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Tyrod Taylor's Breakout Season

Gobbler Country looks back at Taylor's breakout season as the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech fans are used to seeing the names of former Hokie defensive players being associated with the Pro Bowl.  Kam Chancellor, DeAngelo Hall, and Brandon Flowers are all Pro Bowl defensive backs that many are familiar with.  Although not unheard of, it has been quite some time since a former Hokie offensive weapon has played in Honolulu.  Tyrod Taylor bucked that trend when he was called up as an alternate for the Super Bowl bound Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton.

The Hokie faithful already knew that Taylor was a special player, and the young QB has waited in the wings as the backup in Baltimore since he was drafted with the 180th pick in 2011. During his four years with the Ravens Taylor played in 14 total games.  In those appearances he went 19-35 (54% completion rate), 199 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, and had a long of 25 yards.  During 27 rushing attempts he earned 136 yards, one touchdown, and had a long of 28 yards.  The highlight of his time with the Ravens was the Baltimore Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

During the 2015 offseason Taylor signed a three-year deal with Buffalo.  The Bills hired Rex Ryan to take over head coaching duties.  With questions surrounding E.J. Manuel's ability to remain the starting QB, Ryan was searching for someone to build an offense around.  As the 2015 season approached Buffalo found themselves the center of one of the more interesting position battles during training camp.  Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel, and Bills first round pick, E.J. Manuel, were all in the hunt for the quarterback job.  It was definitely not a clear cut battle, but in the end Taylor showed flashes of brilliance that resulted with Coach Ryan naming Taylor the starter.

Tyrod did not disappoint, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 27-14, in week one.  In his debut, as the Buffalo starting QB, he earned a 123.8 passer rating and an 88.2 QBR.  This would be the first of six times that Taylor would have a passer rating over 100.  Taylor has several solid games, in both the air and on the ground.  His greatest passing performance occurred during an unfortunate loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in late November.  In that matchup Taylor passed for 291 yards and three touchdowns.  On the ground his best performance came during the December loss to the Washington Redskins when Taylor rushed nine times for 79 yards and an impressive 8.8-yard average.

Although the Bills fell short of the playoffs, finishing 8-8, Tyrod had an inspiring season as their first time starter.  If he had not missed two games to injury it is entirely conceivable that the Bills may have won the two games they lost during his absence, and make it to the post season.  On the passing front he finished 242-380 (63.7%), 3,035 yards, 7.99 yards per pass, 20 TDs, and only six interceptions.  His longest pass was 63 yards and he finished the season with a passer rating of 99.4.  Respectable numbers in the air and he was no slouch on the ground.  Taylor added 568 yards on 104 runs with four TDs, and an average of 5.5 yards.  His longest rush was for 31 yards, and he finished the season with a QBR of 67.8.  Tyrod’s passer rating puts him in the top ten, and sharing the spotlight with some prestigious names.  At No. 7 in the NFL he is bracketed by No. 6 Drew Brees and No.8 Cam Newton.  With only six interceptions Tyrod was the best of the full time starting QBs.  Taylor was the No. 2 rushing QB in the NFL. Only Cam Newton did more damage on the ground.  All of that effort culminated into, not only a well-deserved billet in the 2016 Pro Bowl, but also significant excitement about his potential and the future of the Buffalo Bills. Tyrod’s young receivers are certainly excited about him.  Wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, feels that Tyrod Taylor will be elite saying, "He’s grown as a leader on our team… he’s going to be elite."

It is certainly exciting to have another Hokie great, this time on offense, make an appearance in the Pro Bowl.  We here at Gobbler Country wish him all the best and are excited to see what happens next season!

Follow me on Twitter: @jjohnsonVATech

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