Tyrod Taylor Should Have Been a No-Brainer for the Buffalo Bills
I am not ashamed to admit that I am a huge fanboy of MTV's reality show, Are You The One?. It's blissfully trashy entertainment, and the fantasy games you can get from it are far superior to The Bachelor.
The point of the show is for 11 women and 11 men to find their "perfect matches," a romantic pairing determined beforehand by match makers. They have ceremonies to help them whittle down the choices, and if all 11 perfect matches find each other in 10 weeks, they get a million bucks.
This can lead to some frustrating times. If math says two people are paired together, but one of them refuses because they've fallen in a crazy little thing called love with someone else, you want to scream obscenities into a pillow until you lose consciousness. If MATLAB says you a match, then you a match, bruh.
Buffalo is keeping Tyrod Taylor on a restructured contract, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2017
Our long, national nightmare is finally over.
At the end of the day, the Bills made the right decision in keeping Taylor. He wasn't their biggest problem, and competent quarterbacks aren't easy to find. That doesn't mean their trepidation around this decision is easy to comprehend.
Let's go back through the analytics to show why this should have been a no-brainer with the help of numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP). This is the metric we use to track the efficiency of both teams and players. For Taylor, we'll be focusing on Passing NEP, which accounts for the expected points he adds on each completion while also deducting points for negative events such as sacks, interceptions, and incompletions. A three-yard pass on 3rd and 2 is far different than that same completion on 3rd and 4, and NEP helps quantify those differences.
The Bills eventually accepted their perfect match. But it shouldn't have taken this long to arrive at that conclusion. Here's why.
If you've found a quarterback on a reasonable contract who is above average, you had better hold on tight. That's what the Bills have in Taylor.
In his two years as starter, Taylor has racked up 130.89 Passing NEP on 897 total drop backs. For some perspective, over this same time, Cam Newton has 106.28 Passing NEP on 177 additional drop backs, and Newton was the MVP one of those years.
Here's how Taylor compares to the league average in these two seasons if we reduce everything to being on a per-drop back basis. Success Rate is the percentage of drop backs that result in an increase in expected points for the drive.
|Last Two Years||Passing NEP per Drop Back||Success Rate|
Although Taylor's Success Rate is below average, he's able to make up for it with his big-play abilities. We can also factor in what Taylor adds with his legs, and he ranked third among quarterbacks this year in Rushing NEP. All around, dude is solidly above average.
These are Taylor's metrics in a vacuum. But that's before we consider what was around him, and it should get Bills fans even more jacked about his future.
In Taylor's two seasons with the Bills, stud wide receiver Sammy Watkins missed 13 games with various ailments. Watkins has been electric when he has played, though, and having him healthy could allow Taylor to take a step forward in 2017.
Here are the Bills' passing metrics over the past two years when targeting Watkins compared to when they have targeted any other player. Just as a reminder, these will appear inflated relative to Taylor's overall metrics because they do not account for sacks. Ya think Watkins is an important part of the offense?
|Past Two Seasons||Passing NEP||Passing NEP per Attempt||Success Rate|
|All Other Players||171.83||0.22||48.76%|
Even though Watkins had accounted for just 16.14% of the targets, he added 32.70% of the Passing NEP in these two seasons. Maybe it's Taylor and Watkins who are the perfect match.
Taylor was successful in his two years as starter despite having Watkins (and others) miss significant time. If the Bills can keep Watkins healthy and potentially add another pass catcher, it's possible we haven't even seen the best Taylor has to offer.
An Easy Decision
It may have taken the Bills a long time to figure it out, but bringing Taylor back is the right choice. It also gives them flexibility to take the team to the next level.
In bringing Taylor back, the Bills now have freedom with their 10th overall pick. This draft seems to be loaded with defensive talent, so they could go that way and address a unit that struggled under previous head coach, Rex Ryan. They could also stick on the offensive side and add a young pass catcher to further help the passing game. No matter what they do, it's flexibility they wouldn't have had if Taylor had been let go.
Just like with Are You The One?, it doesn't matter that the Bills tried to stray from the match-making geniuses. At the end of the day, they would up gravitating toward the one they were meant to be with. And if they properly capitalize and address other needs this offseason, it could finally allow the Bills to make their long-awaited return to the postseason.