Former Ravens QB Taylor leads Bills into Baltimore
sgrogan@ cecilwhig. com
— During his four years as a backup quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, Tyrod Taylor would talk with his teammates about facing them one day.
Those fantasies become reality Sunday when Taylor leads his Buffalo Bills into M& T Bank Stadium to kick off the 2016 season.
“We always used to talk about the day that I would get a chance to play against them. It’s here,” Taylor said. “Me and [ Terrell] Suggs talked about it a lot, me and [ Elvis] Dumervil. It’s funny, one of our coaches here now – Ed Reed – we talked about those days when I would eventually get my opportunity and come back and play against Baltimore.”
The Ravens drafted Taylor in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. But because quarterback Joe Flacco never missed a game until last season, Taylor’s chances
to prove himself were few and far between. He threw 35 total passes through four years in Baltimore.
“There’s no bad terms between me and Baltimore. I’m thankful for the opportunity that Ozzie Newsome and Coach [ John] Harbaugh and Mr. [ Steve] Bisciotti gave me as a rookie and as a guy coming out of college,” Taylor said. “When I left, me and Coach Harbaugh had the opportunity to talk, as well as with Joe. They knew that I wanted an opportunity just to compete for a starting position and I was fortunate to get that here in Buffalo. I wouldn’t turn that down and they wouldn’t want me to turn that down either. I’m happy with how things turned out.”
Taylor signed with the Bills, but seemingly entered their quarterback competition as the odd man out.
“Everybody knows Tyrod is a heck of a quarterback and Baltimore never wanted to lose him, that’s for sure. But, Tyrod went to a team and wanted an opportunity where he could become a starting quarterback,” Bills head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday. “We had three quarterbacks. We had EJ Manuel, who is an incumbent. We traded for Matt Cassell to basically be the starting quarterback. I was like ‘ Tyrod, I promise you I’ll give you a chance.’ He bet on himself and won the job, so that may have surprised some people.”
One man who wasn’t surprised was Flacco.
“I was just always hoping a guy like that would get a shot. Obviously, when he got that shot, he made the most of it. I didn’t have a doubt in the world that when he did, he’d make the most of it,” Flacco said. “Buffalo gave him that shot. He went in there prepared and won over everybody in that building. He’s playing the way that I would expect him to play. He’s a good quarter- back and I think he’s gained a lot of trust in that organization.”
The Bills displayed their trust in Taylor by signing him to a five- year contract extension this offseason.
Taylor led Buffalo to an 8- 6 record in the games he started last year. He threw for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also rushed for 568 yards and four scores.
As Taylor was enjoying a break- out year in Buffalo, Flacco suffered his first major injury. The Ravens struggled down the stretch without a capable backup quarterback.
A torn ACL and MCL caused Flacco to miss the final six games of the 2015 season – the only missed starts of his career.
“That was tough to hear about. Me and Joe keep in contact,” Taylor said. “I hit him up as soon as I heard about it. He hit me right back, actually. I was kind of surprised because I thought that he would be either with family or with the doctors, but I was able to talk to him. He’s a soldier, he fought back from it. He actually got back up on the field and was able to keep playing for a couple more plays – that’s just Joe. He’s a close friend of mine.”
Taylor added that he learned from watching Flacco’s daily preparation for four years.
The kind words will end Sunday. Flacco wants to return from his knee injury with a win and Taylor wants the same from his return to Baltimore. The Ravens and Bills both hope to start their seasons 1- 0.
For Baltimore’s defense, that makes Taylor any other quarterback that needs to be stopped.
“He’s very elusive. We had a lot of practice against him when he was here,” Suggs said. “With an athletic quarterback like that, he has the capability to extend plays. We accept the challenge.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @ Sean_ CecilWhig