(Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports)

Much has changed for Luck & Taylor since 2011

Tyrod Taylor's last start was in the 2011 Orange Bowl against Andrew Luck and Stanford. Taylor's first NFL start will come against Luck and his Colts.

A lot has changed between Andrew Luck and Tyrod Taylor since they last met on the field on January 3, 2011. It was on that date that Luck and the Stanford Cardinal defeated Taylor’s Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2011 Orange Bowl by a score of 40-12.

Back then, Luck was already considered as the top pro quarterback prospect in college football. That season, Luck led the Pac-10 in pass efficiency (170.2), touchdown passes (32), total offense (3,791 yards) and passing yards (3,338 yards). At the end of the year, Luck was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and named to the All Pac-10 First Team.

The Orange Bowl was Taylor’s final game with the Hokies. Taylor and Virginia Tech had started the season 0-2 before rattling off 11 straight wins. He finished the season with 2,743 passing yards and a TD-INT ratio of 24-to-5. In addition, Taylor rushed for 403 yards and five touchdowns in his final season at Virginia Tech. Despite having his fair share of success with Virginia Tech, there were many people who questioned if Taylor could play at the next level.

One quarterback went first overall in the 2012 NFL draft; the other saw 179 players selected before him in the 2011 draft. One quarterback started from day one and took a team that finished 2-14 the year before to a record of 11-5. The other quarterback threw one pass as a rookie and has 35 career attempts.

In three seasons, Luck and the Colts have 33 regular season wins and three playoff wins. In four seasons, Taylor has no starts, but was a member of a Super Bowl winning team. Luck, the ‘sure thing’ among the two quarterbacks, has proven himself to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Taylor, the wild card, has spent the majority of his career backing up Joe Flacco with the Ravens.

As a backup for four seasons, Taylor has had plenty of time to develop as a quarterback. He found himself on a team where he couldn’t compete for the starting job but he could work on improving his game.

As a free agent in 2015, Taylor had options. Buffalo offered Taylor an opportunity to compete for a starting job against E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel. Gary Kubiak, the offensive coordinator of the Ravens in 2014, was hired to be head coach of the Denver Broncos. Kubiak wanted to bring Taylor with him to the team and supposedly Denver offered the quarterback more money than what Taylor agreed to with the Bills. Taylor could have backed up Peyton Manning and perhaps took over as Broncos quarterback as soon as 2016. Instead, the quarterback chose to go to Buffalo to compete for a starting job in 2015.

After joining the Bills, Taylor was praised by his former coach and a former teammate. Harbaugh told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that Taylor was better than anyone thinks.

https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/627492720022417408

Ravens safety, Terrence Brooks, praised Taylor as well saying that Taylor was ‘definitely a guy who could’ve been a starter’ with the Ravens.

Taylor proved Harbaugh and Brooks right and won Buffalo’s three-way competition for the starting job in Buffalo. Throughout the preseason, Taylor proved that he could be a pocket passer. He showed tremendous accuracy and growth as a passer. Taylor is still just as dangerous as ever as a runner. That said, Taylor cannot be looked at as just an athlete anymore. He’s an NFL starting QB who has worked hard for his upcoming opportunity.

A lot has changed for Luck and especially for Taylor. The quarterbacks will find themselves facing off for the first time in over four years in just a few days. In Taylor’s last start, he saw his team fall 40-12. On Sunday, Taylor’s first start since the 40-12 loss, a lot can change for quarterback and his new team.

 


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