Tyrod Taylor is often compared to Russell Wilson because they’re about the same size and play similar styles. The two quarterbacks also have thrown roughly three touchdown passes for every one interception during their careers. Both are dangerous runners who can extend plays.
The comparison ends there, however, so let’s not kid ourselves into believing they’re in the same class going into their matchup Monday night in Seattle. Wilson is a much more polished and consistent passer, which was why the Seahawks signed him to a four-year, $87.5 million contract extension. He’s in the first year of his new deal.
The biggest difference is that Wilson remains effective when you take away his running ability. He has played mostly from the pocket this year while being hobbled by a sprained knee. He rushed for only 44 yards total in seven games after averaging 38 yards rushing per game over his first four seasons.
Wilson’s limited mobility had little impact on his overall effectiveness. He’s on pace for more than 4,100 yards passing, which would be a career high. He has never completed fewer than 63 percent of his passes in a season. He passed for between 225 yards and 270 yards in every game but a 309-yard effort against the Jets.
He was forced to alter his style after the knee injury, but let’s not forget that he no longer had workhorse running back Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. The Seahawks have relied mostly on Christine Michael, a serviceable back who doesn’t wear down defenses the way Lynch did before he retired.
Taylor’s inconsistency has been a major issue for the Bills, and he still hasn’t proved he can win games with his arm. He’s on pace for fewer yards this year than last even though he played only 14 games in 2015. He has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in five of his eight games.
Low passing yardage totals didn’t matter in victories over the Cardinals, Rams and 49ers because he added an extra dimension to a strong running game. Defenses were forced to account for him while trying to stop LeSean McCoy.
Over the past two weeks, with McCoy limited in one game and sidelined for the other, defenses contained Taylor and forced him into the passing game. He completed only 33 of 66 attempts and had one touchdown pass in losses to the Dolphins and Jets. In 22 career starts, he’s 1-7 when attempting more than 30 passes.
Does that sound like a franchise quarterback?
The Bills are standing in the pocket under heavy pressure. They have eight games to decide whether they want to run with Taylor as their quarterback or pass on a five-year contract extension worth $90 million. If forced to make a decision today, I’d pass on the extension and resume searching for a long-term answer.
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Terry Francona didn’t make many mistakes with the Indians during their run to the World Series this season, but it’s hard to understand why he didn’t use fresh rookie Ryan Merritt over tired veteran Josh Tomlin against the Cubs in Game Six.
Merritt showed he could withstand the pressure on the big stage when he shut down the Blue Jays’ big bats in the American League Championship Series. The lefty remained on the roster for the World Series. So why not use him over Tomlin, who was working on short rest for the second time in his career?
The Cubs would have been at a disadvantage against Merritt, much like the Jays were, because they hadn’t faced him. Add the aggressive nature of their lineup and Merritt’s filthy offspeed pitches and control, the Indians would have had a better chance. If the kid landed in trouble, Francona had rested relievers.
It didn’t help Tomlin’s cause in Game Six when Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall failed to communicate on Addison Russell’s fly ball in the first inning. Their brain cramp gave the Cubs two runs and sucked the life out of Progressive Field, and the Indians, in a 9-3 loss.
Oh well. It doesn’t matter now.
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Despite the lopsided score, and Tom Brady torching Buffalo’s defense yet again, the Patriots’ win over the Bills was much about special teams.
Dan Carpenter missed from 49 yards with 27 seconds remaining in the first half. If he converts the field goal attempt, and the Bills cover the ensuing kickoff, the Patriots likely burn the final 27 seconds and take a 21-13 lead into the locker room.
Instead, the Pats over at their 39-yard line and scrounged up 28 yards over the next 24 seconds before Stephen Gostkowski made a 51-yarder before halftime. Danny Amendola took the second-half kickoff 73 yards, setting up Brady’s touchdown pass to Julian Edelman and giving New England a 31-10 lead. That’s a 13-points swing in a game decided by 16 points.
Granted, the Patriots allowed a garbage touchdown in the final minutes to make the score misleading after they scored on two 53-yard touchdown passes. But the game Sunday took a decidedly different turn after three special-teams plays in an 87-second span in the second and third quarters.
Marv Levy must have been shaking his head.
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The Sabres cleaned up their messy start with two straight victories on the road, but there was a sense before they beat Winnipeg and Minnesota that fans quickly were growing impatient with GM Tim Murray.
You can’t blame people for getting aggravated after they sat through consecutive last-place finishes, five straight years of missing the playoffs and not winning a playoff series since 2007. There’s only so much they can tolerate.
Injuries to Jack Eichel and Evander Kane didn’t help matters. Still, their absence wasn’t the reason for a terrible effort in Calgary, the meltdown in Philadelphia and the gruesome first period at home against the Wild.
Murray has done some good work in Buffalo and deserved the contract extension, but his effectiveness has been exaggerated. Anybody can make upgrades to a team sitting in the basement. The true measure of any general manager is building a perennial playoff team.
It starts at home, where the Sabres play 13 of their next 20 games. Eleven of the 13 are against Eastern Conference opponents. Last year, every playoff team in the East won at least 22 home games and had a winning record on the road. The last time the Sabres had both in the same year was 2009-10.