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Bills’ Ryan finally finds Taylor-made QB

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Throughout his six-year tenure with the New York Jets, coach Rex Ryan took plenty of abuse for his inability to understand quarterback play, and how to develop a reliable player at the game’s most important position.

Maybe the defensive guru is starting to figure things out because one week into the 2015 season, it appears he made an inspired choice in Tyrod Taylor the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback.

Taylor won a much-ballyhooed three-man competition over Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel to earn the start Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. He completed 14 of his first 16 passes (finished 14-of-19) for 195 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo’s 27-14 victory.

Taylor was not sacked and his scrambling ability accounted for 41 rushing yards.

“I mean, we said it all along and you can ignore practices, you can ignore the film if you want, but we know who he is, and we felt great about it,” said Ryan.

“This guy’s got some magic to him with his legs, he’s smart, he did a great job. We chose him because we know he belongs.”

The issue with Taylor was whether he could function from the pocket. Everyone knows about his athleticism, and he scares defensive coordinators to death with his elusiveness and speed.

However, most running quarterbacks eventually get bottled up once the game tape starts floating around, so they have to stand and deliver from the pocket. Taylor did that.

“He’s extremely hard to defend, especially when he’s so accurate with the football,” guard Richie Incognito said. “Being an accurate pocket passer opens up a whole new can of worms.

“That’s the next dimension, being a pocket passer and moving the chains. The long pass to Percy really got us going, kind of ignited us.”

Taylor’s best pass of the day was clear proof that he has a strong, accurate arm. Percy Harvin drew a one-on-one matchup on the right side against Indianapolis cornerback Darius Butler.

Taylor recognized it, dropped back, and let fly with a perfect strike that Harvin caught in stride in the end zone for the game’s first score.

That started a stretch in which the Bills scored on four straight possessions to open a 24-0 lead.

“It was a great call,” Harvin said. “He knew I was going to be in a one-on-one situation. I had a great release and Tyrod threw a great ball and it landed perfect.”

With Taylor in control, the Bills gained 342 yards against an average Colts defense, and Taylor looked confident and poised, almost as though he’d been there, done that, even though he really hadn’t in the NFL.

He had thrown only 35 regular-season passes in four years as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore.

“It’s not about me, it’s never about me,” Taylor said. “It’s about the team. This is a team sport and we went out there and played well as a team.

“There is some things we could clean up, but it will never be about me. I think we showed how special we can be especially as an offensive unit.”

REPORT CARD VS. COLTS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus — QB Tyrod Taylor made an efficient debut as an NFL starter. He completed 14 of his first 16 passes before three incompletions in a row to close his line. He finished with 195 yards, was not sacked, and he did not turn the ball over. Taylor’s 51-yard touchdown pass to WR Percy Harvin was a perfectly thrown deep ball and it ignited the offense. Harvin led the way with five catches for 79 yards, and Charles Clay had four for 43. Taylor completed passes to only four targets, and one of them was not WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins was shut out, and was thrown to only three times all day. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to get that figured out in a hurry.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — The Bills finished with 147 yards, but 41 of those came from QB Tyrod Taylor’s scrambles. The reality was that Buffalo didn’t get great push up front, and when the Bills needed to kill some clock in the fourth quarter, they weren’t effective. RB LeSean McCoy had a lackluster debut with 41 yards on 17 carries, although he did have a 12-yard touchdown nullified by a penalty. Rookie Karlos Williams’ first NFL touch went for a 26-yard touchdown, and he finished with 55 yards on six carries.

PASS DEFENSE: A-minus — Coach Rex Ryan knew he had to generate pressure on QB Andrew Luck, and he succeeded. The Bills registered only two sacks, but Luck was on the move much of the day because of all the blitzes Ryan threw at him. Luck’s quarterback rating was only 63.6 as he completed 26-of-49 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bills broke up 12 passes, including four by CB Stephon Gilmore. Rookie CB Ronald Darby made his first career pick, and SS Aaron Williams had the other. The Bills lost FS Corey Graham to a concussion on the game’s first play, and Bacarri Rambo stepped in and was solid.

RUSH DEFENSE: A — The Bills are stout up front, even without DT Marcell Dareus, who sat out the game serving a suspension, and the Colts knew this. They hardly tried to establish their ground game and it showed, as they finished with only 64 yards on 17 attempts. DT Corbin Bryant replaced Dareus and he was in on five tackles, while LB Nigel Bradham had a team-high eight stops.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A — A strong day all the way around. Punter Colton Schmidt had a 46.2 net average and had two punts fair caught inside the 10. Dan Carpenter was called out by coach Rex Ryan during the week for his poor preseason, and his response was success on 41- and 45-yard field goals and all three of his extra points on a windy day. Jordan Gay produced three touchbacks in six kickoffs. And Randell Johnson recovered a muffed Indianapolis punt return at the Colts 26, which set up a Carpenter field goal.

COACHING: A — Offensive coordinator Greg Roman recovered from an awful play call to start the game, and was sharp most of the rest of the day. On the first touchdown to Percy Harvin, he made a nice call to get Harvin one-on-one while Sammy Watkins was doubled on the other side. Roman needs to find a way to get more out of the running game, though. On defense, Ryan sent a variety of blitzes to get Luck off his spot in the pocket, and the Colts quarterback struggled all day to get into a groove. Ryan had the Bills ready to play in front of a rabid home crowd. Eleven penalties for 113 yards needs to be addressed.


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