‘T-Mobile’ looks to keep Bills on the move

By Charles Roberts

tyrod-CM9_3612-300x200Patient. Calm. Confident. Strong. Fast.

There are more than five ways to describe the guy who wears No. 5 for the Buffalo Bills, but each of the aforementioned contributed to Tyrod Taylor’s emergence among the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Patient: Taylor, a record-setter at Virginia Tech, spent four years as a backup to Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, a Super Bowl winner. He continued honing his skills at the professional level and waited patiently for a chance to be the face of a franchise.

“The journey has been…waiting four years in Baltimore for this opportunity,” Taylor said, shortly after he was named the Bills’ starter. “And in free agency, this is one of the things I looked for – the opportunity to come showcase my talent and get a chance to be a starting quarterback in this league. Coach Rex Ryan and the Bills organization gave me that opportunity, and like I said, I am excited moving forward.”

Calm: It was late in the third quarter in Week Five, and the Bills trailed the Tennessee Titans by a count of 10-0. After failing to generate much production for the first three quarters, Taylor kept his cool when a designed passing play broke down and he ran for a 22-yard touchdown – shortly after a 24-yard run that was Buffalo’s biggest play to that point. Midway through the fourth quarter, trailing 13-7, Taylor connected with wide receiver Chris Hogan for a 46-yard pass play. Taylor punctuated the drive by finding Hogan for the game-winning touchdown.

Confident: As training camp was coming to a close, there was a lot of uncertainty over who would win the No. 1 role, with veterans Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel – both of whom have experience as starters – in the equation. Taylor’s approach never wavered, though.

“My preparation and approach to the game has been the same since I came into the league,” Taylor said. “Whether I was behind Joe or not, I have always prepared as if I was the starter. Because you never know when that happens. When an injury could happen and you have to go in the game, you don’t want the level of play to fall off from the head guy to the next guy. So as far as my approach, my attention to detail throughout a weekly basis has been the same, and I am going to continue to that approach moving forward.”

Strong: At 6-foot-1, Taylor certainly isn’t the tallest quarterback in the league, but pound-for-pound, he may be among the strongest. Taylor’s 217-pound, muscular frame is fueled not only by his work in the gym but also a passion for healthy cooking and eating. Outside of football, Taylor said his hobbies include cooking, with his diet consisting of fish and chicken breast. There’s no pork or red meat of any kind.

Fast: Taylor’s speed was on full display in the Bills’ comeback victory in Tennessee, when the man known as “T-Mobile” ran eight times for 76 yards – a franchise record at the position – and a touchdown.

Against the Titans, the big plays by way of Taylor’s feet were mostly a product of the defense taking away a would-be pass attempt, and that’s perfectly OK with Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. In fact, that’s exactly how he envisioned Taylor beating teams, and it even had him reflecting on playing against another athletic quarterback, Hall of Famer Steve Young.

“I remember back when, a long time ago, 20 years ago, when Steve Young was playing, and I was coaching with the Carolina Panthers,” Roman said. “And you have everybody covered; you have Jerry Rice covered somehow; and all of a sudden, he pulls the ball down and gets a first down. The list goes on and on, but I think there are going to be times when Tyrod is going to be able to tap into that athletic ability.”

Young, of course, backed up one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Joe Montana, before getting his chance. If Roman continues to see more of Young in Taylor, perhaps the regular season won’t run short on minutes with T-Mobile at the helm.