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Rich Gannon: Bills' Tyrod Taylor needs more game action

Each week, Tyrod Taylor becomes less and less of a mystery to everyone in the NFL. In Week 1, he flourished. In Week 2, sacks, turnovers and a tick of hesitancy from the pocket plagued the Buffalo Bills quarterback.

Bill Belichick provided the blueprint: make Taylor a pocket passer. It's on him to now rip up that blueprint and force defenses to adjust, starting Week 3 in Miami.

Former NFL MVP Rich Gannon called Sunday's 40-32 loss for CBS. He's one of the rare former QB's who has seen Taylor up close extensively. And like coach Rex Ryan, Gannon sees a quarterback who must get more comfortable in the pocket. Above all, he sees someone who needs more game action.

"He just needs to go out and play --- he hasn't played," Gannon said. "He's been on the shelf for four years in Baltimore and never really played. So you have to be patient with him."

Gannon repeats that he likes Taylor's game, pointing to Buffalo's Week 1 win over Indianapolis as the Bills' own blueprint of sorts.

Run the ball. Play tenacious defense. Have Taylor run an efficient game.

"The first start was terrific," Gannon said. "He only threw it 19 times. He threw the ball downfield a little bit. The short-to-intermediate stuff was good. He was in control of things. He looked very poised. His elusiveness, his escapability, his ability to make plays is terrific. That all comes very natural to him. His spatial awareness is really good. But I think they're learning about each other. He got sacked a lot last week. Him knowing where he is in the pocket and not holding onto the football, him playing faster within the system, you've got a lot of new people --- a new running back, a new wide receiver, a new tight end.

"I think the offensive coordinator is learning about them every time out."

Maybe that's the key here. At least the Bills hope.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins broke this down at his locker on Tuesday, repeating that Taylor must gain "trust" in the offensive linemen and the receivers. All of the injuries in camp didn't help. The Bills didn't get to practice much together as a No. 1 unit.

"It's a new collective group with so many guys and so many weapons," Watkins said, "everybody has to get on the same page. ... Making plays. We're new guys. We haven't made plays with him, so the more we make plays, the more the line blocks, he'll get more comfortable in the pocket. That's the thing where playing these games, you get to realize how big of a difference it is when you haven't played with a guy long. So you can't point fingers at him and say, 'He missed these throws.' Some guys mess up on routes. You can't point out fingers. We just need to all get on the same page."

And Taylor's lack of reps with the No. 1's in the summer was a major factor, he added. Right now, the trust isn't there.

As Gannon notes, trust is rooted in a quarterback who's comfortable from the pocket. For any quarterback who isn't 6-3, 6-4, 6-5, he said, there are challenges.

"You've got to be able to find some throwing lanes, the windows, be able to run a little bit, reset and get the ball out," Gannon said. "But he's one to watch. The thing he's got going for him is that they're going to be very good on defense despite what happened with Brady. ... What he can't do is turn the ball over. That conversation needs to continue to happen that, 'Look, the reason we lost games in New York wasn't because we couldn't play defense or run the ball. We lost games because we had a quarterback who was careless with the football. You can't be that guy.'"

In the Bills' loss to New England, Taylor missed open receivers. He took unnecessary sacks.

He also rallied his team in the fourth quarter to make it a game, but as Gannon says even one or two mistakes from this position will cost a team.

"When your quarterback has four or five of them every week, that's not good," he said. "He needs to continue to work his craft and he will. He can handle a lot of volume in the offense."

The lingering question, challenge for Taylor is his size: Will his height be a factor?

Nobody knows that answer quite yet.

"It's certainly not going to help him," Gannon said. "A 'challenge' is probably a better word. I had that challenge and I was 6 foot 3. I really did. That's why I threw some balls side-armed, shallow crosses and crossing routes, those types of things. They get batted down because it's hard to see. You've got guys who are 6-5, 6-6 and have shoulder pads and helmets on in front of you and the guys who are rushing are 6-5 and put their arms up, it's hard. If I'm coaching the quarterback in Buffalo, I'm watching a lot of tape of Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, guys that are around that same height and yet not only function but thrive. What are they doing? We have to move the pocket a little bit, sure, you do that.

"You've got to do some different things creatively with play-action. They've got a really good coordinator in Greg Roman, he's a smart guy. So that's the challenge."





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