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Los Angeles Chargers: The problem with Tyrod Taylor starting in 2020

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 18: Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Los Angeles Chargers motions to the bench in a 19-17 New Orleans Saints win during a preseason game at Dignity Health Sports Park on August 18, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 18: Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Los Angeles Chargers motions to the bench in a 19-17 New Orleans Saints win during a preseason game at Dignity Health Sports Park on August 18, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Philip Rivers will officially be the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts in 2020 and it appears as if the Los Angeles Chargers are turning to former Pro Bowler Tyrod Taylor.

The Los Angeles Chargers‘ biggest need heading into the offseason was the quarterback position as it was growing evidently clear that the team and long-time starter, Philip Rivers, were parting ways.

This led the speculation to ramp up with fans considering which prospect the team could draft with the sixth overall pick or even which free agent the team might sign, including the biggest name in free agency this offseason, Tom Brady.

It appears as if the answer was right in front of our face the entire time and is something that has always been a possibility, it just did not seem like the most likely one. The Los Angeles Chargers are going to turn the offense over to Tyrod Taylor, or so it seems.

With Tom Brady headed to the #Bucs, the #Chargers are not expected to sign or trade for a veteran QB, I’m told. They are moving forward with Tyrod Taylor for 2020.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2020

The team absolutely can still draft a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft and not adding any veteran quarterbacks via free agency or trade essentially guarantees that. However, the common consensus right now is that Taylor will be the starting quarterback to start the season.

Things can change, of course, but fans are already preparing and expecting Taylor to be the starting quarterback; and quite frankly, there are a lot more fans that like the idea of Taylor starting then I would have imagined.

Personally, I do not fall in that same boat. If you follow the Bolt Beat Twitter account, you probably already know this.

There are a few problems I have with Tyrod Taylor being the starting quarterback to start the 2020 season. This does not mean that the team should get rid of him or that he does not have value, but there are some concerns.

First of all, Taylor’s impact and production are being massively overstated. In his three seasons as a starter in Buffalo, Taylor ranked 19th in passer rating, 20th in touchdowns, 20th in passing yards and 28th in completion percentage.

“But he runs the ball.” Yes, he does, but not to the ability of someone such as Lamar Jackson, where an entire offense can be built around it. He is a below-average thrower and when the going gets tough and the Chargers need to win an important game, it becomes much harder to win with a below-average thrower.

“But he had worse targets in Buffalo than Los Angeles!” That part is true, as the Chargers do have a pretty nice set of pass-catching weapons. However, the narrative that Taylor had absolutely no help is mind-boggling.

Taylor had Charles Clay, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and LeSean McCoy all in the same offense. Sure, Watkins nor Woods may be elite numbers ones like Keenan Allen, but both have proven in their careers to be dangerous weapons and to have both of them, plus Clay, plus McCoy is a lot, more than the average team.

The Bills did not narrowly edge into the playoffs in 2017 because of Taylor’s play, they edged into the playoffs because they had a top-five defense while also having a bottom-seven offense in terms of yards and points per game.

Taylor got benched for Nathan Peterman that season against the Los Angeles Chargers. We all know how that ended up. Taylor is not someone who has ever been someone that can take over a game and win it for his team and that is what you need out of the quarterback position.

He has not won a game as a starter since 2018 and against teams with a .500 record or better in his career, he has a 7-16-1 record. For those keeping track at home, that is the equivalent of five wins in 16 games.

Now I get the reasoning for Taylor. He is a bridge quarterback that can transition to the future that does not cost the team a lot like Tom Brady would. I totally get that.

However, contending windows are small in the NFL and we get reminded of that time and time again when teams rise to prominence (Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers) and quickly fall. The Chargers do not have a long contending window.

So I am perfectly fine with Taylor being the veteran quarterback to guide a rookie, but start the rookie. We know what the ceiling is with Taylor — a 9-7 season — the ceiling could be higher with a rookie. And if there are learning curves then you fall back on Taylor.

It is not a guarantee that the Los Angeles Chargers are going to have this talented of a core, even in the 2021 season. The narrative around not signing Brady was to extend Joey Bosa and Keenan Allen.

I want those things to happen but we need to stop acting like they are guarantees. Bosa especially could walk and we have seen already that he cares about the dollar figure, not the team.

The Chargers cannot manage 2020 with 2021 in mind because nothing is guaranteed and if anything, 2019 taught us that as the team won seven fewer games than 2018. Take the chance, take the risk, give the starting job to the rookie and see if you can capitalize on a higher ceiling.

And I am not saying that the team should be careless with the cap and guarantee that they can’t extend either player, I just wish that we could recognize that nothing is guaranteed and they can’t play for next year, especially with a roster this talented.

Next. Why signing Tom Brady was always a bad idea

Because the last thing I want to think while looking back at the Los Angeles Chargers’ 2020 season is “man if only they did not start Tyrod Taylor the first eight games they could have made the playoffs.”

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