NFL

Against The Grain: Bills Did The Right Thing With Tyrod Taylor

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Shortly after the Buffalo Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan, the team doubled-down on their changes as they decided to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

The move to sit Taylor came with extreme scrutiny as Taylor has been a statistically functional quarterback for the team, and perhaps one of the best they’ve had since the days of Jim Kelly.

“That decision is on them,” Taylor said, via WKBW-AM in Buffalo. “I feel like I’ve done enough as far as my play to be the starter here. It wasn’t like I was outplayed, it was simply taken from me … and that decision came from them. We’ll see what the future holds.

“Did I believe that was fair? No I didn’t.”

Just a few weeks before the benching, general manager Doug Whaley gave a less than ringing endorsement of his quarterback.

“You got to look at the whole season,” Whaley said, via ESPN.com. “He’s got four more games to write this chapter. And then after this season, like everybody on the team, we’re going to do the evaluation, and we’ll go from there. But this season is one of those things where he’s done some things really good to get us to six wins. But just like everybody on the team, there are some plays that he wishes he could do over.”

Following the news that he was going to be benched, Taylor opted to look at having surgery for a groin issue.

Why did Taylor get benched? 

He was benched due to a $30 million injury guarantee in his contract that Buffalo would be on the hook for if he was hurt.  At this point, it’s unclear if Taylor does need groin surgery if that would kick in.

The decision to put him on the bench sent a loud and clear message that the Bills would not be picking up his 2017 option, and that angered many fans and media.  After all, Taylor is the best quarterback the team has had in over a decade, right?

The last great Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly, weighed in with his opinion of Taylor.

“We do not have [a franchise quarterback] as of right now,” Kelly told ESPN’s “First Take” on Wednesday. “Tyrod Taylor, he did a lot of things this year and last year that a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL cannot do. But consistently, he just wasn’t what we needed. He had to be more consistent on his throws. When we needed the first down to move the chains to win games, when we needed the first down to move the chains to continue that control of the ball to take time off the clock, we just didn’t have that there.”

The Bills don’t have a legitimate answer on the roster behind Taylor, as E.J. Manuel is awful and Cardale Jones is a project.  That doesn’t mean that Buffalo doesn’t have a plan.

Whaley doesn’t want to get caught up in “quarterback purgatory,” which is where you have a signal caller who can win some games, look pretty good at times, but ultimately can’t get you where you need to be.  In the process, he wins enough games to where you can’t draft his replacement.

It seems clear that the organization would rather bottom out than pay money to the wrong guy at the most important position.

That’s not a bad way of doing business.

Buffalo seems dysfunctional after this week’s press conferences when the general manager didn’t know that the head coach was being fired.  That doesn’t mean that they’re wrong about this.

Perhaps Buffalo likes one of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft, or maybe they’d like to give Cardale Jones a legitimate shot to win the job next year?  What is the worst that can happen, the team bottoms out if neither is good?

Bottoming out at least gets you out of that dreaded 7-9, 8-8, 9-7 rut that keeps you as a non-contender and also out of the Top 15 of the draft.

Even if the team signs a journeyman free agent quarterback and he wins the starting job over Jones or a rookie, at least they won’t be paying $30 million to be mediocre.

To put it simply, Taylor had his chance for two seasons and 29 starts to prove that he was a franchise quarterback.  Although he wasn’t as terrible as the previous Bills quarterbacks, he didn’t prove that he should be the present or the future.

Buffalo is moving on from mediocrity.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.