On Monday, Peter King’s dual interview with Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane went live, a question-and-answer session in which some relatively candid responses were given on a variety of topics, one of which was quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Here was the full exchange that made plenty of headlines:
MMQB: Is Buffalo’s quarterback of the future on the roster now?
McDermott: He is, in Tyrod Taylor. And then when you look at the competition we have behind him. We’ve drafted Nathan Peterman, we’ve added T.J. Yates, and then Cardale Jones in the draft a year ago. I’m not sure there is a team out there that has the depth that we do at the quarterback position. So we feel good about that. We’re anxious to see how Tyrod develops in his third year as a starter in a new system, a system that he has some familiarity with in terms of [new Buffalo offensive coordinator] Rick Dennison’s system in Baltimore a few years back with Gary Kubiak.
Beane: We have open competition everywhere. Obviously it is a quarterback league, but with Tyrod … He has some tools, his speed, he is tough to game-plan for. He has some strengths and he is still a young starter in this league. It is going to be a competition for every position, to let them fight it out and earn the right to start on this team.
McDermott: I think that’s the key. Going back to your question, Can we guarantee he is on our roster right now? That remains to be seen and that is true at a lot of positions on our roster.
Beane also appeared live on WGR 550 in the morning to discuss the current state of the Bills.
“Well, you know, listen I'm new here. I met Tyrod the other day. Obviously I’ve seen Tyrod on film. If we walked out there today I would say Tyrod’s probably the starter. But we haven’t even gone through OTAs. You know we got the young guy (Nathan) Peterman, I thought he did some nice things this weekend at the minicamp. Cardale Jones has huge arm and talent. I don't know anything about him personally. TJ Yates has done some starting in his career, so there are some guys on the roster. I am for open competition. Sean has (said) ‘earn the right,’ for whatever job you have, whatever position you're trying to get, so I'm not in the business of handing out positions on May 15. We’ve got a long way to go. It's going to be fun. I'm excited about the challenge, so that's what I'm saying. I got a lot of belief in Tyrod, but you know we got other guys that are gonna challenge for that, as well.”
This right here is the quintessential damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scenario for a new GM or head coach. If Beane or McDermott immediately state that Tyrod Taylor is the absolutely unquestioned starter, they’re not doing their due diligence and are setting the precedent that starting jobs don’t necessarily have to be earned year to year.
But if the word “competition” is uttered — which was a few times — then the comment flies at warp speed to the polar opposite end of the interpretation spectrum, and it’s suggested that the GM and/or head coach have no confidence in the incumbent starter.
Look, I’ve been in what seems to be the minority with Tyrod for two years now. I think he’s a much better passer than many believe and was severely hindered by the hodgepodge group of wideouts the Bills were left with for long stretches of 2016.
Seems worth mentioning again right now:— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) February 17, 2017
Tyrod's stats in the 15 games with Watkins *and* Woods
63.6% comp. 8.25 YPA. 27 TD passes. 6 INTs
But Tyrod is not beyond reproach nor should he be considered an untouchable, unquestioned starting quarterback. Good enough to — as McDermott and Beane put it -- “probably be the starter” and someone Beane has “a lot of belief in?” Absolutely. But, just like everyone else, Tyrod has to earn his starting job this year for this season. There’s nothing wrong with a GM or head coach -- at any point, really, but especially in their first year with a team — openly stating every player at every position will be a part of a competition.
The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league now more than ever before, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
And, actually, more so than anything else, 99.9% of the time, those type of comments are vintage #CoachSpeak or #GMSpeak or whatever you want to call it. Beane likely knows Tyrod almost assuredly will win the starting QB job, LeSean McCoy will be the starting RB job, etc.
Do I think there’ll be a true “open competition” for Buffalo’s starting quarterback job, a battle in which two or more signal-callers split (basically) the exact same amount of first-team reps in training camp like they did in 2015? No way.