If you had an opportunity to listen to me on WGR 550 on Sunday night after the game, you might have heard a very critical analysis of both the team and Tyrod Taylor, albeit in a win. After getting an opportunity to break down the game further, my critical analysis has been backed up with hard evidence.
Evidence I plan to share with you now.
I think what makes me most frustrated about some of Taylor’s struggles through the air this season has been the fact most defenses are dedicating one or even two players, like you’ll see on this play to stay in the box and spy Taylor to ensure he doesn’t hurt them with his legs. That type of defensive play call essentially turns this into to 11-on-9 situation. In most cases you’d think the advantage clearly goes to the quarterback.
On this play, Taylor indeed takes advantage of the defensive play call. He does a nice job of climbing the pocket, identifying the match-up and finds what I feel to be a wide open Charles Clay coming across the middle. The throw however leads Clay back into the defender and potentially costs the team a touchdown in the process. Now there is no guarantee Clay makes it in the end zone if Taylor leads him to the sidelines like the play is designed, but this is a perfect example of his accuracy issues.
Luckily for Taylor, he makes a great play on the following touchdown play to make up for it.
This is the Johnny Manziel effect. Taylor is probably best known for this sort of play exactly. When things break down, Taylor is at his best and there is no better play to illustrate that than this one right here.
You really get to see, especially in slow motion how much of a threat Taylor’s legs can be for defenses. Once Taylor breaks his drop and begins to scramble, the defense breaks their zone coverage and tries to converge on him to minimize Taylor’s ability to beat them with his feet.
This opens up Justin Hunter in the back of the end zone and Taylor does a great job avoiding the pressure just long enough to make an accurate throw to the back left corner of the end zone.
What the defense does originally on this play is something I think you’ll see a lot more however. Dropping eight defenders back forcing Taylor to make a quick, accurate throw. To beat that kind of defense, Taylor will have to continue to improvise and create a crease in the defense just like he does on this play. To me, this is likely the best play of the game for Taylor and something you’d like to see him do more.
Taylor looks like a real life NFL quarterback on this play. First of all, the offensive line does a tremendous job picking up the stunt the Rams defensive line employs to give Taylor a perfectly clean pocket to step up in. Taylor then does a great job staying on his toes, shuffling and stepping up in the pocket and throws an absolute strike to Charles Clay in a difficult window throw that must be thrown perfectly.
Taylor threw to a receiver that is covered, something he rarely shows the confidence to do during the course of his 19 starts as a Bill. He puts it in a position only his receiver, Clarles Clay can get it. This is the sort of play I’d like to see Taylor make more consistently. It’s also the sort of play I’d like to see Anthony Lynn call more to allow Taylor to make this sort of play.
It’s the sort of “over-the-middle” throw Bills fans have yearned for and wanted to see from Taylor, who’s biggest criticism is his inability to throw over the middle of the field. On this play, he shows he absolutely has the ability to make the plays some of the best pocket quarterbacks in the league make, he just needs to learn to do it consistently.
As good of a first half as Taylor had in my mind, he failed to adapt with the looks the Rams defense threw at him in the second half. Here lies one of Taylor’s biggest crutches: footwork. This is a glaring example of a problem I’ve been pointing out since Week 1. This is yet another example of lazy footwork that leads to a bad throw.
In a cover 3 look where the corner is playing 8-yards off of your receiver, you have to have this play 10 times out of 10, there just isn’t any excuse. I continue to go back to Taylor’s lack of consistency out of shotgun and here again is the latest example.
Taylor makes this throw using all-arm. He never engages his hips and he can’t because of his footwork. On this sort of timing route, he doesn’t have the time to hitch, if he hitches or steps up in the pocket, it gives the corner time to recover and get into a position to make a play on the ball. This throw needs to be made in under three seconds from the snap of the ball, but it’s Taylor job on this play to ensure an accurately thrown ball. To do so he must over-emphasize his shoulder and hip rotation to his target or else a throw like this will happen more times than not.
Consistency, consistency, consistency.
In another damming example of just flat out bad footwork, Taylor resorts to footwork I’ve yet to see from him in any previous game film. He backs out of the pocket so far that he makes an easy, wide open slant-and-go route far more difficult than it was ever intended to be.
The offensive line does a terrific job creating a pocket for Taylor to step into, to make an accurate throw. Instead he puts himself in harms way by backing out of the intended pocket, and is then forced to fade away while making the throw, which leads to an inaccurate throw.
It all starts with footwork though. If he takes his normal drop, throws a pump fake at Robert Woods and reestablishes himself in the pocket, he’d likely connect on this throw like he does on nearly every other deep ball he throws.
The deep ball is supposed to be Taylor’s strength, and it usually is. But you can’t possibly make an accurate throw to the sidelines fading away from your target. This play would have been a huge swing of momentum had they been able to connect. Truthfully, this was one of the easiest plays he could have made all day. I NEED Taylor to make this throw if he’s going to be a franchise quarterback.
You might think I’m being too hard on Taylor and maybe I am. I know he’s not Tom Brady or even Andy Dalton for that matter but if this team has any chance of beating some of the best teams in the AFC, which they’ll have to do if they want to play meaningful football in January, Taylor needs to be better.
I understand this team is predicated on a good run game and stout defense but eventually this team is going to have to win a game playing from behind. They won’t be able to run their way down the field in under two minutes for a game-winning score. Eventually they’re going to have top beat a team through the air.
I’m not suggesting the way to beat Brady is by out-dueling him, because almost no team ever would likely be successful doing so, but you won’t beat Brady throwing for 124 yards or scoring only 16 points. It’s just not going to work. Just bring yourself back to the Monday Night game last season when they played the Patriots. They held Tom Brady off most of the game but needed Taylor to make just a few plays with his arm and they win that game.
I’m not suggesting they throw the ball 35 times or veer away from what they do best, but they need Taylor to take a step forward. So far this season, it appears we have seen the best that Taylor has to offer. Simply put, it won’t be enough to get this team over the hump.