Tyrod Taylor was written off as the Bills' quarterback of the future by many coming into 2017, and many still doubt his abilities under center. But there is a good bit of evidence, by the numbers, suggesting that Taylor may be undervalued and underappreciated.
Two-time Super Bowl Champion and future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been a staple and a key, if not the key, asset in Pittsburgh for 14 seasons and with the Steelers again in first-place, he has shown little signs of slowing down. But, some numbers suggest that since 2015, Taylor has been, perhaps, the better of the two. Let's take a gander.
Completions and Attempts
Big Ben is 815-for-1,253, while Taylor is 665-for-1,052. This gives Big Ben a heavy advantage in attempts, and a slight advantage in completion percentage, 65.0 percent to Taylor's 63.2 percent. But now consider each quarterback's most targeted receiver over the past three years. Steelers' Antonio Brown, who is probably the best wide out in the game, has been targeted 441 times over the past three season, reeling in 299 receptions, while Bills' Charles Clay, a name most Steelers' fans probably have never even heard of, has 192 targets and 128 receptions. Big Ben clearly has the advantage when it comes to receiving corps, but the Bills hope that the addition of Kelvin Benjamin will narrow that gap.
Touchdowns and interceptions
The raw numbers will favor Ben in touchdowns and Taylor in interceptions, just because Roethlistberger has so many more attempts, so let's look at the percentages. For touchdowns, Big Ben has a 4.8 touchdown pass percentage, while Taylor falls just shy of Ben, at 4.5 percent. In terms of interceptions, however, there is a marked advantage to Taylor, who has less than half the interceptions percentage, at 1.3 percent, than Ben at 3.0 percent. Now these numbers are viewed through an economist's glasses and assuming all else equal, which of course we know is not true, but even when factoring in opposing defenses, receiver corps, offensive lines, etc., it is rather evident that Tyrod gets the nod as the least likely to throw a pick.
Roethlisberger has averaged 7.8 yards-per-attempt over the past three years, while Taylor has averaged 7.3, a clear advantage to Ben, right? Wrong. Adjusted yards-per-attempt — a formula by Pro Football Reference defined as (Passing Yards + 20 * Passing TD - 45 * Interceptions) / (Passes Attempted) — shows us that it is much closer, in fact, that the advantage actually belongs to Taylor, whose adjusted yards-per-attempt of the past three season sits at 7.6 to Ben's 7.4.
Slight advantage here to Roethlisberger, who has averaged 12.0 yards-per-completion, whereas Taylor has averaged 11.6. But, I again, implore you to defer to each quarterback's receiving corps, where Big Ben has had a marked advantage over the past three seasons.
This is exactly what it says it is, the overall rating of the passer and, surprise, the advantage here goes to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor's 94.6 passer rating has been 2.5 percent better than Roethlisberger's 92.3 rating over the past three season.
Big Ben Roethlisberger is revered as the quarterback of Pittsburgh's past, present, and future, he has been a staple in American football for a decade and a half, so why not Taylor, who has been just as good, if not better? Don't sleep on him.
Stats Wizard: Unaddressed in this piece is each quarterback's scrambling or rushing ability, and over the past three seasons Tyrod Taylor has racked up 1,494 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. In his entire 14-year career, Ben Roethlisberger has 1,194 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.
Many of the stats in this article made possible by the Pro Football Reference Play Index.