Taylor stepping up as Bills’ QB

The Sports Xchange

September 28, 2015 at 1:12 pm.

Sep 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) looks to pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor shook off a rough Week 2 outing against New England, and played nearly flawless as the Bills rolled up 428 yards. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ORCHARD PARK, N. Y. – The maturation process for quarterback Tyrod Taylor took another step forward in Buffalo’s 41-14 romp over the Miami Dolphins Sunday. Taylor shook off a rough Week 2 outing against New England, and played nearly flawless as the Bills rolled up 428 yards.

“He was in complete control of the game,” wide receiver Percy Harvin said of Taylor. “He got us all lined up, he read his matchups very well, and he went to the matchup that he liked. We knew it was going to be one-on-one all game and you see pretty much all the receivers and tight ends had catches today.”

What was striking was the way offensive coordinator Greg Roman opened up the playbook and did not play it conservative even though Taylor was making his first career start in a road game. On the opening drive, he called five straight passes, Taylor completed them all, and the last was a 25-yard touchdown to tight end Charles Clay.

“We have the utmost faith in Tyrod, that’s never wavered one bit,” said Roman. “I think it was a really good week for him; he grew a lot watching last week’s film and taking it to the practice field. It’s part of the growth process of a guy making his third start.”

Harvin said Taylor’s play in the fourth quarter against the Patriots when he threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, was a harbinger of things to come in Miami.

“I was happy that he battled back in the third and fourth quarter last week, so I liked his poise in that game, and it carried over today,” said Harvin, who caught seven passes for 66 yards. “You could see once we got out here warming up, he had that look in his eye; he knew what he wanted to accomplish today and we did that.”

The always understated Taylor refused to accept his much-deserved kudos. “It was a team win, it’s always going to be a team win,” said Taylor, who completed 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers or sacks. “We went out there and battled together. We fed off of each other’s energy, offense, defense, special teams, and collectively we won that game.”

Taylor’s performance through three weeks has been better than anyone could have expected, you would think. But Rex Ryan, who chose Taylor to be his starter over EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel following a laborious competition, isn’t surprised at all.

“This whole football team has confidence in him,” said Ryan. “We know he’s legit and when the protection holds up this kid can burn you. It was a great plan, I love what Greg did. We did a great job keeping them off balance and then we had some great throws down the field, too.”

–PASSING OFFENSE: A. One of the storylines coming into the game was how QB Tyrod Taylor would bounce back from a tough game against the Patriots in which he threw three picks. His response was a near flawless 21 of 29, 277-yard, three-TD, no-turnover, no-sack performance against the Dolphins. Taylor benefited from a game plan that had him rolling out on several plays to disrupt the Dolphins pass rush, and they never caught him all day. WR Sammy Watkins left the game with a calf injury, but WR Percy Harvin filled the void with seven catches for 66 yards. WR Chris Hogan contributed a 38-yard TD reception, LeSean McCoy caught a 10-yard TD, and TE Charles Clay had a 25-yard TD in his return to Miami.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus. McCoy was slowed by his nagging hamstring and was limited to 34 offensive snaps. On most of those he was not productive as he gained just 16 yards on 11 carries, but it didn’t matter because rookie Karlos Williams stepped in and gained 110 yards, 41 coming on a TD run late in the game. The Bills gouged Miami for 151 yards even though RG John Miller had to leave in the first quarter with a groin injury.

–PASS DEFENSE: B-plus. The Bills recorded only two sacks, but that wasn’t an important part of the story. They pressured Ryan Tannehill all day using Rex Ryan’s aggressive blitz tactics, and Tannehill rarely was able to stand in the pocket and scan the field. The pressure forced him into three first-half interceptions, two of those by LB Preston Brown, one of which he returned for a game-breaking 43-yard TD that made the score 24-0. SS Corey Graham was all over the field with 12 tackles, and CB Ronald Darby had four pass breakups and an interception.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A. The Dolphins had 19 yards at halftime, and managed to get to 102 by the end of the game. The Bills rendered Lamar Miller invisible, and Jonas Gray’s 49 yards came almost entirely when the issue was long decided. DTs Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams controlled the middle, and that, plus the early lead Buffalo took, forced Miami into a pass mode and Tannehill dropped back 51 times. DE Jerry Hughes was a menace against the pass, but also against the run.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus. One week after a mortifying performance that included six accepted penalties (and three that were declined), the Bills were much more fundamentally sound. There were only two penalties, both on the same play, so one was declined. Dan Carpenter made two field goals from 51 and 26, and missed from 54, and he made all five of his extra points after pushing one last week. KO specialist Jordan Gay produced four touchbacks, and Miami had just 63 yards on its four kickoff returns. Colton Schmidt had a 39.3 net punt average.

–COACHING: A. The Bills’ staff completely out-coached Joe Philbin and his crew. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman put together a creative and effective game plan that gave Tyrod Taylor the freedom to work from outside the pocket. The result was no sacks, and 277 yards passing. On defense, Rex Ryan went back to his blitzing ways and it gave Tannehill fits as he threw three interceptions. Just as important, Ryan regrouped his team after it had gotten manhandled by the Patriots a week earlier, and the Bills were ready to play against a division opponent on the road.