New General Manager Brandon Beane suggests Tyrod Taylor will need to earn his job like everyone else.
It’s not surprising if Tyrod Taylor begins the 2017 season as the Buffalo Bills‘ starting quarterback. He’s held the position for the past two years and is decent at it. It also helps that new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was Taylor’s quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens.
With experience and familiarity, he should be counted on to both start and play well this year.
But new General Manager Brandon Beane pumped the brakes on that train this weekend. First came an interview with the MMQB’s Peter King. In it, Beane stressed competition in all positions, including quarterback, stating:
"We have open competition everywhere. Obviously it is a quarterback league, but with Tyrod … He has some tools, his speed, he is tough to game-plan for. He has some strengths and he is still a young starter in this league. It is going to be a competition for every position, to let them fight it out and earn the right to start on this team."
Beane then went a step further in an interview with WGR on Monday. When asked if Tyrod Taylor would be the starter, he said:
"Well, you know, listen I’m new here. I met Tyrod the other day. Obviously I’ve seen Tyrod on film. If we walked out there today I would say Tyrod’s probably the starter. But we haven’t even gone through OTAs."
The uncertainty of the situation was summed up best by Beane himself.
At this point, it’s also worth noting the Buffalo Bills currently have quarterbacks T.J. Yates, Cardale Jones, Nathan Peterman and Josh Woodrum on the roster.
Of those four, Yates has the most experience, starting seven games and playing in 18. Jones is viewed as a raw prospect and didn’t impress much in limited action during the final week of the season. Woodrum bounced around the practice squads of a few other teams before ending up in Buffalo.
Peterman is an intriguing prospect. He was a fifth-round pick this year, but don’t hold his low draft status against him. His profile noted his experience in a pro-style offense, which should give him a head start on fellow rookies. That analysis also praised his pocket presence, accuracy and elusiveness, even comparing him to Kirk Cousins.
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Crazy Tom Brady comparisons aside, don’t be surprised if Peterman steps in should Taylor struggle.
But will that situation actually happen this year? It’s possible, but not likely. McDermott preaches competition, but it’s hard to see Peterman beating out Tyrod Taylor in training camp. Tyrod has the experience in Rick Dennison’s offense. Critics will point out his short-comings, but he’s 15-14 as a starter, which is a lot better than recent Buffalo Bills quarterbacks.
While Peterman operated in a pro-style offense at the University of Pittsburgh, he’ll need to adjust to NFL-level speed. Taylor spent the past six years in it. Not to mention Peterman will still need to beat out Yates, Woodrum and Jones for a roster spot. You can never guarantee that will happen.
But honestly, I can forecast that happening. Jones is an uninspiring project from the Rex Ryan-Doug Whaley era and Sean McDermott has no problem getting rid of those. T.J. Yates is a career back-up, even if he has more playoff experience than the last 17 years of the entire Bills franchise. Woodrum might not even be on the roster by training camp.
Peterman is a guy drafted by McDermott, with the ability to rise up the depth charts quickly due to his ability.
In that MMQB interview, head coach Sean McDermott sounded a bit more positive on Taylor than Beane:
"We’re anxious to see how Tyrod develops in his third year as a starter in a new system, a system that he has some familiarity with in terms of [new Buffalo offensive coordinator] Rick Dennison’s system in Baltimore a few years back with Gary Kubiak."
Going off that quote, I sense cautious optimism from McDermott, which contrasts with Beane’s uncertain mentality. The head coach knows a strong-armed, mobile quarterback can take you to a Super Bowl from his years in Carolina. He’s holding out hope it can happen again in Buffalo.
Tyrod Taylor also has glaring weaknesses in his game. He struggles throwing with anticipation and his pocket presence is shaky. It lead to a lot of sacks and a downturn in his passer rating last year. He wasn’t entirely at fault for it, as his receiving corps was one of the NFL’s worst, but that same scenario could happen again this year.
Those sorts of judgments will likely be made during the season. It’s early, but no other quarterback currently on the roster has shown the upside that Tyrod does. I’d bet Tyrod Taylor wins the job in training camp and will be under center for the season opener against the New York Jets.
But after that? Don’t be surprised if the outcry for playing Peterman grows louder, particularly if he plays well in preseason and especially if Tyrod struggles. Going off their comments, it sounds like McDermott and Beane are more than open to that possibility.
Who do YOU think should be the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback in 2017? Leave your comments below!