Can Bills’ dink-and-dunk offense succeed with QB Tyrod Taylor?

16 of Taylor's 22 throws had a depth of 5 yards or less.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)

(AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)

Can Bills’ dink-and-dunk offense succeed with QB Tyrod Taylor?


One of the most eye-catching results from Week 1 was the Bills large margin of victory over the Colts. A key component to Buffalo’s success was the performance of QB Tyrod Taylor (+0.4 overall grade).

When he wasn’t under pressure, Taylor was nearly perfect, with an NFL QB Rating of 142.8. Just as surprising was his effectiveness when under pressure. The Bills might have one of the worst offensive lines in the league; Taylor was under pressure on 45 percent on his drop backs against the Colts. He ran the ball twice, and completed five of his eight passes for 74 yards.

Part of Taylor’s success can be contributed to his high number of short passes. 16 of his 22 throws had a depth of 5 yards or less (which all starting NFL quarterbacks should be accurate on). What made his performance more impressive were quality throws on his rare deep passes; he was accurate on half of these attempts, including a completed pass thrown 51 yards in the air to WR Percy Harvin.

A big part of Taylor’s game is running the ball. He had a few designed runs, as well as a few scrambles. He wasn’t as impressive as he had been in preseason play, with only one really effective scramble where he was able to get by a missed tackle for a first down. A fumble also put a damper on his ground performance.

At this point, it’s too early to start considering Taylor as one of the better quarterbacks in the game. He is nowhere close to showing he can consistently make passes beyond 5 yards in the air, as the sample size of six attempts is too small. The Bills are a run-first team with short passes, so the deeper passes aren’t as expected. At some point this season, the Bills will be losing in the fourth quarter and will need to pass to try catching up. When that time comes, we’ll have a much better idea of just how good Tyrod Taylor can be.

Until that point, Bills fans can be pleasantly surprised that Taylor did everything he was asked to do to a high level.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • JudoPrince

    If New Englands dink and dunk offense can survive all these years, why can’t the Bills?

    • MyPetSlug

      it’s not a question of “can it work?”. Obviously, the Patriots prove that it can. The question is can he be consistent enough to make it work over more than one game so far. And then the next challenge is do the Bills have a good enough offensive scheme to counter the adjustments their opponents will inevitably make once he proves he can consistently hit the short game. After all, it’s not just that Tom Brady throws a ton of short passes. It’s that every opponent knows what he’s going to do, but very few can actually stop it.

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    • King Pelé

      Dumbest thing i’ve read all day. On one side you have a future HoF coach and QB, on the other side you have a coach with more losses than wins in his career and a QB who did absolutely nothing in his 4 years in the league. What a stupid comparison.

      • Erik Griffiths

        Rex Ryan did what he could with the players he had. Blame the losses on the GM not the coach.

        • King Pelé

          I understand that, Rex is a great coach, but JudoPrince comparison is still stupid

          • Mark Mccollough

            When Belichick left Cleveland he had a 36- 44 record, a .450 winning % in 5 years, and 4 seasons with a losing record. Rex left NY with a 46 – 50 record in 6 years, good for a .479 winning %. Rex was .500 or better 4 of 6 years in NY.

            I’m not saying Rex is a better coach, but its amazing what having a HOF QB can do for a coaches reputation. Belichick fell into the perfect situation in NE with a committed owner and a QB that came out of nowhere to get them over the hump and turn them into a perennial Super Bowl contender.

            I think the comparison is apropos. Rex is onto this second team, has a committed owner, and may have found lightning in a bottle with Tyrod Taylor. Only time will tell as it could all blow up, or shift the balance of power in the AFC east away from New England for years to come. Lets not forget in Brady’s first couple seasons he hardly lit the world on fire in the passing game. Those Patriot teams won with defense and a conservative offensive approach that limited mistakes and made timely plays on offense, exactly the same formula Buffalo is using in Rex’s second run.

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  • crosseyedlemon

    The Bills go as far as their defense takes them…anything the offense provides is a bonus.

    • AKjester

      The Bills’ offense can prove a detriment, as it has in the past. Then it doesn’t matter how good the defense is, they will lose.

      • crosseyedlemon

        I think the Bills approach of building a strong defense first and then addressing the offense makes good sense considering weather conditions that usually exist in Buffalo during the last month of the season. Occasionally the opposite approach works for cold weather teams but only if your lucky enough to have a Rodgers at QB.