Perseverance pays off for Tyrod Taylor

Posted Aug 12, 2016

The Buffalo Bills signed Tyrod Taylor to a contract extension Friday.

In March 2015 Tyrod Taylor bet on himself choosing to sign with the Bills as a free agent because he believed he could win a three-man quarterback competition. He was confident his unrelenting work ethic and commitment to his craft would pay off. It did on the field last fall. By season’s end he was the seventh-highest rated passer in the league and went to the Pro Bowl. Now that perseverance is literally paying off as the Bills are betting on him. Buffalo signed Taylor to a contract extension Friday.

“I’ve always had the mindset of just focusing on football,” Taylor said. “I’ve never played the game for the money. Since I was a little kid I enjoyed the game of football, but I’m thankful that the Pegulas and the Bills organization and coach Rex Ryan last year gave me an opportunity to come and compete for this job. Just thankful for them and recognizing that they wanted me here for more than another year. So just thankful. It’s still sinking in right now. Football is what I want to do and I’m excited that I’m playing in Buffalo.”

The two sides had been in back and forth contract negotiations for the better part of the last month as it was apparent both the Bills and the Taylor camp wanted to address the quarterback’s contract before he entered the final season of his current deal.

“Tyrod has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches with his work ethic and talent,” said Bills GM Doug Whaley. “We believe his performance on the field will continue to ascend. He’s dedicated to his craft as a quarterback and he’s become a leader in this organization. This is a quarterback driven league and those quarterbacks are hard to find. We believe we’re going in the right direction with Tyrod Taylor and that he can take this team where it needs to go.”

Taylor had to wait five years to be an NFL starting quarterback, but when that opportunity presented itself he unquestionably made the most of it. He relied on his own self-determination to succeed by doing everything on and off the field necessary to make daily improvements in his game. 

“In order to take those steps it has to come from the player,” said Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “The player has to embrace the challenge of self-examination, self-awareness. He has done that A-plus, plus. I couldn’t be happier with his commitment to that process. He’s improving in every aspect of his game. I’m very happy with how he approaches his job.”

“Last season Tyrod was at the facility at 6:15 every morning,” said quarterbacks coach David Lee. “He was out at 7:30 at night. He knows how to prepare, and that’s going to pay off. If a quarterback didn’t prepare that way with all of those hours like he does, he’s going to be lost for the game. It’s a necessity if you’re going to be a good, starting quarterback. I mean really good, and he’ll do it. He works his tail off. You couldn’t ask for more.”

What Roman and Lee witnessed in their first year working with Taylor was something that Bills head coach Rex Ryan already knew. That’s why he was big on pursuing the quarterback when he was a free agent.

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“The thing that I knew about him was his work ethic and his passion for the game and obviously his God-given ability,” Ryan said. “That was what I knew we were getting, but you never know how it’s going to be until a guy really gets out there and he’s the guy under center. Nothing was given to him. He came here, and he earned the starting job, so it was all him.”

Taylor’s approach to the game and leadership with his teammates left Roman so impressed that by midseason he turned over Thursday’s offensive meeting each week to his quarterback.

“I decided that we were going to have him run meetings on Thursdays and all the coaches would be in there,” said Roman. “He’s running the show and that’s what you want. You want a coach on the field at the quarterback position ultimately, because that person is always going to have the best interest of the team in mind. He’s the one who is an extension of the coaching staff. He’s the one who has got to do it and you want a guy who takes that kind of ownership.”

That ownership has again been applied this offseason to the deficiencies in Buffalo’s offense from its first year under Roman. Taylor has worked with his offensive coordinator to address third down and red zone efficiency despite the successes of the run game and the deep ball in 2015. And Taylor points to his own game first and foremost.   

“The beauty of Tyrod is he’s willing to be critical of himself and doesn’t get too high or too low,” said Roman. “That’s very much needed at his position.”

His development as a quarterback has been something that Bills assistant secondary coach Ed Reed knew Taylor always had in him. He saw the signs in Taylor in Baltimore where the two were teammates. To see him now flourishing in Buffalo reminded the Bills assistant of a conversation the two had when Taylor was a young player. 

“I remember telling him to keep doing what you’re doing and things will work out for you,” said Reed. “Tyrod has come a long way. He’s been through a lot. Just seeing his work ethic. Tyrod’s like one of the first guys here. So to see that, you know he’s had some growth and appreciates where he’s at right now. The kid has no worries. He just wants to play ball. Always did.”

Taylor has also taken ownership of his role as a leader. Now the unquestioned starter Taylor takes every opportunity to lead knowing there are teammates ready to follow.

“I’m excited to have Tyrod,” said Richie Incognito. “I love playing with him. He’s a fierce competitor and a dynamic playmaker for us. Having him entrenched as a starter is going to be nothing but a benefit.”

“He’s taken this team by the reins. I feel great about it,” said Roman. “He gets better every day. There’s nobody else I’d rather have at quarterback than him.”

And Friday’s commitment by the Bills demonstrates that the organization clearly feels the same way.

“I see the confidence that his teammates have in him and we think we’re going to get it done with Tyrod at quarterback,” said Ryan. “He can beat you with his arm, with his deep ball, his accuracy, and he can beat you with his legs, so I think those are some great things. We think that we’ve got a really good one there. We’ve got a fine, outstanding quarterback.”