I wanted to take the time and re-watch Bills and Raiders a few times before diving into the film study. After having some time to chew on what I saw, I came away convinced this game, specifically for Tyrod Taylor, was a glaring example of what Taylor is and will always be as a starter: up and down.
He starts the game on fire, completing 8 of his first 9 passes for over 100 yards on his first two drives. Then, over the course of the entire game he’s able to complete just 10 passes en route to giving up a 24-9 lead.
The worst part about watching this game was watching what a team with a real franchise quarterback was capable of doing.
There are a ton of plays I could have and maybe should have chosen to breakdown Taylor’s Week 13 performance. Simply put, it was disappointing. I chose only three plays this week, and they’re three plays I thought best exemplified his ups and downs.
Let’s take a look:
This was a great job by Bills receiver Brandon Tate of recognizing the hole in the Raiders zone, settling down and making himself available to Taylor. The Raiders, defensively here, do a really nice job of disguising their coverage. At first glance, you see the one high safety look and think Cover 3. The nickel corner on the play starts at the line of scrimmage then bails to the middle of the field making this more of a Tamps 2 look.
Bailing into that Tampa 2 look opened up the middle of the field. Taylor makes a quick accurate throw that you really wish you saw more of, especially on throws over the middle. Although it’s a rather elementary level throw, it’s one’s Taylor has shied away from making.
It’s like I can almost hear Sammy Watkins’ frustration on this play. I thought the Raiders did a nice job all game long with Watkins and taking him away early on plays. Having likely seen that all game long, Anthony Lynn runs a double move with Watkins and boy does it come wide open.
It’s a difficult throw, especially with the coverage. A deep sideline ball against a cover 2 shell is one of the most difficult “window” throws you can make. For a guy who holds onto the ball as long as Taylor does, he actually throws this ball a second too soon.
What you would have liked to see Taylor do is hold onto this for an extra second and throw this ball on a frozen rope at his back shoulder. The trajectory on this ball just doesn’t work with the look the defense show him on the play. Quite frankly, this likely should have been a touchdown but a poor throw costs the Bills seven points.
What a meaningless play in the greater scheme of things, right? This play though says a lot more about confidence than it does skill. Looking at the first play to Tate, you see a great throw made on time. Timing, on this play however was great. He makes the throw in rhythm but two factors go into this play being thrown poorly.
The major one, to me, is lack of confidence. At this point in the fourth quarter, the game had already gotten out of hand. The Bills had 29 unanswered points scored against them and Taylor was unable to get anything going for the offense. The second, and likely more important factor here is mechanics.
Any throw made on your heels will be unpredictable. What you want to see in this case, is Taylor to remain on his toes and deliver the ball in stride. Much like throws over the middle, Taylor throws this ball just slightly out of reach of his open receiver.
Again, you’re likely watching a meaningless play in a ball game already over, but it’s the sort of play that you see week in and week out and expect your quarterback to make.
Listen, blame can be evenly distributed from offense to defense to special teams. But the best teams in this league have quarterbacks that can lead you to victory. Plain and simple, the Bills are better when Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have to be an integral of the offense.
When the offense can revolve around LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee, the offense works like a well oiled machine. When Taylor is asked to take a game over, or bring his team back he and the offense crumble. It’s a bad attribute in a signal caller or franchise quarterback and likely won’t get a mediocre football team over the hump.