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Examining the QB options: What's the one thing about Tyrod Taylor that could make him a Broncos possibility?

Andrew Mason Avatar
February 28, 2021

Fourth in a series

PREVIOUS ENTRIES: Nick Foles | Marcus Mariota | Andy Dalton


  • EXPERIENCE: 11th year

THE HIGHS: It was clear by 2017 that Taylor was not a long-term answer for the Buffalo Bills at quarterback. In three years as their first-teamer, he was steady and unspectacular. In overall efficiency metrics, Taylor was around the league average for starters.

But with the Bills needing a win and some help to make their first playoff appearance since January 2000, Taylor delivered in the regular-season finale at Miami in Week 17. He played a typically efficient game, completing 19 of 27 passes, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass — with no giveaways. Buffalo eked out a 22-16 win and then watched as the Bengals beat the Ravens, sending Taylor and his team into the postseason.

THE LOWS: Seven days after guiding the Bills to the playoffs, Taylor was invisible in one of the most excruciating playoff games in recent memory — at least from the perspective of a neutral fan. He completed just 17 of his 37 passes — including just 6 of 17 after halftime — as Buffalo fell, 10-3. Jacksonville’s defense was stout, but even a modest performance might have been enough to push Taylor and the Bills to an upset.

In an arc that has echoes of past playoff straggler Brian Hoyer, Taylor has made just four starts since then.Each time, he ended up losing his job to a rookie — Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, Justin Herbert in Los Angeles. Perhaps the lowest moment was in Week 2 of last year, when a pregame injection punctured his lung, thrusting Herbert into the lineup. Herbert did so well that Taylor was benched.

FOUR-YEAR FORM (2017-20)

(Rankings are among 62 quarterbacks with at least 250 total plays — attempts, rushes and times sacked — over the past four years.)

  • PASSER RATING: 85.1, T-38th
  • YARDS PER ATTEMPT: 6.49, 47th
  • TOUCHDOWN-PASS RATE: One every 31.82 attempts, 57th
  • SACK RATE: One every 9.87 pass plays, 61st
  • INTERCEPTION RATE: One every 90.7 attempts, 2nd
  • FUMBLE RATE: One every 102.58 plays, 15th
  • BALL-LOSS RATE (INTERCEPTIONS + FUMBLES): One every 55.23 plays, 3rd

WHAT STANDS OUT: If ball security is job security — and nothing else matters — Taylor would not be on the quarterbacking fringe; he’d be a secure starter. Only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has a better interception rate than Taylor. (Also in the top five in this statistic is Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew II; we’ll get to him in a few days.)

Taylor would rather take a sack than risk a turnover. While there is some merit in that philosophy, expect him to hit the deck way too often. Only one quarterback with at least 250 attempts in the last four years has a worse sack rate (Josh Rosen). One year before the 2017-20 sample size, he absorbed a league-high 42 sacks.

WHY HE COULD BE A FIT: The dignified manner in which Taylor handled losing the starting job in Cleveland and Jacksonville provides evidence that if he ends up being Lock’s understudy, there will be no distraction in the locker room. If the goal is to find a quarterback who can offer experienced guidance for Lock and not sulk about a backup role, Taylor would be a prudent call.

But one more factor in his favor is this: Taylor’s penchant for avoiding giveaways might make him an intriguing option given that the Broncos led the NFL in turnovers last season. Lock’s 15 interceptions led the league, but exacerbating matters was his eight fumbles, which gave him a fumble rate that was ninth-worst among the 37 quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts last year.

WHY HE WOULDN’T BE: If Shurmur wants a quarterback who does not run frequently, Taylor will not be a fit. Taylor has run on 16.2 percent of his dropbacks in the last four years; only Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton and Josh Allen run more often. Taylor’s 4.88-yards-per-carry average in that span ranks 17th of 62 quarterbacks measured.

HOW THE BRONCOS MIGHT GET HIM: Via free agency. While Taylor’s steadiness ensures that he will be a quality backup no matter where he goes, he could opt to sign with a team where he believes he could beat out the starter. It’s possible he could view Denver as such a spot. One team to watch for Taylor’s services is the Houston Texans; his position coach in Los Angeles, Pep Hamilton, joined David Culley’s staff as quarterbacks coach on Jan. 30.


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