Another game, another sub 200-yard performance for Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, which marks the fourth time in six 2016 outings that he’s has failed to reach the 200-yard mark through the air.
But this isn’t a column to complain about a lack of 300-yard passing games from Taylor during a time when they’re somewhat common.
It’s a column that’s been a few weeks in the making, one I felt compelled to write at some point after reading plenty of criticism of Taylor’s play against the Rams, which, to me, was misguided.
There’s an important difference between a team needing an enormous passing performance from its quarterback and his ineptitude preventing him from it and the flow of the game simply not necessitating video game-like quarterback statistics.
Now an even 20 games into his Bills career, I think I have Taylor figured out, especially when it comes to his, let’s say, unusual skill set and playing style.
He rectifies every “negative” dropback in which he prematurely leaves the pocket before scanning to his third or fourth read — thereby theoretically “missing” a receiver who would’ve come open — by making the same amount of magical yet, for him, seemingly routine evasions of pressure to create something out of nothing by way of a nifty scramble or precise throw on the run.
That’s the unique trade off Taylor brings to the field.
Just about all of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history were pocket (only) passers. Most of the worst quarterbacks in NFL history completely crumbled when pressure mounted.
Rarely will Taylor scan from inside the pocket for five or six seconds, but his incredible athleticism and awareness allow him to generate a positive when 95% of quarterbacks would either take a sack or throw the football away.
Despite what the box score might indicate, in neither of the last two games has Taylor held back the offense with (many) inaccuracies, bad decisions, or the dreaded “one-read-and-go” plays. And against the Patriots, he was super-efficient, completing 27 of 39 passes without a pick.
Among the 18 signal-callers to have thrown at least 300 passes in a Bills uniform, Taylor has, by far, the lowest interception percentage (1.46). Second is, of all people, Kyle Orton at 2.24 percent.
At this rate, Buffalo’s front office would be glad to pick up Taylor’s team option, which equates to a $15.9 million cap hit in 2017, currently the 20th-highest among all quarterbacks. Even at that figure, Taylor would be a bargain.
Moving away from the numbers, I thought Taylor’s game against the 49ers was his quintessential performance. Sure, it came against a cellar-dweller club that lacks noticeable top-end talent or impressive depth. But it probably was Taylor’s most complete game with the Bills.
He surveyed the field longer and more widely than I’ve ever seen, carefully picked his spots as an improvising runner, avoided big hits in the open field, threw accurately to all levels of the field from within the pocket and on the run and avoided a costly turnover as a passer.
Also, for the second-straight game, Taylor didn’t need to be the savior through the air with Buffalo’s ground game humming.
Taylor isn’t your traditional pocket passer. We always knew that. He’s proven he’s not just an athlete masquerading as an NFL quarterback either.
He’s settled in as his own type of signal-caller, a quarterback who does many fundamental things well and has weaknesses that might just be outweighed by his inimitable strengths.