Should you believe the hype surrounding the 3-1 Buffalo Bills? Sports Illustrated set out to answer that question Wednesday, and succinctly laid out Tyrod Taylor's shortcomings as a passer in the process.
Taylor is an efficient quarterback who could've gotten the Bills into the playoffs the last two years if their defense was better, so this isn't meant to pile on him. But with Taylor's contract situation always in the back of our minds and the talk about quarterbacks in the upcoming draft growing louder by the week, it was interesting to consider Taylor's limitations all at once instead of in game-by-game (or play-by-play) increments, even if most of the criticisms were about things we've seen and heard before.
The real question about the Bills, SI's Andy Benoit wrote, isn't if they're legitimate, but if they can they can "continue to win with their style of play." The team needs its defense to cover for the limited nature of its offense, Benoit wrote.
"With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, the Bills must run a limited, highly specified offense that carries a thin margin for error. To put it bluntly, there are parts of Taylor’s game they must hide. Taylor is not a progression-read pocket passer. His vision is iffy and he doesn’t anticipate throwing windows, which forces a play-caller to use simpler route combinations. Taylor relies heavily on his mobility. When his initial reads don’t show open, he quickly assumes a runner’s mentality, breaking himself down in the pocket regardless of the pass rush. Occasionally, he’ll do this even before an early read unfolds. Open receivers go untargeted every game.
"Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is playing to Taylor’s mobility, though his approach is different than those of San Fran and Washington in the past. Designed QB runs are not part of Dennison’s foundation, but designed movement is built into the passing game. Dennison’s Bills have run the ball more than every team except Jaguars. They’re averaging just 3.4 yards a carry — the sixth worst in the league — but the commitment to the run augments a first down play-action game that aids Taylor. Dennison is frequently putting Taylor on bootlegs and rollouts, where Taylor’s limited field vision and pocket poise are nonfactors. Taylor, for the most part, sees the field well when he’s outside the pocket, and at times he’s one of the league’s best touch passers. This includes throwing downfield. Dennison has featured route combinations that give Taylor multiple options all on the same side of the field. The reads become more defined, and if Taylor doesn’t like them, he’s in a better position to scramble."
Whoa. Again, this isn't meant to pick on Taylor. These aren't criticisms you haven't heard before or seen with your own eyes. But especially with more talk sure to come about whether the Bills should select a quarterback with one of their first-round draft picks, it felt important to think of Taylor in the collective, instead of in the small increments we're used to, and consider what the Bills are really dealing with as they plot their future.
Sean McDermott & Co. have already shown they can win with Tyrod Taylor. They might even be able to get into the playoffs with him. But will they want to move forward with a quarterback they feel limits them in these ways?