The Case for Tyrod Taylor

When the Buffalo Bills signed Tyrod Taylor this offseason to a three-year, $3.35 million contract many fans and analysts saw the move as puzzling. Taylor was a relatively unknown player coming off four years of backing up Ravens starter Joe Flacco.

During his four years in Baltimore he logged a total of 128 regular season snaps. Many saw him as low-level backup signing and the loser of the EJ Manuel/ Matt Cassel competition would be cut with Taylor staying on as the backup. A highly athletic quarterback with a small build, Taylor brings an element of the unknown to the Bills quarterback competition. Going against veteran Matt Cassel and former first round pick EJ Manuel, Taylor slowly put together some solid performances through offseason workouts and asserted himself as a legitimate candidate in a competition many believed to be solely between EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel. But now with a few preseason games and close to an entire training camp under his belt, Tyrod Taylor has firmly entrenched himself as a threat to start for the Bills at quarterback.

One term you’ll hear often when people talk about Tyrod Taylor is “upside”. Mainly due to the fact that he has played so little in the NFL a case could be made for the “upside” of the unknown. His raw athleticism has shown to be enough to confuse defenses with both read-option designed plays as well as scrambles after going through his reads in the passing game. He moves the ball well to all areas of the field and has enough arm strength to move the ball deep to the Bills talented and athletic receiver corps.

Taylor has really impressed me not only with his running ability but his poise under pressure in the pocket. This preseason Taylor has proved he can operate as a pocket passer and his first instinct when faced with a pass rush is not to run. He’s operated within the pocket well to slide up and deliver the football downfield rather than scrambling for a small gain. Taylor has the upside to take over games with his arm and his legs, as he’s shown in the first few preseason games.

I’m totally sold on Tyrod Taylor after two-weeks of the preseason

I’m totally sold on Tyrod Taylor after two-weeks of the preseason but I understand the argument for Matt Cassel from some fans. It’s the classic floor vs ceiling argument, playing Cassel minimizes mistakes and provides the best possible worst-case scenario. Cassel at his worst is better than Tyord Taylor at this worst, essentially. Many would argue Tyrod Taylor has a substantially lower floor than Cassel but a higher ceiling. I think that’s true but overblown. After watching Bills training camp practices and the first two preseason games Taylor has proven to be a quarterback who can consistently work through his reads from the pocket and generally limit his mistakes, albeit taking a few more risks than Cassel.

Considering this is essentially all that Cassel brings to the table I’d want what Taylor adds to the equation with his legs and elusiveness. Taylor hasn’t thrown an INT in the preseason and quite frankly hasn’t come close to throwing one at all. He’s consistently proven himself as a safe option with upside, and could benefit from extended reps with the first team offense in practice.

While Cassel has the higher floor of the two quarterbacks it’s by a small margin, and considering the much higher ceiling that Taylor offers it’s all aboard the Tyrod Taylor hype train for me.

The way the Bills roster is constructed I’m a fan of the idea of letting Taylor have the job and allowing him to sink or swim. Give him the reigns and allow him to lead the team all year. Either he takes defenses by surprise during the year and gets the Bills to the playoffs or totally falls on his face. He was a sixth round pick and it’s more than possible he doesn’t have the arm talent to be an NFL quarterback. The advantage to letting Taylor be the man is actually in the downside. If he doesn’t turn out to be “the guy” the Bills finally put themselves in position to draft a franchise quarterback. Early looks at the 2016 class show a lot of guys with potential to be early round picks, but it’s possible there isn’t a QB taken in the top five. If Taylor struggles and the Bills staff pull him quickly and go with the underwhelming presence of Matt Cassel, they likely get somewhere between eight and ten wins. That’s more than likely not a playoff record and nowhere near high enough in the draft to grab the QB they really want.

Drafting the quarterback of the future in 2016 would allow the Bills to bring whoever it is into the league with a dominant defense at his back and a highly talented group of skill players.

To me the Bills have an easy decision ahead of them. They need to play to win the game by making Taylor their starting quarterback, because anointing Cassel is simply playing not to lose. Taylor can provide the final piece to an offense full of electric and dynamic athletes than can force defenses to game plan about everyone on the field.

Tyrod Taylor is the answer at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. Be afraid. Be very afraid.