The peaks and valleys of Tyrod Taylor’s second season as the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills have been frustrating. Even more so when you see games like last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Frustrating because you see his potential as a passer and a franchise quarterback but you don’t see it week in and week out. There is no question the Bills offense is thriving, and it’s thriving because Taylor doesn’t make mistakes and Buffalo’s running game is likely the best in professional football.
The question is, when this offense is forced to lean on Taylor, which quarterback will rise to the top? Lets take a look at his performance in Week 6.
On one hand you have to love the fact that Tyrod scans the entire field from left to right. On the other, I believe he missed an easy read that could have resulted in a touchdown on their first offensive play of the game. I’m not sure if it’s the change in offensive coordinator or the loss of Sammy Watkins, but I’m seeing a lack of trust on 1-on-1 balls and go routes.
I believe he may be so concerned about protecting the ball that he’s unwilling to take the shots down field that made him so successful last season. Specifically on this play, I don’t have a problem with him declining to throw the deep ball to make a safer throw, but he had a far easier throw on the short side of the field. Instead he gets to what I believe to be his third read on the play and is unable to complete the ball because by the time he got over to his final read, the passing lane had been clogged.
Ultimately, this play will go down as a missed opportunity, but I’m impressed with Tyrod’s read progression. It’s something I haven’t seen on film from him before Sunday.
The first thing I noticed on this play was Anthony Lynn’s play call. A formation right out of Greg Roman’s playbook that simply didn’t work as a passing or play action formation. The reason being was that Roman was never able to get the running game going like Lynn has. Now, you see when Taylor flashes the ball into to LeSean McCoy’s chest in the play action, both middle linebackers take a step forward. Successful play action plays will manipulate zone coverage and get them out of position.
As the play develops, I’m impressed with Taylor’s pocket awareness and ability to work through the pass rush. At times, Taylor’s mobility inside the pocket makes his offensive line look awfully good. Deep ins or the dig route Charles Clay is running on this play is one of the longest developing routes in the route tree and is typically run with a traditional 7-set drop. The pocket on this play breaks down and Taylor is forced to improvise, something he does extremely well and better than most quarterbacks in the league. Where I’m most impressed though is with his ability to keep his eyes down field, maintain good, consistent footwork and deliver an accurate ball.
Where I can absolutely see his game developed the most is in his willingness to be a passer first. On this play he could have absolutely been content tucking it and getting whatever he could with his feet. Instead, he reestablishes the pocket and keeps his eyes down field. I can certainly appreciate this development in Taylor’s game, and I can appreciate even more that Lynn recognizes that and puts Taylor in positions to use that to his advantage.
There are quite a few issues on this play even though it ultimately turns into a completion and a positive play for the offense. The first thing I notice is Taylor’s hips and shoulders facing the sideline instead of at his target. This is important because he is unable to contort and use his lower body on the throw, instead he usually essentially all arm. That’s why you’ll see the ball take so long in getting to a wide open Marquise Goodwin.
As I mentioned, it’s a completed pass for positive yards but his fundamentals fail him in allowing this to be a better gain. It’s a simple 6-yard hitch route that has to be thrown at the top of Taylor’s 3-step drop, or in this case 1-step from the shotgun. This is a timing route that is predicated on taking advantage of an out-of-position defensive back. The ball should have been thrown before Goodwin made his break and instead it’s thrown almost two seconds after his initial break on the route allowing the defensive back to regain the ground he lost.
These are little things, but they’re absolutely critical things that you can bet quarterbacks coach David Lee stresses to Taylor in film study during the week. It also plays into my narrative about consistency. I just need him to make the little plays and do the little things exceptionally. He’s almost there.
The left breaking corner route in a smash concept used to be my favorite play to run. Especially on this play out of a trips formation, Taylor manipulates the safety with his pump fake, reestablishes himself and delivers an absolute dime to Justin Hunter.
Quite honestly, I have no idea what the safety is doing on this play and why he felt he didn’t need to get over the top of Hunter but this play is all about Taylor. These are the types of calculated shots you’ll continue seeing from this Bills offense without its top weapon and deep threat Sammy Watkins.
Just watching this play a few times, I’m so impressed with Taylor standing tall and delivering such an accurate deep ball on time. At the same time, I get frustrated because I just want to see this Taylor more, and if he continues to show this side of him, I’m going to start to expect it on a consistent basis.
It’s extremely difficult for me to dissect Taylor’s performance against an inferior opponent. He’ll face another one this week in the Miami Dolphins. What I look forward to is breaking down Taylor’s performance against the Patriots and Seahawks.
For now, I maintain that consistency is key, and I’m not there quite yet. But he’s close.