Getting to know Tyrod Taylor with a member of #BillsMafia

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With the Cleveland Browns acquiring quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills this past Friday, there was plenty of excitement in Cleveland. He isn’t one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but Taylor is a guy that can at least hold down the quarterback position while the Browns develop the gunslinger they select with either the first- or fourth-overall pick in this April’s draft. He will essentially be a bridge quarterback, one that is better than A.J. McCarron, who many thought would be the next bridge quarterback for the Browns.

Just by looking at the stat sheet, Taylor seems like a very good quarterback. With that said, there’s plenty that goes into being a good quarterback that isn’t potentially in the box score and that you wouldn’t know unless you watched the guy for a significant period of time. Luckily, I caught up with someone who has not only watched Taylor in Buffalo the last three years, but has plenty of knowledge about the game of football as well.

I sat down with Bills diehard and #BillsMafia member Mike Waring to get to know more about the newest Browns quarterback.1 For what it’s worth, Waring was an offensive lineman for Wittenberg University and is now an assistant offensive line coach at Buffalo State, so he knows his football stuff, in case any of you were questioning if he did so or not.

Let’s dig in to my questions and Waring’s answers, Browns fans:

After Buffalo signed Tyrod Taylor prior to the 2015 season. Since then, the quarterback has started 43 games (played in 44) for the Bills. Will #BillsMafia miss him? Why or why not?

It’s actually going to be a pretty even split in the fan base. The crowd that will miss him will say he’s the best we’ve had since Jim Kelly and that he broke the postseason drought, so we should keep him. On the other hand, the other side of the argument is that just because he is the best we’ve had, that’s not the hardest thing to do. Much like the Browns, we haven’t had a good, well-established quarterback in a very long time. Therefore, the crowd that wants to get rid of Taylor is sick of the mediocrity at the position and believe that if he would have taken more chances on some throws downfield, we would have been even better.

He seems to be considered an option-style quarterback who can make plenty of plays with his legs, is that true?

Athletically, that is his best attribute. He will get out of so many sacks and cover for bad protection up front and good coverage down field while making plays with his legs. Not only will he get out of sacks but he makes big running plays quite frequently.

With that said, he had 283 carries for 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns during his three years in Buffalo. Was that mainly due to him making his own plays if nothing was open downfield or were they mostly just called plays for him to run from the start?

He definitely made plays with his legs when protection broke down or when no one was open down field. Of course, there were designed runs, I feel he is best near the goal line on designed calls. But some designed calls were ran in predictable scenarios, or out of a bad formation or not toward the offense’s strength. He has the athletic ability to make plenty of plays while running the ball, but the play calls are also a big part of his potential success as well.

Plenty of Bills players took to social media following Taylor being sent to the Browns. He seems to be a well-liked teammate. Is that true? Also, is he a good leader and/or mentor?

EVERYONE on the team loved Taylor, EVERYONE, you can see that from Twitter even if you didn’t pay much attention to the Bills. From what I’ve been exposed to, he was the “first one in, last one out” type, and worked his butt off. The guy is a true leader and true professional. He always faced the press when there were bad games and always gave credit where it was due when there were good games.

Although he seemed to be a much better quarterback, he was benched for Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round pick in 2017, in November of last season. The rookie went on to throw five interceptions in the first half before Taylor was given the nod after halftime. How’d the veteran react to that? Did it make him improve his game, was he just angry and didn’t want to help the team anymore, or did he just not let it bother him?

He was angry because he wanted to be on the field. He’s a competitor so of course he wants to play every game and he felt he played good enough to be the starter, but head coach Sean McDermott felt otherwise. When he came back though he was unaffected and continued to play hard for the team. Never quit on anybody and was the perfect teammate, no matter the situations that he may have been thrown in.

Cleveland will all but certainly select a quarterback with the first- or fourth-overall pick this April, which means that rookie will have to learn and improve his game while standing on the sidelines and watching, listening to, and learning from Taylor. Do you think the veteran will be OK with that or will it deter him and make him not want to do much besides worry about getting another big contract?

I think Taylor thinks he’s a No. 1 quarterback in the NFL. He doesn’t want to sit behind anyone. He’s still young and has a lot to give, but he needs to bring the production up if he wants to be the guy. He will likely be OK with it, but he will also be trying to prove that he can get another big contract as well. 

Taylor threw for almost 9,000 yards in three years with the Bills to go along with 51 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions while completing nearly 63 percent of his passes. Judging just by the stat sheet, that’s a really solid three-year span. What were some of the reasons why he had so much success in Buffalo?

This is probably the most irritating thing about Taylor and the national media. Stats don’t tell the whole story. He plays it super safe. No 50-50 balls, takes very few chances, doesn’t throw receivers open, and doesn’t throw many balls over the middle.  So his stats are solid because he makes throws that don’t have much risk to them, which is a double-edged sword. He leaves a lot of throws on the field and it will drive you NUTS. Be prepared, Browns fans.

What are some of the most glaring things that the Browns need to worry about concerning Taylor’s game?

Probably a lot of the aforementioned. You’ll love the lack of turnovers but you’ll hate the amount of field goals and punts.2

He’s considered a quarterback who checks down a lot, rather than take a risk or two downfield. Is that true? If so, could that be very problematic for him in Cleveland?

This is absolutely true, in my opinion. I feel like doesn’t have many throws in the middle of the field. When he and Sammy Watkins were together he rarely targeted Watkins but hit him many times on deep balls. Taylor WILL NOT throw it unless the wide receiver is completely open, he is not a quarterback that will throw guys open, as I mentioned previously. To make things worse, sometimes he just flat out misses open guys. Maybe that will change in Cleveland, but that’s how it went down during his time in Buffalo.

With that said, Jarvis Landry, the newest Browns wide out, has been known to be a receiver that loves short routes and has the ability to make plays with his feet after making a short reception. Could he and Taylor potentially be a perfect match for each other given what they’re known to be?

To be fair, outside of Watkins, Taylor never had a legitimate No. 1 receiver and also didn’t have many receivers that racked up a lot of yards after catch. He did have good chemistry with Watkins when he wasn’t injured. Depending on scheme, game plan, etc., I could very easily see Landry and Taylor connecting on short passes and Landry doing what he does best and making his quarterback look good in the process. But in turn, don’t expect Josh Gordon to have huge numbers with Taylor throwing the ball.

In conclusion, I loved Taylor and thought he did some very good things for the franchise in his three years here. With that said, the lack of risks and the lack of throwing over the middle at times was brutal. Late in the Wildcard Game this year he missed a wide-open throw for a touchdown on the last drive (that ended with a Jalen Ramsey interception), a deciding factor in the game. And for that, it is time to move on to greener pastures and move up in the draft this year to select a quarterback that can lead the Bills for the foreseeable future.

  1. Don’t worry, while Mike loves to tailgate even if it means doing so in a blizzard, he’s not one of those members of #BillsMafia that jumps through tables or sets himself on fire. Then again, he might gain more credibility from some of you if he did. []
  2. Note from Josh: He will fit right in if the way he plays turns into a bunch of field goals and punts for the Browns. []