Tyrod Taylor's first critique of his play from last Sunday when he took on eight sacks was that he can definitely get the ball out faster. That would make the passing game work a lot smoother, but that's easier said than done for a quarterback who is about to make his first career road start. There are other elements to a quarterback's game that can ensure one positive play follows another.
There are the common ones we often hear like accuracy and decision making, but the one that surfaced this week for Taylor is managing his space in the pocket. Last week New England committed to sending their edge rushers high up the field to prevent any escape routes for Taylor out of the back of the pocket to extend plays.
Head coach Rex Ryan sees an opportunity for Taylor knowing they're likely to see some of the same in the weeks to come.
"I think sometimes you've got to step up in the pocket," said Ryan. "That's where if I look at anything with Tyrod I'd like to see him drop back and then set up and step up in the pocket a little more."
"There were opportunities for that," said Taylor. "Just the feel of the game looking back on it definitely some times where I could've stepped up, but you learn from those and keep moving forward."
Ryan said there were open receivers that Taylor could've located on some of the sacks he took after getting hemmed in the back of the pocket. Stepping up not only could provide Taylor with the ability to hit those open targets, but to find a new rush lane higher in the pocket to escape if no one is open.
The offensive line doesn't deal directly with the quarterback in shaping the pocket. That's something that's handled between offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the offensive assistants.
"Protection concepts have to marry together," said Roman. "Some teams like to set a really soft, vertical set. Some teams like to set a very firm apex to the pocket and run guys up the field and try to get the quarterback to deliver the ball at six and a half yards. The quarterback and the offensive line, the protection philosophy has to marry together or else you get negative plays. There's got to be a cohesiveness there, and that's one area that we can all work better towards."
Taylor and the offensive line both accepted responsibility for some of the negative plays that took place in last Sunday's game. Both are also committed to be better moving forward, but Richie Incognito gave the Patriots credit for their plan.
"New England did a really good job of spying him," said Incognito. "They really had a guy kind of stepping up in those windows where he can kind of escape. So credit to the Patriots, but on our end we definitely have to hold up better in one-on-ones. The biggest thing for us is sticking on blocks. We had some one-on-one breakdowns in this last game and I think we really just need to hold up a little bit more in protection and give him some clean lanes."
Future opponents like the Dolphins may subscribe to some of what worked for the Patriots to see if they can have similar success against Taylor. Making his first road start will present the added challenge of communication in a loud environment.
"I've just got to play winning football and get the team into the best situation to go out there and be successful whether it's inside the pocket or outside the pocket," said Taylor. "It varies on different plays, but it comes down to execution on the offensive side whether it's from the pocket or outside."