August 22, 2015 - Greg Gabriel
Is Tyrod Taylor the answer at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills?
If you pick up a copy of the Buffalo News or listen to sports talk radio in Buffalo, the theme seems to remain the same. The starting quarterback for the 2015 Buffalo Bills will be Tyrod Taylor, the 26-year-old, fifth-year pro from Virginia Tech. Going into camp, it looked as if the favorite for the quarterback job may have been Matt Cassel, the veteran, who has flashed when he has gotten an opportunity in New England, Kansas City, and Minnesota. Cassel's problem is that he is a stationary player with no movement skills. The new offensive coordinator in Buffalo is Greg Roman, who came over from San Francisco. It wasn’t that long ago that Roman was one of the “hot” head coaching candidates in NFL, with the job he did developing Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick and Taylor have a lot in common in that both are very athletic and can make and extend plays with their feet. In the first two pre-season games, Taylor did some very good things. In the opener versus Carolina, he completed five of eight throws for 49 yards while rushing for 47 yards on six carries. Thursday night in Cleveland, he played the entire first half and finished 7-10 for 65 yards, adding 41 yards on four carries. On the Bills opening drive, they held on to the ball for 9:36 on a 16 play, 57-yard drive. Taylor's only mistake on the drive was allowing himself to be sacked on a third-and-six play from the Cleveland 19-yard line, taking the Bills out of easy field goal range. While that certainly was a key play in the drive, Taylor was pretty much flawless before that. The last three years, Taylor has been the primary backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore. While he was able to win that position with good play in both practice and pre-season games, he never got that much playtime. His stats while with the Ravens were only 19 completions in 35 attempts for 199 yards and no touchdowns. When a team has a journeyman quarterback, the saying is he “doesn’t have to win games, just don’t lose them”. That could be a very true statement in Buffalo. The Bills have one of the better defenses in the NFL and have a number of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. With the acquisition of LeSean McCoy this spring, they will have a strong running game. They have the makings of a good passing attack with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Percy Harvin at wide receiver. All Taylor has to do is play within himself, not turn the ball over, and the Bills will have a chance in every game. Having watched their first two pre-season games, I believe that Taylor can do that. He has a strong arm and shows good timing and accuracy with his throws. Really, all he needs is game experience to help develop his confidence. I have not seen him make a poor throw in the first two games. While Taylor will never be mistaken for the likes of Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck, he can be similar to Michael Vick in his prime. If that happens, the Buffalo Bills may well be the surprise team of the AFC in 2015! Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe