There’s no doubt that Tyrod Taylor is a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL.
His resume speaks for itself, as does his reputation.
So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Taylor had several suitors to choose from when free agency rolled around. Yet despite opportunities to compete for starting jobs with other teams, choosing the Bolts ended up being an easy decision.
Quite simply, the stars aligned that made the Chargers too good an opportunity to pass up.
“My agent mentioned early on the Chargers were a possibility, but we didn’t narrow anyone down right away,” he explained. “Once we began to narrow the list, we looked at each team to see which one was going to be a great fit. Of course there are some that stick out more than others, but at the same time, it has to be a great fit for the player on both sides. And ultimately, coming here was the best choice. It’s a great team with great players.”
That included bypassing a chance to potentially start.
So, why were the Bolts the best option?
It comes down to two chief reasons.
Anthony Lynn and Philip Rivers.
Regarding Lynn, Taylor played for him during his first two years in Buffalo, which were the most productive seasons of his career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 while Lynn was the running backs coach, and spent most of 2016 with him serving as the team’s offensive coordinator. Over that 14-game stretch, Taylor threw for 2,615 yards and 14 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He also recorded five games with a passer rating at least 100.
So, the opportunity to reunite with Lynn was simply too good to pass up.
“Our time in Buffalo was special,” he said with a gleam in his eye. “It was a unique situation for him. He ended up inheriting the offensive coordinator job, where we worked day in and day out trying to do whatever it took to win games. And then he ended up taking over being the head coach the last day of the season. Seeing him handle what he went through that year, starting out as the running backs coach to offensive coordinator to interim head coach, and how he handled the pressure and was able to stay the same person day in and day out, I definitely admired that. I think it speaks a lot about the man’s character. That’s something I’ll always remember because he was able to push us through and inspire us at times when it might not have been so comfortable for us. So, when an opportunity comes up where I can get back to working with him, I’m definitely excited for it.”
And then there’s Philip Rivers.
Still only 29-years old, Taylor has a lot of years left in his career. And, even though he’s an eight-year vet, he knows there is plenty he can learn from number 17 to make him an ever-better quarterback moving forward.
“The competitiveness he plays with, I admire it,” Taylor said. “You can tell it just watching the games. He’s definitely a competitive guy. And just playing against him, he’s a competitive guy; gets fired up. It’s something to definitely step back and listen. This is a Hall of Fame quarterback that I get to learn from, and I’m going to take that seriously day in and day out. Paying attention to how he goes about his business day in and day out. His approach day in and day out. Just pick up as much as I can.”
At the same time, Taylor and Rivers are clearly different style quarterbacks.
The newest Bolt has rushed for 1,836 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns over his career. In fact, his 1,575 rushing yards between 2015-17 were the second-most among all NFL quarterbacks over that span.
Meanwhile, Rivers has totaled 580 yards on the ground his entire career.
Nonetheless, Taylor is confident he can operate in the Chargers’ system without it requiring major changes should he be called upon.
“I’m capable of being mobile, but also not having to do it and staying in the pocket,” he said. “That flexibility keeps defenses guessing if they don’t know what we’re doing. When they don’t know what’s coming, it’s hard for them to prepare. So, if a situation happens where I need to go in, of course I’m comfortable running the same offense Philip runs.”
At the same time, while he’s content to back up Rivers, Taylor has an inkling Lynn, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and the rest of the staff may find ways to get him on the field in certain packages.
“It’s March!” he said with a smile. “It’s tough to talk about schematics and different schemes, but I’m sure the coaches will be creative. But, at the same time, you don’t want to take a guy like Philip off the field. There are ways to be creative. If they can find something, great. If not, wherever I can help this team, whether it be on the sideline as far as helping guys get different looks, challenging defenses throughout the week, and doing that while improving myself throughout the process, I’m all for it.”