New season, same Taylor, and that's OK

The Bills are better, and the quarterback looks awfully familiar

Jeremy White
November 06, 2017 - 9:00 am

Photo: Rich Barnes - USA TODAY Sports

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Tyrod Taylor argument is over for most of us. He’s a good quarterback, but not good enough to keep you away from the college scouting reports. He’s not good enough for the Bills to ignore a quarterback with a first or second round pick in the upcoming draft. Kicking this decision down the road has been a problem for this team for most of this drought, and I’m hoping they do the smart thing here and snag a guy somewhere. Yes of course, I want the Bills to like the player, but in reality the unpredictable nature of the draft means that I just want them to take someone. Teams draft quarterbacks that they’re unsure of and then find that guy in the Hall of Fame. They just don’t ever cop to that truth.

Moving on… Taylor is Taylor. This 2017 version is the same football-protecting, conservative-passing, occasional-jaw-dropping, playmaker the Bills have had for going on three seasons now.

I’m hearing an awful lot about Tyrod Taylor’s growth as a player, and I’m not here to tell you that isn’t happening. I am here to show you just how much of that might be something you want to believe more than is true. Taylor has been the Bills starting quarterback for two and a half seasons and through that time he’s pretty much been the same guy. He’s had three different offensive coordinators, a cast of wide receivers that range in talent from Sammy Watkins to Deonte Thompson, a run game that’s been reliable throughout his tenure, and a defense that’s… now different.

What’s changed about Taylor? He’s most certainly changed the types of throws that he’s making. Rick Dennison’s offense doesn’t include nearly as much downfield as the offenses of both Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn. Taylor is throwing to the middle of the field a bit more, but throwing down the field a lot less. He’s proving to be an adaptable quarterback that can play at an average level for a few different coaches. His 2015 season included a healthy 1,000-yard , nine-touchdowns Sammy Watkins. That’s been Taylor’s most productive season from a stats standpoint. Now he’s doing less, but getting more out of it.

I’ll prepare myself for the arguments that anyone can make stats say anything. These, I believe, speak for themselves.

Go on and go through it…

****

TDs:

  • 2015 - 20
  • 2016 - 17
  • 2017 pace - 20


INTs: 

  • 2015 - 6
  • 2016 - 6
  • 2017 pace - 4


Yards per-game:

  • 2015 - 216.8
  • 2016 - 201.5
  • 2017 - 203.5


Yards per-attempt:

  • 2015 - 8.0
  • 2016 - 6.9
  • 2017 - 6.9


Attempts per-game:

  • 2015 - 27
  • 2016 - 29
  • 2017 - 29.5


Completion %:

  • 2015 - 63.7     
  • 2016 - 61.7
  • 2017 - 65.2


QB Rating (If you care):

  • 2015 - 99.4
  • 2016 - 89.7
  • 2017 - 95.8


Times sacked / Sack %:

  • 2015 - 8.7
  • 2016 - 8.8
  • 2017 - 9.9


Rushing Attempts/Game:

  • 2015 - 7.4
  • 2016 - 6.3
  • 2017 - 6.3


Rushing Yards/Game:

  • 2015 - 40.6
  • 2016 - 38.7
  • 2017 - 26.3


ProFootballReference.com  also has some “Advanced Passing” that tell the same story.  Taylor’s first year was his best… and since then, he’s right on the average for quarterbacks in the league. His interception rate and sack rate are generally lower, but his overall passing picture was a bit above average in 2015, and has been pretty much bang on the average number (100 in their system) for the last two years.

Yeah but we’re 5-3 right?!!? This time Taylor has found ways to win games that normally he wouldn’t!

Really?

Let’s go one step further… I’ll toss up the first 8 games of the year for each year. 

  • 2015 - 11 TDs, 4 INTs, 209 ypg; 2 rush TDs, 244 yds
  • 2016 - 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 185 ypg; 2 rush TDs, 319 yds
  • 2017 - 10 TDs, 2 INTs, 203 ypg; 2 rush TDs, 210 yds

Same quarterback, different year. Same player, different offense. Different defense and a plus-11 turnover ratio and now… a better team.

It’s the defense, and the run of takeaways that has this team looking better and getting results. Or the culture.

Can they keep those things rolling?  If they do, Taylor likely doesn’t have to do any more than he already does to get this team to finally end the drought. Taylor deserves credit for where this team is, but moreso than pointing out that he’s grown, is that the team around him has improved and that’s what has mattered most. Taylor has always been good enough to get a team to the playoffs if the team around him is good enough. That's the big change this year. If Tyrod is going to take a next step, I'm still waiting. Till then, the Bills appear to be doing alright all around.

Comments ()