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What to do with Tyrod Taylor?

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Halfway through the 2016 season, I offer my thoughts on the Bills’ quarterback.

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

After the Bills’ 45-16 thrashing of the 49ers in Week 6, Buffalo’s fourth-straight victory, I wrote a column about Tyrod Taylor embracing his unique style of playing quarterback.

In it was this paragraph, basically, the central theme of the article:

“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.”

Against the Patriots yesterday, in rain-soaked Orchard Park, those magical plays were nonexistent. Taylor was overly antsy in the pocket — mostly due to an assortment of factors out of his control — but, stunningly, he seemed timid as a runner. That can’t happen. Sure, he scurried out of a handful of sacks — again, doing so is the norm for him — but when there were yards to be had as a scrambler, Taylor uncharacteristically shied away.

(Aside: It seems like the Taylor detractors are fine dismissing Buffalo’s dearth of pass-catching options over the past two games while his supporters mention it every possible chance they get. I’ve found that in almost all of these type of debates, the real answer lands somewhere in the middle. Yes, Taylor should be able to somewhat make due with whatever he has at RB, WR and TE. But, yes, Buffalo’s practice squadian replacements for the plethora of banged up offensive skill position players are miles away from ideal and hurt Taylor much more than they help.)

He had two scrambles that each went for two yards against New England on Sunday when the game was within reach. That’s it.

With the score 31-10, he had a 26-yard TD scamper. With the score 41-17, he had a 17-yard run.

For those who, like me, have watched (and re-watched) every one of Taylor’s plays in a Bills uniform, his shortcomings are obvious. But that doesn’t mean he’s horrible, incompetent, or — my least favorite phrase of criticism on the internet — a tire or dumpster fire.

However, as I wrote just two weeks ago... Taylor’s “unique trade off” needs to be there just about every single week.

All offseason I mentioned if I was Buffalo’s GM, I would wait until after the Week 8 outing against New England to decide whether or not I’d hand Taylor a contract extension. Right after the new deal was announced, I wrote the Bills actually took the safer route by extending him before the season.

Now at my original “deadline,” one that never needed to come to fruition, it seems appropriate to check in on Taylor.

As a passer: 61.8% completion, 28 TDs, 9 INTs, 7.40 yards per attempt, 4.75 TD%, 1.3 INT%, 94.8 QB Rating. 12-10 W-L record.

As a rusher: 150 carries, 887 yards, 5.91 YPC, 7 TD

On a percentage-basis, Taylor’s cumulative passing stats with the Bills are weirdly similar to Aaron Rodgers’ 2015 campaign. The Packers’ QB completed 60.7% of his passes, had a slightly higher TD%, lower yards-per-attempt average, an almost identical INT% and a comparable QB rating of 92.7.

(Yes, I realize to most, especially after the poor performance against New England, a Taylor-to-Rodgers comparison may read like football sacrilege. Let me be clear: I’m not trying to insinuate Taylor is a Rodgers-esque quarterback. Come on now. I simply looked for the 2015 season that most closely resembled Taylor’s time in Buffalo, and Rodgers was the obvious choice.)

The logical question to pose now is — “So, Chris, would you have offered him a long-term extension today based on what you’ve seen during his time in Buffalo?”

My answer — if you know me by now, you’d probably realize it’s a detailed response:

“I’d offer him a mostly team-friendly deal that’d pay him somewhere around the league-average for the QB position.”

In reality, if the Bills utilize their team option on Taylor’s creatively structured contract, he’ll be the 20th-highest paid quarterback in 2017, and the 17th-highest paid in 2018.

Yeah, yeah...my answer may sound like I’m taking the easy way out. But it’s the truth. That’s what I’d offer him.

And I’d guess — this is clearly pure speculation — right now, at this very minute, Doug Whaley and Co. don’t know if they’ll want to pick up Taylor’s team option.

But because the Bills signed him before the season, they afforded themselves an entire season to evaluate their quarterback.

And how Taylor performs over the second half of 2016 will ultimately determine his future in Buffalo.