Buffalo Bills: Tyrod Taylor Deserves More Time to Prove Himself

Dec 11, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) throws a pass before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) throws a pass before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

Tyrod Taylor has received a lot of criticism this year, but he should still be given another season to show if he is the right quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills‘ fan base have more reason to be frustrated than most. With the longest current playoff drought in professional sports, it’s entirely justified.

Similarly, it’s understandable why the local media have to ask the hard questions – it comes with the territory and they’re just doing their job. Regardless, the negativity towards Tyrod Taylor from the fans and media alike, has at times been absurd.

This is not to say the 27-year old doesn’t deserve some of the criticism he has received. However, you have to wonder how much of it is linked to the frustration that has built up over the previous 17 years.

Further, it seems that it has resulted in a lot of people letting emotion cloud their judgement, as opposed to looking at the situation objectively. In that respect, it is this writer’s humble opinion that Taylor should be given more time to prove if he is the right man for the job in Buffalo.

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Before explaining why, let’s acknowledge some of the former sixth round draft pick’s flaws, also in the interest of objectivity. There is no denying his play has been up and down at times this season.

Perhaps the best example of this came during the recent game against the Oakland Raiders, with Taylor at one point leading the Bills to a 24-9 lead in the third quarter. However, when they needed him most he wilted away, helping the Raiders to come back and win 38-24.

More specifically, there have been criticisms about the three-time ACC champion missing open receivers, struggling to read defenses and being too quick to scramble. However, even taking all of this into account, he still deserves more time to show what he can do.

For a start, as much as people talk about Taylor’s happy feet, it is this aspect which makes him a dual-threat unlike anything seen before in Buffalo. The closest comparisons would be Doug Flutie and, to a lesser extent, Joe Ferguson.

In fact, the Hampton, Virginia native needs just 87 more yards, to become the all-time leading rusher in franchise history, among quarterbacks. Critics will point to him having more time than most to throw the ball, but this is at least in part due to his mobility and ability to buy extra precious seconds.

Further, Taylor’s contributions to the ground attack has the Bills on the verge of leading the league in rushing for a second consecutive season. Of course, as a quarterback, he does actually need to be able to throw the ball as well.

Even here though, it still seems as if the 2015 Pro Bowler sometimes receives unfair criticism, despite once again acknowledging his struggles at times to read defenses. For a start, he has had to deal with a lot of injuries at the wide receiver position, specifically the absence of Sammy Watkins.

In addition, people may want to talk about the Bills ranking second-last in passing, but they have thrown the fewest passes in the league. Partly been by design, combined with Taylor’s penchant to scramble, it’s understandable why the team would rank so low in passing yards.

Buffalo Bills
Dec 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) celebrates after scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders during a NFL football game at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

And yet, the former Baltimore Raven is still already tenth all-time on the Bills’ passing yardage list, with an outside chance of moving up to seventh by the end of this season. Further, only three quarterbacks in franchise history, have averaged more passing yards per game. (Jim Kelly leads the way with 222, while Taylor currently averages 205.)

Taylor has also proven himself adept at not turning the ball over, with just 12 picks in 28 games for the Bills. And before you mention his throwing the fewest passes in the league this season, this still equates to an interception rate of just 1.5 percent or 0.4 picks per game.

Admittedly, statistics can be broken down and manipulated to support almost any argument. In this respect, critics will point to the 2010 ACC Player of the Year’s distinctly average 14-13 record as a starter in Buffalo.

However, last time I checked football was a team game, with the Bills losing on five occasions, despite scoring 24 or more points each time. Given that defense is meant to be Rex Ryan’s forte, what he has done with a unit which ranked fourth-best in 2014, is a bigger reason why the team has struggled these past two seasons.

Of course, even taking all of these factors into account, some people will be nervous about continuing to start Taylor beyond this season, due to the setup of his contract. Certainly, the available options make the decision a tough one:

  1. Release Taylor before March 11, resulting in a $3 million hit against the 2017 salary cap.
  2. Exercise his option for the 2018-21 seasons by March 11, resulting in a $15.913 million hit against next season’s cap.
  3. Don’t exercise his option, but keep him on the roster, resulting in a $29 million hit against the 2017 salary cap.
  4. Renegotiate his contract before March 11.

One final aspect to consider, is that exercising Taylor’s option would guarantee him $30.75 million over 2017 and 2018. Again, it is understandable why keeping him around, would be unsettling for certain individuals.

The general consensus seems to be that option four is out of the window, because the Virginia Tech graduate would not agree, due to how much money he stands to make. However, if the Bills were to say reducing his salary cap would be the difference between keeping him or releasing him prior to March 11, surely he would be prepared to listen?

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We can assume option three is a non-starter, due to how much it would count against the 2017 salary cap, combined with Taylor being free to leave following next season. On the flip side, option one appears to be the most popular choice.

However, taking everything that has been discussed in this article into account, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that this writer believes the Bills should go with option two. As frustrating as he can be, the Super Bowl 47 champion has the potential to continue improving (seriously, what he was able to do against the top-rated Seattle Seahawks‘ defense was extremely impressive) and will be helped immensely, if the defense gets its act together.

Overall, for better or worse, Taylor deserves at least one more season to prove whether or not he’s the long-term answer for the Bills. And be honest, do you really want to see someone like Mike Glennon starting under center next season in Western New York?!?!

Next: Rex Ryan had his chance and failed

What’s your position on Taylor? Do you think he deserves more time or are you ready to move on from him, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section.