Although I would love for Jones to be ready to start next season, the doubt I have over that statement is just too high.
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You can ask anyone and they would tell you Taylor’s contract is too hefty to pick up his option this season. Although it’s a big contract, the salary cap hit isn’t extremely large for a quarterback — especially with the talent Taylor brings with him.
The questions surrounding Tyrod Taylor open up a whole new realm of questions surrounding the Bills’ starting quarterback position. As it stands right now, the Buffalo Bills have four options in front of them:
Go with Tyrod Taylor next season, whether it comes from picking up his option or restructuring his contract.
Move on from Tyrod Taylor and find a starting quarterback in free agency or the NFL Draft.
If you ask me — and I’ve stood by this for quite some time — the Buffalo Bills are best off picking up Taylor’s option and giving him a better shot at showing what he has to give. Although it’s still a possibility, the chances seem to slim down each and every day. Of course, that’s just from listening to the reports swirling around — who knows what’s really going on behind closed doors.
Some in the organization have shown support over drafting a quarterback with the 10th pick in the draft, or finding someone through free agency to start next season. I’d be okay with that, but it would depend on who we take. DeShaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes would be good fits with Buffalo and there are several veterans we could bring in for a couple years while we develop someone.
The most absurd option of all three is moving on from Taylor and going with Cardale Jones as our starter. The worst part is reports are now stating that Doug Whaley likes the idea of Jones starting next season — this wouldn’t be the first time Whaley screwed up the Bills’ quarterback spot.
I like his potential, size and personality, but he’s simply not ready to be a starter in the NFL next season and it showed in the Bills’ Week 17 matchup vs. the New York Jets.
Jones made his NFL regular season debut vs. the Jets, playing the second half of the Bills’ season finale. He played only the fourth quarter and finished 6-of-11 for 96 yards, including an interception.
Unfortunately, 5 of his 6 passes were short and could really be made by any quarterback. I wasn’t necessarily surprised by what he showed us vs. the Jets and I doubt anything would’ve changed if he was given more time on the field. Again, the potential is there, but he simply needs more work.
Jones did show potential in the 2016 preseason, though. He appeared in three games and combined for a total of 362 passing yards, one TD, 2 interceptions and 45 yards rushing. His best performance came Week 1 of preseason vs. the Colts, when he finished 11/21 with 162 yards, one TD and 34 yards rushing.
A major thing that scares me about Cardale Jones is his inexperience with a starting role. Obviously, he has no starts to his name in the NFL yet — since he was a rookie last season and didn’t play until the final game. Beyond that, he only has 10 starts at the college level where he struggled to play consistent football.
Jones was in a position battle with J.T. Barrett at Ohio State and got a chance to prove himself when Barrett went down with an injury during the final game of the 2014 regular season. Jones would lead the Buckeyes to three straight victories against some of the best college programs in route to winning a National Championship in 2014. Over those three games, he totaled 742 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, adding 90 yards on the ground (one TD).
The next season, the inconsistency started and it led to a big season-long position battle for Ohio State. Ultimately, Jones wouldn’t play up to par and would be benched for the likes of Barrett. After deciding to enter the NFL Draft in 2016, the Buffalo Bills selected him in the fourth round after many QB-needy teams passed on him.
I can see Cardale Jones developing into a reliable quarterback for any team, but I don’t see that happening from now until the start of next season. He has too much to work on and with an entirely new coaching staff, it might just be too much to risk.
When the Buffalo Bills drafted him last year, I immediately said he wasn’t ready to start and was even questionable as the team’s backup quarterback. Almost one year later, I still haven’t seen anything that would make me name him a starter.
For right now, I think Jones is best fit as the team’s backup quarterback. Buffalo will need to figure out if they want to have Tyrod Taylor next season or look at other options in the free agency or NFL Draft.
Either way, Jones isn’t the answer — at least for now.