The Buffalo Bills have not been able to take advantage of one of Tyrod Taylor's better strengths this season.
Throwing deep has been a Bills weakness through 10 games.
Taylor ranks 16th in the NFL in yards gained on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield, according to Pro Football Focus statistics. The Bills are on pace to finish in the bottom 10 in both pass plays of 20-plus yards and 40-plus yards.
Taylor earned a reputation in 2015 of being a productive deep thrower. He ranked fifth in the NFL that year in yards gained on passes that traveled 20-plus yards downfield with 1,014. Twelve of Taylor's 20 TDs that year came on passes thrown more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.
The presence of a healthy Sammy Watkins in 2015 was a huge factor, and the Bills also had a productive downfield receiver in Chris Hogan.
Of course, Taylor shares responsibility for the Bills' offensive struggles this season. Buffalo ranks 30th in passing yards. And Taylor's penchant for leaving plays on the field is well documented.
But the Bills are not getting the best Taylor possible due to their relative lack of deep receiving threats.
Perhaps Sunday's game in Kansas City presents an opportunity for the passing game to break out.
The Chiefs rank 28th in passing yards allowed. They're 26th in quarterback sacks, despite having one elite edge rusher in Justin Houston. Kansas City has allowed the fifth most pass plays of 20-plus yards (36) and is tied for the second most 40-plus passes allowed (10).
The Chiefs are without first-team All-Pro safety Eric Berry, lost to injury in the season opener. The third cornerback, who plays on the outside in passing situations, has been a problem position. Phillip Gaines, Kenneth Acker and Terrence Mitchell have rotated in that spot in recent weeks.
Bills receivers have confidence in Taylor's ability to get them the ball downfield.
"That's one of his strengths, he throws a great deep ball, with a lot of good air under it," said Deonte Thompson. "That plays to his strengths."
Thompson has the best pure speed of the Bills' receivers, having run a 40 time of 4.31 seconds out of college in 2012. But Thompson never had caught more than 22 passes before this season. Zay Jones has good speed, at 4.45 seconds, but he's a rookie learning his craft.
None of the Bills' primary receivers have played with Taylor before this season. Thompson, a former Baltimore Raven signed by the Bills on Oct. 17, acknowledged familiarity on go-routes is important.
"I feel like repetition with your guys is everything," Thompson said. "Repetition makes everything easier for everybody. For me, I came in late. But I had previous history with Tyrod. He already had thrown to me, so we had a feel for each other already. Definitely for the quarterback, it takes time to get a feel for each other on those type of passes, the rhythm, on deep balls."
While the Bills aren't producing enough big plays, they are trying. Taylor is on pace for 69 attempts 20-or-more yards downfield. That would be the same total he had in 2015, when he ranked ninth in the league in downfield attempts.
Story topics: Tyrod Taylor