Bucky Gleason: The naked Bills fan wasn't the only one exposed Sunday - The Buffalo News

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Bucky Gleason: The naked Bills fan wasn't the only one exposed Sunday

If you're looking for something absurd about the game Sunday, other than the result and that naked dude who streaked into the end zone before the Bills did, there's this: Tyrod Taylor needed an average game to match Drew Brees at the same stage of their careers as NFL starting quarterbacks.

In his first 38 starts, Taylor completed 63 percent of his passes for 7,752 yards, 47 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In his first 38 starts, Brees completed 61.6 percent for 7,844 yards, 49 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. Taylor needed only 158 yards and two touchdowns Sunday to catch Brees.

It's hard to believe, but Brees was well within reach Sunday considering how Taylor had played in the first eight games of the season. All the talk about the uncertainty of his future and questions about him being a winning quarterback had quieted with the Bills hitting the midpoint with a 5-3 record.

The question before the Saints waltzed into New Era Field and delivered a 47-10 beatdown on the Bills was whether Taylor would guide Buffalo into the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Now, you wonder if he'll be in the starting lineup long enough to lead the Bills to another victory.

To suggest one terrible game could lead to the Bills eventually replacing Taylor this season is no more of an overreaction than putting him in the same company with Brees, who has led the NFL in passing yards seven times in his career. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, no questions asked, after he retires.

The two quarterbacks have strikingly similar numbers yet don't belong in the same sentence, as Sunday confirmed. In both cases for entirely different reasons, the measure of success extends beyond the numbers. Brees is an all-time great while Taylor remains an all-time enigma.

"I've always been a fan of him," Taylor said Sunday. "If you watch him over his career, he is pretty consistent. That's something I have to work to be better at."

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In fact, consistency hasn't really been a problem for Taylor. He has been consistently mediocre during his two-plus seasons with the Bills. The game he played Sunday was particularly dreadful, even by his standards. He completed 9 of 18 passes for 56 yards and two interceptions against the Saints in the worst game of his career.

Taylor converted one pass to a wide receiver. His longest completion was 9 yards. He led an offense that ran 26 plays and gained 62 yards after the marching down the field for a field goal on the opening drive. He suffered the indignity of getting booed mercilessly before getting pulled mercifully in the final five minutes.

To repeat, Taylor continuously fails to make plays that every quarterback can and makes plays that no others would attempt. It has become a maddening exercise. He was the Bills' best offensive player in the 34-21 loss to the Jets that many passed off as an aberration in an otherwise promising season.

On Sunday, he was brutal.

The Bills had other problems, of course. The defense failed to show up for the second straight game. The offense produced five first downs when Taylor was in the game and five more after Nathan Peterman relieved him in garbage time. When it mattered, the offense was a disaster almost from beginning to end.

"It pretty much sums it up," Taylor said. "It was a horrible game. Offense didn’t get anything going, and that starts with me. Overall, it was a bad game. It was something, as a team, that we have to learn from. I definitely have to learn from this one. Just a bad game overall."

It must have been humbling for him to watch from the sidelines while Brees, who is about the same size and plays a similar style, showed Taylor how it was done. The difference between the two could be found on a single play in the second quarter, neatly wrapped for all to see, that helped the Saints to a 14-3 lead.

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New Orleans faced a third-and-13 situation when Brees dropped back in the pocket and scanned the field. He had Mark Ingram open in the left flat for good yardage before examining the secondary and finding Brandon Coleman – across the middle – for a 30-yard gain. Four plays later, Ingram scored from the 3.

History suggests Taylor, in the same situation, would have opted for the safe pass in the flat and hoped for the best. Brees has more offensive weapons than Taylor does, but he better knows how to use them. He sees the field better. Experience has helped the game slow down between his ears.

Brees completed 18 of 25 passes for 184 yards and no interceptions, a very Taylor-like performance stats-wise that worked with a running game that tore through the Bills' defense for 298 yards. Brees didn't need to light up the Bills, but you knew he could have torched then, if necessary, like he has so many others.

Would you say the same about Taylor?

In his 38 starts with the Bills, he has mounted one comeback in which they trailed by 10 points or more. It came against Tennessee in 2015, when he rallied the Bills to a 14-13 win. The reason he needed to bring them back was because he played so poorly in the first half, going 5 for 12 for 36 yards.

If Taylor accomplished anything Sunday, it was reopening the debate about how long he should remain the starter and whether the Bills should bring him back for $18 million next season. Taylor is a tease. He shows flashes of greatness in otherwise uninspiring performances. His career stats are loaded with garbage yardage.

The numbers can be deceiving, as they were when stacking Taylor against Brees, as they were Sunday when comparing Peterman to Taylor. Peterman completed 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown when the Saints were playing loose on defense. He completed two passes to Kelvin Benjamin for 33 yards, which was more than Taylor could say.

Sean McDermott made it clear that Taylor will remain the starting quarterback and rightfully so. It could change if the Bills lose to the Chargers next week on the West Coast. They might not have a choice if it continues with games at Kansas City and home against New England, and Buffalo falls to 5-7.

Remember, the Bills aren't looking for a capable quarterback who can win some games and keep them respectable. They're looking for a franchise quarterback who can take them deep into the playoffs and someday win a Super Bowl, the way Brees did. To suggest Taylor is that guy seems absurd. The streaker wasn't the only one exposed Sunday.

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