The Bills brought in two new quarterbacks this offseason, trading for Matt Cassel and signing Tyrod Taylor. Most people figured Cassel was in line to start and Taylor was brought in to be a backup. But that may not be the case.
The Buffalo News reports that Bills coach Rex Ryan has shown greater enthusiasm for Taylor than for Cassel, that Ryan has wanted to coach Taylor for a long time and previously wanted the Jets to acquire him, and that Ryan says Taylor is the fastest quarterback in the NFL and can change games with his speed.
Ryan might be right that Taylor is the fastest quarterback in the NFL: Among all active quarterbacks, the only one who ran a faster 40-yard dash at the Combine than Taylor’s 4.51 was Robert Griffin III, and Griffin doesn’t look as fast now as he did before the knee injury at the end of his rookie year. Taylor is so impressive with the ball in his hands that at times when he was Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore, the Ravens let Taylor take snaps in the Wildcat formation, much to Flacco’s chagrin.
But Taylor has never proven himself as an NFL passer: In very limited action as a backup to Flacco, he has completed 54.3 percent of his passes, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Both Cassel and EJ Manuel have shown more as NFL passers than Taylor has. It would be a big risk for the Bills to put such an unproven quarterback under center in Week One.
It might just be a risk Ryan is willing to take, however, on the theory that the Bills need to win games with their defense and running game, and Taylor is the quarterback on the roster whose skills are most conducive to that. Don’t be surprised if Taylor is the starter when the season starts, and Cassel is no longer on the roster at all.