So, this place isn't exactly "home," yet. Still weird being displaced.
I figured I'd introduce myself in the manner in which everybody over at BBMB knew me... as a bit of a Taylor homer. But really, at this point, that's stretching the truth.
I'll just start ONE Taylor thread. I know how much the people on this board don't like repeated threads, so here's one, long explosion of Taylor fun.
I'm prepared to be pounced on.
I intended to post some images throughout... stills of certain plays, but I have no idea how to do that here.
I like Tyrod Taylor. I still do. But I'll say this, I fell off the wagon of thinking he's the long term answer and more than anything, I think he's a bridge QB for a few years with the opportunity to change my mind, which is exactly why I absolutely LOVE the restructured contract.
His 4 game stretch beginning with Cincy and ending with Pittsburgh was incredibly discouraging. His game against Miami helped rebuild at least a little hope, though.
Regardless, I will say this, there are some areas of Taylor's game where I actually saw noticeable improvement over 2015. And some of those are what give me hope.
For example, I don't know how it's been over here, but over at BBMB, some folks were hypercritical about Taylor throwing over the middle; whether there's an argument of frequency or effectiveness, he just doesn't cut it.
First of all, if you're one of those concerned about the intermediate middle in particular
*According to PFF*
2015- 10/18 for 187 yards. 1 TD and 1 INT. Passer Rating of 87. 4.7% of total passes to intermediate middle
2016- 16/25 for 261 yards. 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Passer Rating of 125.6. 5.7% of total passes to intermediate middle.
Did he improve? A 1% increase in terms of the amount he passed to the intermediate middle might be negligible, but it's clear he was monumentally more efficient as a passer to the intermediate middle. And the types of throws were more of the typical NFL intermediate middle throws with more crossing routes than 2015 (thank you Lynn... ?), although there were still plenty of those comeback routes or stop and turn routes Roman focused on. 3 specific plays I can recall (and I'd post the still images, but don't know how), include a nice little crossing pattern to Tate vs. Oakland where Taylor actually clears out the middle of the field by looking to the left before going back to the right to make the pass, a 2nd and 4 crossing pattern to Powell vs. Arizona, and a super impressive 22 yard pass directly over the middle to Goodwin to convert a 3rd and 21 vs. Cleveland.
(Tangential to that last play, in his 2 years of playing, one thing Taylor is proving he's very good at is converting 3rd and long plays... he's been a top 5-10 QB at that 2 years in a row.)
So, back to that middle of the field in general thing. Luckily, ESPN does their own "splits" to certain sections of the field, and one of those is the "middle," which I would assume is between the hashmarks. I decided to take 11 of the most promising young QBs in the NFL who are likely the future at the QB position. I'm not doing every QB... it's just a pain. But I think anyone would agree there are plenty of promising young guys on this list, and these are the guys who comprise the future of the NFL. I included Luck, Newton, Rodgers, Mariota, Winston, Wilson, Tannehill, Cousins, Stafford, Ryan, Carr... and Taylor.
I used ESPN's splits and included:
-total % of throws to the "middle" when it comes to total throws
-% completions on those throws
-YPA on those throws
-TD passes over the middle
-INTs over the middle
-Passer Rating over the middle
Can you guess who's who?
QB 1: 9.3% of total attempts, 57.9 % completions, 7.5 YPA, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 67.1 Passer Rating
QB 2: 10.6% of total attempts, 59.3 % completions, 8.6 YPA, 3 TDs, 1 INTs, 98 Passer Rating
QB 3: 10.6% of total attempts, 66.7 % completions, 8.1 YPA, 3 TDs, 1 INTs, 103.6 Passer Rating
QB 4: 12% of total attempts, 67.2 % completions, 8.6 YPA, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 100.3 Passer Rating
QB 5: 7.3% of total attempts, 78.1 % completions, 8.7 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 103 Passer Rating
QB 6: 10.3% of total attempts, 70 % completions, 6.3 YPA, 0 TDs, 1 INTs, 76.3 Passer Rating
QB 7: 8.4% of total attempts, 65.2 % completions, 7.5 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 83.9 Passer Rating
QB 8: 11.7% of total attempts, 74.6 % completions, 10.4 YPA, 4 TDs, 4 INTs, 102.8 Passer Rating
QB 9: 10.8% of total attempts, 70.3 % completions, 7.9 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 93.8 Passer Rating
QB10: 15.8% of total attempts, 61.6 % completions, 7.4 YPA, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, 107.5 Passer Rating
QB11: 9.7% of total attempts, 72.7 % completions, 8.2 YPA, 2 TDs, 1 INTs, 101.5 Passer Rating
QB12: 12.5% of total attempts, 71.6 % completions, 10.3 YPA, 7 TDs, 1 INTs, 133.3 Passer Rating
Which one is Taylor?
Who can find Rodgers?
There's one guy who throws significantly more over the middle than any of those guys, but anyone notice that passes to the middle for NFL QBs are relatively insignificant (in terms of % of passes) to all the other throws on the NFL field?
If you want to cheat and not guess, scroll down to the bottom.
There are some who argue that YAC is a problem with Taylor as a QB in general and it's a big reason he can't operate effectively out of the pocket as a passer, particularly throwing over the middle.. The general criticism is that it's on Taylor that the Bills are so poor in YAC because Taylor doesn't put the ball in places where WRs can gain any extra yardage.
I figured, why not put it to the test?
I started with the plan to do the whole season, but after doing the first 3 games and realizing time was an issue (wish I had more of it), I decided to jump to what I thought was his worst 4 game stretch. What I did was just rewatch the completions for ball placement to see how many of his completions were poorly placed and left yardage on the field. This is more about ball placement than accuracy... and yes, I think the 2 should be examined separately because accuracy would include all those incompletions. But there seems to be this general belief by some that Taylor's WRs were somehow always bailing him out and that Taylor is responsible for leaving yards on the field.
Well, in those 7 games (BALT, NYJ, ARI, CIN, JAX, OAK, PITT), Taylor completed 111 passes.
Only 7 of those passes were so poorly placed that they left potential yardage on the field.
1- A high pass to Clay on 3rd down in the Ravens game
2- A 3rd down pass to Woods in the Ravens game
3- A 2nd down pass to Goodwin in the Cardinals game
4- A 1st down pass that was low to a wide open Woods on the sideline in the Cardinals game
5- A 3rd down and 1 to Harvin in the Bengals game that was a little behind him... he was gonna get clobbered, anyway.
6- A 1st down pass to Clay that was a little behind him in the middle and really didn't have much chance for YAC... in fact, the chance for that YAC may have been to the middle, where the ball was thrown.
7- A 3rd down pass to Goodwin around the sideline that was a 1st down conversion, anyway
That's really it. You can be unhappy about ball placement on other passes, but if you rewatch, you'll see that really only 6.3% of all of Taylor's completed passes in 7 games (which included a number of really bad games from him) actually left yardage on the field. I'd love to show you images of some of these plays, but don't know how and can't... sorry.
Actual problems were the offense, which relied mainly on sideline throws and WRs who ran comeback or hook routes and weren't set up in positions due to the offense itself to get much YAC.
Taylor didn't control the routes that were run, and the routes weren't designed for YAC. If Taylor's still around in 2017, ball placement really shouldn't be an issue assuming Dennison's offense is designed to produce it, although if you look at the "middle of the field" throwing, it doesn't seem like the offense Taylor has operated in has been throwing insanely fewer times to the middle.
So, then we get to how well Taylor operates in tight spaces and anticipates throws. I'm grouping these 2 together because I think there's a single stat that demonstrates whether he does or does not do this very well: Red Zone passing, which you'll find easily in the situational stats on NFL.com.
Why? Because as you get inside the opponents 20, you have 30 yards or less vertically to work with and you'll have a more crowded area to work with. You'll be forced to throw the ball more into tight windows and you'll be forced to anticipate your passes more as you'll have less time to get it to WRs who will naturally be given less of a cushion to work with by DBs and LBs.
According to NFL.com
2015- 17/31, 90 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT. Passer Rating of 86.4
2016- 30/50, 240 yards, 11 TDs, 0 INTs. Passer Rating of 111.7
Adding this on, according to http://stats.washing...98&type=Passing, Taylor actually has the 6th highest Passer Rating and 10th highest completion % inside the 20.
Did he improve? I think this is an obvious yes. And 2016 wasn't a small sample size, either, as he attempted 19 more passes inside the opponents 20 than 2015. And I went back and watched every TD pass and the vast majority involve a pass from Taylor where a guy is not open yet and/or not looking at the ball yet and/or going through a tight window.
Something else that I think may have seriously contributed to Taylor's regression was the revolving door at WR. In terms of the number of games missed by only #1 and #2 WRs during the NFL season for each team going by depth charts:
0 games missed
1-4 games missed
New England (4) 5 if you take Edleman, Amendola, and Hogan as a group
Green Bay (4)
Kansas City (4)
New Orleans (2)
Arizona (3) Floyd cut
5-8 games missed
San Fran (7)
9+ games missed
Pittsburgh (10) Heyward-Bey is listed as the #2 even though some might argue it was Coates, in which case it'd be 9
Tampa Bay (11)
San Diego (15) Mainly due to Allen's injury. If you consider Inman the #2 as opposed to Benjamin, it's 13.
Yet, despite a depleted WR corps, Taylor seemed to improve in his "clutchness" to some degree, at least. Yeah, to this day he's still only credited with 2 4th quarter comebacks (Ten, Jax), but actually watching the Seattle and 2nd Miami games, we saw a QB who in those moments belonged and actually seemed to elevate his team. Taylor (and the team) were robbed in different ways (refs, coaching, bad defense, bad breaks) of those 2 game winning drives. Regardless, Taylor's passer rating with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half still noticeably improved from 2015 (61.0) to 2016 (85.2). That's a significant improvement. And with 66 passes in 2016 and 53 in 2015, you can't call it a small sample size.
Even within the game, those plays that are most "clutch" are the 3rd down plays many were critical of with Taylor from 2015, when he was at the bottom of the league with a 37.2% conversion % on those 3rd down passes. In 2016, he improved to 14th in the NFL and improved by more than 3% to 41.5%.
If you factor in his scrambles on 3rd down, which are passing plays, but Taylor decides to tuck and run instead for whatever reason, Taylor was 7/14 and bumps up to 42.4% in terms of 3rd down conversions in the passing game.
And maybe you have a problem with that last statement I made. Why didn't I include all his 3rd down runs rather than just scrables? Well, because there's a difference betwen a design run and a scramble. A scramble indicates your OC is asking you to drop back for a pass. He's putting some amount of faith in your decision making there. The designed runs are usually option runs or QB draws Roman calls and they're pretty simple, but sometimes involve a read or two.
Roman & called 43 designed runs this year. 47 of Taylors other 90 runs, therefore, were scrambles in plays designed as passes.
(If you're wondering where those other 5 rushes are that Taylor is credited for, those were 5 kneeldowns for -6 yards, which means Taylor's actual rushing stats on the year were 90 rushes for 586 yards for 6.5 YPC)
Taylor scored 4 of his 6 rushing TDs on those designed runs, but he actually "only" gained about 4.9 yards a carry on them.
Now, if we consider that Taylor, who has a skillset unique to the majority of QBs in the NFL (Newton, Wilson, Rodgers are all exceptions with a couple others like Alex Smith), many of these other QBs (Brady, Rivers, Peyton, Eli, etc.) aren't going to be scrambling and/or scrambling for nearly as many yards on these plays where he breaks pressure... and in fact, these QBs would often go down for a sack. Yes, they'll also find the open man down the field sometimes that Taylor doesn't, but that's really already accounted for in all of their numbers, anyway.
So, the way I think of the passing game and vs. the running aspect of Taylor's game in 2016, this is how I see them:
3620 yards passing & 223 yards rushing
20 passing TDs & 4 rushing TDs
Four 300 yard passing games (Jets, @ Seattle, Pitt, Miami)
Yeah yeah yeah, I'm pretending that all of those designed passes are plays where he passes instead and gets the same results and adding those stats to the Jets game he was benched for in Week 17.
On the 47 plays in 2016 that are designed passes where, whether by force or choice (and a ton of them were by force), Taylor scrambles, he gains 371 yards. That means on all of those designed passes where he's forced to survey the field for an open WR and make a choice on who to throw it to (or scramble), Taylor is gaining more yardage than his YPA (7.9 on scrambles vs. 6.9 YPA). Actually, he's gaining more yards on those passing plays as a scrambler than all but 4 other NFL QBs did in 2016 as passers: Prescott, Cousins, Brady, & Ryan.
What that means is that everyone saying that Taylor running on those passing plays is a bad thing overall is just really not true. It might be on a few plays here and there, but overall, Taylor as a scrambler gains more yards on those plays he chooses to scramble than every other NFL QB did (except the 4 guys listed above) when they passed.
Those are the objective things.
Subjectively, I can say that watching all of his scrambles, he really was running for his life a whole lot and made some absolutely crazy plays that would have been sacks if not for his own athleticism. Mills really was a turnstile... I can't believe he's going to be back.
Anyway, I still have hope Taylor can be our long term answer, even though I no longer have any confidence he will. At the very least, he sure is exciting to watch.
*For those who had the patience to read all of that... bravo!* :-)
KEY TO QB PASSING OVER THE MIDDLE
Rodgers: 9.3% of total attempts, 57.9 % completions, 7.5 YPA, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 67.1 Passer Rating
Newton: 10.6% of total attempts, 59.3 % completions, 8.6 YPA, 3 TDs, 1 INTs, 98 Passer Rating
Mariota: 10.6% of total attempts, 66.7 % completions, 8.1 YPA, 3 TDs, 1 INTs, 103.6 Passer Rating
Carr: 12% of total attempts, 67.2 % completions, 8.6 YPA, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 100.3 Passer Rating
Taylor: 7.3% of total attempts, 78.1 % completions, 8.7 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 103 Passer Rating
Tannehill: 10.3% of total attempts, 70 % completions, 6.3 YPA, 0 TDs, 1 INTs, 76.3 Passer Rating
Wilson: 8.4% of total attempts, 65.2 % completions, 7.5 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 83.9 Passer Rating
Cousins: 11.7% of total attempts, 74.6 % completions, 10.4 YPA, 4 TDs, 4 INTs, 102.8 Passer Rating
Stafford: 10.8% of total attempts, 70.3 % completions, 7.9 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 93.8 Passer Rating
Luck: 15.8% of total attempts, 61.6 % completions, 7.4 YPA, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, 107.5 Passer Rating
Winston: 9.7% of total attempts, 72.7 % completions, 8.2 YPA, 2 TDs, 1 INTs, 101.5 Passer Rating
Ryan: 12.5% of total attempts, 71.6 % completions, 10.3 YPA, 7 TDs, 1 INTs, 133.3 Passer Rating