At the end of the month the Buffalo Bills will reconvene for training camp, in what will be a crucial time for a team that has playoff aspirations in 2016. There are a plethora of questions facing the team as we get closer to the start of camp at St. John Fisher College.
Over the next three weeks leading up to camp, 7 ABC will examine the 20 most pressing questions the Bills have for the upcoming season.
And to start it all off, we'll take a look at the most important position in the game: Quarterback.
1) Is Tyrod Taylor ready to take the next step?
Tyrod Taylor burst onto the scene in 2015 after he decided to sign with the Buffalo Bills as an unrestricted free agent -- with the hopes that he would finally win a starting job in the National Football League. By the end of the summer it was clear, Taylor was the best player the team had at the position, and the Bills named him the starting quarterback ahead of the start of the regular season.
Early on, Taylor had his moments through the first five games of the season. He played a competent, low-risk style of play while throwing the ball, and even showed off his ability to keep plays alive with his legs. He was as good as the Bills could have asked for in Week Three against Miami, and then he single-handedly took over against Tennessee in Week Five, leading them to a much-needed victory.
However, over the next few weeks a few issues popped up. First, his style of play paved the way to an injury to his knee, and he had to miss the next two games (both losses). More importantly, the top wide receiver Sammy Watkins wasn't nearly involved enough, and it led to some frustration from the pass catcher.
When Taylor came back from the injury, though, he rectified the Watkins problem and helped the wideout to the best stretch of statistical performances of his career to this point. However, as good as Taylor was at times during his 8-6 record as the Bills starter, there were still some deficiencies.
First, the obvious: Taylor, a mobile quarterback that doesn't have as strong of a build as some of his colleagues at the position, suffered an injury -- while running -- that potentially could have cost the Bills a chance to end the playoff drought. As no Bills fan can quite forget, they went 0-2 in EJ Manuel's two-game stretch as the Bills starting quarterback.
Second, after some self-scouting by the team and analysis from the offseason, it became evident to them that while Taylor showed much promise and progress in some areas, the passing attack widely neglected throwing it over the middle of the field -- and defenses started to notice. It resulted in the Bills not utilizing Charles Clay and Robert Woods as much as perhaps they probably could have.
Taylor has a lot to work with, and showed well -- specifically on play action and on deep passes outside the numbers. Now, it's up to him and the Bills to develop further as a team to help finally put an end to the non-playoff streak.
But the big question is this: can he do so?
Through the spring workouts, we were able to witness six practices and Taylor looked a bit different than he did this time last year. He was seeing the whole field, taking advantage of the middle to a notable degree, and he was even throwing the ball into tight windows.
Granted, to play devil's advocate, they were only spring workouts and there was no looming threat of either getting hit or what a turnover might mean for the flow of a game. Even with that in mind, Taylor's spring was impressive.
It seems he has everything in order to make the strides that the Bills want him to, but now, it's simply a matter of implementation, and most importantly, staying healthy for an entire season.
If he can, he could potentially be putting the Bills in a position that they haven't been in since the Music City Miracle. Yep, you guessed it... the crazy p-word that has evaded the Bills for a decade-and-a-half.
The most popular question I get from fans on Twitter and around town is pretty simple, 'Do the Bills actually have a quarterback?'
There is no easy answer at this point in time. All there is, is potential. And even the thought of that has to pretty fascinating for a fan base that has endured the longest-running postseason drought in the NFL.