The Bills Forgot How To Play Defense So Tyrod Taylor Gets Benched?

Over the last two games, the Buffalo Bills have given up 81 points and 813 total yards in losses to the Jets and Saints. The Jets hung 331 yards on the team while Drew Brees and the Saints went for 482 total yards, ugly stats for sure. But the Bills are sill in both division and playoff contention with an overall record of 5-4, so most would assume that the team just needed to make some adjustments on defense to get them back on the right track.

Well those in that category would assume wrong as coach Sean McDermott decided to place the blame for the team’s struggles on their quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, announcing today that he was benching him in favor of rookie Nate Peterman and shocking pretty much everyone. This is even more shocking considering that on Monday McDermott said he wouldn’t bench Taylor.

Jon Scott on Twitter

Sean McDermott says he understands why fans may be calling for Nathan Peterman, but here’s why he won’t be replacing Tyrod Taylor. #Bills https://t.co/OG6apEel4T

What a difference two days can make.

As I continually evaluate our roster and our goal to become better Ive decided to start Nate Peterman as our quarterback this week, said McDermott today. I remain confident in Tyrod Taylor and his ability to help our football team move forward.

Again, this is only two days after his press conference where he reiterated he wouldn’t be making a change at QB.  

Buffalo Bills on Twitter

We are made for more than 5-4 and I’ve come here to be more than 5-4.” Nathan Peterman will start at QB Sunday: https://t.co/7SUAyusHCO https://t.co/PzczNBpoiu

Tyrod was our starter when you guys asked me that question Sunday and again on Monday, said McDermott. Just like every week I continue to evaluate our team and our situation. I thought about it and slept on it and I felt like we needed to move in a different direction at this time and made a decision Tuesday morning.

Needless to say, this did not sit well with Taylor, who tried his best to be a team player after the move was announced.

Definitely disappointed, said Taylor, who is one of the team’s five captains. Ultimately coach McDermott has a vision for this team and what he feels is best for the team, as well as the owners and GM. I have to move forward and continue to be the teammate and leader that I am from a different role.

Vocally, I still have to go out there and lead the guys. I got voted captain for a reason, he continued. Those attributes are things that come with me being the quarterback of this team. That doesnt necessarily fade away. Im that same person. I have to show that leadership. I think now guys are going to look at me even more to see how I respond in this situation.

Looking at this move after witnessing the way the Bills were essentially destroyed defensively has left everyone puzzled. Don’t forget that Taylor had been benched in the final game of the season last year and then not immediately named as the starter when McDermott took the job this year, so things haven’t always been comfortable for Taylor in Orchard Park, despite being named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. Some believe it’s a money situation or just wanting to do something to jump start the offense. But others have hinted at subtle racism, which is something Tyrod himself addressed a few weeks ago in an interview with the Buffalo News.

Its always going to be twice as bad just because of who I am an African-American quarterback, Taylor says, echoing a familiar refrain among people of color, regardless of professional status. Look across the league, man. Were held to a certain standard. We almost have to be perfect.

After a move like this, one can’t help but wonder how much of a factor Taylor’s skin color played into the decision. And it’s nothing new or surprising. Look at the venom spewed at Cam Newton for “dabbing”; hated on for a simple celebration but not praised for the work he did with the community or giving footballs to children after scoring a TD. This is the fight that Black QBs have faced for decades, always being told to conform and fit into a system as opposed to designing a system for their talents. To focus on becoming a pocket passer and not run, while QBs like Aaron Rodgers are praised for their mobility.

Cam Newton said it best when he stated I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to. And, despite all of his faults (particularly recently), he’s still 100% correct.

The same could be said in some ways as it relates to Taylor. He lacks the physical presence and all of the media hype that surrounds Cam, but he seems to be misunderstood or sorely underappreciated. He was a QB that everyone slept on coming out of Virginia Tech until he was taken in the sixth round in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Ravens, eventually moving on to Buffalo and becoming the team’s starting quarterback in 2015. Since that time, in his 38 games as the starting QB for the Bills, he has amassed 7,742 yards passing with 47 TDs and 15 interceptions while also rushing for 1,385 yards and 12 TDs. While his stats aren’t elite, he stands as one of the most efficient and effective QBs in the game today. 

CBS Sports on Twitter

The list of QB this season with 10+ TD and 3 or less INT: Tom Brady Aaron Rodgers Alex Smith Tyrod Taylor

Plenty of eyes will now be focused on the Bills as they prepare for their game against the Chargers in LA. What happens if they get shredded defensively again? What happens if Peterman struggles? Lots of questions will be thrown McDermott’s way no matter what happens this weekend, but let’s not forget that Tyrod can only play one position on the field, so it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, all come down to him.

Hopefully he’s back under center soon. But if Buffalo doesn’t understand and/or appreciate the type of player he is and continues to keep him on the bench, then look for Taylor to be under center in a different uniform next season. 

Hey NY Jets, are you paying attention?