Both the Buffalo Bills’ head coach and general manager sound committed to quarterback Tyrod Taylor as their starter at least into next season.
Rex Ryan offered strong support for Taylor on Wednesday and Doug Whaley told “The MMQB” that Taylor has “shown us enough that we can obviously keep trying with him,” though added “it won’t preclude us from going out and protecting ourselves (in case) he’s not.”
Through his 11 starts, Taylor has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,439 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 100.9 passer rating. He has also rushed for 371 yards on 71 attempts (5.2 avg.) and three scores. By playing more than half of his snaps, the third year of Taylor’s deal is voided so he’ll now be entering a contract year into 2016.
The Bills seem committed to sticking with Taylor as the starter right now. He certainly exceeded Ryan’s expectations.
“I think he’s doing an outstanding job,” Ryan said. “I think just do his thing. I feel good about him being our quarterback moving forward. I don’t know what else he has to prove. Would we like to get more wins? One-hundred percent, yes. But it doesn’t just fall on the quarterback. But I think that’s probably what’s missing, maybe the fourth-quarter comebacks. Something like that. He’s had a couple.
“I can tell you this: I’m happy he’s our quarterback.”
While Taylor rallied Buffalo to a 14-13 win at Tennessee and then pulled ahead of Houston two weeks ago, he struggled in the fourth quarters of losses to New England, Kansas City and Philadelphia. So that’s where Ryan would like to see some progress. Former NFL MVP Rich Gannon, for one, said the next step in Taylor’s development is taking charge as more of a vocal leader. Now that he’s been around for a while, Taylor has seemed more comfortable in speaking up.
A lot can happen, of course. It’s only Dec. 16. Still, starting-caliber quarterbacks very rarely hit unrestricted free agency and possibly the Bills’ front office chooses to address other areas of need in the first or second round of the draft. Ryan will seeking pieces for his defense.
And while a veteran could become available in the offseason with teams trying to kickstart a rebuild, the Bills are pleased with Taylor’s growth and want to see this through.
Ryan dismissed the notion that Taylor reads only half the field. To him, this is a quarterback capable of making the necessary progressions.
“I don’t think he locks onto half field or first guy’s not there, second guy’s not there, take off,” Ryan said. “That’s not his game. He’s a complete quarterback. Sometimes, I’d like to see him run more. But I think he scans the field pretty good.”
With playoff hopes all but gone, the Bills placed cornerback Stephon Gilmore on season-ending injured reserve.
Gilmore injured his shoulder in Buffalo’s 30-21 win over the Houston Texans on Dec. 6 and missed the loss last weekend at Philadelphia. It’s a frustrating end to what was a career season for the fourth-year pro. Gilmore finishes with 36 tackles, three interceptions and 18 passes defended.
Beyond the field, Gilmore embraced more of a leadership role in the secondary, in taking rookie Ronald Darby under his wing.
He’s under contract through the 2016 season. Buffalo picked up the fifth-year option on Gilmore’s contract, worth $11 million. Buffalo must now decide, at some point, whether to lock up Gilmore long term at a premium position.
For the rest of the season, Buffalo now forges ahead with Darby and Leodis McKelvin at cornerback. Taking Gilmore’s spot on the 53-man roster is defensive end Max Valles, signed off of Oakland’s practice squad.
Defensive end Mario Williams missed practice Wednesday with an illness. Ryan said the veteran called the team at 5:30 a.m. to let them know and he wasn’t at the facility.
He dismissed the notion that Williams has checked out.
Williams is set to make $19.9 million next season. By releasing him, the Bills could save $12.9 million of that, and then use that money to re-sign free agents such as tackle Cordy Glenn and/or guard Richie Incognito. Williams has only 16 tackles and four sacks this season.
“He has not checked out,” Ryan said. “Has he a great year statistically? No. Sometimes, unfortunately, we look at a guy’s statistics and say he had a good year or a bad year or whatever. Look, has Mario Williams had better years? Yeah, he has. There’s no question. Stats will say that and, yeah, he has. But you know what? He plays and he wants to compete. Every week, he’s trying to get out there and do what we can for this team to be successful.”
Tight end Charles Clay (back) and right tackle Seantrel Henderson (illness) also did not practice. Inside linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), cornerback Ron Brooks (concussion/neck) and running back Karlos Williams (shoulder) – who all missed the last game – were limited.