Tyrod Taylor is correct choice as Bills’ starter

Sam Monson explains why the Bills could be competitive this season with Tyrod Taylor as their starting QB.

| 2 years ago
Tyrod Taylor

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Tyrod Taylor is correct choice as Bills’ starter

The Bills’ Tyrod Taylor is the No. 2 quarterback in our grades so far this preseason, and it looks like head coach Rex Ryan has finally stopped weighing up his chance to succeed against that of Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel, who between them had a -18.1 grade last season in just eight games of playing time. To put that into perspective, over a full season that would have been vying with Blake Bortles for the worst QB grade in the NFL in 2014.

In four seasons to date, Taylor’s career is just 128 regular-season snaps old, so anyone claiming they know what he can and can’t do under fire is kidding themselves, but what he has shown this preseason is that he has more to his game than either of the other two Bills QBs.

This year he has improved in each preseason game and has earned positive grades across the board. Based on that alone, he has earned the chance to prove whether he can or can’t get it done when the action starts for real.

And there are some reasons for optimism that Taylor will be able to get the job done, given the talent elsewhere on the roster. The Bills will enter this season with an elite-looking defense and a running back who can be extremely productive. They are set up for a quarterback to succeed with help around him, especially if their starting offensive line remains healthy.

Moreover, while none of these three QBs have really distinguished themselves as passers throughout their careers, Taylor’s running ability is the one elite trait that any of the three can bring to the table. Taylor is the highest-graded rushing quarterback in the league this preseason, with designed carries earning him 44 yards, and scrambles another 40. He has also turned busted plays into positives to the tune of another 24 yards over his three games of action.

He has 108 total yards and a score from 11 rushes, averaging almost 10 yards every time he carries the football whether by design or improvisation. That X-factor adds a level of stress defenses aren’t used to dealing with.

Manuel and Cassel by contrast have carried the ball a combined six times and gained nine yards total on those plays, fumbling once in the process.

Taylor has far more upside than either of the other options, and has the ability to do things like this. He is the correct choice as Buffalo’s starting QB.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • skiingdemon

    Totally agree. And he’s going to run for at least 600 yards.

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  • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

    this team can beat anyone, but will they do so consistently, very intriguing

  • rogue

    I’ve always liked the Bills D. However, their O-line is terrible at run blocking. McCoy was more dependent on his blockers last season than any other. That said, QBs who run a lot don’t last long. Whether Taylor succeeds or fails will depend on how well he can chuck the pigskin.

    • Edson Schaus

      Make that were terrible at run blocking. The additions of Incognito and Miller at guard have physically upgraded their running ability. Its also apparent Doug Marrone did a terrible job of coaching the OL The OL looks much improved under OC Roman and OLC Kromer. The current problem is quality depth.

  • Icey Vick

    I find it funny that everyone seems to judge EJ Manuel’s future based on 14 games playing in a system designed by the hapless Doug Marrone and Nate Hackett. Sure, Taylor is the #2 QB in your preseason grades, but you fail to mention EJ Manuel is 4th and skipping directly to what he did in the previous year like a 3rd year player couldn’t possibly have improved over the offseason (all rankings based off of 25% of snaps). You also forgot to mention to mention that EJ Manuel is 2nd your passing metrics to Cam Newton while Taylor sits at 8th. You also failed to mention that EJ Manuel has the highest QB rating in the preseason at 146.9 while Tyrod sports a 98.3. That’s pretty impressive for someone that has been written off. Based on your grades, Tyrod Taylor does most of his damage on the ground posting a 2.0 passing and a 2.5 on the ground thus far in the preseason. Last time I checked, rushing quarterbacks don’t historically last very long… especially QB’s that don’t know how to slide. Tyrod Taylor doesn’t know how to slide. I’d much rather have a QB that can sit in the pocket and throw the ball than a QB that runs at the first sign of pressure and usually fails to keep his eyes up the field to keep the passing game open. The real difference between EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor is that EJ Manuel is a pocket QB and Tyrod Taylor is a scrambling QB. I’m not hating on Rex Ryan’s decision to start Taylor because he’s earned it by playing well in camp as well as the preseason. But I’m not going to sit here and act like EJ Manuel can’t play football because of inconsistent play through 14 games over two seasons because players can and do improve all the time. If you want to talk upside, a 6’5″ pocket QB with 4.65 speed and an above average arm has far more career upside than any scrambling QB. I’d be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 GM’s would prefer a Peyton Manning in his prime over a Michael Vick in his prime. I’m quite tired of the ‘we don’t know that he’s bad, so he has the most upside’ talk about Taylor. IF, and that’s a big IF, EJ Manuel could play like he has played in the preseason consistently over the course of an entire season, the Bills would be a far more dangerous team in my humble opinion. Tyrod Taylor is going to get the start week one, but if he struggles out the gate for a few games, I don’t see Rex Ryan hesitating to plug in the other preseason wonder.

    • David Stinnett

      You say this as if Rex’s decision was quick and easy

      • Icey Vick

        The decision was easy in all actuality. Rex Ryan made it known from the start that he’s always liked Tyrod Taylor. He went as far to say that he tried to trade for him. Watch Rex’s interview about Taylor during last week’s game and the mile wide smile on his face says it all. So that’s a guy he wanted to bring in especially seeing he was a low budget free agent. Ryan has no ties to Manuel and Manuel has wildly been inconsistent in camp while Cassel was just a veteran insurance policy who is the equivalent of Kyle Orton. Cassel may not even make the 53 man roster when it’s all said and done seeing how large of a leap Manuel made in the preseason by letting it “rip.” Taylor has had a far more consistent camp than Manuel in training camp and has far and away more upside than Cassel. The hardest part of the decision was probably convincing Doug Whaley who has always been a supporter of Manuel. However, Whaley can’t turn his nose at results and Taylor has preformed pretty well.

        • David Stinnett

          I was implying that Rex did not fail to give E.J. Manuel a chance.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I don’t know that it even matters who wins out as QB. Cold climate teams like Buffalo have to have a solid run game and strong defense if they hope to reach the top. The Bills defense gives fans plenty of good reasons to be optimistic…now if they can just find another Thurman Thomas or two they will be off to the races.