Part 1 of 6: Playbook must expand in Tyrod Taylor's second season

Part 1 of a 6 part series that discusses the six keys to ending the Bills 16-year playoff drought.

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One of the biggest criticisms of Tyrod Taylor's first season at the helm for the Bills was his inability to throw consistently over the middle of the field. Or maybe it was more of a criticism of Greg Roman and his refusal to call plays that targeted the middle of the field.

Either way, if Rex Ryan truly thinks he has what it takes to get the Bills over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time since the year 2000, Taylor will need to take a step forward.

Throw away the stats from last season, they just don’t matter. By the end of the season, teams had the blueprint to stifle the Bills passing game by cutting off the sidelines, and daring the Bills signal caller to throw over the middle.

They rarely did.

To me, “they” is the key word. At times it appeared the game plan was designed to protect Taylor, running simple route concepts that utilized only one side of the field. When you cut off the entire field for a quarterback, naturally plays will funnel to the sideline.

Take yourself back to the Philadelphia game last season when Taylor and the Bills offense had an opportunity to win the game on the final drive. Instead of taking what the defense was giving him, he forced a ball down the sidelines to Sammy Watkins that was intercepted, rendering the game all but over.

Bills quarterback coach David Lee says he’s already seen a difference in his second year starter. “His eyes are in the right place. He’s looking for mismatches that he didn’t quite see all the time a year ago. Ability to stand in there with stuff in front of him, he’s been doing a great job of that this spring and throwing the ball over the middle with that stuff right in front of him, getting up on a high plant leg.” 

Ultimately, it may not be ability or play calling but Taylor’s size that creates problems for him throwing over the middle. “We studied Peyton Manning. He’s gotten better at it, he doesn’t care where he’s throwing it right now, I don’t think that’s a factor,” Lee continued.

Standing at just 6’1”, Taylor is one of the shortest starting quarterbacks in all of football so standing in the pocket and delivering the ball isn’t easy when you have guys like Cordy Glenn at 6’6” standing in front of you.

Any way you spin it, excuses as to why Taylor may have struggled last season throwing over the middle don’t matter. Taylor was good but needs to be better, and if he isn’t the Buffalo Bills will be looking at a 17th consecutive season without a playoff appearance.

 

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