After one memorable start for the Buffalo Bills, there is no point in projecting how good Tyrod Taylor might become. No, the question following a 27-14 domination of the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 goes more like this: How good does Taylor need to be for Buffalo to contend? Bills fans will like the answer.
"I don't know who their quarterback even is," a veteran defensive coach said Sunday, "but it probably doesn't matter a whole lot."
Quarterbacks always matter, of course. It's just that Bills coach Rex Ryan proved during his New York Jets tenure that he could reach AFC Championship Games with a young, limited quarterback as long as he had the type of defense Buffalo unleashed on Andrew Luck on Sunday (three forced turnovers, 4.5 yards per play). The performance bar Taylor needs to clear isn't as daunting as it typically would be in the NFL.
The Sanchez precedent
Ryan and then-rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez made their Jets debuts in 2009 with a 24-7 victory over Houston. Sanchez played well enough for the Jets to take a 17-0 lead, finishing with 272 yards passing, one touchdown, no sacks and an 81.2 Total QBR score, which was in line with the 88.0 from Taylor in his Bills debut (Buffalo led, 24-0). Over time, Sanchez was never close to that good consistently. Taylor completed 14 of 19 passes against the Colts while mixing in nine rushes, taking zero sacks and yielding no turnovers. But as Sanchez proved, future inconsistency is not necessarily a playoff buster.