Tyrod Taylor put together a fine 2015 campaign for the Buffalo Bills. He showed his moxy, unique abilities and the growth you want to see in an inexperienced Quarterback. But he musn’t rest on his laurels, 2016 will be an important season for his career. A contract season, one that if he performs well could earn him a long term contract in the ball park of $20 million dollars a season.
But to get that contract Taylor has to work on his game. When you talk to fans they say he has to work on throwing from the pocket and throwing over the middle. Something that Rex Ryan echoed to Vic Carucci recently.
For all of the positives the coach sees in his quarterback, one negative he mentioned was the need to have Taylor do a better job of attacking the middle of the field in the passing game.” Excerpt from Vic Carucci-Buffalo News
Taylor has proven that he has the arm strength and accuracy to complete the long ball. But he has to become more comfortable throwing from the pocket and over the middle, right?
I agree he has to work on delivering passes on time from the pocket. Which shouldn’t be hard to do, considering teams play coverage and don’t really blitz him much. Opponents want Taylor to beat them from the pocket with his arm. Taylor led the league in time in the pocket according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Taylor dropped back to pass a total of 467 times. He took on average 3.22 seconds until he threw the ball, took a sack, or scrambled past the line of scrimmage. The next closest was Teddy Bridgewater at 3.03 seconds. Sixty percent of his drop-backs averaged 2.6 seconds or more, that was the most in the league.
There are many reasons for those numbers to be inflated, such things as inability to read coverages, offensive line trouble, scheme and it goes on and on. Of his 467 drop-backs he decided to pull it down and run 51 times for 405 yards, 243 yards after contact and 1 TD. So his mobility is definitely an asset to this offense.
Fans saw the contract signed by Brock Osweiler and questioned whether Taylor is worth that much. Well, in 2016 he is going to have to produce if he wants to get that kind of contract in Buffalo. It is believed that the team was protecting Taylor. Calling plays to keep the throws outside to prevent turnovers. So his numbers across the middle were low.
But when a team does play some version of two high safeties, be able to take advantage of the middle of the field a little more than we did last year.” -Rex Ryan
Taylor completed 242 passes out of 380 attempts for 3,035 yards 20 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2015. He completed 63.7% per attempt, not bad for a first year starter. But as you know most of those passes were not over the middle. If you look at this chart, I compared Tyrod Taylor’s middle of the field throws to Colin Kaepernick’s, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Keep in mind, these are just throws to the middle of the field, from 0-20 yards. We already know he can throw the deep ball, we need to know how he fares in the middle, through the congestion.
****Middle of field=numbers to numbers according to PFF charts*****
In Kap’s first year as a starter he attempted 38% of his throws between the numbers compared to Taylor’s 24%, that’s pretty drastic. Taylor completed about 78% of his throws to the middle of the field. If you look at the chart below you will actually see that Tyrod was efficient over the middle.
There was a huge difference between Taylor and the Super Bowl winning QBs, as expected. I wanted to get an idea on how far away TT is from some of the best. Brees threw for 1,752 yards, 9 TDs and 3 INTs from 0-20 yards. Brady threw for 1,944 yards, 14 TDs and 3 INTs. Even Russell Wilson put up some really good numbers over the middle. He threw for 1,562 yards 11 TDs and 1 INT across the middle. Taylor did miss a couple games and he did tuck and run it 51 times so his numbers could have been a little better.
Then ask yourself, does Tyrod need to work on throwing over the middle? Or does Roman have to loosen the reigns and call more passes over the middle? That is what we don’t know, of the 51 times that TT pulled the ball down to scramble how many were calls to the middle of the field? How many times did TT ignore the WR coming across the middle? Why did Roman call so many passes outside and if so why? What in practice led him to believe that Taylor isn’t that competent of a middle of the field passer?
We’ll probably make a point of emphasis to try to get him the ball, and taking advantage of the middle of the field more than we have in the past. And that specifically comes to Tyrod.-Rex Ryan referring to Charles Clay
It is very difficult to tell if the low attempts/completions over the middle are due to Taylor not pulling the trigger. Roman and company could have intended on protecting Taylor. I am sure there are many reasons why TT didn’t have top notch stats over the middle. But in my opinion he wasn’t getting the attempts/volume that other QBs did, intended or not. Which is very promising to the fans and to the organization. The more time that he has in the film room, camp and on the field the more improvement we will see. Kap showed progress (attempts/yards) in this system over the middle, so there is no doubt that Taylor could as well. Roman has to give the QB more opportunities, and Taylor will have to execute if he wants to get that big contract. He has what it takes to succeed in this scheme and more importantly in the NFL.
Tyrod Taylor’s Development
Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan of Greg Roman. I love the scheme that he brings when it comes to the ground game. The concepts that he was able run with a somewhat unknown offensive line in 2015, was quite impressive. After the season, he along with many fans were curious as to why he wasn’t getting interviews for Head Coaching gigs. He mentored a first time starter in Tyrod Taylor to a successful season by many standards. But still no calls…Fortunately for the Bills, the spots were filled and we were able to head into the off-season with him and the offensive line in tact.
During Super Bowl week, former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer was speaking about Tyrod Taylor. He made some comments to the Buffalo News in regards to whether Taylor is a franchise QB and he even shared his opinion on Greg Roman’s passing game:
“I think they need a little more expansive drop-back game. I’m not a fan of what they do schematically in their passing game. I think it needs to grow a little bit. They’re very predicated off play-action and their run game.We forget these coaches are supposed to be teachers, and when they’re not, it affects the players. And unfortunately, the NFL doesn’t have all good teachers. There are a lot of guys who have coached and have ‘OC’ by their name—it doesn’t mean they can teach. Usually you can tell if a quarterback’s being developed right by what his eyes and feet are doing. That offense doesn’t have a real flow to the passing game. The feet and the eyes don’t always match what’s going on downfield. That’s not a Tyrod Taylor issue. That’s a coaching issue.”
The last few sentences really resonated with me. As productive as Taylor was in 2015, the Bills still struggled through the air. It couldn’t all be because of Tyrod Taylor’s inexperience.
So I looked at the career stats of Greg Roman’s offenses and of course he dominated on the ground but was quite terrible through the air. The 2015 season by Taylor was pretty much on par for yards and touchdowns scored. So was the lack of a passing game really because of the inexperienced Taylor?
Everyone knows how complicated Roman’s running game is, specifically the run blocking. I am sure a majority of the practice time is spent rehearsing those concepts. It’s only natural that the passing game suffers. Don’t get me wrong I love the old school, pound the rock, shorten the game mentality. But if your running game is that dominant you would think that the passing game would at least be more efficient, especially on third downs. But that isn’t the case, the Bills were the worst team in three and outs according to Football Outsiders. Third down tendencies are studied by defensive coordinators and they game-plan to stop what offenses do best. So if you have an inefficient third down play-call or simple scheme, defenses will win those plays more than not. It is no coincidence that Roman’s passing attack struggled on third downs in my opinion.
When you study the Bills’ offensive advanced stats it backs up their domination on the ground and in early pass downs. But they also show their inability to convert on third down passes.
Based on the comments made by the Super Bowl winning quarterback and from looking at the statistics I wanted to see if the inept passing game was primarily due to an inexperienced quarterback.
So I took a sample of Taylor’s two best graded (Miami, Washington) and two worst graded (New England x2) passing games according to Pro Football Focus. Coincidentally, two of the games were in the first half of the season and two in the second half. I highlighted his limitations and improvements in the Greg Roman passing game. I wanted to see what Greg Roman was designing for Taylor and to see how Taylor evolved over the course of the season. Remember how fans were saying that Tyrod seems like a one read and done QB? Was it his fault? The film makes me very nervous long term…
After watching this video, are you nervous?
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