Sloppy seems like the right term to use when describing the Bills’ passing game this season.
It was the same story yesterday when quarterback Tyrod Taylor couldn’t get a rhythm going at all for the now 7th seeded Buffalo Bills after falling to the Miami Dolphins 28-25 in an important AFC matchup.
Taylor has shown his inefficiencies at the position, especially late in games. His record isn’t favorable when the quarterback is called upon to overcome adversity and come out with a win by himself.
Per Nick Veronica of The Buffalo News, Taylor’s record is 2-7 in games when they’ve been tied or within one possession at any point in the fourth quarter. The quarterback has a meager 45.2 percent completion percentage, a quarterback rating of 50.3 and more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2).
It’s understandable that Taylor was without any of his weapons yesterday in Miami, but there is still no excuse for going without a completion on the potential game winning drive with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
You can also blame it on the defense, who failed to stop Jay Ajayi at all, but time of possession possibly could have caused fatigue in the defense.
Back to quarterbacks though. Let’s look elsewhere around the NFL. Phillip Rivers has been missing his two top receivers and is still in the top 5 in passing yardage. Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton were without their top weapons last season and still managed to be top-20 quarterbacks.
I understand they are proven former league MVPs, so comparing Taylor to them can be silly. But players such as Kirk Cousins, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Ryan Tannehill all have multiple game-winning drives this season, and I would think they are in the same tier as Taylor.
With the game on the line — in the fourth quarter, while trailing by one score or tied — Osweiler is the best rated quarterback with a 158.3 quarterback rating. He completed 4 of his 5 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns in crunch time. Siemian is 9 for 13 for 90 yards and a touchdown with a 114.3 quarterback rating when needed to carry his team late. Cousins is also highly ranked with a 105.1 rating in this specific scenario, as he’s gone 15-21 for 139 yards with a touchdown.
With the game on the line, Taylor has a horrid quarterback rating of 0.0 (that isn’t a typo). He’s completed only 3 of 10 throws for 26 yards along with an interception.
The table below shows quarterback statistics when the score is between a 0 and 8 point game. These are just some of the names that would likely be considered in the same quarterback tier as Taylor, but the numbers are widely spread apart.
(This table includes Taylor’s two-point conversion completion to Reggie Bush against the Dolphins.)
It makes it hard to believe this team will be willing to give Taylor $27.5 million in cash next year to be the team’s starting quarterback after seeing history repeat itself, although if the Bills decide to pick up its option on him, he’ll represent a relatively modest $15.9 million cap hit.
The late-game struggles started last year at home vs. New England when Taylor was intercepted on the first play of a potentially game-tying drive with 1:15 left in the game. In fairness, his throw was slightly high to Sammy Watkins but Buffalo would expect its star receiver to make that type of catch, especially in a critical situation.
Taylor made some strides in Tennessee with a long 3rd and 23 scramble followed by a 46-yard-pass to Chris Hogan to set up a game-winning touchdown.
But the issues resurfaced in New England, Kansas City and Philadelphia on the when Taylor failed to attempt a pass greater than 10 yards on potential game-winning drives late in games, besides the final play to Watkins against the Patriots.
This season, a failed game-winning drive in Baltimore and a weak effort in Miami are reasons to believe Taylor may not be the answer, in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, he’s made some good plays in his time with Buffalo, but a good team’s identity should be based upon its quarterback and, thus far, Taylor has fallen short when his team has needed him most late in games.