Tyrod Taylor was a sixth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. Since then, he’s thrown just 35 passes over four years, before signing with the Bills as a free agent in the 2015 offseason. Now, after beating out Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel in training camp, Taylor will be the Buffalo Bills opening day starter in 2015.
How rare is this? Taylor was in the NFL for at least four seasons and never started a game in his NFL career; now he’s his team’s opening day starter. Since 1970, there are just four other quarterbacks who meet that profile. In reverse order…
J.T. O’Sullivan, 2008 49ers
O’Sullivan was the 186th pick in the 2002 Draft; Taylor was the 180th pick nine years later. O’Sullivan was drafted by the Saints, and bounced around several teams before landing with the Detroit Lions and offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 2007. Martz was fired by the Lions, but signed on as the 49ers offensive coordinator in 2008.
The 49ers entered training camp in 2008 with Alex Smith and Shaun Hill as the presumptive front runners for the job, but O’Sullivan ended up winning the race (in part because of his familiarity in Martz offense) — that’s not too dissimilar to what happened in Buffalo this year. O’Sullivan and the 49ers started 2-1, but his play quickly went south. In 2008, he ranked 30th out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks in ANY/A, and he threw just 11 passes the rest of his career.
Doug Pederson, 1999 Eagles
Pederson entered the NFL in 1993 with the Dolphins, and was a backup with the Packers from ’96 to ’98. The quarterbacks coach those last two years in Green Bay was Andy Reid, who was named the Eagles head coach in 1999. Philadelphia then drafted Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick, but Reid turned to Pederson to start the season until McNabb was ready. Pederson was not any good, despite his familiarity with Reid’s offense: he ranked 34th out of 37 qualifying passers in ANY/A (although McNabb ranked 37th). Pederson resumed that caretaker role the next season, this time for Tim Couch and the expansion Browns. His performance was even worse in Cleveland, though, and Pederson finished out the rest of his career as Brett Favre‘s backup.
Gary Hogeboom, 1984 Cowboys
Gary Hogeboom was a fifth round pick by Dallas in 1980, who was stuck behind Danny White during his first four years. He played well in relief of an injured White in the 1982 NFC Championship Game, and was named the team’s starter after a strong preseason in 1984. His season started with a 347-yard performance on Monday Night Football, but Hogeboom ranked 27th out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks in ANY/A that season. Hogeboom went 0-2 with the Cowboys in ’85, and was then traded to the Colts, where he had moderate success for several seasons.
Pat Ryan, 1984 Jets
For six years, Ryan sat on the bench behind Richard Todd (and even Matt Robinson) in New York. An eleventh round pick in 1978, Ryan threw just 86 passes through 1983. But before the ’84 Draft, the Jets traded Todd to the Saints for the 15th overall pick, used to select Arkansas defensive lineman Ron Faurot (who played just 20 games for the team). The Ryan trade opened the door for the Ken O’Brien era to begin, New York’s first round pick the prior year. But — and this is hard to believe, but trust me, it’s true — a bizarre off-the-field incident kept the Jets starting quarterback off the field. O’Brien and teammate Mark Gastineau were involved in a fight1 at a Manhattan bar, and the resulting court case kept O’Brien away from the team during camp. Ryan played decently well and actually finished his career with an 11-8 record, but 1984 was his only season as a starter.
Again that backdrop, it’s hard to get tooexcited for the Tyrod Taylor era. And while beating EJ Manuel is nice, it’s not exactly new territory for Taylor, either.
- Not with each other, at least. [↩]