The age of Philip Rivers is over in southern California. After 14 seasons as the Chargers signal-caller, he left in free agency for the green pastures of Indiana. So, in comes their freshly minted, first-round QB, Justin Herbert… right? Or is the main man in LA now Tyrod Taylor?
Well, he’s still just a rookie and it would likely best serve his career to sit out this season, learn the offense and see NFL defenses in a limited capacity. He has flaws like any rookie and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has made it clear that he will be ready to step in if needed, but will not be handed the job. Time will tell if Herbert turns out to be a Dan Fouts or a Joey Harrington, but for now, Lynn has indicated a different QB will be the starter in 2020.
The actual starter – Tyrod Taylor
In walks Tyrod Taylor. He was one of their few free-agent additions last offseason and saw very limited playing time last season because of the aforementioned Rivers. The playing time that he did see is also so minuscule that it’s hardly worth even mentioning. However, it is a positive that he has been with the team for a year now. So, Tyrod will be accustomed to how the team runs and has a repertoire built up with his receivers. More importantly, though is the history he has with the coach.
Tyrod Taylor spent his first four seasons in the league as the backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore, never seeing significant action during this time. In 2015, Taylor left in free agency to sign with the Buffalo Bills where he would first meet Anthony Lynn who was an assistant in Buffalo at the time.
Taylor then earned the starting job and would hold it for the next three years. In this time he never lit up the boxscore, he only threw for 300 yards in one game and only threw at least three TD’s a handful of times. He eeked out 3000+ yards on the season in his first two years and his touchdowns went down each year. The one thing that kept him afloat though was his rushing ability.
Throughout his Buffalo tenure Taylor was always one of the top quarterbacks in the league when it came to rushing. He finished as a top-three quarterback each season when it came to total rushing yards. The only QB to run for more yards from 2015 through 2017 was Cam Newton.
He was also better at limiting his turnovers than most. Despite running the ball more than the average QB, Taylor fumbled the ball only four times each of his final two seasons with the Bills. Also his career pass-to-interception percentage is only 1.5%. To put that into context, the only current starter with a better percentage is Aaron Rodgers. So, he can run the ball and not turn it over, what else does he got going for him?
The team around Tyrod
Taylor found himself with Anthony Lynn once again this past offseason, only now Lynn has full control of the offense, unlike in Buffalo. Taylor will also get the added bonus of having a playbook made specifically to capitalize on quarterbacks with his skillset. He should be happy to finally have an offensive-minded head coach.
Up to this point in his career, Tyrod has only started for two coaches, both of which were former defensive coordinators and one was named Hue Jackson, whose 1-31 record before Taylor was traded to him speaks for itself.
Also, Lynn is probably excited to have more options to add to the playbook; considering he had to deal with a QB whose top speed was a jog his first three seasons as HC. Besides just designed QB runs and/or option run plays, Taylor’s mobility gives him the ability to run outside the pocket and generally buy more time.
The receivers in LA
Aside from the coach and playbook, this could be the best offense Tyrod Taylor has ever led. No matter your feelings on whether or not Keenan Allen is the best receiver in the AFC West, it is hard to deny that Allen is better than the options Taylor had before like Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Jarvis Landry. Supplemented by the young talent of Mike Williams, the Chargers starting wideouts are two of three receivers to have a 1000+ yard receiving season prior to having Taylor as their starter. The other being Landry.
The Chargers also have another great pass-catcher in tight end, Hunter Henry. He has increased his average yards per game in every season he has played and Henry also finished as a top 10 TE in fantasy last season in all league formats. So he will provide plenty of assistance as long as he’s healthy.
However, the coup de grace for Taylor may be Austin Ekeler. Ekeler had nearly 1000 yards receiving last season, despite being a backup most of the year. Going into 2019 though, he will be the number one guy behind (or in some sets, next to) Taylor. Tyrod has not used the RB as much in the passing game because he has never had a threat like Ekeler. He led all RB’s in yards per touch (6.9), as well as averaging 9.2 yards per target, which puts him around the likes of John Brown and Michael Thomas.
In short, he is in the best position to have the greatest season of his career.
Projections for 2020
Taylor has been plagued by teams who were determined to oust him mid-season. While drafting a quarterback in the first round of the draft doesn’t seem to give him much of a future in California, Anthony Lynn’s comments lead us to believe he will be the starter out of the gate and will hold the position as long as his play isn’t subpar. That being said, he should be a great streaming quarterback.
Projected stats for Tyrod Taylor
|Comp/Att||Passing Yards||Passing TD’s||Rushing Yards||Rushing TD’s|
The above projections should make Taylor a lower end, top 24 QB in fantasy. All in all, not bad for a guy who has only made starts in four of his nine seasons so far. You’ll just need to be smart about when you play him; which could be right off the bat.
The Chargers take on a Cincinnati defense week one that allowed the most yards per play in 2019. Then in week three, they face Carolina, with a new head coach will still be getting settled in and trying to fix a defense that gave up the second most points last year. By then Taylor will have given everyone a better picture of his capabilities.
Co-host and contributor for the Time Skew Podcast.