After a wild ride and the end of the drought, the Bills’ offseason began with an offensive coordinator change. Out is Rick Dennison and in is Western New York native Brian Daboll, back with the power running concept and a reputation of adjusting well and maximizing the talents of his players, and not forcing then into a poor scheme fit. Today, I’m starting the “Should he stay or should he go” series with QB Tyrod Taylor.
Tyrod finished his third season as the Bills’ starting QB with maybe his worst year in that role. But even in a down year he threw for, playoffs included, 2933 yards and 14 TDs to only 5 INTs (two coming from drops by his receivers), completed 61.3% of his passes, and finished with a solid 85.5 QB rating. His Pro Football Focus 79.7 passer rating was rock solid. He also added 446 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, with a very good 86.5 PFF rushing grade. His 83.0 PFF overall grade was good for the 14th-best QB in the league, in front of guys like Goff, Winston, Cousins, and Newton.
The problem with Taylor is well documented; it’s not about the plays he makes, but the ones he refuses to attempt. He was sacked 47 times this season, always risk averse and ultra conservative. Media members and fans are more than ever ready to turn this page and go all in into a new QB plan, but after the hire of Daboll as the team’s new OC, I think Tyrod’s odds to come back for his 4th year with the Bills just got higher.
Tyrod clearly wasn’t a fit for Dennison’s scheme since the beginning. His struggles with the quick 3- and 5-step dropback passes were clear from the preseason. Dennison made adjustments during the season, using a lot of play action roll out plays to put Tyrod in space, but his offense never fully worked with Taylor as the QB. Now with Daboll, everything seemingly changes. Daboll likes to run the ball with power concepts, has experience working with a top college dual-threat QB in Jalen Hurts, and will surely know how to maximize Taylor’s skill set. Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn showed the Bills can have a top-10 offense with Taylor at the helm, and Tyrod surely showed Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane that he’s a model of a pro, a true blue collar presence in the locker room, always working hard and being a good soldier, even when things didn’t go well for him. He can be a limited passer, but it’s obvious a rookie QB can benefit a lot having a true pro like Taylor around. To this regime character matters, and Tyrod is impeccable in this department.
The Bills can cut ties with Taylor before the start of the new league year and save 10M in cap space, but this can put the Bills in a Kolb/Manuel situation all over again, with a less-than-ideal veteran and a rookie not ready to start right away. It’s not good to go to the draft pressured to draft a QB to play since day one, and they will need to pay a veteran in free agency to play the Tyrod role of mentor/bridge QB. But in this case, you’ll need to overpay for another flawed option. If you add the dead money of Tyrod’s deal to the veteran FA new deal, it looks even worse.
The Bills need flexibility and have a lot of holes to fill. They can package some picks to trade up and get their guy at the QB position, but ideally they keep all their picks, draft a QB who falls to 21, and then fill the other holes. In this case, better have a solid plan until the rookie is ready. With his on and off the field work and demeanor, I think Tyrod earned this opportunity and should stay for at least one more year.