I could easily write an article about how the Buffalo Bills defense gave up over 500 total yards to the New England Patriots in Week 2, but it would pretty much just say Tom Brady had one of the best games of his career. And frankly, I don't want to praise him anymore, so instead, let's look at the other side of the ball and talk about Tyrod Taylor.
Against Indianapolis in Week 1, the Bills could play conservative and take their chances when they wanted to because of their dominating defensive performance. Basically, they could protect Taylor, because they did not need a lot out of him. This past Sunday, a lot was needed out of Taylor, and in some ways he was quite good. In several other ways, he showed lots of room for improvement.
First, the good. If Taylor breaks the pocket, he is outstanding. He glides effortlessly when he wants to run, and shows the ability to make plays like this down field
TT is so good outside the pocket... how many QB's in the league can make this play?— YardsPerPass.com (@YardsPerPass) September 22, 2015
Taylor breaks the pocket, rolls right, keeps his eyes downfield, and throws a strike 30 yards away. That is a great play, something very few quarterbacks can do.
Even in the pocket, Taylor has shown great touch and accuracy on the deep ball when he has decided to throw it presnap.
So pretty, so easy pic.twitter.com/jef9mvMCQX— YardsPerPass.com (@YardsPerPass) September 22, 2015
Sammy Watkins burns past Bradley Fletcher off the line, and Taylor just drops it in the bucket... brings me back to the glory years of J.P. Losman to Lee Evans. (I kid... but seriously, Losman did have an amazing deep ball.) You honestly can't throw it any better. These two plays are why people see so much in Taylor: he has so much upside, and a lot of the time has looked like an above-average quarterback, not just a thrower who runs fast.
Now it is time to talk about the bad. For most of the game, Taylor really struggled in the pocket. The Patriots played what I like to call the "Flutie defense" - they essentially try very hard to compress the pocket with Taylor inside it. You can see it when you watch the plays; both defensive ends were always very cognizant of never rushing deeper than Taylor's drop to prevent opening up running lanes, and the inside rush just pushed back into his face. The Patriots wanted to make Taylor beat them from the pocket and maneuver himself inside that pocket.
In Rex Ryan's press conference on Monday, he talked about how he wants to see Taylor step up a bit more in the pocket. What Ryan was talking about was pocket presence. Shuffling inside that pocket is a distinct skill, and in my opinion it is a very difficult one to develop. Who wants to just shuffle and slide in all of that chaos, hoping that just two steps up or three to the left will prevent a 300-pound man from pummeling you?
Here are a couple of examples of Taylor having trouble in the pocket.
Just step up TT, drifted right into this sack pic.twitter.com/KLRbAxdqq8— YardsPerPass.com (@YardsPerPass) September 22, 2015
On that sack above... here was what was going on down field. You can see there is room to step up, and if he does, there is a really big play to be had.
Here is one more: LeSean McCoy picks up the blitz, but just a little slide up is all that is needed.
I know playing quarterback in the NFL is one of the toughest jobs in all of sports, and I am not saying in the least that I or anyone else could do these things easily. But I think that Taylor can develop these traits, because outside the pocket he seems to show the football IQ to be an above-average quarterback in the NFL. He just needs to work on getting it done inside the pocket.
I can guarantee you, the entire NFL is going to make him prove that he can do this 20-25 times a game for the foreseeable future.