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Tyrod Taylor: Houston’s Hope For 2021

Can he finally catch a break?

NFL: Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Keyshawn Johnson:

Tyrod Taylor is a pro. He just continues to get tough breaks, whether it was in Cleveland or recently when it was in Los Angeles with the Chargers. He knows how to play the game, and if you’re winning and you’re out there competing, he’s giving everything that you’re asking, then they’ll sit tight and wait.

The former sixth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens backed up quarterback Joe Flacco during the Ravens’ 2013 Super Bowl run. In 2015, the Buffalo Bills traded for Taylor and made him their starting quarterback, which worked out very well for the team. Taylor earned his first Pro Bowl appearance that season, taking the team to the playoffs two seasons later and snapping a 17-year post season drought.

Taylor’s 2015 campaign yielded 242 completions on 380 passes for a 63.7 completion percentage. Those passes traveled 3,035 yards, going for 20 touchdowns and only 6 picks with a 8.0 average yards per pass. This earned Taylor a passer rating of 99.4, right behind Drew Brees (101.0) and Tom Brady (102.2).

Buffalo ultimately drafted Josh Allen to replace Taylor, who left his last game as a Bill with a concussion in a 10-3 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Bills traded Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, where the underdog quarterback promptly earned the starting job, only to lose it due to injury in Week 3 against the New York Jets. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield took over, ending Taylor’s run with the Browns.

2019 saw Taylor sign with the Los Angeles Chargers as a backup to Chargers longtime starter Philip Rivers. In 2020, Rivers moved to the Indianapolis Colts, once again opening a window of opportunity for Taylor. After winning his first outing as a Charger, a team physician accidentally punctured one of Taylor’s lungs with a painkilling shot to take the edge off a rib injury sustained in Week 2 pregame action. Taylor wound up in the hospital. Rookie Justin Herbert took the reins and never looked back.

Keyshawn Johnson:

He just continues to get tough breaks...

Tyrod Taylor is the Houston Texans’ Starting Quarterback

On March 22, 2021 Tyrod Taylor signed a one-year deal with your Houston Texans. With a skillset that’s similar, but not nearly as elite, as embattled incumbent QB Deshaun Watson, Tim Kelly’s offense might be the best opportunity Taylor has ever had in the NFL. Over the course of his pro life, Taylor has completed 855 of 1,392 passes for a completion percentage of 61.4. He’s only 230 yards shy of 10,000 career passing yards. He has 54 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He’s rushed for an additional 1,850 yards, including 103 first downs and 16 touchdowns. Not too shabby for a sixth round pick who can’t catch a break.

With rookie Davis Mills, hardly a Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert or Josh Allen level draft pick, behind him, Taylor doesn’t need to waste any time looking over his shoulder. Houston’s training staff also has a pretty solid record of taking care of players, so he shouldn’t expect any more freak accidents like the punctured lung he sustained in LA.

If new offensive line coach James Campen elevates the game of Houston’s linemen, if Tim Kelly calls a good game, and if Taylor does what he does the best he can, Taylor very well may have the sort of success that prevents the Texans from grabbing the coveted first overall draft pick in 2022.

Unfortunately for Taylor, that might not jive with Houston general manager Nick Caserio's master plan. Many expect Taylor to get pulled for rookie QB Mills within the first half of the season. However, if the 31-year old can show enough game savvy, a hot hand, and makes smart decisions in tough situations, he might outlast Mills and finally get the break he’s long deserved. Does this mean Houston isn’t the worst team in the league? Probably not.

Film Study: Tyrod Taylor

You don’t often hear a narrative of a 31-year old quarterback who still has untapped potential, but that argument is makeable for Taylor. With Mills not showing anything in his first preseason game that would give the impression he’s the next Allen, Mayfield or Herbert, Taylor might just be the man to run this offense for a few years until the eventual replacement arrives.