This past offseason, the Buffalo Bills inked quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a massive six-year, $92 million contract extension after an impressive 2015 season. Last year as the full-time starter, Taylor completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 3,035 passing yards, with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also contributed 568 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Taylor was the ultimate dual threat quarterback for Rex Ryan last season. He gave Bills fans hope for a playoff push in 2016.
However, this season has been a struggle for both Taylor and Buffalo. After winning four straight games earlier in the campaign, Buffalo has lost five of its last seven games. Over that span of games, the Bills’ level of performance has declined along with Taylor’s.
In the last several games, Taylor has only completed 59.9 percent of his passes for a modest five touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also been sacked an astonishing 26 times, which is a far cry from earlier this season, when Taylor was sacked 13 times. It’s not as though the pass protection has ever reached a high level, but an average of nearly four sacks per game makes a two-sacks-per-game average seem pedestrian by comparison.
With Taylor’s play declining, there are reports flying around questioning if the quarterback will be on the team next season. He is due to make $27.5 million if he is still on the roster by March 11, 2017. However, despite some people in the organization wanting to see rookie quarterback Cardale Jones get a shot this season. Buffalo needs to stick with Taylor and not give up on him yet.
You may be asking: “Why should they stick with Taylor?” To answer that question, let’s remember he is still young and developing as a quarterback.
This is only Taylor’s second season as a starting quarterback. He still is learning how to be a starter. In his first four years in the NFL, he was the backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore.
Could Taylor’s coaching be better in Buffalo? Sure. Last season and in the first two games of this season, his offensive coordinator was Greg Roman, who was subsequently fired. Anthony Lynn, the Bills’ running back coach, took over. Will Lynn be Taylor’s offensive coordinator next season? The better question: “Will Rex Ryan be back as head coach next season?”
A quarterback is only as good his head coach. If there is no stability at head coach or offensive coordinator, Taylor or any quarterback will have a rough time.
Another reason why the Bills should stick with Taylor is that he does not have the best weapons. This season, top wide receiving target Sammy Watkins has been battling a foot injury and has played in only five games.
Outside of Watkins, none of the others Bills’ wide receivers have taken their game to the next level. Robert Woods has 43 receptions for 522 yards and a touchdown, while Marquise Goodwin has only 24 receptions for 364 yards and a touchdown.
Buffalo needs to make wide receiver a position of need in free agency or the draft to give Taylor some help. The Bills’ offensive line also needs to do a better job of protecting Taylor. According to Football Outsiders, Buffalo’s offensive line is ranked 32nd in the league in pass protection, giving up 40 sacks with an adjusted sack rating of 10 percent.
The last (but not least important) reason why the Bills should stick with Taylor is that he is the best option going forward. Despite the rookie success of Dak Prescott, combined with how good Carson Wentz has played, Cardale Jones is not ready to be a starting NFL quarterback.
He still needs some more seasoning and could get that next season — E.J. Manuel will be an impending free agent in a few months.
All in all, while Taylor’s struggles and frustrations have been well-documented, this is not the time for Buffalo to turn its back on him. He brings the Bills stability at the position, which they had lacked in previous years. Remember the J.P. Losman years, and then the rash of quarterbacks Buffalo went through before Taylor? Manuel, Kyle Orton, Thaddeus Lewis, and Jeff Tuel.
Taylor is the right choice for the Bills. Recent history shows as much. Adding more pieces around him is the kind of change Buffalo needs.
Changing the starting quarterback would be a profound mistake, the kind of decision which has set back a floundering organization too many times this century.