The debut could not have gone much better. In his first NFL start, Tyrod Taylor was unfazed.
He stepped into the pocket and delivered a 51-yard touchdown strike to Percy Harvin, exactly as he delivered a deep touchdown in his first varsity scrimmage years ago.
Right now, Taylor could run for mayor. Then again, J.P. Losman and Ryan Fitzpatrick had their moments. So did Trent Edwards … and Rob Johnson
… and EJ Manuel.
Now, Taylor must build momentum as the starter against the defending Super Bowl champions.
“Last week is behind us,” Taylor said Wednesday. “It’s totally on to New England right now. The fans are going be loud again, we appreciate that. But just looking forward to going out there and playing each and every week and showing what our team can do.”
Taylor dazzled, sure, but he was also efficient in completing 14 of 19 passes for 195 yards. Unlike his predecessors, he didn’t have a back-breaking turnover that spoiled the defense’s effort. He never came close, really.
Chances are, Bill Belichick does not play Taylor the way he did Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. Coach Rex Ryan doesn’t expect to see as much two-man – two deep safeties with man coverage underneath – as the Patriots used in the season opener. The Bills are more apt to see Patriots defenders crowd the box to stop LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams and the Bills’ ground game.
And that’d equate to more one-on-one opportunities deep. Taylor hit Harvin but he also missed Sammy Watkins on a potential score in the fourth quarter. Against cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Bradley Fletcher – not quite 2014 starters Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner – Taylor must take advantage.
All August, wide receivers raved about Taylor’s deep ball. Still unproven, he must make defenses pay.
Indianapolis took away Watkins in Week One – the Bills’ top wideout had zero receptions – so Taylor looked elsewhere. He says advantageous one-on-one matchups must be found again.
“From a confidence standpoint you just take the things that you did well last week and you build off that,” Taylor said. “The things you didn’t do so well you try to correct throughout practice and go out there and run the show again.”
Safety Corey Graham suffered a concussion on the first play of the 2015 season but has made progress through the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice and is hoping to have a chance to play Sunday.
“Everything’s been going good so far,” Graham said. “Obviously, there’s some things I still have to go through before I know whether or not I’m going to play. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to go out there and play.”
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs), linebacker Tony Steward (knee) and wide receiver Harvin (hip) did not practice, though this was another rest day for Harvin. One player taken off the injury list completely for the first time was running back LeSean McCoy.
Ryan believes part of the reason McCoy gained only 2.4 yards per carry in his debut was conditioning. He missed a substantial amount of practice time – and three exhibition games – with a hamstring injury.
“I was definitely tired,” McCoy said. “More tired than the norm but I kind of figured that. It’s one thing to just come out here and condition and not go at full pace because of injury. It’s another thing to have the preseason games being the flow of it.
“That’s why you have them, get the flow of the game, the speed of it, the conditioning part. But like I said as we get going I’ll be fine.”
The key to beating Tom Brady hasn’t changed: Hit him, fluster him. If he’s comfortable, he’s deadly. If he’s not, he becomes a different quarterback.
This week, the Bills bring back Marcell Dareus. They’re paying him $60 million guaranteed to do precisely that.
“He can become any quarterback you want him to become,” Dareus said. “If he’s frazzled, it all depends on how he feels. If he’s worried about people being around his legs or hitting his hand or he can’t get the ball off, it can be a number of things that come down to that.
So Dareus – who had 10 sacks at defensive tackle in 2014 – must be a factor.
“I’d say I’m a part of it,” Dareus said. “A part of it.”