2017 Grade: .512
2017 3rd Down: .603
Week 1 vs. New York Jets: Without Taylor, the Bills would’ve been in trouble Sunday. He extended plays, bought time while his lackluster targets struggled to create separation, and threw with tremendous accuracy. He made plays with his legs and put players in a position to make big gains after the catch. Supremely impressive opener from the much-maligned Bills quarterback.
Week 2 at Carolina: The Bills passing game concepts are strange. On three separate occasions, all of the routes went to the exact same area of the field. Taylor missed a couple of open targets as he opted for a scramble, but it’s hard to blame him. I was highly critical of Taylor last year, but this Bills offense struggles at every level, from coaching to execution.
Week 3 vs. Denver: By air or by ground, Tyrod Taylor is carrying this Buffalo offense in 2017. The short and intermediate misses are fewer and further between than in 2016, his scramble-ability remains top-shelf and he’s making splash plays in the passing game. The dime to Nick O’Leary below is one of the finest throws I have seen all season. Two of his three games have been exceptional thus far.
Week 4 at Atlanta: Even the biggest Tyrod Taylor fan couldn’t have envisioned this start to the season for the diminutive quarterback. This match-up was speed vs. speed, and Taylor took it to the Falcons defense. The 17 points scored by the Buffalo offense didn’t do Taylor’s performance justice. Scoring two 3-point plays, and four 2-point plays, this was a game for Taylor’s highlight reel. The Bills receivers aren’t creating a lot of separation by Taylor is making it work with perfect throws and moving the sticks, on third down, with his legs.
Week 5 at Cincinnati: Taylor’s game was interesting because of the progression of peaks and valleys. The rain could be the excuse for his poor accuracy on a number of throws, but he missed a read that took a touchdown off the board for his team (GIF below.) The interesting part: he atoned for his mistakes almost immediately afterward (second GIF was a few plays after the first GIF.) Taylor has been as good as the Bills could’ve hoped he’d be through two weeks.
2016: Frantic, Erratic, and Imperceptive
If the Buffalo Bills were a college team and Tyrod Taylor were a draft-eligible prospect, my note would be that he needs to change positions. The only threatening part of the nifty quarterback’s game is his scramble-ability. In that regard, he’s dangerous fleeing either-side of the pocket and a threat to take it the distance from anywhere on the field.
And that’s where the praise stops.
Taylor’s field-vision is among the worst of the 29 quarterbacks I looked at from 2016. Towards the end of the season, Sammy Watkins effort-level was teetering on the line of ‘who gives a damn’ and ‘what’s the point?’ The Bills try to cut the field in half with a one-look option and the freedom to run when it’s not there. Still, the backside of the formation is always neglected and multiple chunk-plays are left on the field every game.
His throwing-motion is as unique as his style. With the Michael Vick style wrist-flick, it creates terrific trajectory on throws down the field and give the receiver an opportunity to adjust on the fly.
This strength is rarely in use, however, as the NFL is mostly played short of the sticks. It’s difficult to get much worse than Taylor (by NFL standards) on these throws. Buffalo pass-catchers often have to break down to brace for a throw nowhere near the intended target. Even the most routine-routes are a struggle for Taylor. He won’t kill you with turnovers, but that’s because he’s more prone to tuck and run or to miss the receiver and defender all altogether.
There is no anticipation built into the offense as Taylor has a great deal of difficulty coming off reads. His poor-decisions extend into the run-game where he often keeps the ball on zone-reads or option-plays where the end has collapsed the edge and Taylor will keep it and slide down for a loss or no-gain.
The bills try to limit his exposure taking him off the field for brief EJ Manuel cameos or wildcat direct-snaps to LeSean McCoy or Mike Gillislee.
Even his strengths have pitfalls. His scrambling- nature leads to some insurmountable-losses on huge-sacks and his deep-ball prowess is hindered by his inability to see coverage opening up down-field.
The second Taylor loses any modicum of his running threat – he is done in the league.