Narrative Buster

October 11, 2017 - 8:39 pm

Overreaction Monday turned into overreaction Tuesday and now it’s Wednesday and I feel the need to at least extinguish one narrative about Tyrod Taylor and the Bills offense heading into the bye week. 

Everybody knows the saying about excuses; they stink. I’m not here to defend Tyrod or make excuses for his lack of stellar play to start the season but I think as a fan base, Bills fans have been far too critical of Taylor through five weeks. I think they’ve also been far too critical of OC Rick Dennison. I believe there are a lot of angry fans that, quite frankly, don’t watch enough to see what’s really going on. 

Let me explain what I’m talking about a little further. 

“Tyrod Taylor sucks, they need to bench him for Nathan Peterman” 

I think it's time to have an adult conversation about not spraying super negative overreactions minutes after the Bills lose a tough game. Everyone is disappointed and of course we want to blame the quarterback, that's what the football world does. Defending him against some criticisms that he's bad or that he's not a good starting quarterback are simply wrong. Anyone can turn on the All-22 and find open receivers, it's both the best and worst part of access to coaches film; everyone thinks they're Chip Kelly. 

Taylor’s game thus far has been less than perfect. At times during the Panthers game back in week 2, I had real doubts he could run this system with any success. Since then, Dennison has completely scrubbed this system of any remnants of a 3-step passing game. They’ve gone exclusively to the rollout, play-action, and 5-step/7-step drop passing game. This is a direct result of Taylor’s struggles with shallow drops from under center.

Now can, in theory, Nathan Peterman come in and run the 3-step game better than Taylor? I think it would be difficult for me to argue that Peterman’s game isn't a better fit for the quick 3-step passing attack but in my opinion, fans really have no clue what they’re truly asking for when they suggest benching Taylor for Peterman. 

Basically, what you’d be asking for is a short passing offense with almost no threat to beat defenses vertically and more 8 and 9-man boxes. Peterman doesn’t have the ability in the 5-step, 7-step or rollout game that Taylor possesses. Peterman would also be thrust into a position where the teams’ top two pass-catchers were absent from the lineup and significant troubles in pass protection. 

Want to talk limitations in a passing game? Put in a guy (Peterman) who can't make all the NFL throws on the field with injuries to his offensive line and top pass catchers. He doesn't have the speed necessary to run away from NFL linebackers and pass rushers. It would be an absolute blood bath.

One of the main reasons Taylor remains the starter and will likely remain the starter for the rest of the season is because with how miserable the Bills have been in pass protection. Taylor, at times, has covered up a lot of their mistakes with his athleticism and ability to make plays outside the scope of the offense. That improvisation doesn’t entirely get thrown out the window with Peterman, but its effectiveness is greatly reduced. 

I said this yesterday and it really holds true. It really is too bad that Bills fans never had an opportunity for Taylor to have a full season with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Percy Harvin all healthy with a good defense and an effective rushing attack. We all know that those three factors (healthy weapons, good defense, and an effective rushing attack) must work symbiotically to fully realize Taylor’s potential. Unfortunately, the Bills have never figured out a way to have all three working at once for Taylor and it’s a big reason why he hasn’t taken the next step. 

The issue is franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. At 3-1, everyone was proclaiming, “trust the process!” Just one week later and it’s the sky is falling and they have the worst starting quarterback in the league. What Taylor represents in the second or third tier of starting NFL quarterbacks. They’re hardly in the playoffs but they’re rarely the reason why teams lose games but often never the reason they win teither. Since day one, Taylor, statistically speaking, has been as consistent as they come. He’s a 3,000-yard passer, 20-touchdown, and 8-interception guy. That is what he is. That's what he was was year one, took a step back to 17-touchdowns year two and is on track for nearly identical numbers in 2017.

Taylor has his limitations but he’s the unquestioned starter for the Bills moving forward. You can hate him or you can hate the front office for not having better options but the quarterback situation is what it is. The thing is, it could and has been much, much worse. 

Relax and more importantly, try to enjoy a team that is having far more success than many of us thought they’d have five games into the season. Tyrod is going to continue to be Tyrod. There will be ups and you can be there will be downs and it'll be ultra aggravating, but if the running game can get back on track, this passing game will find more success. Dennison has done enough systematically to keep defenses on their heels. His ability to evolve as the season goes on will be a key factor in this team bouncing back and sustaining sucess moving forward.

The good news is, there are people in place that construct this roster that understand the importance of drafting or acquiring a legitimate franchise quarterback and I suspect it will be priority number one in the offseason. In the meantime, be patient and allow this offense to experience the growing pains of a new system without overreacting every time they struggle against top 10 defenses. 

P.S. – the Bills won’t face another defense as good as Cincinnati, Denver or Carolina for the rest of their season. They’re going to get Cordy Glenn back to solidify things up front on the offensive line and hopefully, Taylor will get key guys like Charles Clay and Jordan Matthews back. Things aren’t all that bad, guys. 

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