I’ve finally had an opportunity to watch the coaches film of Sunday’s 13-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. My immediate reaction post game was to put a majority of the blame on the offensive game plan Greg Roman put together. As I was always taught, big brother never lies.
In this case big brother showed that your immediate gut feeling isn’t always right. Here’s the prognosis:
By now many of you have probably already seen this play and like me, want to pull your hair out. Although it was a play that technically can’t be considereda “negative” one, it certainly can’t be considered positive either. For a second let’s just ignore the fact that Robert Woods is essentially running up the seam uncovered and focus your attention on Tyrod’s route progression. Although he has a cover 3 look across the board, Tyrod actually makes the correct decision progressing to his 3rd option on this play LeSean McCoy.
This is a play you run with a rookie quarterback starting his first game. It’s an incredibly simple route concept that allows your two seam routes to occupy the one-high safety, while your two outside routes run short curls and your back leaks out to the hook-to-curl zone. Although you can make the case that it’s a designed dump off to Shady, it’s clear this play is a 2-read progression.
Don’t blame Taylor for not throwing the ball to a wide open Woods or Sammy Watkins to the wide side of the field, the play simply wasn’t designed to ever get the ball to them. What disappoints me most about the play is Roman’s lack of confidence in Taylor to open the entire field. This route concept works far better when ran to the short side because it’s an easier throw, but this is the NFL.
Although I could pin the blame on a number of people on this particular play, the success or lack-thereof falls directly on the shoulders on Roman.
Another easy pre snap read for Tyrod gone wrong. The Raven jump early from a two-high safety look to a one-high cover 3 giving Taylor plenty of time to formulate the ideal target on the play. The ideal target at the snap of the ball is Charles Clay running the seam, however Taylor second guesses himself immediately. Now the ideal throw here is a quick throw behind Clay that protects him from the box safety and middle linebacker converging on him. It isn’t an easy throw but it’s one that Taylor must make.
I can’t blame Roman here because he gave Taylor a quick read up the seam, when he doesn’t pull the trigger his eyes should have immediately gone to Woods running the deep in across the field. The throw to Woods would have been significantly more difficult, as he would have had to place it over the linebacker and between the one-deep safety. But again, this is a throw professional quarterbacks are absolutely expected to make.
In this scenario Taylor went Trent Edwards on us. He went against his initial read, that was open, panicked, ignored his second option and checked it down to McCoy.
I just have no clue what’s going on in this play. Glenn Gronkowski immediately hits the right flat as though this play is a designed dump off to Shady to the sideline, which would explain Taylor’s progression from the far side of the field immediately to McCoy. Taylor glances right over an open Woods who likely has a 5-7 yard gain right over the middle.
What confuses me the most is the lack of patience Taylor shows if this play isn’t a designed dump of to McCoy in the flat. The concerning thing to me then goes to the play selection which basically takes all the decision making out if your quarterbacks hands, essentially turning this into a glorified hand-off.
I’m not even sure who to blame for this play call you can probably watch during a high school game on Friday night.
This is actually a nice play call by Roman to get Woods a running start. He’s probably the ideal target for Tyrod as it’s a simple throw that likely gets them close to the sticks. Instead, Taylor decides to attempt a difficult window throw to Greg Salas at the sidelines.
This is a roll out right for a right handed quarterback meaning this is a throw Taylor has to make. This miss is maybe acceptable going to his left where he has to open his hips and shoulders to make an accurate throw, but it’s simply not excusable.
Moral of the story here is making the right throw. This play is damn near designed to get Woods open immediately. His read should be to dump it when the outside linebacker commits to him, essentially allowing Woods to run free. This whole play is designed to put that linebacker in a difficult spot to either follow Woods to the flat or commit to Taylor, making this a run-pass option. He commits to Taylor and Taylor attempts to make the difficult throw instead of the right one.
For all the criticism of Taylor’s performance, I couldn’t leave out the best play of the game. This play epitomizes everything that Taylor does well in one play. His athleticism and awareness to escape pressure is uncanny. His ability to throw across his body is impressive and his ability to keep the play alive is what makes him so dangerous.
What I think the most impressive thing here is — and I believe certainly indicates progress in his game — is his willingness to keep his eyes downfield. I think that last season, there’s a good chance Taylor abandons this play completely and either throws it away or tucks it to get whatever he can.
What Taylor must do in Week 2 and beyond is become more efficient from inside the pocket, not just when things break down. We all know that Taylor is at his best when things break down and he’s forced to improvise. The problem is so do the other teams remaining on the schedule and their game plan will be to do everything in their power to make him beat them from inside the pocket.
The best quarterbacks in the league like Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers can do both. Now the Bills don’t need Taylor to be either of those guys to be successful, but they also need him to be capable from inside the pocket. If he can’t improve on what probably was the worst game of his career, it’s going to be a very long season for the Bills.
Having said that, I’m confident that Roman and Taylor saw the same things I did in the coaches film and will adjust accordingly. The good news is, the Bills have won their season opener each of the past three seasons and hasn’t lead them to a single playoff berth. There is still a ton of time to turn it around, but it certainly won’t get any easier against what could be the best front 7 in football.
As Rex Ryan said during his Rex and Rob Reunion show on MSG, “the best revenge is massive success.”