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Can Tyrod Taylor pull a Cam Newton in 2016?

The quarterback refused to back down from the comparison. Sitting on a trainer's table along the fieldhouse sideline, Tyrod Taylor hardly blinked when asked if he can do what Cam Newton did in 2015.

"I believe so," Taylor said in our Q&A last week. "I am 100 percent confident that I can do that. Cam played very well and willed his team. He took his team to the game that everyone who plays this game wants to get to. I commend him for that. We came in the same year so I definitely kept up with him. We became friends throughout our time in the league. Yes, I am 100 percent confident I can do the things that he did. Of course, he started more years than I have and I’m not putting a timetable on anything. I want to keep grinding and I believe with the talent I have surrounding me that this team could be special and I can definitely take my game to the next level."

Understandably so, Taylor didn't have the same freedoms in Buffalo's offense last year as a Year 1 starter that Newton had in his fifth year as a starter.

And it's a stretch to say Taylor — four inches shorter, 30 pounds lighter — will replicate Newton to a T. Up until a Super Bowl beatdown, Newton redefined his position in throwing for 4,333 yards, rushing for 686 and scoring 50 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions in 18 games, a MVP season that made Buddy Nix wonder "What if..." from afar. But with Buffalo's brutal schedule ahead, with plenty of uncertainty swirling around Taylor at other positions, the Bills will need him to be special in 2016. They'll need him to take a huge step forward.

The coaches seem to get that, too.

All signs point toward offensive coordinator Greg Roman loosening the reins.

"I think we are just opening up, expanding our offense a little bit," said Roman, when asked about Taylor using the middle of the field. "I definitely think that is something we did not focus on as a staff last year. As for a critical look at ourselves I think we decided to open up things a little bit more in the middle of the field."

Roman deserved at least a few phone calls for head-coaching vacancies last year. One of his former maligned players, Vernon Davis, even sees Roman taking over a team. Linemen rave about how complex his run schemes are and look no further than Colin Kaepernick to understand how Roman maximizes his personnel — Kaepernick was benched for Blaine Gabbert after Roman left. But then, there's also analyst Trent Dilfer saying "I’m not a fan of what they do schematically in their passing game." Dilfer claimed during Super Bowl Week that the Bills need a more "expansive dropback game" and put any of Taylor's perceived deficiencies on the coaches.

So in Year 2, for better or worse, we're going to see a fuller version of Tyrod Taylor. The Bills will find out quickly if he is their long-term answer at quarterback.

Shorter quarterbacks have excelled in their own unique ways. Last week, Roman brought up Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.

"I think one of the greatest things any player or person can do is know thy self," Roman said. "I think you have got to play the cards you got, once you figure that out, it really doesn’t matter at that point."

Cam Newton-esque? That's a lot to ask.

But the Bills do have a rare athlete with a rare drive under center and that should provide a beam of hope into training camp.

 

 

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