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The good and bad of Tyrod Taylor's transition to Rick Dennison's offense

Tyrod Taylor, a career backup before coming to the Buffalo Bills, was, at the least, a moderately competent quarterback in his first two seasons as the starter in Western New York. At his high points, Taylor played like one of the 10 best signal-callers in the league.

He did so in Greg Roman's offense in 2015, and though he regressed slightly in 2016, he was able to keep his job into 2017 with Anthony Lynn calling the shots.

Now, with Rick Dennison his offensive coordinator, how will Taylor play? Which of Dennison's trends will hurt the quarterback? Which philosophies will help him?

Let's take a look.

The bad

Taylor is a premier deep-ball specialist. He's connected many times with Bills wideouts down the field for big, game-altering plays. Let's take a look at his statistics on passes made 20-plus yards downfield. (All deep passing statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)

Deep passing

Taylor in 2015: 31/69 for 1,014 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT

  • 18.2% of total attempts

Taylor in 2016: 19/58 for 706 yards with 6 TD, 4 INT

  • 13.3% of total attempts

Taylor totals with Bills: 50/127 for 1,720 yards with 18 TD, 7 INT

  • 15.5% of total attempts

Taylor earned the reputation as one of the NFL's most effective deep passers with his debut performance as a starter in 2015. Unsurprisingly, Sammy Watkins was healthy for the vast majority of that season, which certainly helped the downfield passing game. In 2016, with a wideout group ravaged by injury, Taylor's numbers dipped, but he was somewhat efficient when launching it deep.

Here's how often the Broncos quarterbacks, under Dennison, utilized the long ball last season:

Trevor Siemian in 2016:

  • 9.9% of attempts

Paxton Lynch in 2016:

  • 16.8% of attempts

Siemian and Lynch in 2016:

  • 10.8% of attempts

Clearly, Kubiak and Dennison were much less inclined to call shot plays for Siemian and Lynch than Roman and Lynn were for Taylor. In fact, in 2015, Taylor's deep-ball percentage of 18.2 was the highest rate in the NFL.

Taylor has proven to possess the ability to change the game with one rocket down the field, but with Dennison, an advocate of the horizontal route-based West Coast offense, there's a good chance the deep tosses will subside, thereby not accentuating Taylor's greatest strength as a passer.

The Good

Under center vs. shotgun

Taylor has a traditional, over-the-top release, and when he drops back from center, he's a technician with his footwork. It's when he takes the snap from the shotgun that he gets flat-footed and some of his typically on-point, lower-body fundamentals vanish.

While under the watchful eye of Roman and Lynn over the past two seasons, Taylor was barely utilized under center on pass plays.

Here are his under-center split stats during his time with the Bills (all snap stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference):

Taylor in 2015: 43/62 for 550 yards (8.8 YPA), 3 TD, 1 INT

  • 16.3% of attempts

Taylor in 2016: 32/51 for 371  yards (7.13 YPA), 3 TDs, 0 INT

  • 11.6% of attempts

Taylor totals with Bills: 75/113 (66.3%) for 921 yards (8.15 YPA) 6 TD, 1 INT

  • 13.8% of attempts

From the completion percentage, to the yards-per-attempt average, to the touchdown-to-interception ratio, those are quality passing statistics. Last season, his under-center QB rating was 104.3. From the shotgun, 87.4. The discrepancy was 106.3 to 98.1 in 2015.

Unfortunately for Taylor, only 13.8% of his passes during his time with the Bills have started from under center.

But fortunately for Taylor, his new offensive coordinator is a major proponent of his signal-callers taking snaps from under center.

Siemian in 2016:

  • 39% of attempts

Lynch in 2016:

  • 43.3% of atempts

Siemian and Lynch in 2016:

  • 39.7% of attempts

Comparing the figures, the Siemian and Lynch duo was more than three times as likely to take a snap (on a passing play) from under center than Taylor has been during his tenure in Buffalo.

Even with the immobile Peyton Manning at quarterback in 2015, the Dennison-coordinated attack called a pass from under center on 8.4% of the legendary signal-caller's attempts. That year, 37.5% of Brock Osweiler's tosses came from under center.


In all likelihood, with Dennison calling the plays, Taylor won't throw it downfield as frequently as he has in the past. That's bad. However, he's much more likely to be taking snaps from under center on pass plays. That's good.

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