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Buffalo Bills vs Los Angeles Chargers

1. The Buffalo Payments have modified quarterbacks. I've ideas about that, and I've transferred these ideas to the printed phrase. However first, as a result of all of it ties in, a fast take a look at the AFC playoff race.
It's technically true that Buffalo is in a playoff race. If Jerry Jones determined the common season ought to finish proper at this second, the Payments can be driving south in a convoy of 12-passenger vans, their vacation spot a wild-card sport in Jacksonville.
However let’s assume they are going to certainly full the common season as scheduled. If the Patriots fulfill their birthrights as AFC East champions eternally, that leaves the Payments (5-Four) battling the Titans (6-Four) or Jaguars (6-Three), Dolphins (Four-5), Ravens (Four-5) and Raiders (Four-5, with Buffalo locked into the tiebreaker) for one of many two wild-card spots. On the floor, the chances appear favorable. The Payments are unhealthy, however so are the Dolphins and Ravens. The Raiders is perhaps slightly higher than that trio, however the Payments’ victory over Oakland basically offers them a two-game lead over the Raiders with seven to play. The Payments’ path to the postseason will get tough whenever you dive into the schedules:
Titans (6-Four): They've an exceedingly simple month arising: at Indianapolis, residence towards the Texans, at Arizona and at San Francisco. They’ll be favored in all these video games, and even when they slip up they end with not-easy-but-winnable residence video games towards the Rams and the Jaguars (who they already beat in Jacksonville). Tennessee ought to get to 10 wins.
Jaguars (6-Three): They’re at Cleveland on Sunday and later at San Francisco, and so they nonetheless have residence video games towards the Colts and Texans left. They’re additionally possible attending to 10 wins. The AFC South ought to get two groups into the postseason.
Ravens (Four-5): They nonetheless get Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati at residence, plus winnable highway video games in Inexperienced Bay (Sunday) and Cleveland. You’d most likely put the win complete over/underneath at Eight.5 for Baltimore proper now.
Payments (5-Four): Let’s be optimistic and say they'll get in at Eight-Eight. There’s a 98% likelihood they’ll be swept by the Patriots and lose at Kansas Metropolis, so there’s seven losses. So to have a shot, they should go Three-1 over the course of a highway sport towards the Chargers, residence sport towards the Colts and a home-and-home towards Miami.
Right here’s the M. Night time Shyamalan twist on the finish of this tedious train: I used to be lifeless the entire time.* Additionally, none of it issues as a result of the Payments are a foul staff. Not in the best way the Ravens/Dolphins/Raiders are unhealthy, however really unhealthy. (O.Ok., the Dolphins are additionally really unhealthy). Take into account this: Buffalo at the moment leads the NFL in turnover differential at +11 by means of 9 video games. And, extremelythey've some extent differential within the purple (-12).
It can't be overstated simply how atrocious it's important to be to choose up an additional possession per sport and nonetheless get outscored on the season. Over the earlier 20 seasons, 41 groups have posted a turnover differential of +1 per sport or higher over the course of a season. If rabid squirrels gnawed off each your palms, you’d nonetheless have sufficient fingers to rely what number of of these 41 groups had a unfavourable level differential that season (and rattling properly that not a jury on the earth would convict these squirrels).
The Payments are at the moment on tempo to complete the yr at +20 in turnover differential. In that 20-year span, 14 groups had executed that. The worst level differential amongst them was the 1999 Chiefs, at +68 (+Four.Three per sport). The Payments are at -1.Three per sport.
Tyrod Taylor definitely thrives within the space of defending the ball, however the Payments haven't any logical cause to suppose they’ll hold forcing turnovers at this fee. Even in Sean McDermott’s zone-heavy system, you both want a monster go rush and/or particularly artful, ball-hawking defensive backs to pile up turnovers. Jerry Hughes has his moments, however that is largely a toothless go rush—in line with Stats Inc., they rank tied for 28th in pass-rush index (which takes into consideration sacks, hurries, knockdowns and opposing O-line penalties). They've some good gamers within the secondary, however even when you squint none of them seem like Ed Reed. It is a group that ought to anticipate to get a turnover each week, however not the 2 per sport they’ve been getting. Briefly: It takes a sure diploma of luck to steer the NFL in turnover differential. It takes much more luck than that for this staff to be doing it. And even with all that luck, they’re sitting only one sport over .500. What they’ve executed 9 weeks into the season is just not sustainable.
*—To be clear, I wasn’t truly lifeless. However I used to be actually bored working by means of playoff situations and schedule breakdowns of crappy groups.

2a. The knowledge laid out above doesn’t beg any query as a result of the phrase “begs the query” refers to a type of evasion by means of round reasoning inside the reply to a query and everybody makes use of the phrase incorrectly and may cease it. Nonetheless, the data laid out above does increase a query: How a lot worse does the Tyrod Taylor benching make the 2017 Payments?
As I’ve talked about earlier than, I've a smooth spot for the Payments. I've a couple of good mates who're Payments followers (hello, mates!) and I’ve watched this franchise (and, by extension, my mates) endure and stumble aimlessly by means of the previous 17 years. So, in brief, I’ve paid extra consideration to the Payments than a nationwide media member most likely ought to.
I perceive why lots of people like Tyrod Taylor. By all accounts he’s a pacesetter of males, revered and favored by teammates (you possibly can re-visit Jenny Vrentas’s now-28%-sadder profile of Taylor from our “Hall of Woe” sequence two seasons in the past). He’s thrilling—who doesn’t like watching a quarterback who can spin out of bother and make a play? He doesn’t flip the ball over, which is a extremely good factor. And if, like most of America, you observe the Buffalo Payments strictly through field scores and fantasy leagues, Taylor’s fundamental stat line seems simply positive.
And total, he's positive. However Chapter 1 of the ebook on Taylor over the past three years has at all times been this: He persistently fails to focus on open receivers (as my podcast co-host and unlicensed monetary advisor Andy Benoit at all times says, “There isn't a stat for throws which might be open quarterback doesn’t make”).
Now, when you’ll permit me to oversimplify right here for a second (and I do know you'll as a result of this text is already revealed and I didn’t present it to you beforehand): Abandoning play designs and taking part in off-schedule isn’t at all times an enormous downside. Aaron Rodgers is the king of out-of-structure playmaking, and Russell Wilson is the prince. (And at this level, Deshaun Watson is, like, the very lovable child prince.) Rodgers/Wilson miss throws, however once they go into scramble mode they persistently hold their eyes downfield and switch in massive performs. For an opposing defensive participant, seeing Rodgers or Wilson escape the pocket triggers the identical response as the brown notice. (Sorry when you had been consuming breakfast whilst you learn this.)
Taylor tends to desert play designs and pull the ball down. Which is okay, and has worth. (And, to be clear, that's not the case on actually each play, which I've to level out as a result of if this was Twitter somebody would now submit three GIFs of Taylor extending a play and throwing as a result of what cannot you show with GIFs of three random performs, after which we’d all be slightly bit dumber for it.) Throughout Taylor’s two-plus seasons as a starter, the Payments are 30th within the NFL in passing performs of 20-plus yards.
With Taylor, you lose a whole lot of the designed performs, which is an issue not simply due to a coach’s ego (although a portion of it's a coach’s ego), but in addition as a result of your play-caller/play-designer has a method to take advantage of the defensive coordinator’s scheme and technique. And, as we regularly neglect once we chart particular person performs, play-calls aren't made in a vacuum. It’s sport idea, the tip results of an opponent’s tendencies and anticipating how they are going to react to a sure situation, and play-calls are sometimes constructed off earlier play-calls. Taking part in out-of-structure undeniably makes the job of a play-caller harder (as a result of the truth that Taylor is just not an aggressive, anticipatory thrower, your play-caller is already working with some limitations.) And, with Taylor, when you fall behind, as Saints DE Cameron Jordan identified final week, you’re principally executed. As soon as the specter of the run sport is out of the equation, the Payments are too simple to defend.
The tip result's one thing of a conservative offense, one which has to persistently string collectively shorter and intermediate performs so as to add as much as scoring drives, which is what nearly each protection (particularly Sean McDermott’s protectionwithin the league needs to make offenses do. As a result of it’s very troublesome to do.
The constructive is that the conservative model results in fewer turnovers. However, once more, the Payments are sitting at simply 5-Four regardless of some very lucky breaks with turnovers. And as I discussed earlier this yr, there are two groups in NFL historical past to common lower than a turnover per sport over the course of a season and end with a dropping report. One in all them was the 2016 Payments.
2b. So unhealthy. He’s unhealthy, I’m saying Tyrod Taylor is unhealthy since you’re both good otherwise you’re unhealthy and there's no in-between, proper?
The very fact is (as talked about above) Taylor is okay. As with most issues in soccer and in life, Taylor is someplace between good and unhealthy. However what’s clear is that he doesn’t present what the Payments want in 2017, and there is not any cause to suppose that can change. I’d wish to now unsimplify issues. Clearly, the Payments have a thousand issues past Tyrod Taylor. In August, Buffalo’s roster was bottom-five within the league. Buying and selling Sammy Watkins and Marcell Dareus didn’t make it higher. The offensive line, a relative power the previous two seasons, has slid again considerably. The receiving corps is unhealthy sufficient that including Kelvin Benjamin and Deonte Thompson marked important upgrades as a result of one is massive and one is quick (respectively), and they didn't have a receiver who was both of these issues the primary month of the season. The protection went from bend-don’t-break to curl-up-in-the-fetal-position.
Might the Payments have sat again and hoped for an additional seven week’s value of fine bounces? Certain. And it may need labored out; seven video games is a sufficiently small pattern dimension. As an alternative, they determined they wanted to make a big change. I noticed the deliciously snarky I suppose it is Tyrod's fault the Saints ran for 298 yards takes that had been so intelligent they might have been proper out of a Leno monologue. The very fact is, the offense’s 118 internet yards over 9 drives within the Saints sport was simply as egregiously unhealthy because the protection's efficiency. They had been each terrible. You possibly can’t raze your complete defensive roster midseason. If you wish to make the sort of drastic change the Payments wanted to make, and also you suppose there’s even an opportunity you may need an improve in your roster, the logical spot is at quarterback.
2c. This possible marks the tip of Taylor’s run in Buffalo. Did he get a good shake? Put it this fashion: For 2 seasons he performed in an offense custom-made for him, the complexity constructed into the working sport. And it was O.Ok., good at instances however constructed to win video games in particular methods. His passing sport weapons weren’t ok, however even when he had Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods it wasn’t an explosive passing assault. He was the selection of a defensive head coach. He had two totally different offensive coordinators in that point, every of whom appear lukewarm-at-best on him.
The brand new regime introduced in a brand new offensive system, one constructed across the passing sport as a result of, frankly, that’s what the present geometry of the NFL calls for for sustainable success. They knew they didn’t have the roster to compete this yr. And it was no secret that Taylor wasn’t their alternative (although offensive coordinator Rick Dennison knew Taylor from their time collectively in Baltimore). It wasn’t the best match.
The place does that go away Taylor for the longer term? Properly, right here’s the wild conjecture you got here right here for: Regardless of being the darling of game-charters, there wasn’t a complete lot of curiosity in Taylor this previous offseason. That’s largely as a result of play-designers and play-callers have a whole lot of say in who performs quarterback, and in Taylor they see a man who does some particular issues properly however comes with limitations and may need reached his ceiling. If Taylor is a starter subsequent yr, it should take somebody wanting on the 2014/15 Payments and saying, That’s what we would like. And the sort of staff that will need that's one which already has a dominant roster in any other case. A yr in the past, I'd have stated Broncos, however their protection is sliding again to the purpose the place I’m unsure they'll suppose that manner, and the event (or lack thereof) of Paxton Lynch complicates that potential marriage.
The one apparent reply is Jacksonville. They put themselves proper up towards the cap with the Marcell Dareus acquisition, a lot in order that they’ll have some troublesome roster selections to make this offseason. So getting out from underneath Blake Bortles’ fifth-year possibility ($19 million) and getting Taylor for possibly 30% lower than that will make a whole lot of sense. They might have some enjoyable with run designs in a Taylor-Leonard Fournette backfield. And although it could smash my secret fantasy of the Jaguars taking Lamar Jackson in late-Spherical 1 and driving a Jackson-Fournette backfield the following 5 seasons, I'll give a Taylor signing my blessing. Apart from that, I’d recklessly throw the Ravens on the market as a risk. Taylor was standard in that constructing, and so they want a brand new offensive identification. Joe Flacco was as soon as quarterback. Since tearing his ACL late in 2015, he has not been quarterback. However, in fact, as a result of his contract the Ravens can’t transfer Flacco till after the 2019 season. I’m unsure they've the abdomen for a QB competitors.
2nd. Yet another factor, which Taylor introduced up a couple of weeks in the past: the problem of race. He identified that, as a result of he’s an African-American quarterback, he’s held to a special customary (this was a month in the past, not in response to the benching). And, big-picture, he’s proper. It’s 2017, and to argue that unconscious biases don’t exist can be absurd. We’re properly previous the “hey Warren Moon, you’ll make an important tight finish” days, however race and implicit bias is totally nonetheless an element with regards to assessing quarterbacks (in addition to a think about, y’know, life).
(And, in fact, if you wish to get on the coronary heart of racial bias with regards to quarterbacks, I’d counsel backing off the Josh McCown sizzling takes and looking out extra at how socioeconomic elements, intertwined as at all times with the nation’s historical past of systemic racism, mixed with the geometric realities of NFL soccer that demand the game be performed otherwise than it's at decrease ranges, work towards black quarterbacks. I do know, I do know, who’s gonna retweet that? Finest simply crank out a bunch of passer score and QB Winz stats.)
I like Taylor, I’m eager for the Payments, and I’m bummed it didn’t work out. Briefly, for a flawed staff, what Taylor introduced wasn’t ok, and he actually hadn’t proven any indicators drastic enchancment was on the best way. Are the Payments higher off with Nathan Peterman underneath middle? We don't know but. However they made the change as a result of they needed one thing totally different. This staff was rushing towards the sting of the cliff, and generally you simply gotta flip the wheel and hope for the perfect.

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