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  • Despite the fact that the Bills don't want Tyrod Taylor (as evidenced by last week's benching in favor of rookie QB Nathan Peterman), the quarterback continues to keep Buffalo in the AFC wild-card picture.
By Jonathan Jones
November 26, 2017

This breakup between Tyrod Taylor and the Buffalo Bills is an odd, confusing and messy one, to be sure.

In Sunday’s 16–10 win against Kansas City (struggling with its own problems), Taylor proved once again that he’s good enough to win his team games and maybe good enough to sneak into the playoffs with just one fellow star on offense in LeSean McCoy. How many times must he prove his worth at this sport’s most important position?

Apparently, many times. Even though Buffalo is threatening to make its first postseason since 1999—which would end the longest active playoff drought in the NFL (yes, longer than the Browns)—Taylor, a wholly decent seven-year veteran, will still likely not play for the Bills next season. Buffalo went so far as to give rookie QB Nathan Peterman the chance to unseat Taylor last week against the Chargers, and, well, we all know how that went. Peterman is clearly not the Bills’ answer at quarterback, and never should have been considered to be so.

Nevertheless, Taylor continues to deliver for a franchise that has made no attempt to hide that they think they would be fine without him, even though that’s not the case. Against the Chiefs, Taylor went 19-for-29 for 183 yards and one touchdown in his sixth win of the season to keep Buffalo in the AFC wild-card picture. He got the Bills into scoring territory on five straight possessions Sunday before he and the rest of the offense went cold for the rest of the second half. Indeed, Taylor could have saved fans from a lot of heartburn had he and the rest of the offense been able to extend second-half drives, but 16 points proved to be enough.

Last week’s benching left egg on the face of coach Sean McDermott, who has pledged to not sit on his hands in his debut season as head coach. But if he or (and?) management don’t like Taylor as the starter, it should have been clear in the past several months that he’s better than Peterman, who last week completed 11 total passes—five of which were caught by the opposing team.

Surely, though, Taylor will not be the Bills’ starter in 2018. He has a cap number of $18 million that Buffalo likely won’t want to pay, even though that’s the going price for a quarterback that can win you games. And when you consider Taylor’s career numbers are right in line with that sort of pay—63% completion rate, 7.2 yards per attempt, only 17 career interceptions and a 20–18 record as a starter—Buffalo’s continued disinterest in its starter remains baffling.

For their part, the Chiefs have their own massive problems that could very well keep them out of the postseason despite a miserable year for the once-mighty AFC West. As our Jenny Vrentas expertly chronicled, Kansas City’s offense is struggling mightily (though calls for Pat Mahomes are still premature). The Chiefs began Sunday with five three-and-outs, didn’t get a first down until 3:30 left in second quarter and pushed their touchdown-less streak to seven quarters before finding paydirt midway through the third. 

(And Tre’Davious White’s last-minute interception to seal the win saved the NFL and Bill Vinovich’s crew from what may have been the worst call of the season. E.J. Gaines was called for a personal foul on a short Charcandrick West reception where Gaines made very little contact with West and didn’t lead with his helmet. Vinovich didn’t elaborate what the personal foul was exactly, and the call stopped the clock after West had been stopped in-bounds and gave the Chiefs 15 more yards.)

And so despite management’s lack of confidence in him, Taylor has captained these Bills to a winning record heading into December with a realistic shot at the wild card. When the breakup occurs, Taylor shouldn’t have any regrets about how he handled his side of this relationship.

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