as this season rolls into form, we are going to hear a lot about the draft class and KC Scoreboard watching.

Again. It must suck to be Tyrod.

Once you get past the bridge-gap stuff,  then we get into the catcalls about his game. He’s too small. He doesn’t use the middle of the field. He’s too conservative. If it wasn’t for excitement about the new coaching regime and Doug Whaley and Russ Brandon turning Tyrod into a bit of a martyr last year when they bungled his benching, I think public perception would be even worse. The QB narrative in Buffalo is just so damaged. At times, I don’t even think we know what a good QB looks like anymore. When I hear someone say INSERT QB NAME is the best since Jim Kelly, I want to vomit because the field here has been pretty bleak since #12 was forced into retirement. It’s too bad Tyrod isn’t dueling it out with Trent Edwards instead of Matt Ryan.

That Buffalo QB history? Man, it is bleak. During the drought, the Bills have had 14 different starting QBs. Veteran guy? Check. High draft pick? Check. Traded for QB? Check. Drafted QB later? Check. They have driven down every QB avenue and crashed every time. Even with all that, I can’t think of an incumbent QB who we all knew was getting the job because there just wasn’t anyone else to give it to until Tyrod Taylor.

Again. It must suck to be Tyrod.

And what about Nathan Peterman? Mike Schopp wrote a piece about him recently. I mean, a 5th-round rookie QB shouldn’t even make an appearance on any talking head’s platform during training camp, but Nathan Peterman does because this team isn’t behind Tyrod in the long-term.

Again. it must suck to be Tyrod.

Then we get to the white whale “Franchise QB.” No one ever defines what that looks like, they just point to Tom Brady and say give me that. “We know it when we see it and it’s not Tyrod” has become a lazy talking point. Trust me, if Tyrod is a game manager this year with middle of the pack stats, his haters will say “HE’S NOT A FRANCHISE QB LIKE BRADY!” and away we go. Doug Flutie and Drew Bledsoe were run out of town because they were ONLY good enough to get you 9-10 wins and we needed more. That will happen if Tyrod gets 9 wins and he’s doing it in a game-manager type of way.

Again. It must suck to be Tyrod.

In week 2 last year, the Bills defense sucked, allowing 37 points against Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills offense scored 31 points, and the team fired the OC. The cool thing now that he’s gone is to knock Rex Ryan’s defense. Yet when Rich and I were yelling about the defense last year, you told us to get bent because it was all about the QB and you were pissed off because Tyrod ran for a 1st down instead of completing a 12-yard pass to Charles Clay over the middle even though you could see that he was open from your stadium seat.

Again, it must suck to be Tyrod.

You wonder why Tyrod Taylor said before the Super Bowl last year that he felt the media treated him unfairly? Go back to all these points and see that it is obvious why he has a BIG chip on his shoulder. Fair or not, it must suck to be Tyrod, knowing you are just keeping the seat warm for the next guy. It must suck to know your last GM wanted to move on from you or that the last two off-seasons for Tyrod have been like a QB Groundhog’s Day. Do we get one more year of Tyrod or do we get 6 more months of finding the next guy?

It would be great if Tyrod turned it on this year.  Count me in as the fan who is always down with the player who, after being counted out, proves everyone wrong. There were so many moments last year when everyone was done with Tyrod. I remember during the Steelers game I gave into that feeling too. I don’t need Tyrod to be great, but he has to be good. Average is not going to cut it this time around since it is obvious the Bills are just looking to rent him. I don’t need Tyrod to be a franchise QB.

I just need him to be good and to show he can get better.

Tyrod stats I like:

  • Since 2015: Tyrod has the most rushing yards and 2nd most rushing TDs for a QB.
  • Since 2015: Of the 24 QBs who have started at least 22 games, Tyrod’s YPA is the 10th best.
  • Since 2015: Tyrod’s INT% (percentage of times intercepted by attempting a pass) of 1.47 is 5th best in the NFL.
  • Since 2015: In the 19 games when Sammy started a game, Tyrod is 325 of 508 for 4,314 yards, 28 TD passes, and 8 INTs.
  • Since 2015: Tyrod Taylor has the 12th best QB rating for QBs who have started at least 14 games.
  • Since 2015: Tyrod Taylor has a QB rating of 114.95 and 11 TDs on throws that travel 30+ yards through the air.

Tyrod stats I don’t like:

  • Since 2015: Tyrod has been sacked 78 times which is the 5th most in the NFL.
  • Since 2015: Tyrod has thrown 816 passes and 39 TDs which are both ranked 29th in the NFL.
  • Since 2015: Tyrod has averaged 201 yards passing per game which is 37th best.
  • Since 2015: The Bills have had only two 300-yard passing games, tied with the Jets and Vikings for fewest in the league.
  • Since 2015: The Bills have had just 4 games in which they have attempted 40+ passes. That’s tied with the Rams and Seahawks for fewest.
  • Since 2015: The Bills have attempted 30 passes or fewer in 19 games. That’s the most in the NFL.
  • Since 2015: The Bills have passed for 200 yards or less in 17 games. That’s the second highest number in the NFL over that time. Only the Rams have more at 21.

Final word:
The Bills are in a tricky spot with Taylor. If they want to win games with this team, they should do it with defense and running the football. As currently constructed, those are their strengths. However, if this is the year  they want to figure out if Tyrod can be the QB for the next 5 years, they gotta throw the ball more and see what they have.

I don’t mean to sound flippant, but you can find a lot of game-managers in this league. Anyone can find a QB who can pass 20 times a game and let the defense and running game power the team. I think you can even win in this league with that formula if the running game and defense are top 5. At the same time, you are neutering Tyrod a bit. Plus, I don’t think they are going to be a top 5 defense because the secondary is a little too young for my taste. Tyrod has some good stats, but the Bills have never just let him wing it and that is probably a big reason why he doesn’t throw picks, pass 40+ times in a game, and pass for 300+ yards.

I’ve seen Tyrod wing it when the team lets him. I saw him look great against a top notch defense on Monday Night Football in Seattle, even without Watkins. I saw him rip up the Chiefs defense for a half in 2014. In his final start of 2015, he took apart the Miami defense. To me, I think the Bills need to just go in with that mindset more often. Take the training wheels off and call more pass plays to see what we have with Taylor. I’m not asking for the run & shoot. Just let’s pass for more than 30 times a game isn’t a asking for the world.

I don’t think the Bills as a whole are going to be very good this year. At best, I think they reek of 7-9 again if they go with defense and running game wins games approach.  I’m doing a bit of a 180 after being the guy who says you can win with elite defense/running game (see: Broncos in 2015/Seahawks in 2013). I believe it is possible to do so, but  the Bills keep messing up that formula. I’d rather they go 5-11 with Tyrod Taylor throwing 30+ times a game than do the middling 7-9 or 8-8 where the defense/running game carries the load and Tyrod throws 20+ times and you pray for him not to fuck up. I’m done with that formula for now.

Additionally, I don’t think Tyrod being what he’s been is good enough to save his job next year. That’s not to knock his game, but the tea leaves say the Bills want more and are looking at other options next year in college. In order to avoid that, they need to find out if Tyrod is good enough.  Sure, if they pass 35 times and run the ball 20 times and lose, we will all lose our shit over play calling because they are better at running the football. But at least we will have a better idea of what Tyrod can be.

In a way losing to figure out if Tyrod is a good QB is winning in the long-term. Like I’ve been saying, and say it with me…

It must suck to be Tyrod.