Two and a half quarters after benching him, the Buffalo Bills realized how much they actually need Tyrod Taylor.
I’ll spare you hyperbole: Nathan Peterman is a bad NFL quarterback.
Five interceptions in less than 30 minutes of game time were all the proof we needed. Peterman bottoming out was particularly vindicating for those who railed against Buffalo for benching Tyrod Taylor after Week 10 despite him having perhaps his best season as a pro.
As we saw with Peterman, the bar in Buffalo wasn’t very high but Taylor was clearing it prior to his benching. He turned in a putrid game against the Saints and hasn’t been able to help the Bills do more than manage a lead this season, but he’s proved to be vastly underrated.
Taylor plays behind one of the more average offensive lines in football, one that rather consistently breaks down. Despite this, he has barely been sacked which is attributed to his ability to make plays on the run. Most quarterbacks scrambling for their lives commit turnovers; Taylor has five on the season (three interceptions and two fumbles). It took him almost no time on Sunday to remind us of that, especially in the shadow of Peterman’s forgettable day.
Tyrod doing Tyrod things. Keeps the play alive, rolls left, finds Zay Jones crossing. Just need to sure up Taylor’s tackling ability and this #Bills team might be onto something. pic.twitter.com/Q1qbP4fdcT
— Nick Wojton (@Nick_Wojton) November 20, 2017
Those plays not always turning into anything says more about his lack of weapons than anything else. The fact that Taylor was completing well over 60 percent of his passes despite having Zay Jones as his No. 1 receiver is astonishing.
It wasn’t surprising that the Bills benched Taylor. Buffalo seems to want a system guy, and never played to the strengths of its mobile quarterback. Trading for Kelvin Benjamin was a step in the right direction, but it came after letting Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins go — both of whom have become top targets for Jared Goff in Los Angeles. From the start, it has felt like the Bills don’t have Taylor’s back and want a pocket passer to lead the offense.
They were wrong. Wrong about Taylor and wrong about trying to fix what was not permanently broken. Chalk it up to a first-time head coach making a brazen move and missing on it. McDermott is still a good head coach and the future for Buffalo remains bright. The ramifications of that bad decision will be the real punishment. Taylor has no reason to be loyal to Buffalo and it’s been made clear they don’t believe in him. Maybe it’s repairable but it looks really bad right now. Some team with a good offense will give Taylor the proper environment in which to shine, but that team isn’t Buffalo.
In the end, the experiment did more than sour a relationship with Taylor — it likely cost Buffalo its season. Had Taylor started, there’s a decent chance he doesn’t throw five interceptions and dig a hole the team can’t possibly climb out of. Now the Bills are 5-5 and in danger of falling out of the playoff race.
Buffalo overperformed for most of the year and has regressed back to the mean. The defense is a shell of what it was and there are problems elsewhere on the roster. They’re back to being who we thought they were going to be but it’s now clearer than ever that Taylor was never part of the problem.