Through five weeks of the season, the Buffalo Bills have gotten off to a 3-2 start to the season, which has shown they’re at least ahead of the generally accepted schedule both fans and media had of the team heading into the 2017 season.
As is the case for NFL teams through a bye week, it’s a time for reflection about what has happened, and what’s to come. With that said, what are the biggest questions for the Bills as the season continues? We’ll be counting down the top seven throughout the week.
No. 2: Is Tyrod Taylor capable of leading the Bills to the playoffs in 2017?
I think I’ve got this whole thing pinpointed with Tyrod Taylor — at least the fan sentiment of it all. What we’re seeing now, into his third year of starting for the Bills, is that some fans are having Tyrod Taylor fatigue.
We’ll call it ‘TTF’ for short.
Why is TTF so commonplace? It’s pretty simple when you think about it, actually.
Fans have seen the same things week in, and week out from Taylor without much semblance of improvement from where he was in 2015, and definitely not a lot from 2016, either. Taylor has been a constant — a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of quarterback that can get the ball where you need it to go when he has the players around him to make some plays and to not turn the ball over, either.
However, over the offseason, a few things happened here, which has led us to the TTF point:
1) The Bills hired a new head coach.
2) The Bills slashed Tyrod Taylor’s salary in a restructure, otherwise he might not have been kept around.
3) The Bills hired a new general manager.
4) Having been asked repeatedly about it publicly, the Bills have not given any other obligation to Taylor past 2017.
5) The question of ‘Can he be ‘the guy’?’ has instead been replaced with ‘How long until the next shot at ‘the guy’?’
6) The Bills drafted Nathan Peterman.
7) Nathan Peterman showed he could move the ball against second and third-team defenses in the preseason.
8) Tyrod Taylor continues to have the same struggles as he always has.
9) TTF sets in for a portion of the fanbase.
If you’re one of these fans, I get where you're coming from. I really do.
However, if you’re clamoring for Nathan Peterman to replace Tyrod Taylor anytime soon? You’re going to have to deal with it, because that’s not happening as long as the playoffs are alive in their minds, and as long as Taylor continues ‘the constant’ of his play.
Like it or not Taylor gives the Bills the best chance to win this season, and that is clearly not going to be something that head coach Sean McDermott sacrifices as the Bills continue on in 2017. He wants to give it his best shot at making the playoffs this year with the players that they have, to help establish an identity within the locker room down the road, and as to not punt on the season completely which could allow for some bad habits to form within the organization.
With a defense as good as the one that the Bills have shown to be through five weeks, and some offensive players returning from injury, Taylor is a good enough player to keep them in most games they play — and perhaps even to get them over the hump to win a game. While he isn’t a player that elevates the level of play around him from lesser players, he’s shown the ability to make plays when ahead well enough to help the team to victory — and to do so while limiting turnovers.
While Peterman is the shiny new toy, his weaknesses are more desirable to some because we just don’t know them yet. Or, fans are eager to see what they have in him before the 2018 NFL Draft, to try and decide how aggressive the team should be to find one in April.
However, Peterman really wasn’t extraordinary during the preseason and didn’t show enough to be trusted so early in his NFL career -- at least not by my eyes.
Knowing everything that we know about McDermott, Taylor will continue to be his guy for the foreseeable future. If the Bills fall from grace and are out of the playoff mix, then it will be time to give Peterman a shot just to see if there’s anything there to work with.
I contend that with a good enough team around him, Taylor is good enough to help them get to the playoffs as a contributing piece — not the sole reason that they’re there. And with all of their actions, along with the record through five weeks, the Bills seem to feel the same way, too.