For a while now, I’ve thought the Buffalo Bills should pick up Tyrod Taylor’s option, and he should be their starting quarterback in 2017.
Sam Monson, a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus, thinks that as well, and, in a recent article provided plenty of evidence to support his claim that the “Bills should build around Tyrod, not show him the door.”
And PFF’s grades are barely mentioned in the article, so even if you’re leery about PFF’s grading system, Monson still makes many compelling points.
I highly recommend reading his piece in its entirety, as it’s a comprehensive look at Tyrod’s game.
Speaking of Tyrod’s game -- you know the idea that he struggles (or is afraid) to throw over the middle? Well, the following numbers essentially prove that’s a fallacy.
While throwing to the middle of the field in 2016, Tyrod completed 103 of 137 (75.1% completion rate) of his passes for 1,027 yards (7.49 yards per attempt) with four TDs and zero INTs. All that equates to a QB Rating of 105.7. His QB rating passing to the right side of the field was an even 105. To the left — 85.7.
His 137 passes to the middle of the field accounted for 34.5% of his 397. Quite an even distribution when splitting the field into thirds.
Also, Tyrod’s 103 completions to the middle of the field accounted for 38.1% of his 270 total completions on the season.
Just 78 of his 270 completions (28.8%) went to the left side of the field and 89 went to the right side (32.9%).
You’re reading that correctly — the highest percentage of Tyrod’s completions in 2016 came in the middle of the field... the specific area in which it was widely believed he didn’t utilize enough.
Update: To add more context, here are more split figures:
At 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and beyond, the middle of the field accounted for just 22% of Taylor’s attempts and 29.3% of his completions. He completed 20 of 33 middle-of-the-field passes at least 10 yards down the field at 11.4 yards per attempt with two TDs and no INTs.
Taking away all passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, and Tyrod’s middle-of-the-field figures are basically the same as they are when taking all passes into consideration — 38.5% of his completions, 33.3% of his attempts. He had a 71.6% completion rate on those specific middle-of-the-field at 7.95 yards per attempt.
Only counting passes made from 0-9 yards and 10-19 yards past the line of scrimmage (where the bulk of Tyrod’s and just about every quarterback’s passes are thrown) Tyrod’s middle-of-the-field use accounted for 38.6% of his attempts and 40.1% of his completions. He completed 73.2% those throws to the middle of the field, at 7.49 yards per attempt with four TDs and no picks.
While Monson made his case for the Bills to build around Tyrod, he mainly focused not on the middle of the field -- maybe because there’s really no issue there -- but on Tyrod’s impressive production as a passer under pressure.
“League-wide, pressure causes a drop of 33.0 points in passer rating, and QBs are pressured on almost exactly one-third of all dropbacks (33.6 percent). In passer rating terms this season, that’s the equivalent of turning Tom Brady into Colin Kaepernick simply by applying pressure, or Matthew Stafford into Jared Goff, and it happens, on average, on a third of a QB’s dropbacks, typically.”
His article then features a chart that shows, in 2016, Tyrod’s QB rating with no pressure was 94.3 and 80.1 while under pressure. After that, Monson wrote this:
“Not only does Taylor’s passer rating decline less than that of most players (14.2 points this season), but he has maintained a consistently-high passer rating when pressured over the past two seasons. This year, he recorded a passer rating of 80.1 when hurried; last season, it was 87.6. Those figures rank seventh and fifth in the league, respectively, and represent a QB that can still function at a high level when hurried and moved off his spot. If anything, they do him a disservice, because they don’t factor in the plays he makes when scrambling, which is a bigger weapon for Taylor than other QBs.”
Monson praised Tyrod for his running ability but noted it can be a deterrent at times.
“That rushing threat is not necessarily a net win for him as a player, because what he gains on the ground, others may gain through the air, and he sacrifices those opportunities when he does run.”
That’s a totally fair way to ding Tyrod as a runner. Then, Monson dropped two final pieces of statistical evidence to support his suggestion regarding the Bills quarterback:
“His nine turnover-worthy plays this season represent the second-lowest percentage after Tom Brady, and when you look at the ratio of big plays to those turnover-worthy ones, he is fifth league-wide.”
Considering everything here and the fact that the option pick up for Tyrod (which sounds huge when you say it out loud) would slot him in the range of the 17th to 19th highest paid signal-caller in the NFL in 2017, and, to me, it’s clear — the Bills actually have an easy decision. Tyrod should be back under center in Buffalo.