COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Tyrod Taylor understands why many may compare his opportunity with the Los Angeles Chargers to the one he had in Cleveland two years ago. But the veteran quarterback sees many differences.
The only thing that hasn’t changed is how Taylor views his job.
“I’ve been a firm believer in just controlling what you can,” Taylor said Friday. “A lot of things that happened in Cleveland was out of my control, but I never changed my attitude towards what I can do and towards the team.”
Taylor, who is in his 10th season, signed with the Chargers last year. He moved into the top spot on the depth chart during this offseason when the franchise and Philip Rivers agreed a change would benefit both. Rivers signed with Indianapolis after 16 seasons with the Chargers, with the last 14 as the starter.
Even though Taylor again faces a situation where he is the starter on a team that selected a quarterback in the first round, there may be a better chance of success here. Besides knowing the roster, Taylor has a coach who knows his strengths and weaknesses. Anthony Lynn was on Buffalo’s staff for two years while Taylor was there, including 2016 when Lynn was promoted to offensive coordinator early in the season.
Taylor was traded to the Browns in 2018, less than two months before they selected Baker Mayfield with the top pick in the draft. Taylor struggled in his three starts and was injured during the first half of the Week 3 game against the New York Jets. Mayfield came in, rallied Cleveland to a win and started the remainder of the season.
Taylor said he wasn’t surprised when the Chargers selected Justin Herbert sixth overall in the draft and that his mindset has not changed.
“I was drafted in the sixth round and, even that day I got drafted, I always had the mindset to prepare like a starter,” he said. “My main focus is to go out and prepare myself for the season. But, at the same time, I’m not hiding any information (during quarterback meetings). It’s an open conversation amongst all of us.”
Lynn expects Taylor to return to the form he had in Buffalo, where he was 22-20 as a starter and helped the Bills break an 18-year postseason drought in 2017.
One reason to expect a rebound is that Taylor said there are similarities between the Bills and Chargers’ schemes. Los Angeles figures to be more balanced and run-based with Taylor under center, which fits Lynn’s philosophy. The Bills led the league in rushing offense (164.4 yards per game), yards per carry (5.35) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2016.
Taylor’s best quality is that he takes care of the ball, something Rivers didn’t do last season. The Chargers had 31 turnovers en route to a 5-11 record, including a league-high six in the red zone. Rivers threw an interception on 2.6% of his passing attempts with the Chargers while Taylor was at 1.3% during his three seasons in Buffalo.
“You want to turn a guy loose and make plays, but at the same time in this league I really believe you lose more games than you win,” Lynn said. “If you take care of the football your chances are a lot better.”
Lynn said Taylor throws one of the best deep balls in the league, but he stressed to Taylor that he should try to improve on intermediate throws. Taylor said he worked on improving his release point during offseason workouts in Atlanta and Virginia, along with getting a chance to work with some of the receivers before training camp.
While Taylor doesn’t shy away from his reputation of being conservative at times, he thinks he will be able to take more chances with the talent he has at receiver and tight end.
“With the receivers we have there aren’t going to be many 50/50 balls. Mike (Williams) and Keenan (Allen) most of the time are going to win their matchups,” he said. “I think at the end of the day you’ve got to play your game and do what’s best for the team in that moment. There’s going to be situations where you have to take those risks but there will be times where you have to manage the game.”