LeSean McCoy said it best on Sunday, following a 33-18 win over the Cardinals.
“Every coach or team wants to have the best team in the NFL, but every coach doesn’t think that’s the reality. So why wouldn’t you use, the players you have, use their best abilities,” McCoy began.
“Tyrod (Taylor) one of the best things he can do, is he can run the ball. I mean he’s like a running back at quarterback, so why wouldn’t you not have him using his legs? There might be times that he throws the ball down field or a different pass play, or we could let him run for 48 yards like he did today. I mean that’s just what makes him a special player.”
He’s absolutely right. Taylor’s dual threat ability is what makes him dangerous, so dangerous that Rex Ryan made an abrupt change at offensive coordinator two weeks into the season, firing Greg Roman and promoting Anthony Lynn in an effort to incorporate Taylor’s legs in the offense more.
One week into the switch the results couldn’t have gone much smoother. Lynn wasted no time getting Taylor out into open space with read option plays – one of which went for a record 49 yards – and other designed QB runs. On separate occasions – like his 20-yard TD in the third quarter – Taylor dropped back to pass, saw a lane open up and called his own number. There’s a reason they call him T-Mobile.
“Well I just think that if you don’t use it, that it’s a mistake because I know how difficult it is to defend against a running quarterback,” Ryan explained after his team’s 33-18 win.”All that type of stuff, yeah, we got to use it. It’s something that we have that’s unique about our football team, to have a guy that’s the fastest quarterback in the league.”
Think of it as the training wheels coming off for Taylor. Instead of trying to mold him into the standard NFL QB that’s restricted to the pocket, the Bills want him to simply be himself. Do what he does best. Like McCoy said, what good is a coach if he can’t utilize his player’s strengths?
Of course, as he tends to do with most things, Taylor down played the notion that he has to use his legs every week for the Bills to win.
“There was some opportunities where I was able to use my legs. Certain teams are going to give you those opportunity going into a weekend and you know that, but that’s not going to be the formula ever week,” the second-year starter explained. “The good thing is that we have playmakers outside and in the backfield that whatever we need to do to get the win that week, that we’re capable of doing it. It’s just about us going out there and executin it.”
It certainly can’t be the formula every week because most teams won’t even allow Taylor the opportunity to run wild like he did in Week 3. Weeks 1 and 2 serve as a prime example. Both Baltimore and New York deployed the exact same strategy when it came to defending Taylor – make him a quarterback. Both succeeded.
The Cardinals failed at “making Taylor a quarterback” and he burned them. But it won’t always be that easy and the fact that other opponents game plan for Taylor by forcing him to be exactly what his job description requires him to do, is telling.
Heading into Week 4 the 27-year-old ranks 28th overall in pass attempts per game (77) and total yards (527), with a 61 completion percentage that comes in at 26th overall. Also, his 25.7 passing attempts per game put him out of the top 32 and below Robert Griffin III, who’s played in one game this season.
Surely the Patriots will look to take away Taylor’s mobility on Sunday, daring the QB to throw it against them. “Well, we’d like to have more production, there’s no doubt about it,” Ryan said. “Obviously, we really didn’t know that we wouldn’t have Sammy Watkins. We didn’t know we wouldn’t have Greg Salas right up until game time. So that was pretty tough. But we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully those guys will be in. If you’re going to pack them all down there to stop the run, that should give us some opportunities outside.”
Taylor has been asked how to combat the “make him a quarterback” strategy, his response, “be a quarterback.” He knows he has to be better. And for the Bills to guarantee upwards of $40 million to the signal caller at the start of the 2017 league year they have to know he can be more than, to steal McCoy’s words, “a running back at quarterback.”
Credit Anthony Lynn for resurrecting Tyrod Taylor’s legs as part of the offensive game plan. It’s a unique weapon the Bills have at their disposal that most teams don’t. Use it to keep opposing defenses honest, but at the end of the day Taylor is a quarterback, who has to be able to keep the passing game equally as effective. The Bills simply cannot let his legs become a crutch for the offense.
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