Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: Tyrod Taylor’s Impact on the Browns’ Ground Game

Matt Waldman’s RSP shows two plays where Tyrod Taylor will help the Cleveland ground game. 

DeShone Kizer is a mobile quarterback, but he’s not in the class of Tyrod Taylor. It appears that the Browns will roll with Taylor as its starter all year, giving Baker Mayfield a year to learn behind the scenes. Although Mayfield has mobility, once he’s past the line of scrimmage he’s not remotely the playmaker with his legs that Taylor is.

Even if the rest of the line is healthy and overall play improves at the other four positions, the Browns will feel the loss of left tackle Joe Thomas. Although Mayfield’s mobility has been an asset at Oklahoma, the strength of his mobility is buying time to throw the football. Even some of the surliest Cleveland fans who don’t believe anything the organization does or says have to concede that if Mayfield was ready to compete for the starting job, Taylor’s mobility is a greater asset for an offense that lacks a proven replacement for a multi-year Pro Bowl talent.

Kyle Posey already profiled Taylor’s passing chops a couple of years ago. Here are two ways Taylor can enhance Cleveland’s ground game. These are plays the Browns ran last year and will likely remain in Todd Haley’s playbook in 2018.

Haley uses a lot of gap plays and he likes the counter, which has some misdirection embedded into the play design. Taylor’s legs give Haley an opportunity to enhance that potential misdirection with a play-action boot with the option to run or pass.

The number of times that Taylor will boot and run off a play-action fake of a counter play is small. However, the threat of it will slow backside pursuit to the running back. Taylor’s presence also helps the offense win the numbers game with the read option.

Although the Bills arguably had a better run blocking unit in 2015 and 2016 (and the excellence of LeSean McCoy), another reason that Buffalo was one of the league’s best ground attacks was the triple option scheme it employed with Taylor as a legitimate threat. When an offense can play the numbers game with the inclusion of its quarterback, opposing defenses cannot consistently be the dictator at the line of scrimmage.

Add to the equation a pair of receivers who are superior to most of the starting duos that Taylor played with (Buffalo’s receivers during the Taylor era often saw the fewest targets due to the offensive design and still were among the worst in the league in drops per target). Even when Taylor had good starters on paper, those players (Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods) missed a lot of games.

The combination of Taylor’s veteran game management, vertical passing opportunities, and the threat of his legs will go a long way towards making Cleveland’s offense better in 2018.

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Categories: Matt Waldman, Players, Quarterback, The NFL LensTags: , ,

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