The rapid regression of Tyrod Taylor came to an uncomfortable yet seemingly predictable high last Sunday. Sitting at 6-6, most fans of teams around the league would be rooting for a team victory. In Buffalo, the anxiety of when and how it would come crumbling down reared its ugly head.
It’s apparent to me, that most Bills fans have all but given up on Taylor. His play, especially of late in must-win situations have really given Bills fans a reason to call for a full organizational cleaning from top to bottom. From GM, to head coach, to quarterback.
I’m not there quite yet, but it’s trending that way. Taylor’s disappearing act as of late has been disappointing but in a way very predictable.
If you have followed my film breakdowns all season, you likely know where I stand on the Bills signal caller. I believe his inability to make quick decisions with the ball, stand in the pocket and deliver it accurately are the main reasons he’s failed both his team and himself this season.
Sunday against the Steelers when again, another NFL defense forced Taylor to play the position how it’s traditionally played and how it’s intended to be played in today’s NFL, he crumbled.
Let’s take a look at how it all went down.
When you watched this play live, you likely thought this interception was the receivers fault. I know when I watched it I thought to myself, “can this guy catch a break?” Well, it turns out it was yet again another example of Taylor holding onto to the ball for far too long.
Maybe you’ll wonder, “Nate, why does that even matter, he’s open, who cares when he releases it or how long he holds it, the receiver should have made the catch.” Generally, I’d agree, the receiver should have made this catch but he stood wide open for far too long. It was such an easy read to make that there simply was no reason to hold onto it as long as he did.
The thing is here, you can tell by him directing the receiver to funnel more towards the sideline he was locked in on throwing to him. So why not throw it right away. He essentially covers his open receiver by holding it too long. I just need quick, decisive decisions and it’s something Taylor has proven he’s unable to do.
In what is another damming example of holding the ball too long, Taylor now costs his team yards. Although one might see this play as Taylor not “forcing” the ball, he has an open receiver. What I can’t seem to understand is why he didn’t read the coverage properly and diagnose that the slot receiver had his man nearly 10-yards away.
Pittsburgh is running a standard cover 1 across the board. A one-high safety who is simply over-the-top help with man coverage underneath your eyes must immediately go to the receiver in the slot. It’s an easy read and Taylor’s eyes even go to the left side of the field at the snap, so how does he not see Woods running open the entire time?
He absolutely has a clean pocket, there are no defenders who should force Taylor to leave the pocket so what is it? He doesn’t trust what he sees and weather simply can’t be to blame here because this type of play happens every week.
The injury excuse was thrown out the window this week wit all of his main weapons at his disposal. The Steelers defense showed him no respect running man-up across the board daring him to throw a guy open. This however, was open, time to step up and make an EASY throw and not cost your team yards and potentially points.
I wish I was in Taylor’s head on this play. I think when Taylor saw the two-high safety look, something he hadn’t seen much all afternoon he assumed they were throwing a cover 2 look at him. When each of the corners bail and run with the verticals, it appears to turn into a traditional cover 4.
Anytime you have a two-safety look, you want to attack the middle of the field. Both safeties are responsible for the deep half in a cover 2 look. In this specific look, they bail to the sidelines and are easily 5 yards off of each hash mark deeming the middle of the field open for business.
When you see two-high, your eyes must go to the middle of the field so for me, I’m putting that on coaching. How he hasn’t been coached up to do that is beyond me. Instead, he forces a ball to where he assumes the defender isn’t and throws it right to him as if he was the intended receiver.
He knew he messed up the moment the ball was released. You can see it as he immediately runs to make a tackle on the defender the moment the ball is released. It’s simply inexcusable for him not to recognize the coverage and even worse not to know where to exploit it.
Now, since I criticized Taylor for holding the ball for too long on previous plays, I have to praise him for it on this play. There was simply nothing open so he was forced to hold the ball until something came open. The key here though on this play is the confidence or recklessness Taylor displays. It’s the only way the ball is completed.
Normal Taylor, who’s consistently safe and doesn’t make this throw is rewarded. It could have easily been intercepted but far too many plays are left on the field because Taylor doesn’t want to make a mistake.
In the same thought process, this is likely “not a good throw” for the Bills coaching staff. To me, I need him to make more “blind faith” throws just like this one. Look what happens when you involve Charles Clay in throws down the field. He’s proven, when healthy and involved in the offense, that he can be a dynamic weapon. He never gets an opportunity to win a one-on-one ball because Taylor refuses to throw them. They simply aren’t safe enough.
This throw and back shoulder throws are balls I need Taylor to make far more regularly. Taylor can be successful if he trusts himself and his receivers like he did on this play.
It really wasn’t all bad for Taylor. I wish he trusted what he saw more like on the touchdown play to Clay. I think there are a ton of plays just like that one every week he just hesitates to make. He has terrific weapons he doesn’t trust will make a play.
Yet, every time he gives them the opportunity to make it, they seem to come through. I haven’t given up yet on Taylor but I’m extremely close. I still believe he will be back in 2017 strictly because there’s a lack of better options. Do I believe we’ve seen Taylor’s ceiling? I’d actually be willing to say no.
But, he has to be more reckless, because this super safe stuff is reason one this Bills teams will head into year 17 without a playoff berth.